Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Proceedings of the 11th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. (D.L. Nolte, K.A. Fagerstone, Eds). 2005.


Deer (Odocoileus spp.) damage millions of dollars in agricultural crops each year in the United States. A variety of frightening devices and repellants have been developed to reduce crop depredation, however most are effective temporarily (<6 >months). Several types of fences are available, but the most effective are expensive, time consuming to install, and may be considered aesthetically displeasing. Additional means to control wildlife damage to agriculture are needed. We evaluated the efficacy of dogs (Canis familiaris) over a several year period for preventing crop damage caused by white-tailed deer (O. virginianus) and other wildlife at an organic fruit and vegetable farm in south-central Wisconsin. Annual losses at the farm before the introduction of dogs were estimated at $3,177 in 1997 and $4,391 in 1999. One field was protected with 2 crop protection dogs confined by an invisible electronic fence containment system and 2 fields were protected with a double-strand electric polytape fence. In 2001 and 2002, no damage occurred in the fields protected with dogs, but $3,797 and $638 was estimated to be lost in the fields protected with electric polytape. Crop protection dogs have great potential to be an effective long-term tool for reducing crop damage caused by deer and other wildlife. Further rigorous testing is warranted to determine their effectiveness in a variety of agricultural and environmental settings.