Damage Control

Jim Braithwait pulls into the driveway of a landowner who had complained of deer eating his crops.

“I hope you brought your checkbook,” quips the landowner, as Braithwait exits his truck.

“Your deer are destroying my sweet corn!”

This type of welcome is not uncommon for Braithwait. He’s a wildlife damage biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, and reducing or eliminating wildlife damage issues is his specialty.

He accompanies the frustrated landowner to the 7-acre sweet corn patch and explains that the state’s deer do not “belong” to the Department of Conservation, but to each individual of the state. Compensation for damage would not be a wise use of taxpayers’ dollars because it would not solve the problem.

Surveying the damage, it becomes clear that raccoons are the corn-eating culprits—not deer. Braithwait explains the differences in deer versus raccoon damage and recommends that a low-strung electric fence be installed. The fence is fairly inexpensive compared to the potential profits from the sweet corn.

Missouri is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, and most citizens enjoy interacting with it, whether by hunting, photographing or simply watching. That blessing, however, can become a curse when the animals we normally enjoy become a nuisance or cause damage to our personal property.

Emotions may run the gamut from aggravation to outright anger when a nuisance turns to damage. Knowing what to do about it can be equally frustrating.

NUISANCE vs. DAMAGE

Wildlife complaints fall into the nuisance animal category when an animal comes in conflict with a person’s view of when and where that animal should be.

General assistance is available by calling local Conservation offices. Personnel there can provide valuable information and resources for alleviating particular problems. Brochures are also available on our Website.  Conservation agents are specially trained and experienced in handling more complicated nuisance issues.

The most common approaches for controlling nuisance wildlife include removal of the attraction, exclusion and removal of the animal.

For example, simple solutions for a nuisance raccoon might include removing attractants such as garbage or pet food, repairing or filling openings around structures and/or trapping (with a cage-type live trap) and removing the offending animal. Sporting goods stores, lawn and garden supply stores and farm equipment supply stores often carry nuisance control equipment. The Wildlife Code of Missouri allows for property owners to control nuisance wildlife that cause damage.

When wildlife conflicts become more than a nuisance and involve property damages and financial losses, special steps must be taken.

Damage