Keeping Deer off Runways
Researchers believe that visual barriers often enhance the watchfulness of white-tailed deer since they heighten the animals’ sensitivity and fear of predation. From a deer’s perspective, what he can’t see, might hurt him. NWRC scientists tested whether visual barriers might help to reduce deer use of resources around airports, thereby reducing deer-airplane strikes. In a winter study at the NWRC Ohio Field Station, researchers installed feeding stations surrounded by 1.5-m high, polyethylene visual barriers on three sides. Results showed fewer deer used the obstructed feeding stations compared to unobstructed feeding stations. The deer at the obstructed feeding stations also showed increased alert behavior, such as erect ears, stiff body posture and tail wagging. NWRC experts believe visual barriers may offer a temporary and easy way of reducing deer use at airports or other sensitive areas. However, the authors stressed the need for integration of other methods, particularly deer-proof fencing around airport air operations areas.
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