Wildlife-caused crop damage results in hundreds of millions of dollars in annual losses for farmers each year. This can be pretty frustrating, especially for those who rely on their crops as a major source of income. The good news is that there are ways to remedy wildlife crop losses. You can do a variety of things, but the main methods are crop insurance, animal hazing, and hunting.
Hunting is the best method to reduce crop damage. It works by reducing local herd densities and therefore reducing animal impacts on crops. If you don’t hunt, then leasing your land to hunters is a great way to earn money and reduce crop-damaging wildlife populations on your property.
Crop depredation is a common issue that many farmers across the United States have to attend to. It isn’t limited to just one type of crop. Let’s learn a bit more about crop depredation and what can be done to reduce or even eliminate it!
What Is Crop Depredation?
Crop depredation is simply animals eating, trampling, or in some way destroying crops. Almost every commercial crop grown is subject to being destroyed by wildlife. A few examples of crop depredation are fruit being eaten from an orchard, wheat, soybeans, and corn being eaten and trampled, or young trees being damaged.
Many animals that cause crop depredation are game animals and can be legally hunted during specific seasons like whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, black bears, turkeys, and wild pigs.
The damage that these animals can do is extensive. A paper published by Sophie McKee and others in 2020 titled, “Estimation of wildlife damage from federal crop insurance data”, focused on only four crops in the United States. Using federal crop insurance data, the authors found that wildlife caused 592.6 million dollars in crop damage in 2017 across the United States.
The authors also found that farmers in the Eastern and Southeastern United States are most at risk of crop damage from wildlife. Among the four crops researched, (corn, soybean, wheat, and cotton) corn and soybeans had the highest dollar value of crop loss.