Date of Award:

1988

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Natural Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Michael L. Wolfe

Abstract

Diversionary feeding, artificial feeding designed to divert animals away from areas where they might cause property damage, was tested for efficacy in reducing fruit orchard browsing by big game animals during two consecutive winters in Utah. Strategically placed attractive feedstuffs lured deer to feed stations and reduced fruit-bud browsing (1st year, P< 0.07; 2nd year, P < 0.01). Blossom and apple numbers were greater (P < O. 05) on trees in the feed (treatment) orchard than in the no feed (control) orchard in each year. However, higher (P < 0.05) apple production on trees where browsing was excluded in the treatment orchards compared to the control orchards indicated that intercept feeding did not increase crop production. Tree periodicity and other factors affecting apple production masked the effect of diversionary feeding on crop yield. Two independent browsing damage assessment methods, a paired-tree technique and a harvest-inflation technique, predicted that the ratio of apples lost per browsed bud was 0.158 and 0.082, respectively. However, the values of the ratio varied widely with each method of estimation. Browsing damage differed (P < o. 001) according to branch position (below 1 m and distal, above 1 m and distal, and above 1 m and proximal to the tree trunk). A less intensive count of buds and browsed buds reliably predicted average browsing damage in the orchard (determined by counting all browsing zone buds on 5% of the orchard trees), when these branch classes were used. An economic analysis of this feeding program indicated that, at current prices, the value of the increased crop in the study orchards did warrant the cost of feeding associated with them (benefit/cost= 9.20 and 32.89). Deer-proof fencing, although expensive to install, is a more cost-efficient (benefit/cost= 129.28 and 121.11) method of preventing browsing damage in the orchards I studied.

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