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


Date of this Version

January 2003


Proceedings of the 10th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. (K.A. Fagerstone, G.W. Witmer, Eds). 2003.


Deer frequently visit areas where they may cause damage. Incidents along roadways and runways inflict numerous injuries to animals and humans, and cause considerable economic losses. Concerns are increasing that deer interactions with domestic animals may contribute to spread of disease. Deer foraging in residential areas, agricultural fields, or plant propagation sites can impede growth and possibly survival of desirable plants. We conducted a series of trials to determine whether mild electric shock would induce place avoidance in deer. Shock was delivered through a device attached to a collar. A noise cue was emitted as an animal approached a defined area if the animal failed to retreat a shock followed. Deer learned to avoid areas associated with shock. We concluded that place avoidance induced through negative reinforcement may be a feasible means to protect valuable resources from resident animals. However, the technological limitations of tested devices, costs to implement, and required training for individual deer reduced the practicality of this approach for highly mobile animals and as a means to protect resources with low economic significance.