Dogs for Deer Management
One advantage of using trained herding dogs for urban and other deer management applications is that they replicate some of the behaviors of predators in an environment where predator introduction may not be feasible.  Deer are more likely to move around and not congregate in an area where focused browsing may be particularly harmful to the ecology or costly.  Of course, you can ask any sheep herder if a border collie can be a useful and safe manager of flighty ungulates.  Well trained herding dogs can reproduce the ecology of fear that keeps deer moving in the environment, distributing their impact without risk to the human population.  With low cost wireless dog fence available that can cover 100's of acres, border collies acting on their own can safely keep deer from congregating in large areas at a very low annual cost. 

Parks Canada is taking an innovative approach to rebuild the natural wariness among habituated mule deer in Waterton Lakes National Park. This video follows specially-trained border collies as they shepherd these deer out of the community. To find out more about this project in Waterton Lakes National Park visit: www.parkscanada.gc.ca/waterton


... We have placed dogs all over the country working with shepherds, stockmen and farmers on hills, lowland farms and smallholdings - herding sheep, deer, goats, poultry and dairy cattle. Our assessments and experience enable us to find out the best direction for a working stock dog in our care...

Wireless dog fence to 100 acres and more


Our Deer Control Dogs June, 2014 Maryland, Ruppert Nurseries
     One of the best defenses in our battle to protect our trees is The Ruppert Four-Member Canine Force. Harley, Captain, Hazel and Star patrol about 50 acres of the 600 acre Ruppert Nursery farm. They work in pairs and have their territory defined by an Invisible Fence system which utilizes radio waves to communicate with each dog’s collar to tell them when they are at the limits of their territory. The dogs have automatic feeder and water stations so they eat and drink whenever they want and as much as they want...

The Border Collie Museum, Herding Dogs of Asia
... Reindeer herding dogs are the smallest of the laika-types and expected not only to herd reindeer, but to hunt small animals, like the Arctic fox whose pelt provides income. The reindeer-herding laika is often called the Nenets Herding Laika. It is a medium-sized dog with a thick double coat that is solid or bicolored, in grey, tan, black or white, similar to the Lapphunds...

Use of confined dogs for reducing deer damage to apple orchards P Curtis, R Rieckenberg - 2005 - digitalcommons.unl.edu
... We assessed the efficacy of free-ranging dogs, confined by buried fences and electronic collars, for reducing deer damage to apple trees in three commercial apple orchards in Oswego County, New York State... gross economic returns were higher from dog-protected than control plots in both 1995 (by 51%) and 1996 (by 184%). After two seasons of growth, trees planted in May 1995 had nearly three times the cross-sectional area, and were 60% taller if they were in dog-protected rather than control plots. Dogs provided increased economic returns for growers at much lower cost than conventional barrier fencing...

Oppose the Whippenscott Deer Cull [use trained dogs] February 9, 2012 United Kingdom, Huffington Post UK 
     For the last six years I have campaigned against an absurd condition in the Hunting Act which bans my use of dogs to manage the wild deer on my farm at Whippenscott in North Devon unless I shoot them. The part of Devon where I live is home to a fantastic herd of native red deer. If the herd is allowed to congregate in certain ecologically sensitive areas they can do serious damage both to bio diversity and to the productivity of my land.
     I have developed a completely humane non lethal way of dealing with this problem. I simply take my pet dogs round my property on a regular basis. Deer are naturally scared of dogs whom they perceive as predators. When the dogs encounter the deer the deer run off occasionally briefly chased by the dogs. Follow Giles Bradshaw on Twitter:www.twitter.com/gilesbradshaw 

Part two: A wildlife biologist's continued musings about urban deer issues November 23, 2011 Canada, BCLocalNews, Bob Lincoln
... Musing on the urban deer conflict, here are a couple options that occur to a wildlife biologist: Deer are inherently fearful of dogs. A dog confined to a landowner’s property, either by rigorous training or by an ‘invisible fence,’ could stand guard to keep deer away from a specific property.... Trained sheep-herding dogs, such as border collies, under control of a professional dog handler, could restore aversion of specific urban neighborhoods...

