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US: Lasers prove ineffective at dispersing deer

A detailed scientific study entitled “Green and Blue Lasers are Ineffective for Dispersing Deer at Night” has determined that lasers would not be effective in wildlife management of deer. A number of previous studies had shown that some bird species strongly avoid red laser beams. Because deer cannot perceive red beams, blue and green lasers were scientifically tested in the field during 2004.

Results showed that while deer could see the laser spots, they “appeared to be more curious than frightened. We conclude that laser light has no potential as a nonlethal management option for reducing deer damage.”

The six authors jointly recommend that “lasers should continue to be evaluated across taxonomic groups as potential frightening devices for species that cause human-wildlife conflicts.”

From the Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 34, Issue 2, pp 371-374, June 2006. First
published online December 13 2010.

Paper abstract: “Over-abundant populations of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) create agricultural and human health and safety issues. The increased economic damage associated with locally overabundant deer populations accentuates the need for efficient techniques to mitigate the losses. Although red lasers can be an efficient tool for reducing damage caused by birds, they are not effective for deer because deer cannot detect wavelengths in the red portion of the spectrum. No research has been conducted to determine if lasers of lower wavelengths could function as frightening devices for deer. We evaluated a green laser (534 nm, 120 mW) and 2 models of blue lasers (473 nm, 5 mW and 15 mW) to determine their efficacy in dispersing deer at night. Deer were no more likely to flee during a green or blue laser encounter than during control encounters. The green and blue lasers we tested did not frighten deer.“

A passage from the paper: “The lasers were first directed at vegetation close to and in front of deer and moved vigorously in a zig-zag manner. If this did not prompt a flight response within 15 seconds, we moved the laser beam in the same manner across the bodies and heads of deer. Data recorded for each encounter included: field number, treatment (laser or control), number of deer per group, initiation and termination times of the encounter, geographic location (UTM coordinates of vehicle), distance and compass bearing from vehicle to deer at initiation and termination (if still visible) of the encounter, deer behavior during the encounter (fleeing or other [bedded, walking, feeding]), and vegetation type (alfalfa, wheat, soybeans, or grass) that deer were located in at the initiation and termination of the encounter.”