Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version

September 1989


A common problem of biologists and agriculturists trying to control white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) damage to crops is understanding the causes and alternative solutions to the damage over multi-county or state-wide areas. Deer damage a variety of crops in different ways at different times of the year. Crops damaged, types of damage, and damage severity are influenced by deer densities, distributions, movements and harvest, as well as field size and interspersion with surrounding land cover types and uses. The complexity of the interaction of these factors requires improved analysis if the most appropriate control methods are to be selected.

Geographic information systems (GIS) provide an efficient method to examine these factors, analyze their interrelationships, graphically depict how they interrelate, and assist in predicting future problems. Such an analysis also suggests why certain damage patterns occur where and when they do, where additional information is needed, the best format for data collection, and which damage control strategies are most likely to be successful in given areas.

The CRIES GIS was used to examine the deer damage problem in Michigan. Selected data on deer harvests, populations, and crop statistics were categorized, digitized and mapped. Data were combined in overlay maps and these provided a useful tool in examining patterns of deer damage. Various areas within the state were then delineated as separate deer damage problem areas and possible control strategies for each were proposed. Data necessary for an improved analysis of the deer damage problem were identified, as were problems in the present collection, tabulation and analysis of data. Recommendations were developed for the use of GIS in deer damage control.