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Whitetail Deer Damage in Marinette County

The vast majority of agricultural damage in Marinette County is caused by Whitetail deer. Whitetail deer are extremely adaptive and have learned to incorporate a wide variety of crops into their diet. Typically, deer damage specific crops during specific times of the year.

Damage in the springtime is relegated mainly to forage crops such as alfalfa and clover. However, deer are very opportunistic and will not pass up the chance to feed on any plantings that are better than the surrounding woody forest vegetation. An excellent example is the deer's preference of feeding on young winter wheat stands in the springtime. This early-greening crop can be damaged by both consumption of the plant and trampling of the tender young roots.

Deer continue to damage forage crops throughout the summer and into October. Starting around late July, the deer begin to detassel developing field and sweet corn crops. The deer pull the tassel from the developing corn plant and then eat the sweet, succulent shoot exposed at the bottom of the tassel. The deer also bite off the ends of developing cobs, creating a "nubbin" cob, about 2 -3 inches long, that seldom matures.
Deer will feed on the developing corn through all stages of maturity to harvest. Along the way, the deer will feed on almost any crops that are within their range. Some favorites include soybeans, pumpkins, watermelon, green beans, potatoes, and buckwheat. Complete consumption of any crop deer feed on is rare, but one bite taken is sufficient to induce spoilage.

Damage to agricultural crops does not end with the growing season. Because deer have become so accustomed to human presence, they will take advantage of any available food source during the course of the winter. Favorite targets include silage and haylage bags, exposed round bales, and corn cribs. Even close proximity to houses or outbuildings seldom deters feeding.

Large overwintering Whitetail deer populations are also responsible for extensive overbrowsing of saplings in yarding areas, virtually eliminating forest regeneration in those areas. In addition to the damage done in forests and fields, deer also affect motorists.