Deer-activated bioacoustic frightening device deters white-tailed deer

  • Published source details Hildreth A.M., Hygnstrom S.E. & VerCauteren K.C. (2013) Deer-activated bioacoustic frightening device deters white-tailed deer. Human Wildlife Interactions, 7, 107-113.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use target species distress calls or signals to deter crop damage by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
  1. Use target species distress calls or signals to deter crop damage by mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict

    A replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2010 in a deciduous forest in Utah, USA (Hildreth et al. 2013) found that devices playing deer distress calls reduced white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus visits and food uptake. Sites with devices had 0 deer visits/day when devices were active (treatment period) compared to 273 visits/day with devices inactive (pre-treatment). Concurrently, sites without devices had 122 visits/day (treatment period) and 169 visits/day (pre-treatment). Food consumption by deer was lower at sites with devices during treatment (0 litres) than pre-treatment phases (2,175 l). At sites without devices, consumption during treatment (1,100 l) and pre-treatment phases (1,585 l) was similar. Six sites, >0.6 km apart, were each enclosed in a U-shaped fence, 18.3 m long. Three sites, selected randomly, had a deer-activated frightening device installed. This played deer distress calls when an infra-red beam was broken. Sites were baited with >38 l of alfalfa cubes in February 2010. Bait was topped up every second day. Deer visits were monitored using camera traps. Pre-treatment (device inactive) ran during 10–22 March 2010 while the treatment phase (device active) ran from 23 March to 4 April 2010.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 18

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust