Abstract

While wildlife damages are a relatively small part of crop insurance claims in the United States, reported damages from wildlife are growing and producers are concerned this issue is getting worse. Wildlife agencies advocate for hunting as a control to wildlife damages to crops but to our knowledge, no study has econometrically explored if hunting could reduce crop damage. Therefore, we analyze if county-level white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) harvest and other factors like habitat and field fragmentation are associated with corn and soybean acres being indemnified due to wildlife damages in Tennessee. We estimate a fractional probit model using crop insurance data to measure crop damages and a county-level white-tailed deer harvest dataset. We find a higher coverage level of a policy increases the likelihood of both corn and soybean acres being indemnified due to wildlife damage. We also find white-tailed deer harvest during the period post-harvest in the previous crop year (November through January) slightly decreases the likelihood of a claim being made due to wildlife damage for corn but was not found to mitigate losses to soybeans. The whitetail hunting season appears to align better with corn production to reduce crop losses than with soybeans. This study will be useful for wildlife and crop agencies in state and federal governments to develop policies to more effectively utilize hunting to reduce crop insurance claims from wildlife damages.

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