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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Use negative stimuli to deter consumption of livestock feed by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Key messages

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  • One study evaluated the effects of using negative stimuli to deter consumption of livestock feed by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict. This study was in the USA.





  • Human-wildlife conflict (1 study): A replicated, controlled study in the USA found that white-tailed deer presence at cattle feeders was usually reduced by a device that produced a negative stimulus.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated, controlled study in 2005 of captive deer on a farm in Michigan, USA (Seward et al. 2007) found that a deer-resistant cattle feeder device reduced white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus presence at feeders for the first five of six weeks. Fewer deer were recorded on camera traps within 1 m of feeders with active devices (0–0.2 deer/activation) than of feeders without devices (0.7–1.9 deer/activation) during the first five treatment weeks. There was no significant difference during the sixth week (active device: 0.4 deer/activation; no device: 1.2 deer/activation). During four weeks before device activation, deer number recorded on camera traps were similar between feeders with (2.3–2.9 deer/activation) and without (2.1–2.7 deer/activation) devices. Three feeders each were protected and unprotected by devices. Devices entailed a 3.4-m horizontal bar with a 1.6-m arm hanging on chains at each end, down to 45 cm above the ground. The rig rotated on a central pivot for 45 s, when an animal entered an infra-red-surveillance zone. Hanging arms struck animals within 1 m of feeders, startling, but not hurting, them. Monitoring, using camera traps, spanned 10 February to 10 March 2005 (devices inactive) and 13 May to 23 June 2005 (devices active).

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.