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People and Wildlife

Understanding Human-Wildlife Interactions and Management
Deer damage to corn. Bear in tree on campus. Two fawns crossing the road in Highland Park, NJ.

Wildlife management involves striving to achieve a positive balance when it comes to human-wildlife interactions. There are many factors that must be considered, including ensuring healthy wildlife populations, benefits associated with wildlife, damage impacts, and safety concerns. This is especially challenging in the most densely populated state in the U.S. where development has created fragmented landscapes. People and wildlife live in close proximity and interact more than ever before.

This site includes recent research, management successes, and stories of how people interact with, and in some cases, are impacted by, wildlife in New Jersey.

Features

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White-Tailed Deer Impacts - Forests, Farms, and Communities

Watch the White-Tailed Deer Impacts - Forests, Farms, and Communities video

This full-length,10-minute video incorporates all of the stories of the 3 shorter clips below – Crop Damage and Farmers’ Livelihoods; Forests, Open Spaces, and Communities; and Monitoring Deer Numbers. In the full-length feature we follow Bob, a local farmer, for an entire growing season as he loses half of his crop to deer damage. Ecologists tell us about forest research, restoration, and management efforts as they combat high deer numbers and extensive browsing of native plants that has led to invasives taking over the understory and hindering forest regeneration. We also hear how drones have been used to monitor the success of a community-based bowhunting program that has also provided those in need in the community with over 13,000 meals while helping the forest, addressing landscape and agricultural damage, and working to reduce safety concerns such as deer-vehicle collisions.

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White-Tailed Deer Impacts and Management

Watch the White-Tailed Deer Impacts and Management video

Forest, Open Spaces, and Communities features local researchers discussing how deer seek refuge in neighborhoods and public open spaces, the effects on native plants and forests, and steps communities are taking to reduce deer impacts while helping those in need.

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White Tailed Deer Impacts - Crop Damage and Farmers' Livelihoods

Watch the White Tailed Deer Impacts - Crop Damage and Farmers' Livelihoods video

Crop Damage and Farmers’ Livelihoods follows a local farmer through the growing season as they lose 50% of their crop to deer damage. the effects on native plants and forests, and steps communities are taking to reduce deer impacts while helping those in need.

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White Tailed Deer Impacts - Monitoring Deer Numbers

Watch the White Tailed Deer Impacts - Monitoring Deer Numbers video

Monitoring Deer Numbers offers a glimpse of how drones are used to track changes in deer numbers before and after the implementation of a management program that reduces negative impacts on farms, forests, and communities.

White-Tailed Deer Report cover
FS1355: Reducing Black Bear Damage to Farm Operations

This new fact sheet covers identifying black bear damage, reducing cover and attractants, management techniques, and additional sources of information for farmers.

For additional information on black bear basics, activity reports, safety tips, preventing damage, research, management, and educational resources, visit dep.nj.gov/njfw/bears/

Projects

Research

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White-Tailed Deer and the Hidden Costs to Farmers’ Livelihoods

A group of 27 New Jersey farmers shared stories of struggling with increasing deer numbers and impacts on their farms. Previous studies often focus on direct damage to crops, however, here we offer new information on “hidden costs” that exceeded direct damage, such as crop and field abandonment, modifying rotations, increased use of fertilizers and herbicides, time and money spent on management, and emotional tolls. The conservatively estimated impact of wildlife damage in 2019 was nearly $1.4 million. This includes direct damage to crops ($520,940), “hidden costs” ($755,200), and damage from other wildlife ($97,749). Farmers provided recommendations to policymakers on (1) general deer management, (2) venison donation programs to help those in need, (3) residential deer refuges, (4) management on leased farmland, (5) management of public lands, (6) education and outreach for policymakers and communities, (7) deer fencing, (8) enhancing management through doe-focused hunting, and (9) farmer depredation permits.

Monitoring and Management

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2019 and 2020 Deer Density Surveys for Hutcheson Memorial Forest, Franklin and Hillsborough Townships (5.4MB PDF)

This study describes changes in the local white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population between 2019 to 2020, before and after implementing a volunteer, doe-focused, community-driven deer management program. Deer per square mile density estimates were taken in the fall and spring at the Rutgers University Hutcheson Memorial Forest Center and surrounding areas of Franklin and Hillsborough Townships in Somerset County. These areas represent a microcosm of the New Jersey landscape consisting of residential neighborhoods, forested and agricultural lands, and open spaces, including the Spooky Brook Golf Course, Colonial Park, Delaware and Raritan Canal, and the Millstone River. Deer-related issues the community faces include damage to native plants, which leads to the spread of invasive species, deer-vehicle collisions, negative impacts on local landscapes and agricultural operations, and residential neighborhoods and public open spaces that serve as deer refuges and present challenges to management. Pre-management hunt surveys revealed density estimates were nearly 150 deer per square mile in the study area and greatly exceeded the recommended levels of 10 deer per square mile. After four years of successful management, more recent surveys have revealed that densities in 2023 are down to approximately 40 deer per square mile within the study area. An updated 2019 to 2023 report is coming soon.

