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Controlling Deer Damage In Georgia


White-tailed deer were once nearly eliminated in the state of Georgia, but through diligent wildlife management efforts deer were successfully restored throughout the state. In fact, current deer densities in some localized areas may inflict significant damage to forestry, agricultural or horticultural crops, home gardens, and shrubbery. However, deer are a valuable natural, recreational, and economic resource and because of their substantial value, control of deer damage needs careful consideration. Economic value derived from license fees, sporting equipment sales, food and land leases totaled more than $656 million per year (2006 USFWS National Survey) in Georgia alone. Although minor on a statewide basis, deer damage may be severe on a local level and very important to an affected individual farmer or homeowner. This brochure is intended to assist landowners experiencing deer damage problems.
The first step in controlling deer damage is making sure that deer rather than another animal are causing damage. Plant shoots or twigs browsed by deer have a crushed, torn appearance, while those eaten by rabbits are cleanly snipped at a sharp angle. This is because deer have no top front teeth and must pull and tear vegetation. Deer are the only native animals that routinely browse plants 4 to 5 feet above the ground. Fertilized and cultivated plants are often more attractive to deer than surrounding natural vegetation, especially in late winter and early spring. In high deer populations, more competition for natural foods increases this attraction. Landowners should determine the extent of the damage and estimate the monetary impact of the deer browsing. Not all deer browsing causes economic loss. The amount of time and money invested in damage control should be in proportion to the actual cost of the damage. This brochure explains methods of deer damage control. One or more of these methods should be effective in solving most problems caused by deer.

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