U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service



Sophie C McKee https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2283-4191

Date of this Version



Pest Manag Sci 2021; 77: 406–416

DOI 10.1002/ps.6031


This article is a U.S. Government work


BACKGROUND: Wildlife damage to crops is a persistent and costly problem for many farmers in the USA. Most existing estimates of crop damage have relied on direct assessment methods such as field studies conducted by trained biologists or surveys distributed to farmers. In this paper, we describe a new method of estimating wildlife damage that exploits federal crop insurance data. We focused our study on four crops: corn, soybean, wheat, and cotton, chosen because of their economic importance and their vulnerability to wildlife damage.

RESULTS: We determined crop-raiding hot spots across the USA over the 2015–2019 period and identified the eastern and southern regions of the USA as being the most susceptible to wildlife damage. We estimated lower bounds for dollar and percent losses attributable to wildlife to these four crops. The combined loss across four crops was estimated at $592.6 million. The highest total estimated losses to wildlife were incurred by soybeans ($323.9 million) and corn ($194.0 million) and the highest percentage losses were estimated for soybeans (0.87%) and cotton (0.72%).

CONCLUSION: We believe the proposed method is a reliable way to evaluate geographic and temporal heterogeneity in damages for the coming years. Accurate information on damages benefits various management agencies by allowing them to allocate management resources to crops and regions where the problem is relatively severe. A better understanding of damage heterogeneity can also help guide research and development of new management techniques.