Deer Fencing
Deer Fencing to Reduce Agricultural Crop Damage

Proper installation of wildlife exclusionary high-tensile woven wire fence provides more than twenty years of highly effective deer depredation prevention. It is estimated that farmer-installed fencing can reduce out-of-pocket costs by approximately 35%. This link provides information on wildlife fencing, a previous study on deer impacts to agriculture, and training videos on proper fence installation.

Fact Sheets

Ruby Throated Hummingbird
FS1316: Attracting Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to Your Yard

Attracting ruby-throated hummingbirds to your yard covers habitat, migration, reproduction, foraging, native plants to attract birds, and supplemental nectar feeders.

Backyard Birdfeeder
FS1022: Backyard Birdfeeders

Backyard birdfeeders provides the basics on types of birds and preferred feeder type, placement, maintenance, bird food, and keeping squirrels away.

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FS1207: The Facts About Bats in New Jersey

The facts about bats in New Jersey covers bat species, biology, behavior, beneficial services, human-bat interactions, and bat conservation and threats.

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FS1270: Ecological and Economic Importance of Bats in Integrated Pest Management

Ecological and economic importance of bats in integrated pest management covers insect pests that bats consume, the economic importance of bats, and bat-friendly agricultural practices.

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FS1269: Guidance for Siting and Installing Bat Roost Boxes (3 pp.)

Guidance for siting and installing bat roost boxes covers the basics of why bats use roost boxes, siting, installation, maintenance, and the Rutgers bat house distribution program.

Mallard duck standing in shallows.
FS1010: Birding in the Garden State: How to Get Started (4 pp.)

Birding in the Garden State: how to get started covers some basic considerations for those getting into birdwatching, including binoculars, spotting scopes, and identification guides.

Bear on edge of cornfield.
E345: Living with Black Bears in New Jersey (5 pp.)

Living with black bears in New Jersey covers bear biology, ecological significance, human-bear interactions, and strategies for management.

Photo of Canada Goose.
FS1214: Canada Goose Ecology and Impacts in New Jersey

Canada goose ecology and impacts in New Jersey provides information on goose biology, population, ecological impacts, human health and safety concerns, agricultural damage, and the differences between migratory and resident Canada geese.

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FS1217: Strategies for Resident Canada Goose Control and Management in New Jersey (4 pp.)

Strategies for resident Canada goose control and management in New Jersey discusses the legal status of Canada geese as well as lethal and non-lethal management options.

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E367: Coyotes in New Jersey: History, Ecology, and Management

Coyotes in New Jersey: history, ecology, and management covers coyote biology, ecological significance, hunting and trapping, human-coyote interactions, and management strategies.

Photo of deer in backyard.
FS1202: An Overview of White-Tailed Deer Status and Management in New Jersey

An overview of white-tailed deer status and management in New Jersey covers deer biology, overpopulation, ecological impacts, human health and safety concerns, agricultural damage, and management strategies.

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FS1325: Red Fox Ecology and Behavior

Red fox ecology and behavior discusses species identification, habitat, diet, life history, ecological and recreational benefits, nuisance behavior, rabies, and management options.

Photo of a Groundhog eating a flower.
E361: Ecology and Management of the Groundhog (Marmota monax)

Ecology and management of the groundhog (Marmota monax) covers groundhog ecology, habitat, behavior, benefits to nature and society, nuisance issues, and management strategies.

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FS1320: Northern Copperheads in New Jersey

Northern copperheads in New Jersey covers habitat and distribution, identification, conservation status, life history, seasonal activity, reproduction, prey, foraging, and human safety.

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FS399: Vole Ecology and Management (4 pp.)

Vole ecology and management provides information on species identification, habitat, food, life history, and controlling damage.

Photo of vole damage in orchard.
FS1293: Voles in the Orchard

Voles in the Orchard covers species identification, predicting the extent of damage, management techniques, and a summary of commercially available rodenticides.

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FS1228: Rabies: What You Should Know for Your Pets and Livestock (4 pp.)

Rabies: what you should know for your pets and livestock discusses how rabies is transmitted, animals that can get it, symptoms and prevention, and what to do if you suspect an animal or person is bit by a rabid animal.

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FS1017: Regulations Governing the Management of New Jersey Wildlife (4 pp.)

Regulations governing the management of New Jersey Wildlife provides information on common species causing damage, state and federal wildlife agencies, and definitions of migratory, game, non-game, threatened, and endangered species.

Photo of Lone Star Ticks.
FS1281: Lone Star Ticks in New Jersey: Risk, Ecology, and Prevention

Lone Star Ticks in New Jersey: risk, ecology, and identification discusses the history, distribution, life cycle, identification, medical importance, prevention, control, of the Lone Star Tick, and what to do if you are bitten.