Fenced community gardens effectively mitigate the negative impacts of white-tailed deer on household food security
Keywords:human wildlife conflicts, food security, white-tailed deer, community gardens, urban agriculture
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are large herbivores that thrive in urban and peri-urban landscapes. Their voracious appetite and ubiquity have made deer a significant threat to growing food in home and community gardens; features that often make important contributions towards household food security. Focusing on food availability, stability, utilization, and access, I outline how white-tailed deer threaten household food security. Deer threaten availability of food by widely consuming plants grown for human consumption. Deer threaten stability of household food security by causing spatially and temporally unpredictable food losses. Deer threaten utilization of food, through acting as sources of food-borne pathogens (i.e. Escherichia coli O157:S7). Deer threaten access to food by necessitating relatively high-cost economic interventions to protect plants from browsing. Although numerous products are commercially available to deter deer via behavioural modification induced by olfaction and sound – evidence of efficacy is mixed. Physical barriers can be highly effective for reducing deer browsing, but often come with a high economic cost. Users of community gardens benefit from fencing by receiving shared protection against deer herbivory at a significantly lower per capita cost. Among many other benefits, fenced community gardens are useful in mitigating the threats of white-tailed deer to household food security.
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