Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version

October 1997


Published in Proceedings of the Eighth Eastern Wildlife Damage Management Conference, Roanoke, Virginia, October 16–19, 1997, edited by James A. Parkhurst. Copyright © 1997 by the authors.


Damage to agricultural crops caused by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) continues to be a significant concern of farmers in Michigan and elsewhere in the United States. Policy changes that promise to reduce deer numbers may be long in coming, but better application of available damage control techniques may be an immediate alternative for farmers awaiting relief. Conversations with farmers, extension agents, and wildlife professionals suggest that some damage control techniques are underutilized by Michigan farmers, whereas other techniques are applied with little success despite promising field trials. We investigated producers’ practices to identify common weaknesses in how deer damage controls were being applied so that Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Cooperative Extension personnel could develop programs to improve the effectiveness of these applications. In January 1997, a 6-page questionnaire was mailed to 250 agricultural producers who indicated that they used some form of deer damage control to protect their crops. Producers were queried about specific methods employed, intensity and frequency of applications, fence maintenance, hunting and shooting techniques, deer harvest ratios, integration of techniques, and the perceived effectiveness of controls and/or combinations of techniques. Recreational hunting, shooting permits, and block permits were the control methods used most frequently by respondents. Although 84% of respondents expressed a desire to reduce the deer herd in the vicinity of their farm, most were not contributing effectively to achieving such a reduction through their own hunter management and deer harvest. Results suggest that educational and management opportunities do exist to encourage producers to more systematically apply and integrate available deer damage controls in Michigan.