Wildlife management strategies fall under six general categories:
1. Natural control is encouraged by providing adequate nesting, denning, and perching sites for predators.
2. Habitat modification includes various changes in orchard culture to discourage wildlife damage.
3. Exclusion is the use of fencing or protective barriers and is generally the most reliable but also the most costly control tactic.
4. Repellents are taste- or odor-based materials that inhibit damaging behavior and are cost-effective in orchards with low damage potential.
5. Scare tactics include visual scare devices and noisemakers to discourage bird feeding and the use of guard dogs to deter deer.
6. Population reduction options are trapping, baiting, or hunting and generally should be discussed with a wildlife conservation officer.
Optimum success results from combining an array of strategically timed management plans. If a vertebrate pest population is small, damage potential can sometimes be maintained at a low level with a program combining habitat modification and natural control. In situations where pest populations are already high, these two strategies must be integrated with additional control measures.
Fruit growers recognize wildlife as a valuable resource, and many set aside animal refuge areas. On the other hand, the consequences can be devastating if a wildlife damage monitoring and control program is not established prior to planting a new orchard. Budgets for preventing wildlife damage should be based on estimated impacts on profitability over the life of an orchard rather than a single year. Ani mal damage to agricultural crops is a complex issue, and the ultimate goal is to develop an ecological framework for wildlife stewardship.
Related Topics: PLANT-PEST RELATIONSHIPS AND THE ORCHARD ECOSYSTEM; SUSTAINABLE ORCHARDING
Baugher, T. A. (1986). Deer damage control: An integrated approach. Compact Fruit Tree 19:97-102.
Byers, R. E. (1984). Control and management of vertebrate pests in deciduous orchards of the eastern United States. Hort. Rev. 6:253-285.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (1997). Managing wildlife damage: The mission of APHIS' wildlife services program, Misc. pub.1543. Washington, DC: USDA.
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