Critter Gitter Does It Frighten Wildlife?
Critter Gitter is a motion and heat-activated audible frightening device that also employs flashing red lights to scare wildlife from a given location. The website’s home page crittergittersensor (dot) com as of March 31, 2012, contains images of a raccoon, red fox, black bear, rabbit, white-tailed deer, and squirrel (not sure if gray or fox squirrel) suggesting to this writer that these animals would be frightened by this device.
The search for an effective frightening device and/or repellent to drive or keep wildlife from a given location is one of the holy grails that wildlife damage managers seek. Anyone who discovers such a product would be heralded with fame as well as a great riches. While many products, touted to be effective are on the market, few ever receive rigorous testing under scientific conditions. Thankfully, Dr. Kurt VerCauteren and his colleagues tested the efficacy of Critter Gitter on elk and mule deer.
Verdict of Research
In a paper entitled, “Efficacy of an Animal-Activated Frightening Device on Urban Elk and Mule Deer” published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin 33:4(Winter, 2005):1282-1287, Kurt C. VerCauteren, John A. Shivik, and Michael J. Lavelle discuss their test findings on this product.
The test was rather simple. They took a bale of alfalfa (a favorite food of elk and mule deer) and placed it within sensor range of 1 or 2 Critter Gitters. This test scenario was repeated accompanied by untreated bales at a total of 5 sites near Estes Park, CO. They then assessed activity through use of video cameras and measured consumption of bales by visual estimation.
The results were that that the Critter Gitter did not protect the bales. They stated, “Variability in consumption amounts, though not significant, likely was due to the itinerant feeding habits of elk rather than effects of the device.” They further theorized that the animals could not even see the red lights. The authors concluded by saying, “from elk and mule deer. However, because they failed to protect the hay, we speculate that they also would be ineffective in deterring elk or mule deer from feeding in gardens, golf courses, ornamental plantings, fertilized lawns, or other similar areas.”
I would be interested in the experiences of users.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control professional and a Master NWCOA Instructor. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Stephen is available for trainings, lectures, writing, and consultation (including expert witness). You can contact him at stephenvantassel(at)hotmail(dot)com.