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Deer Damage Control

by James B. “Jim” Kea
Area Extension Forestry Agent – now retired
Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Control of deer damage can be achieved by using two strategies, population control (lethal) and exclusion (non-lethal), separately or together.

Population control (not elimination) involves keeping populations within the carrying capacity of a herd’s natural range. The total population of an area is targeted and especially individuals whose range and feeding habits conflict with man’s activities.

A number of options are available for hunting deer in season and out. A permit can be obtained from the Wildlife Resources Commission for the taking of deer out of season and while they are not in the act of depredation (eating, pawing, etc.). The deer are normally required to be buried, but can be used for food if an additional permit is obtained from local wildlife enforcement officers. Kills are also reported just as they are during the regular hunting season. A permit is not required for taking deer with firearms in the act of depredation in or out of season. Use of the deer does require a permit and kill report. A hunting license is not required on your own property or on property that you lease for agricultural purposes, but bag limits do apply to deer used. Special “doe” tags can be obtained for increased bag limits on tracts of land over 2,000 acres. Contact local N.C. Wildlife Commission Resources officials for particulars.

The second, non-lethal, approach involves a number of options including chemical repellents, noise makers, flashers, and fences. Deer will become used to noise makers or flashers, even when timing and location are changed. However, they may offer some temporary control, particularly if an alternate food supply exists.

Fences for small areas may be the only practical or possible solution. The most effective type is a high-tensile, electric fence, such as the Penn State five-wire, Snell double fence, or the Minnesota peanut butter fence. The Penn State fence is a five to seven wire, six foot tall fence with alternating hot and ground wires beginning with a hot wire eight inches from the ground and alternating with ground wires every eight inches. Deer may crawl through wider spaces. This fence design is excellent for livestock and is designed to be more of a permanent fence. The Snell or New Hampshire fence is more of a temporary fence. This double fence consists of an outside fence three feet tall with hot wires at fifteen and thirty-six inches and an inside fence with one hot wire at twenty-seven inches located three feet from the first fence. The Minnesota peanut butter, single wire fence is also more of a temporary, low-cost fence. A hot wire at thirty inches has 3″x4″ patches of tin foil every three feet draped over a wad of peanut butter. Form the peanut butter on the wire and fold the foil, shiny side out, over the wad like a tent. Crimp the foil enough to stay on the wire and also to make good contact with the wire. One good sniff or lick will make a lasting impression.


Revised 2/16/2006.

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