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
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 terpene concentrations.
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.
NOLTE, D. L. 2003. Managing ungulates to protect trees. Western Forester 48(4):14. 76K
Olympia Field Station Deer and Elk Publications
04-NOLTE, 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
03-68 NOLTE, D. L. 2003. Fencing out big game species. Western Forester 48(4):19. 62K
03-73 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.
01-53 NOLTE, D. L., L. A. SHIPLEY, AND K. K. WAGNER. 2001. Efficacy of Wolfin to repel black-tailed deer. Western Journal of Applied Forestry 16(4):182-186.
01-91 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, USA.
00-52 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.
99-50 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.
98-73 NOLTE, D. L. 1998. Efficacy of selected repellents to deter deer browsing on conifer seedlings. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 42(2-3):101-107.
Additional NWRC Resources Concerning Deer/Elk and Forest Resources
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.
00-6 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.
Mammalian Impacts on Forest Resources Research Project