State Survey of White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmerman) Impacts on Residential Landscapes and the Green Industry of Alabama and an Evaluation of Commercial Deer Repellents
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Four studies, funded by Mississippi State University, were done to determine white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmerman) damage to ornamental plants and their impact on homeowners, as well as the nursery and landscape industries. The initial steps of this research included developing two surveys to assess deer damage and pressure throughout the state. The next step was to test commercial deer repellents on the market. The first survey was used to gather information from around the state relating to deer damage to residential landscapes. The survey asked many questions including have you experienced any deer damage on your property, what preventative methods to deter deer are being used, and what types of plants suffered the most damage. The second survey determined the amount of deer damage to nursery and landscape professionals located throughout the state. This survey includes 30 questions, and reached Alabama growers and retailers to establish their opinion on deer damage. Results indicate that most deer damage occurs in east central and southwest Alabama, with 68% and 66% of the total number of respondents from those areas answering “yes” to deer damage respectively. Six commercial deer repellents were evaluated for their toxic properties on snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L.) and dianthus (Dianthus plumaris L.). Products tested in this study were Deer Off®, Liquid Fence®, Deer Stopper®, Plantskydd®, Deer Pharm (organic), Deer Stopper® (organic). Through testing it was concluded that all of the repellents used in this study were safe to use on annual landscape species. The final test was completed at the Auburn University Deer Research Facility in Camp Hill, Alabama. Products tested in this study were Buck Off!, Deer Off®, Deer Stopper®, Liquid Fence®, and Plantskydd®. Three plant species were used including ‘G.G. Gerbing’ azalea (Rhododendron indicum L.‘G.G. Gerbing’), ‘Gumpo White’ azalea (Rhododendron eriocarpum L. ‘Gumpo White’), and indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica L.),. In Experiment 1, Liquid Fence® provided most protection compared to other treatments, and in Experiment 2, Deer Stopper® provided most protection against white-tailed deer damage.