Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2009


Published in Human–Wildlife Conflicts 3(1):145–153, Spring 2009. Published by Jack H. Berryman Institute http://www.berrymaninstitute.org/journal/index.html


White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) causing damage is a reoccurring theme in the realm of wildlife damage management, especially regarding human safety, disease transmission, and agricultural losses. Fences often are the only reliable long-term nonlethal means of controlling deer damage. The efficacy of fences, however, relies on their weakest link: human-operated gates. Although not overly time-consuming, the act of closing a gate appears to be a burden to individuals, resulting in open-access to an otherwise protected resource. We examined the efficacy of 2 alternatives to traditional gates to evaluate their potential to be used for excluding or containing deer. We evaluated a commercially available kit for mechanically opening and closing gates and a modified deer guard that resembles a common cattle guard but incorporates bearing-mounted rollers as cross members. The gate kit proved effective in restricting deer access to bait throughout the study, but, in supplemental evaluations, we observed excessive rates of functional failure. Deer guards reduced deer entry into exclosures, but efficacy declined with time as deer walked and jumped across guards. With some refining, both guards and gates have potential to be useful components of an integrated biosecurity strategy.