No Deer Were Harmed In The Making Of This Post

Deer with clothes pins over their noses because of the smell of the deer repellent

Is Deer Repellent Harmful To Deer?

Quick answer: 

No, there is no harm to humans or deer from repellent.

Long answer: 

White-tailed deer populations cost U.S. homeowners $250 million annually in a very conservative estimate.  While there are measures in place by state and local governments to keep deer populations down through culling, most of the time it is done by hunters through permits. Deer repellent services like Deer SolutionⓇ taking advantage of deer having an aversion to certain tastes and smells. This type of repellent makes use of their fine tuned sense of smell and that they do not like new or unknown things. All of this is a natural instinct to keep them safe from poisonous plants and predators.

“Repellents fall into two broad categories—those that repel by taste and those that repel with a disagreeable odor.”

Paul Curtis and Kristi Sullivan, Wildlife Damage Management Fact Sheet Series, White-Tailed Deer, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2001

Some of the repellent ingredients such as bittering agents make deer think plants are poisonous. Other ingredients (example: putrefied eggs) have deer believing there are decaying animals nearby which means there could be a potential threat to them in the area. There are also overwhelming scents that keep deer at bay because they can’t tell what plant is edible; this can be ingredients like cinnamon and cloves. Then there are ones that cause discomfort, for instance cayenne pepper.

One ingredient in the repellent used Deer SolutionⓇ that has a great deterrence factor is putrefied egg solids. A study out of Connecticut from the Department of Forestry and Horticulture found that putrefied egg produces the best results out of all other scent-based sprays.

“In general, egg-based products… were most effective.”

Jeffery Ward and Scott Williams, Effectiveness of Deer Repellents in Connecticut, Connecticut Department of Forestry and Horticulture, 2010

Reputable repellent services, like Deer SolutionⓇ, will spray these repellents on a schedule to make sure as many plants and particularly new growth are protected. Most importantly, rotating the repellent ingredients throughout the year so deer do not get used to it and ignore your desire for a damage free yard.

“They are afraid of anything new, yet learn quickly and adapt to your strategies, so try several repellents and rotate them.”

Dr. Leonard Perry, Deer Deterrents–Scents, U. of Vermont, Department of Plant and Soil Science

Overall scent-based repellents are the most effective way to go if you are trying to keep deer out of your yard.

“Research trials have shown that odor-based products usually outperform taste-based materials. No commercial repellent is 100 percent effective, and under heavy deer browsing pressure the best materials must be reapplied about every five weeks.”

Paul Curtis and Kristi Sullivan, Wildlife Damage Management Fact Sheet Series, White-Tailed Deer, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2001

The best practice is a multi-pronged, no pun intended, approach to protecting your yard from deer damage. While nothing is 100% effective, you can get closer to it than you would think, as long as you use a combo of things like scent-based repellents and physical barriers to give deer enough of a reason to not come into your yard. Deer SolutionⓇ covers both of these areas with scent deterrents, flavor modification, and fencing. None of these are harmful to deer, your family, or pets.

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