Deer damage a wide variety of row crops, forage crops, vegetables, fruit trees, nursery stock, and ornamentals, as well as stacked hay. In addition to the immediate loss of the crop being damaged, there is often residual damage in the form of future yield reduction of fruit trees or forage crops such as alfalfa.
Ornamental trees or nursery stock may be permanently disfigured by deer browsing. Under high densities deer may severely impact native plant communities and impair regeneration of some forest tree species. Besides vegetative damage, deer/ vehicle collisions pose a serious risk to motorists, and deer have been implicated in the distribution and transmission of Lyme disease.
Damage identification is not difficult. Because both mule deer and white-tailed deer lack upper incisors, deer often leave a jagged or torn surface on twigs or stems that they browse.
Rabbits and rodents, however, leave a clean-cut surface. In addition, deer tracks are very distinctive. The height of damage from the ground (up to 6 feet) often rules out any mammal other than deer. Deer often are observed in the act of causing damage.