Elk and deer (two ungulate species)
cause the most widespread damage to forest resources. Elk may trample
or pull seedlings without well-established root systems out of the ground.
Browsing elk often splinter woody stems. During the spring, the stems
may be stripped of bark below where they break the stem. Deer damage
inflicted on seedlings is similar to elk damage. Woody stems are often
splintered and the bark is stripped from twigs. New buds are generally
clipped back to the previous year’s growth. Deer do not pull seedlings
as frequently as elk and their damage rarely occurs above 6 feet.
Damage Management Methods
- Planting seedlings immediately after a site is disturbed (e.g.,
by harvesting the trees) before ungulates become accustomed to foraging
in that area—economical but not always feasible; ineffective
where surrounding areas contain large ungulate populations.
- Hunting to suppress deer populations—often impractical to
solve specific problems.
- Fencing to impede ungulate movements—can be cost prohibitive
to install and maintain.
- Tubes and other individual barriers—can be expensive, but
when properly installed, tubes can protect seedlings from most wildlife
species. Where ungulate populations are high and consistent, individual
barriers may be reasonable long-term alternatives to reduce browsing.
- Frightening devices, such as propane cannons and scarecrows—generally
- Chemical repellents—will deter ungulates, but rarely for prolonged
periods. Thus, repeated applications are generally necessary.
Traditional frightening devices, as listed above, are generally ineffective
to deter ungulates for prolonged periods. However, devices activated
by an animal’s presence are generally more effective than permanent
or routine displays. Further, a device affixed to an individual animal
may generate responses from those individuals, and possibly from accompanying
animals of the same species (conspecifics). For example, a device affixed
to a matriarch elk that activates a signal (e.g., strobe and siren)
and after a couple seconds delivers a mild shock to the matriarch may
be very effective in inhibiting this animal from remaining in a protected
site. Accompanying conspecifics pairing these signals with distress
displayed by their leader also may avoid the area.
Electric collars and ear tags have shown promise for deterring cattle
from protected areas, such as riparian zones. Although effective, current
technology prohibits operational use of these devices to deter deer
and elk from target areas. Technology more applicable for prolonged
use with these animals is being pursued by field station scientists.
An improved understanding of deer and elk foraging ecology may help
to reduce browsing on establishing seedlings. All plants contain toxins,
and the amount of toxin an animal can ingest depends on the kinds and
amounts of nutrients and toxins in the forage. Field station researchers
are trying to determine if nutritional status of deer and elk affects
their preference for Douglas-fir seedlings. Supplemental energy and
protein increases the ability of animals to eat foods that contain toxins.
Thus, supplemental nutrients offer the potential to increase intake
of plants habitually avoided or to decrease intake of plants habitually
eaten. Other, studies are investigating potential to select for western
red cedar genotypes that may be less preferred by deer because of high
Field station biologists are also working to identify feasible
approaches to exclude animals from sites. Alternative fence designs
have been investigated. In addition, scientists at the station routinely
evaluate efficacy of marketed repellents. Concurrently, scientists are
conducting parallel behavioral and chemical assays to identify potential
natural aversive agents for new repellents.
*the above discussion is summarized from the following article
by Dale L.Nolte. Click on the link to see the full-text of the article.
D. L. 2003. Managing ungulates to protect trees. Western Forester 48(4):14.
Olympia Field Station Deer and Elk Publications
D. L., B. A. KIMBALL, K. R. PERRY, J. J. VILLALBA, AND F. D. PROVENZA.
2004. Effects of forage nutritional quality (energy and protein) on
deer acceptance of foods containing secondary metabolites. Proceedings
of the Vertebrate Pest Conference 21:338-245. 681K
NOLTE, D. L. 2003. Fencing out big game species. Western Forester
NOLTE, D. L., K. C. VERCAUTEREN, K. R. PERRY, AND S. E. ADAMS. 2003.
Training deer to avoid sites through negative reinforcement. Pages 95-104
in K. A. Fagerstone, and G. W. Witmer editors. Proceedings
of the 10th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. (April 6-9, 2003,
Hot Springs, Arkansas). The Wildlife Damage Management Working Group
of The Wildlife Society, Fort Collins, Colorado.
