Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version

October 1987


We studied the home ranges and activity patterns of 24 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in southwestern Wisconsin via radio-telemetry and visual observation to determine their response to single-strand electric crop-protection fences. Deer were allowed to establish feeding patterns in alfalfa fields during the spring green-up periods of 1986 and 1987. In mid-April of each year, 7 fences were constructed around selected 7-25 ha alfalfa fields to exclude deer from varying portions of their home ranges. No fences were constructed around alfalfa fields in one area. Fences were built around 50 and 100% of the alfalfa in 2 other areas. Deer movements were monitored in each of the 3 areas.

Preliminary observations indicate that 1) marked and unmarked deer used alfalfa fields extensively from snowmelt to first cutting, 2) deer-use of alfalfa fields by deer decreased significantly (P<0.05) after fences were installed in the 50 and 100% treatment areas. Conversely, deer in the 0% treatment area significantly (P<0.05) increased their use of alfalfa fields after fences were installed, and 3) home ranges of deer in each of the treatment level areas decreased significantly (P<0.05) in size after fences were installed. Deer limited their movements primarily to non-alfalfa areas within their pre-fencing home ranges. These results lend further support for the use of fences in deer damage control.