University of Illinois Extension

Damage Prevention and Reduction

Notice the damage to the tree bark caused by antler rubbing. Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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Deer can cause damage by browsing trees, shrubs, or other plants. Bucks can also damage woody plants by rubbing their antlers on them. Deer are "generalists" in their food habits, meaning that they will eat a tremendous variety of plants. If food is abundant, deer will feed most heavily on plants they prefer. However, if food is scarce, they will feed on almost any plant. The most successful techniques to reduce damage caused by deer are population control (preferably hunting), exclusion, and repellents. Often, a combination of the following deer damage abatement techniques are used together to achieve an acceptable reduction in damage. All techniques are most effective before predictable deer-caused damage occurs and before patterns of deer behavior are well-established.

If you need further assistance after reviewing the information provided in the following sections, please contact an IDNR district wildlife biologist.

Evaluation and Damage Topics