NOLTE, D. L., L. A. SHIPLEY, AND K. K. WAGNER. 2001. Efficacy of
Wolfin to repel black-tailed deer. Western Journal of Applied Forestry
01-82 WAGNER, K. K.,
AND D. L. NOLTE. 2001. Comparison of active ingredients and delivery
systems in deer repellents. Wildlife Society Bulletin 29:322-330.
TRENT, A., D. NOLTE, AND K. WAGNER. 2001. Comparison of commercial
deer repellents. U.S. Forest Service Technology & Development Program
Timber Tech Tips 0124-2331-MTDC. U.S. Forest Service, Missoula, Montana,
NOLTE, D. L., AND K. K. WAGNER. 2000. Comparing the efficacy of
delivery systems and active ingredients of deer repellents. Proceedings:
Vertebrate Pest Conference 19:93-100.
99-28 HOWERY, L. D., D.
L. NOLTE, L. M. SULLIVAN, AND M. W. KILBY. July- September 1999. Sensory
attributes, phytotoxicity, and production of grape cultivars after treatment
with two deer repellents. HortTechnology 9(3):429-432.
NOLTE, D. 1999. Behavioral approaches for limiting depredation by
wild ungulates. Pages 60-69 in K.L. Launchbaugh., D. Sanders.,
and J.C. Mosley. editors. Grazing behavior of livestock and wildlife.
Idaho Forest, Wildlife & Range Experiment Station Bulletin 70. University
of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.
NOLTE, D. L. 1998. Efficacy of selected repellents to deter deer
browsing on conifer seedlings. International Biodeterioration &
Additional NWRC Resources Concerning Deer/Elk and Forest Resources
*All NWRC publications from 1998-present are available full-text
from this Web site. They are linked from individual yearly publication
03-14 BERINGER, J., K. C. VERCAUTEREN, AND J. J. MILLSPAUGH. 2003.
Evaluation of an animal-activated scarecrow and a monofilament fence
for reducing deer use of soybean fields. Wildlife Society Bulletin 31(2):492-498.
VERCAUTEREN, K. 2003. The deer boom: discussions on population growth
and range expansion of the white-tailed deer. Pages 15-20 in
G. Hisey and K. Hisey, editors. Bowhunting records of North American
whitetail deer. Pope and Young Club, Chatfield, Minnesota, USA.
VERCAUTEREN, K. C., S. E. HYGNSTROM, M. J. PIPAS, P. B. FIORANELLI,
S. J. WERNER, AND B. F. BLACKWELL. 2003. Red lasers are ineffective
for dispersing deer at night. Wildlife Society Bulletin 31(1):247-252.
VERCAUTEREN, K. C., AND M. J. PIPAS. 2003. A review of color vision
in white-tailed deer. Wildlife Society Bulletin 31(3):684-691.
BELANT, J. L., AND T. W. SEAMANS. 2000. Comparison of 3 devices to observe
white-tailed deer at night. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28:154-158.
00-48 MOSER, B. W., AND G.
W. WITMER. 2000. The effects of elk and cattle foraging on the vegetation,
birds, and small mammals of the Bridge Creek Wildlife Area, Oregon.
International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 45:151-157.
BELANT, J. L., T. W. SEAMANS, AND C. P. DWYER. 1998. Cattle guards reduce
white-tailed deer crossings through fence openings. International Journal
of Pest Management 44(4):247-249.
BELANT, J. L., T. W. SEAMANS, AND L. A. TYSON. 1998. Evaluation of electronic
frightening devices as white-tailed deer deterrents. Proceedings of
the Vertebrate Pest Conference 18:107-110.
BELANT, J. L., T. W. SEAMANS, AND L. A. TYSON. 1998. Predator urines
as chemical barriers to white-tailed deer. Proceedings of the Vertebrate
Pest Conference 18:359-362.
FAGERSTONE, K. A., AND W. H. CLAY. 1997. Overview of USDA animal damage
control efforts to manage overabundant deer. Wildlife Society Bulletin
WITMER, G. W., R. D. SAYLER, AND M. J. PIPAS. 1997. Repellent trials
to reduce reforestation damage by pocket gophers, deer, and elk. Pages
321-332 in J. R. Mason, editor. Repellents in Wildlife Management.
Denver Wildlife Research Center, Denver, Colorado.
Impacts on Forest Resources Research Project
NWRC Publications on Deer and Elk Topics
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