Qualifying for a deer or elk damage claim

Property owners who experience repeated crop damage from deer may be eligible to file a damage claim and receive cash compensation. Damages payable under this section are limited to the lost or diminished value of a commercial crop – whether growing or harvested – and will be paid only to the owner of the crop at the time of damage.


  • “Commercial crop” means a commercially raised horticultural or agricultural product, but does not include livestock or rangeland. For the purposes of this chapter, commercially grown Christmas trees, managed pasture (fertilized, irrigated, or planted), and all parts of horticultural trees will be considered a commercial crop and shall be eligible for cash compensation.
  • "Damage" means economic losses caused by wildlife interactions.
  • "Owner" means a person who has a legal right to commercial crops, commercial livestock, or other private property damaged during a wildlife interaction.

Management of evaluative techniques

Department staff and crop owners must use state licensed and federally certified crop adjusters that are on contract. The department or the owner can accept the evaluation, or the department or the owner may hire a separate adjuster to conduct a separate evaluation. In that case, the party hiring the adjuster is responsible for payment of all the fees. The adjuster must be state licensed/federally certified per WAC 220-440-180, subsection 7.

Making a claim with WDFW

To qualify for compensation, the crop owner must have an active Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreement (DPCA) or provide an approved checklist of the preventative and nonlethal means that have been employed to abate crop damage from deer or elk. Learn more about filing a claim for crop damage compensation.

Prior to making a claim, the owner must have complied with the terms and conditions of his or her agreement(s).

An initial evaluation for deer/elk compensation will be handled by appropriate department field staff in order to determine if the claimant meets:

  • The eligibility state standards (see definition of an "Eligible Farmer" RCW 82.08.855).
  • The damage threshold for a claim;
  • Public hunting requirements, including that all claimant properties in the vicinity of the damage are open to hunting; and
  • Any other requirements under the Washington Administrative Code.

If the crop owner meets the eligibility standards, staff will provide the crop owner with the damage claim point-of-contact information and the “Filing a Deer/Elk Damage Claim” sheet. The crop owner can then request a claim package directly from the department.

If owners do not qualify, or they do not wish to file a damage claim, then staff will continue to work with the owner in order to find other resolutions to help with their deer/elk damage.

Once the owner receives the claim package, the owner and the crop adjuster must make contact and schedule an assessment. Department staff will attend the evaluation to be familiar with the assessment of damages and to provide any additional information.

  • Upon completion of the damage assessment by the appraiser, the crop owner completes the damage claim using the adjusters report and mails the entire damage claim package back to the department. The owner must supply all subsequent paperwork required by the damage claim and WAC 220-440-180. The appraiser will also submit the assessment to WDFW. It is in the best interest of the landowner to ensure this is completed within the 60-day period. Upon receipt, the department and field staff will perform a final review before payment is made.

Department staff have 30 days from receipt of the claim to evaluate and provide recommendations on whether or not to proceed or deny the evaluation.