Livestock Herding Dogs:  A Unique Application for Wildlife Damage Management April 10, 1995 Great Plains Wildlife Damage Control Workshop Proceedings
... . We report on the applications and effectiveness of this technique as employed on golf courses, farms, and other areas. The use of trained herding dogs appears to be a feasible and effective method for reducing wildlife damage in a variety of urban and rural settings...

Managing White-Tailed Deer in Suburban Environments A Technical Guide [PDF], Anthony J. DeNicola, Kurt C. VerCauteren, Paul D. Curtis, and Scott E. Hygnstrom, A publication of Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Wildlife Society–Wildlife Damage Management Working Group, and the Northeast Wildlife Damage Research and Outreach Cooperative
     Agricultural producers (Torrice 1993) and researchers (Beringer et al. 1994) have used invisible fencing systems and dogs for reducing deer damage to crops. Information collected indicated that two dogs contained within an invisible fence afforded protection to apple trees within about 500 yards of their kennel (approximately 60 acres) during summer, but the effective radius was reduced to about ten acres during winter when snow restricted movement of the dogs. Beringer et al. (1994) documented that two dogs within an invisible fence were more effective for protecting five-acre plots of white pine (Pinus strobus) seedlings from deer damage than a commercial deer repellent. 


Charleston Urban Deer Hunt Sets Record January 3, 2014 West Virginia, wsaz.com 
... Charleston's ninth urban deer hunt set a record with at least 100 deer killed...  there was an uptick in deer activity a few years ago after dog leash laws were enacted ...

Betterton: Number of deer worries residents February 12, 2012 Maryland, The Star Democrat 
... George Timko, of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, gave a summary of methods for reducing the number of deer in a given area. According to Mayor Carolyn Sorge, some of the approved methods include introduction of predators, yearly birth control, building high fences and introducing dogs trained to chase deer off farmland. ...

... Man’s best friend may be the best deterrent.   A dog free to roam around a yard will keep even the most tempted deer away from a garden or home.  Because deer visit yards mostly at night, it is important that the dog have access to the yards at all hours...

Deer are a problem for farmers August 4, 2013 Minnesota, Duluth News Tribune
... Robert Olen ... said. Where fences are too expensive or unwanted, a well-trained dog can be effective ... Repellants, if used carefully and consistently, can work, too.  ...

State mulls new dog rules for trailing wounded deer May 25, 2013 Texas, Austin American-Statesman
...  In the late-1980s, the state banned the use of dogs to chase deer in 35 East Texas counties... Today it seems illegal dog hunting to chase and move deer around the big woods in East Texas has virtually disappeared to the point that department biologists and wardens have suggested to parks and wildlife commissioners that hunters be allowed to use trained trailing dogs under owner control to help track wounded deer in some of those counties...

Scientists turn to dogs to track, protect endangered animals September 25, 2012 Washington, Public Radio International PRI
...Samuel Wasser, the Conservation Canines program and director of the university's Center for Conservation Biology... says the dogs are an "extremely efficient" way of gathering samples — typically animal feces...Our dogs have an incredible play drive for a ball... The caribou were not declining anywhere near as quickly as government projections had implied... The government had been considering reducing the wolf population to protect the caribou, but Wasser's team's research also discovered the wolves are eating few caribou and mostly deer...

Use of Tracking Dogs is an Old Tradition, Recently Revised in Some States

The life of a deer-tracking canine January 10, 2016 Alabama, Montgomery Advertiser
...  eventually the time will come when you need a tracking dog. Unfortunately not all shot placements are perfect and mortally wounded deer do escape from being recovered by the hunter ... This year, Lucy has recovered 42 deer that were still alive ...

Fish & Game's new pup should be a natural at tracking down poachers November 26, 2016 New Hampshire, NewHampshire.com
... Training a Fish and Game dog is a year-long, full-time endeavor, Benvenuti said. Cora comes to work with him every day; he trains with her on tracking and finding game and evidence...

