Are deer causing traffic accidents and stripping away the vegetation in your community? You’re not alone.
Deer cause 1.5 million car accidents, about 150 human fatalities, and more than 10,000 personal injuries every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says. They also run up a $1 billion-a-year tab in crop and timber losses.
Whether you want to shoot them, put them on birth control, or fence them out, here’s how to work with community leaders to get better deer-management programs in your community.
Learn about deer management
If you want to win a fight for better deer control, you need to understand the latest deer-management tools and techniques, so you know what works and what doesn’t. New York State’s deer-control guide explains the options for managing deer in urban and suburban settings.
The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management offers research-based recommendations for deer control, along with a list of university publications on the subject.
Most sources list six broad deer-control techniques: exclusion (fencing), cultural methods (planting deer-resistant plants), scare techniques, repellents, culling or harvesting, and birth control.
Align with agricultural allies
If you live in a suburban or rural community, you’ll likely find allies interested in controlling deer populations in the agricultural sector. Farmers suffer significant and ongoing losses from uncontrolled deer populations. The National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association provides a list of state associations and contacts for local farming organizations.
Know the regulations
Each state has its own guidelines for wildlife control. Before you lobby for deer-control measures, contact your state wildlife agency for a list of regulations. State agencies can also give you technical advice on how to control deer in your own yard.
Researching tools, techniques, and regulations will probably require three to four hours of your time.
Contact government officials
Now that you’re knowledgeable about deer-control methods, state regulations, and which interest groups will back deer-management programs, get in touch with local officials. They are in the best position to assess current control programs and spark new initiatives.
Suggest they form an advisory board with representatives from all interested groups in the community. Bringing groups together from the start will help avoid conflict down the road. It should take you two to three hours to contact officials and talk with them about setting up these types of meetings.
Chances are, not everyone in your community will support adoption of an integrated deer-control plan, especially one that includes hunting. Expect resistance. Local officials should help proponents and opponents of the various deer-management options reach consensus.
“Some groups will only support non-lethal methods, which we would all of course prefer,” says Stephen Vantassel, project coordinator for wildlife damage control and distance education for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources. “But when deer overpopulate in an area, they conflict with human interests, in turn threatening their own survival. That’s why we support an integrated plan, with a number of options on the table. You probably won’t get 100% agreement in the community, but the payoff in reduced crop and property damage is worth the effort.”