At what point do deer become a nuisance for landowners? That’s the question an Ohio researcher is trying to answer with a survey he is conducting with farmers and nonfarmers.
Researcher Geoff Westerfield said the last survey on agricultural deer damage in Ohio was in 2000 and an update is needed on landowners’ tolerance of deer to determine if ODNR’s Division of Wildlife should make changes to its deer damage permitting process.
“Levels of tolerance that landowners have with deer can change over time and this survey will see what that level is locally and statewide. This is the first survey to deal with nonfarmers; in the past it’s only been farmers,” said Westerfield, who is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and doing this project for his thesis.
The survey will be mailed out later this month and Westerfield, who is assistant wildlife management supervisor at the Division of Wildlife, said he plans to have the project completed early next year.
Westerfield said that in the past, almost all deer damage permits were issued to farmers who complained about damage to their crops. But with Ohio becoming more urbanized and the deer population continuing to grow, more nonfarmers, park districts and cities have been applying for the permits because of damage to landscaping and gardens and loss of biodiversity.
Part of Westerfield’s research will look at what type of alternatives can be presented to landowners, park districts and cities that apply for deer damage permits.
“I’ll be looking at some avenues for dealing with deer damage they may not know about to see if another option is acceptable,” he said.