Date of this Version
Wildlife Society Bulletin 36(1):199–203; 2012; DOI: 10.1002/wsb.119
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) damage agricultural crops, often leading to significant economic losses for farmers. We used poly-mesh fence with wings to separate good deer cover from agricultural fields where crop damage by deer occurred primarily along this edge. In these cases, complete enclosure of the field with fencing may be unnecessary. The design used a 2.13-m-high polypropylene mesh fence erected along the wooded edge of a field with either 50-m or 150-m wings extending perpendicular from the fence line and wooded habitat. Fences reduced deer damage in cornfields 13.5% (F1,6= ∞, P < 0.001). Average yield in fenced fields (10,211 kg/ha) was 1,708 kg/ha greater than in control fields, which, at US$0.155/kg, equals a net gain of US$265/ha. We found no difference in damage between fences with 50-m and 150-m wings (F1,1 = 0.26, P = 0.695). Costs for materials and labor for erecting partial poly-mesh fences with wings were US$5.56/m and US$1.42/m, respectively. Mean total cost for partial poly-mesh fences with 50-m wings would be US$60.13/ha/year over a 10-year period, compared with US$82.30/ha/year for 150-m wings and US$184.16/ha/year for completely enclosing fields. Expected savings for partial poly-mesh fences with 50-m wings over a 10-year period were US$205/ha/year, as compared with damaged fields without fences. We concluded that poly-mesh fences with 50-m wings were cost-effective at reducing damage by deer to corn. Additional research should be conducted to determine efficacy of the more cost-effective high-tensile and poly-tape fences with wings.