Date of Award
Master of Science
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Ralph W. Dimmick
Michael R. Pelton, Charles Graves
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) numbers are expanding rapidly in Tennessee. West Tennessee, currently supporting the highest deer densities, is extensively cultivated for crops susceptible to deer damage. As deer numbers increase, so also does the potential for negative farmer-deer interactions caused by deer crop damage or, indirectly, by the inconsiderate or dangerous behavior of deer hunters. The objectives of this two-part study were to (I) determine how farmers view the expanding deer herd, gauging their estimates of deer damage to their crops and their tolerance of this damage in exchange for the benefits of having deer on their lands and (11) to evaluate a deer repellent on an area where tenant farmers were reporting heavy crop damage by deer. In Part I, questionnaires were mailed to approximately 35% of the farmers in three west Tennessee counties during February and May, 1983. The useable single-mailing response rate (no follow-up mailings) was 35%. Approximately 41% of all respondents reported no damage to their crops, while the remaining 59% reported light to severe damage. The majority of farmers (62%) reported that they enjoyed having deer in their area. Fifteen percent of the respondents felt that deer were a nuisance. Most respondents favored keeping deer at present population levels. For Part II, Hinder, a commercially available repellent, was selected for study. It is EPA approved for use on vegetable and field crops intended for human use. In 1982, four 2-ha soybean fields were used to determine Minder's effectiveness in protecting commercial soybeans from deer damage. One field in each pair was randomly selected for treatment with Hinder, the second served as a control. Two different fields were used in 1983. One portion of each was treated with Hinder; the other portion acted as a control. Neither plant height nor percentage of stems browsed were significantly different on treated vs. untreated fields. A second aspect of the study utilized .004-ha plots planted to soybeans in 4-row strips in a randomized-complete-block design. Distance between blocks ranged from approximately 0.2 km to 2.4 km. Eighty-two plots in 1982 and 92 plots in 1983 were distributed among 6 blocks. One-half the plots were treated with Hinder; remaining plots acted as controls. Plant height was greater (p < 0.01) and percentage of stems browsed by deer was lower (p < 0.01) on treated plots during the first 3 weeks of growth in 1982 and 2 weeks of 1983. However, all plants were destroyed by deer after treatment was halted at 3 and 4 weeks of those same years. Results indicate that Hinder may be effective as a repellent on small food plots only in initial stages of growth.
Tanner, Gary Phillip, "Deer, soybeans and farmers : a socio-economic study in west Tennessee. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1984.