Star man uses dachshund to find injured deer for hunters December 19, 2015 North Carolina, Asheboro Courier Tribune
... “Most of the deer that are lost and died could have been recovered with the use of an experienced dog,” he said. “Tracking with dogs has only been allowed in North Carolina for the past four years...

Why Can't I Use My Dog? October 29, 2014 Bowhunting.Com 
... the use of dogs to recover wounded big game is still not legal in all or part of 15 states... around the beginning of the 20th century most of the rest of the United States outlawed the use of dogs in any way with deer hunting.  This coincided with those states formalizing their game laws as state game agencies began regulating hunting activities.  Over hunting of whitetail deer by market hunters using dogs to actually hunt, not just recover deer, is often cited as the cause of the ban...

... State agencies say they have many reasons why they won’t allow it: enforcement issues, fear of herd decimation, concern for dogs’ safety, etc... Yates only uses his Lacy dogs to track wounded deer for family and friends – he’s recovered about 10 deer, including one that went 156 inches – others use deer-trailing dogs more professionally.  ... these two dogs ... have recovered more than 800 deer that would have otherwise likely gone unfound ...

Deer Search: Helping Hunters For Over 30 Years December 30, 2012 New York, WGRZ-TV
" Our mission of Deer Search in New York State is to reduce the crippling loss of big game in the state.We do that with tracking deer with dogs , with our license. We also do that by educating hunters. " ... Gary Katta is President of Deer Search WNY... To many hunters and their families, a lost deer can mean a lot. " They count on that to sustain them through the year, or partially sustain them"

This video is from 2012 and shows Mariel when she passed her Deer Search tracking certification. Mariel died suddenly from hemorrhagic gastroenteritis on Jan 18th, 2014. The day before she died Mariel hunted and tracked one last time to its full extend... Her last track was last Thursday in Shelter Island at the Mashomack - Published January 20, 2014



Law sparks a sea change for dog runners August 11, 2013 Texas, Houston Chronicle
... For generations, running deer with dogs had been a primary method of hunting deer...  in the early 1980s when a Parks and Wildlife study indicated deer herds on East Texas tracts not hunted with dogs were healthier than on those where dogs were run...Next week, the TPW Commission will consider and almost certainly approve a proposal to drop the tracking dog prohibition in another 12 East Texas counties, allowing hunters there the opportunity to use the amazingly effective tracking dogs to locate deer that otherwise would have been lost and wasted...

... “I think if you shoot a deer, and need help recovering that deer, you should be able to (use a dog) and recover that deer,” said Tim Donges, an El Dorado hunter and Quality Deer Management Association member. “Anytime we can help a hunter recover a deer, we should do what we can.” ...  “a culture” existing in parts of southern Missouri where some use packs of free-running hounds to illegally chase deer, hurt the cause...

Finding Lost Deer: It's Time For Tracking Dogs To Go National October 10, 2013 Minnesota, Field and Stream (blog)
... Kasey Morgan, a member of the United Blood Trackers (http://www.unitedbloodtrackers.org), a national organization whose members own dogs trained to find deer ... If you live in one of the 27 states that allow the use of tracking dogs, this story is probably a familiar one. I, however, do not. Minnesota is one of 13 states that completely forbid the use of dogs to find big game (other prominent whitetail states, like Pennsylvania and Kansas, are included in this number). I’m in lock-step with the United Blood Trackers; it’s time for this number to shrink to zero...

Allow dogs to track wounded deer in woods December 11, 2013 Pennsylvania, Daily Local News
... in Pennsylvania deer hunters were banned from using dogs during the hunt. The reasons were many... The ban, though, had an unintended consequence. Hunters could not use dogs to track deer they’ve wounded or killed and recover them... There is nothing worse, one hunter said, than losing the track of a wounded deer... Dogs trained to track deer could help... The matter is in the hands of the state Legislature ...

