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Deer Control

Damage from white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, on crops, nurseries, orchards, and private landscapes is common in the urban Fishers area. As urban and suburban development encroaches upon rural areas where deer populations are higher, deer look for food in landscapes, gardens, and nurseries. This artificial food source leads to population increase, regardless of the lack of space. To date, available deer control methods have not provided consistent results.

Taking an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach is crucial in our battle with deer. Nursery and home owners throw up their hands as control methods fail; however, these methods might have worked if used differently or integrated with other tactics. Each situation is different. What does not work at one site may be successful in another. The key is to follow some simple steps in analyzing each situation and develop a sound deer IPM control plan as follows:

1. Define your Objectives

In choosing an appropriate strategy, it is necessary to identify individual expectations, limitations and thresholds. Answering the following questions will help pinpoint appropriate control methods: How much damage can be tolerated? How much can you afford to spend on controls? How much damage is there? What are short-term and long-term goals? Be sure to weigh your options.

2. Analyze the Site

Deer damage may vary widely within a site. Document time of damage, intensity of damage, which plants are damaged, where the deer come from, and where in the nursery or landscape browsing is taking place. Sometimes problems can be solved by relocating preferred plants to one central location and using repellents, scare tactics and/or physical barriers.

3. Develop a Plan

Do not try to implement a full deer-control strategy in one fell swoop. IPM strategies include future planning and phasing-in of tactics. Consider your deer problem when choosing and locating future crops or landscape plantings. Budget for appropriate control strategies. Some situations may call for temporary controls such as a scare tactic until fencing or repellents are implemented.

4. IPM Decision Tools

As with other pest problems, an IPM approach is a key to success. Be aware that the nature of deer damage can change from season to season or year to year and is seldom identical in various locations. IPM, using several tactics in combination, offers flexibility and variety. Deer adapt and can overcome control methods. Thus, we have to be willing and able to change methods when necessary. It is also a good idea to alternate the use of repellents, when possible, in order to prevent deer from adapting to them.

5. Network

Everyone with a deer problem will benefit from communication. Ask questions and share information about successful and unsuccessful approaches. Stay informed about new products and methods. Unnecessary damage can be avoided by timely and effective communication between professionals. Understand that herds, and even individual deer, differ in habits and patterns. A strategy that was not successful in one instance may well be the best for another.

The URI Sustainable Landscape Program addresses the need for deer control strategies and works to develop an Integrated Pest Management approach. This approach includes the implementation of multiple control tactics. The table below lists some of the available methods for an IPM approach to deer control.

Method Description Examples
Least-Preferred Plants

Use of plants that are not preferred or least-preferred by deer

Click here for list of plants
Repellents Commercial and homemade products that can be applied to the plants to deter deer from browsing and rubbing

Deer Away, Tree Guard, Deer-Off, Scoot Deer, Exxpel, Human Hair, Soap, Coyote Urine.

Fencing A fence to physically keep deer away from plants within a large area

Electric, non-electric, slanted, polytape, dipped rope, etc.

Tree Shelters and Wraps Physical barriers to prevent damage to specific plants

Trunk wraps for rubbing, shelters to prevent accessibility, etc.

Scare Tactics Offensive sights or sounds to scare the deer Dogs, scarecrows, cannons, radios, motion-sensored sprinklers, etc.
Lure Crops and Devices Crops placed to deter deer or to train deer Electrified peanut butter discs, apple trees, corn, etc.
Hunting Legal hunting of deer to keep population low Sport hunting and nuisance permits from DEM


Wildlife Control
This section contains tips on how residents may participate toward the control of wildlife problems.

Landscape and Gardens
Suggested methods in how to control wildlife damage.

Deer Control Plants known to repulse deer click here.

Ground Hog Control

Mole Control Methods

Chipmonk Control Methods

Raccoon Control Methods

Squirrel Control Methods

Pets Management
Suggested methods in how to manage Cats and Dogs.

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