Deer Research Papers for Information and Comparisons
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Development of a New Deer Repellent for the
Protection of Forest Resources
A number of commercially available products are marketed to deter browsing of trees and shrubs by deer. These products contain a broad range of presumed active ingredients—some more effective than others (Nolte and Wagner 2000). The majority of these products are contact repellents that must be applied directly onto the plants to be effective. Among contact repellents, four different modes of action have been proposed: flavor aversion learning, taste modification, chemical irritation, and fear (Nolte and Wagner 2000).
We recently demonstrated that a number of methionine containing proteins minimize browsing by making treated plants less palatable to deer (Kimball and Nolte 2005). Among these, casein has the potential for commercial use as a deer epellent. Here, we describe three experiments conducted to evaluate several protein sources as repellents for protecting conifers from deer browse damage. We sought to develop a new repellent formulation that effectively minimized browse damage, was easy to prepare in water, and was relatively inexpensive versus commercial repellent
Forty-eight captive 1- to 3-year old, black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) were used for the bioassays conducted in 0.2 ha outdoor pens. The same 24 deer were used in experiments 1 and 2; whereas 24 different deer were used in experiment 3. Shelter and ad libitum pelleted basal ration (USDA Deer Pellet; X-Cel Feeds, Tacoma, WA), water, and mineral block were provided throughout each experiment. Naturally occurring forage in the pens was limited to an assortment of cool season grasses.
Accordingly, the results from each experiment must be considered independently. Any comparisons among the three experiments can only be made with respect to the control treatments. These experiments indicate that HC is an effective repellent for reducing browse damage to forest resources. Specifically, a liquid formulation consisting of 8% or 12% HC with 0.26% latex-based sticker shows great promise for operational use. Although this formulation offers no advantages versus commercially available products with respect to labor investments (it must be delivered to seedlings in the same manner as the commercial products), potential savings in material costs are significant.
At the time of publication, a 12% HC formulation would cost approximately $6 USD per 4.0 L in total material costs. Four liters would be capable of treating _500 30-cm seedlings. This price is based on the current retail price for the latex sticker and the cost of HC when purchased in bulk (e.g., 900 Kg pallet).
The price per equivalent volume when HC is purchased in smaller quantities (e.g., 22 Kg bags) would be approximately $8 USD. The cost of an HC repellent formulation could be significantly reduced by using an 8% HC formulation, which was found to be as effective as the 12% formulation in these bioassays. However, because the price of HC is subject to worldwide milk stores and economics, the price of a HC repellent formulation could fluctuate proportionally. By comparison, commercial deer repellent products purchased in bulk or concentrate typically cost between $15 and $25 USD per equivalent coverage.
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