Michigan deer trackn hounds October 11, 2013 Mike Avery's Outdoor Blog
... Rob Miller of the Michigan Deer Trackn Hounds group. Rob and his guys have dogs trained to follow the scent of one specific deer so they can usually recover an animal even without a blood trail...

Can't Find Your Deer? Call in the Dogs November 1, 2013 Field and Stream (blog)
... make sure your state allows the use of tracking dogs ... If you've hit a deer and know for sure the shot was too far back, the best thing to do is back out and call the dogs.... travel 200 yards without finding the buck, back out and get help...


News and Research

5 Reasons Every Winery Needs a Dog September 15, 2017 California, Modern Farmer
... Dogs can also be beneficial when it comes to spooking deer ... "Often a stray deer will get into our vines only to regret it immediately as it is quickly escorted out,” ... a pair of Australian Shepherds ...

Elkford council votes against deer cull February 25, 2017 British Columbia, The Free Press
... council discussed pursuing alternative means to manage the deer population such as hazing, a process where the animal is harassed – usually with trained dogs - to such an extent that it decides to leave town and move on.  The practice is illegal in B.C. but the District is hoping to move forward with a pilot project if it gets permission...

'Bark Ranger' Helps Lick Dangerous Wildlife Encounters In National Park September 7, 2016 Alberta, Northeast Indiana Public Radio
...Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada ... started using collies in 2009 around aggressive deer protecting their newborn fawns. "Like, for everybody involved, the deer and the dogs, it only took a day or two to figure out what their role was, and after the first week, the deer really came to understand that that was the new reality in the town site," ... Within a few years, hostile encounters between deer and people in Waterton fell from 40 each season to just four...

Use of livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) to reduce predation on livestock is increasing 2016 Ecology and Evolution, Linda van Bommel, Chris N. Johnson
... Use of livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) ... Avoidance of areas with LGDs by large herbivores can benefit livestock production by reducing competition for pasture and disease transmission from wildlife to livestock, and providing managers with better control over grazing pressure. Suppression of mesopredators could benefit the small prey of those species. Synthesis and applications: In pastoral areas, LGDs can function as a surrogate top-order predator, controlling the local distribution and affecting behavior of large herbivores and mesopredators. LGDs may provide similar ecological functions to those that in many areas have been lost with the extirpation of native large carnivores...

Stray dog protects American Rose Center gardens June 7, 2016 Louisiana, KSLA-TV
... Rosie is a stray [border collie] who showed up at the gardens a few years ago, and she has taken it upon herself to protect the gardens. The working dog may look timid, but she has corralled deer and shooed away various wildlife over the past few years from eating the precious plants...

‘Bark Ranger’ to Protect Glacier Park Wildlife May 27, 2016 Montana, FlatheadBeacon
... Glacier Park is implementing a Bark Ranger pilot project to determine if a trained herding dog could help reduce human-wildlife interactions at Logan Pass this summer ... Waterton Lakes National Park, in Canada, contracts with a business that uses border collies to move habituated deer out of the Waterton townsite before the deer give birth. This has greatly reduced the number of dangerous deer–human encounters...

Deporting deer: B.C. towns try innovative approach to removing unwanted ungulates December 26, 2015 British Columbia, The Vancouver Sun 
... The Animal Alliance of Canada, for one, has favoured dealing with problem deer through ... “hazing” the animals with dogs.  “Although hazing sounds like it is hard on the animals and likely to cause accidents and property damage, in reality, the deer are gently pressured by specially trained dogs and gingerly pick their way through the streets and out of town in the early dawn hours,” ...

Oak Bay, Public asked to help with Oak Bay deer count December 13, 2015 British Columbia, Times Colonist
... Gates, a retired wildlife biologist who specialized in deer, elk, moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep ... speculated leash laws for dogs might be one reason deer have been moving into Greater Victoria over the last 10 years. Decades ago, many dogs were able to run free and chase away deer...

