J.B. Pritzker, Governor |

Solve a Wildlife Problem

Orchard Damage

These species are the ones most likely to cause issues in an orchard.


Deer cause the most serious damage during the winter months when the availability of other foods is limited. When deer browse on dormant terminal buds it can lead to stunted or misshapen growth in standard fruit trees under three years old. When they browse on the fruit buds of dwarf or semi dwarf trees it can lower fruit production.

During the spring and summer deer will eat new growth or ripening fruit. In the autumn browsing is not usually heavy, but deer may rub their antlers on trees which can shred the bark and increase the likelihood of attack by disease or insects.

Click HERE for more deer information and select the Damage Prevention and Control Methods tab.

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Voles can cause damage to fruit trees when they girdle seedlings and trees or damage tree roots. The damage they cause typically occurs during the winter months, particularly when there is snow cover, when other food is scarce. The most common form of tree injury caused by meadow voles is trunk girdling at or near the ground, but because they spend much time underground, they can also weaken trees by chewing at their roots.

Click HERE for more vole information and select the Damage Prevention and Control Methods tab.

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A wide variety of birds will eat or peck at fruit in orchards including blackbirds, robins, and orioles. The amount of damage the birds cause depends on the time at which the fruit matures. In apple orchards damage is often highest on early maturing varieties and late maturing varieties that turn red early in the season. Damage to cherries and grapes also tends to be highest among early ripening varieties.

Netting with a 3/4-inch mesh or frightening devices are the most effective at protecting fruits. Click HERE for more information about bird dispersal techniques and proper installation of netting.

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Tree squirrels, opossums, and skunks are often attracted to fruit trees that have dropped fruit. If you have just a few fruit trees, be sure to clean up dropped fruit to reduce the likelihood that wildlife will be attracted to the area.

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