Protecting Trees From Deer And Other Animals

When deer (and not only) devastate fruit trees and crops it is a significant economic damage.

Plastic protections for trees

Planting an orchard costs money, it is not only an economic investment but also a long term hope that such a plant will one day give us the hoped for fruits.

Compensation for farmers often turns out to be a pittance compared to the damage suffered, but compensation for individuals who see wild animals coming to feast in their gardens is practically non-existent.

Obviously, the survival instinct of wild animals induces them to find food where they can find it or where, simply, they find more appetizing cultivations than others.

If in the summer season wild animals can count on a very large territory to find food, more problems are encountered in winter.

It is very difficult to protect crops from a hungry animal willing to take risks to survive.

How deer damage fruit trees

In a way, if the damage that wild animals cause to trees in winter is "understandable", much more difficult to accept is the damage they cause to trees during other seasons.

Sometimes deer, stags and roe deer target trees not to feed themselves but just to "mark" territory.

This is done by rubbing their heads and antlers against the trunk of trees that may be irreparably damaged, especially if they are young and still fragile plants.

They do this to remove the tender part from the antler stage, which then tend to harden and take on the characteristic bone structure.

Therefore, fruit trees and bushes can be seriously damaged not only because ungulates use them to feed themselves, but also because they use them to "clean" their horns.

And we are limiting ourselves to ungulates, then there are also many other animals that can damage our plants, from birds to rodents.

Okay, granted that wildlife is beautiful but it's also a potential risk to fruit trees and many other crops, the question to ask is, "How do I avoid it?"

Types of deterrents

Well, I believe that systems to keep wild animals away can basically be grouped into four categories:

  • acoustic deterrents
  • odor repellents
  • visual deterrents
  • physical deterrents

All the systems that I am going to list act on one (or more) of the animal's senses, animals that, like us, have not developed particular cognitive skills, but they have senses much more developed than ours, just to ensure their survival.

The sense of smell, sight and hearing of wild animals are those on which these deterrents act.

Some are effective and others less so, also because, even though they do not have particular cognitive skills, animals learn quite quickly from experience and once they have understood that what may have frightened them once was only a "trick", that system loses efficiency and is easily ignored by ungulates and other wild animals.

But let's go list some of these systems in more detail.

Acoustic deterrents

acustic deer wildpig deterrent

Let's make it clear: the systems that would use frequencies not perceivable by the human ear, but highly annoying to some animals, are mostly useless crap.

When I speak of acoustic deterrents for wild animals, I mean loudspeakers capable of covering even vast spaces, emitting sounds that animals normally emit when they perceive a danger.

We all know that many hunters use calls to attract animals.

Bollards work the other way around: they emit hazard warnings that tell different species of wildlife to stay away from that area.

I think it's one of the most efficient systems for keeping deer, wild boar and some harmful bird species away from fruit trees.

The disadvantage is that it is a system that costs about 1000 USD and can cause disturbance to the neighborhood if there are other houses in the area.

In fact, the sounds of fear that ungulates emit must be reproduced by the Raptor (this is the name of this device) and must be audible from a great distance.

Like all systems, this acoustic deterrent must be calibrated correctly. If the emission intervals are too regular and prolonged in time, this induces habituation in wild animals that will end up not considering them anymore.

Given the high cost, it is an investment that must be evaluated carefully. If we have invested several thousand USD to plant an orchard, it is obvious that it could be an investment worth making.

It remains, in any case, a tool more suitable for professional farmers than for private individuals.

Liquid and Granular Fence: Deer Repellent

deer repellent

One of the most developed senses in animals is the sense of smell, we know this by simply looking at our dogs and how they smell and read the "messaging" left by their fellows.

Unpleasant odors disabuse animals from frequenting a certain territory and for this reason it is more correct to call them disabitants than dissuaders.

These products, based on natural elements, have such a strong smell that they drive away deer, porcupines, foxes and wild animals in general from the territory they surround.

It is a granular or liquid formulation that must be sprinkled on the ground in such a way as to create a belt around the orchard or individual trees.

A 5-liter package is sufficient to form a protective barrier for a perimeter of about 600 feet.

Even wildlife repellents must be used intelligently and gradually and one application is not enough to solve the problem.

The strong odor emitted by these wildlife deterrents is seen as a danger signal and constitutes a sort of invisible and impassable wall.

This system has the disadvantage of the odor that is obviously perceivable even by humans.

Moreover, the effectiveness is considerably reduced in case of rain, which ends up washing away the product.


Visual repellers

nocturnal wild animal repeller

The effectiveness of these deterrents is quite limited and works more with birds than with ungulates.

The blue light emitted by a system such as ISOTRONIC's, should also scare away wild birds because, according to what they say, blue light does not exist in nature and this should be a deterrent perhaps towards ungulates.

The reality is that, at best, their operation is very limited in time and then the wild animals get used to their presence as if nothing happened.

Other products emit red flashing lights when a wild animal approaches.

These flashing lights, therefore, cannot constitute a valid deterrent system and their cost is not even so low, even considering the fact that, even with this system, it would be necessary to create a protective border so as not to leave uncovered any possible passage.

You can buy this product here: LIGHT DEER REPELLENT

Physical deterrents

When people talk about physical deterrents to keep ungulates away from their crops, they basically mean fences that can prevent their passage.

As already mentioned, when an animal is hungry it will use all its resources to overcome obstacles.

Wire Netting

A fence net should be metallic, strong and well anchored.

The net should be at least two meters high because deer and roe deer jump very well and very high.

The limitations of this solution, in some ways very efficient, is that installing a fence costs money, both in terms of material and labor.

Moreover, it is very difficult to fence large plots of land, not to mention the fact that metal fences have a very impacting visual effect.

Electrified Fences

electrified fence

Much better than metal fences are electrified fences.

Electric fences are temporary fences that can be installed and then removed as needed.

Again, the cables must be laid at different heights so that animals cannot jump over or under them.

Since the cables are connected to a battery, every time they are touched they discharge electricity on the animal who soon learns to stay away from them.

Obviously, they are not shocking enough to cause permanent damage to the animals, except for a small shock.

Compared to single cables the electrified net is more efficient, but also more expensive.

The disadvantage of this system is that even pets and children can get electric shocks if they inadvertently touch the fence.

The good thing is that, if it is a space close to home and supervised by sight, you could simply turn off the system during the day and turn it on during the night, just when ungulates approach feeling safer and protected from the dark.

Making an electrified fence is not very complicated, but care must be taken when installing it so as to avoid current leakage that would quickly discharge the battery.

You can find this product here: ZAREBA ELECTRIC FENCE CHARGER

Tree Trunk Protectors

tree trunk protector

Finally, we come to the last solution I have found to protect fruit tree trunks from wild animals.

Last, but perhaps most common solution: that of wrapping the trunks with a protective net or box.

These protections prevent the trees from being debarked and gnawed on, both below, by rodents, and higher up, by deer and other ungulates.

However, their protection is limited only to the trunk of the tree and inevitably leaves bare the more tender twigs and buds that can become easy prey for a hungry animal in winter.

It is important that these trunk liners allow light and air to pass through to avoid moisture stagnation that could end up damaging the tree, rather than protecting it.

They work quite well for saplings in new plantings and can be maintained for the first three years of life, perhaps in addition to other protective systems.

You can find this product here: EVERSPROUT TREE TRUNK PROTECTOR

DIY Editor
Do-it-yourself enthusiast. I started with the renovation of my flat and then I changhed this passion into my job.