Got elk? Get paint balls October 23 , 2015 Oregon, Curry Coastal Pilot
...  he got a dog. And he trained that dog to chase off the deer... Problem solved! ...  their bigger cousins — elk ... suggested a paint-ball gun ... SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT! ... The elk dispersed. Rapidly ...  I’m signing up for paint-ball classes...

Cranbrook, City awaiting word on provincial deer committee February 17, 2014 British Columbia, dailytownsman.com 
... we talked about our interest with having more tools to manage the urban deer ... hazing with dogs. Kimberley tried a one day experiment last spring and it worked quite well according to Kimberley anyway ... [although the cost of a one day experiment, around $300 for the day for the dog manager, the cost doesn't reflect the cost of an ongoing program where the dogs can be just added to the tools available for animal control personnel or police, like the police K-9 units]

Invermere has voted on the deer cull. Now what? November 4, 2013  British Columbia, Cranbrook Daily Townsman
... communities in B.C. cannot haze deer. It's against the Wildlife Act. Even though it is done with great success on elk in the National Park towns of Banff and Jasper. Even though an experiment last year in Kimberley clearly showed that aversive conditioning can work...

Many humane choices in dealing with deer issue July 10, 2013 British Columbia, Canada.com, Kelly Carson
... Kimberley killed 100 deer, only to have the deer count rise three months later. This year Kimberley has undertaken a pilot project to implement aversive conditioning (hazing) with trained dogs...

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA pushing for changes to allow deer hazing (by dogs) June 19, 2013 British Columbia, Cranbrook Daily Townsman
... parts of the Wildlife Act are simply archaic, in that you can get a permit to cull deer but not to haze them.  "I think the part around dogs was originally intended to make sure people handled their dogs around deer, that pets didn't chase wildlife, but that means hazing is not allowed... But now many well-informed people feel hazing under the right conditions is an appropriate tool for deer management... I know the local government in Kimberley wants to have that option." ...

Kimberely, Deer hazing trial a success: What next? May 31, 2013 British Columbia, Cranbrook Daily Townsman
... The City of Kimberley and the Urban Deer Committee believe that they have successfully demonstrated that  using dogs to haze deer and train them to stay out of town is a viable tool in an urban deer management plan... "You'd be looking at roughly $300 to $350 per day if not more, for the use of the dogs. Having said that, for me I feel the money would be well spent... " ... Mayor Ron McRae.

Deer moved in Marysville on Wednesday May 29, 2013 British Columbia, Cranbrook Daily Townsman
... While most people in Marysville were still in bed, or enjoying their morning coffee, two border collies — Bob and Tess — were moving deer. There was no fuss, no muss, no stampede — just a group of deer moving out of town under the guidance of two very well trained dogs. Kimberley's one-time only trial with aversive conditioning of urban deer ... "It went well," Zehnder said...

Release the hounds! One man's plan to rid Syracuse neighborhood of deer September 11, 2012 New York, Syracuse.com
... John W. Laundre, who specializes in predator ecology as a biology professor at the State University of New York at Oswego ...To test his theory ...A control group of homes would not make any changes to the way they handle their dogs or their yards. Other owners would install underground electric fences, train their dogs not to cross the boundary, and allow the animals to roam freely in the yard at night ...

Why Seven Hills Vineyard Has Gone to the Dogs August 15, 2012 Washington, Seatle Weekly Blogs
Jon Davies ... assistant viticulturist at Seven Hills Vineyard,... We had planted a few new vineyards that were isolated and the deer were taking their fawns up there and training their fawns to hang out all day... I came up with the idea to put some dogs out there. Initially, last year, we started with one ... we have four dogs this year ... For me the training was territory boundaries so I would take them on the rounds - we have a set path along the boundary of the vineyard ... It has worked very well for the specific purpose of stopping deer damage... 

