Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Economics and Finance

Department name when degree awarded


Committee Chair(s)

Darwin B. Nielsen


Darwin B. Nielsen


Bruce Godfrey


Donald Snyder


Depredation to crops and orchards is a problem for agricultural producers in many states where big game are in close proximity to land used for ag-production. Heavy snowfall has created a serious big game depredation in Utah in recent years . Heavy snowfall covers big game feed during winter months, which creates a serious demand on cultivated land to maintain the big game herds at current levels. Many operators believe that current big game herd sizes are too large available feed, and should be reduced to prevent damage to agricultural production. Many big game managers believe otherwise.

This study looked at losses to ag-producers in the past five years (1981-1986) in an effort to determine the location and magnitude of losses to big game depredation.

A questionnaire, developed to survey damaged ag-producers, separated big game depredation into four categories: 1) unharvested or standing crops, 2) feed or harvested crops, 3) orchards and 4) range or rangelands. Each category was broken down by type of damage; 1) consumption, 2) spoilage (for feed), 3) trampling (for standing crops and rangelands), 4) fence damage, 5) nuisance costs and 6) permanent damage (damage affecting more than one year's revenue from the enterprise). The questionnaire also sought information concerning State assistance to agoperators for damage received. There were also questions concerning income from hunting club leases and private trespass permit sales, which provide income from big game sources.

Estimates were made of dollar damages in the categories noted above. All information was summarized by county and in total. Tables of information collected are provided in the appendix. Comparisons were made between mean losses and mean income (hunting club leases, private trespass permits and/or state assistance) using simple large sample tests of hypotheses.

Permanent damage was also evaluated for one orchard in which deer had abused the orchard to the point where it had to be removed and replanted. The assertion was made that the depredation created a loss of revenue over a five year period, and losses were evaluated using capital budgeting techniques. Respondents comments, which did not lend themselves to quantitative evaluation, were also summarized.



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