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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Livestock protection dogs for deterring deer from cattle and feed

Published source details

VerCauteren K.C., Lavelle M.J. & Phillips G.E. (2008) Livestock protection dogs for deterring deer from cattle and feed. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 72, 1443-1448


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Use guardian animals (e.g. dogs, llamas, donkeys) bonded to livestock to deter predators to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 2003 at two forest sites in Michigan, USA (Vercauteren et al. 2008) found that dogs Canis lupus familiaris bonded with livestock reduced levels of contact (and potential for disease transmission) between white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus and domestic cattle. In dog-guarded pastures, deer came within 5 m of cattle fewer times (three instances) than in non-guarded pastures (79 instances). No deer were within 5 m of cattle when dogs were present, while 114 events occurred with dogs absent. Deer consumed hay less frequently in dog-guarded pastures (two instances) compared to pastures without dogs (303 instances). At each site, four 1.2-ha pastures, >200 m apart, were enclosed by electric fencing. Deer were baited into pastures with corn and alfalfa. Each pasture contained four calves while two pastures at each site also had a dog. Livestock guarding dogs were great Pyrenees, raised from eight week-old pups, following standard training procedures. Visits of deer into pastures were monitored by direct observation and video surveillance, in March–August 2003.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)