All about animals [herding urban deer with dogs] April 23, 2012 British Columbia, Cranbrook Daily Townsman
A conference hosted by the Columbia Mountains Institute (CMI) ... "Urban Wildlife: Challenges and Management" ... Chris Jobe of Canine Solutions (caninesolutions.ca), from near Medicine Hat ... Using a quartet of ducks as a model and her border collie Fly, Jobe demonstrated a herding technique that was used last year in Waterton, which involved herding urban out of town just before fawning season. Jobe said the method worked remarkably well in Waterton, and added that she experienced not a single instance of aggression from the deer towards the dogs. She said the behaviour of the ducks while being herded was very similar to that of the deer (except the deer had a bigger "flight window"). 

... Monty -- a border collie with a passion for chasing birds, deer ... "For us, it's an alternative to killing the wildlife. No one wants that," said Belli, manager at the airport ... border collies -- often abandoned by their owners because of their obsessive desire to chase just about anything that moves -- may be airport officials' best hope of decreasing the estimated 2,900 birds and mammals that civil airplanes hit every year ... 

Deer and other wildlife benefit from mild winter January 31, 2012 Colorado, Aspen Times
Deer struggled to survive in the deep snow of the 2007-08 winter in the Colorado mountains. This year, the mild winter has been a "godsend," according to ... Perry Will, area wildlife manager ,,, allows deer and elk to conserve more of their energy because they haven't been trudging through deep snow ... “Typically we don't see animals up that high,” ... prefer to stay at high elevations as long as weather allows, in part because they avoid predators and disturbances from humans and dogs ...

Rose Valley to permit bow hunting for deer management September 27, 2013 Pennsylvania, Delco News Network
... Environmental Advisory Council liaison Dave Firn. “The idea is to maintain, not to eliminate, in the hope of preventing a future cull.” [effect of hunting on deer population] ... The need to hunt in the Saul Wildlife Sanctuary, the area behind the Old Mill popular for hiking and dog walking, was challenged by Andy Saul. Noting only four deer were taken in the parkland last year, he questioned the necessity of including it as a hunting destination...  “As it is, all the dogs chase the deer out of the sanctuary.” ...

Works for Geese
... The presence of geese is leading to the degradation of the [Reflecting] pool water due to defecation ... the Park Service wants to use border collies to fix the goose problem.  These dogs are bred to herd sheep so the Park Service’s goal is to have them do the same with the geese, forcing them into different areas to do their business ...

Dogs for Wildlife Population Estimation
Estimating Cougar Densities in Northeast Oregon Using Conservation Detection Dogs, Presentation to the Wildlife Society Conference, 2014, Presenter: Greg Davidson, Find It Detection Dogs
     Estimating densities of cougar (Puma concolor) is important for managing cougars and their prey, but remains challenging due to the cougar's elusive and solitary behavior. Traditional methods for estimating abundance and density of cougars require several years of extensive and expensive mark-recapture work. Greg Davidson, Find It Detection Dogs, and his co-authors, Bruce Johnson (Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife), Darren Clarke (Oregon State University), Lisette Waits (University of Idaho) and Jennifer Adams (University of Idaho) evaluate a non-invasive, genetic capture-recapture method to estimate cougar population size and density, surveying separate areas in northeast Oregon using conservation detection dogs trained to locate scat.

Effect of Dogs on Wildlife

Study sniffs out effects of dogs, humans on wildlife October 4, 2016 North Carolina, Phys
... "The bottom line of our work is that we have a ton of dogs using our parks, but most stay on-trail and don't harass wildlife much," says co-author Roland Kays, wildlife biologist with North Carolina State University ... Using camera traps, the project documented over 23,000 cases of dogs using natural areas, but 99 percent of dogs stuck to the trail and 97 percent were with their owners... [published in Biological Conservation]

Dogs can be shot in some states when they chase deer
Since in some states a dog can be shot for chasing a deer, it is good to check local regulations and work with government agencies when using dogs for deer management.

...  different jurisdictions have different laws ... “Under state law, if it [dog] goes after any hoofed protected wildlife, like deer, your animal can be shot and killed,” ... a harassing dog can affect a moose’s odds of getting through a harsh winter.  On Forest Service land a well-behaved, unleashed dog probably won’t draw any attention ...
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Deer Friendly,
Sep 22, 2015, 3:13 PM