Date of this Version
The efficacy of out-of-season shooting permits for deer damage abatement in Wisconsin has not been critically evaluated. We used deer damage shooting permits to remove 21 antlerless deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from 7 heavily damaged alfalfa fields to evaluate subsequent impact on crop damage. Volunteer shooters, using permits issued to the landowners, hunted a minimum of 3 nights/week throughout the growth of the third alfalfa crop (Aug. 1 - late Sept.). We calculated the difference between the assessed damage to the second crop (untreated) and the third crop (treated) on treatment and control farms. We found no significant difference between treatment and control. There was no evidence that deer adjusted their feeding times to avoid shooting pressure. There were no detectable relationships between the change in crop damage and field size or number of deer killed. This suggests that shooting permits do little to reduce crop damage when used during the gnawing season. These results should assist managers involved with, or contemplating, out-of-season deer damage abatement programs.