Farmers Ask For Help as Deer Devour Their Crops


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Harry Tuttle
September 2, 2004, 11:09 PM
Farmers Ask For Help as Deer Devour Their Crops
More Hunting Weighed; Animal Groups Opposed

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 2, 2004; Page GZ03
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53313-2004Sep1.html


Montgomery County farmers who have survived decades of suburban sprawl are now warning that they might not be able to overcome the white-tailed deer that are eating large swaths of their crops.


"We need something to be done in the next 30 days. It's a must," said Billy Willard, a Poolesville farmer who grows corn, wheat and soybeans on 2,200 acres. "It's severe enough that if this problem is not turned around, I really think the county's agricultural preserve will be gone. These farmers will sell to developers and go somewhere else to farm."


County leaders say they understand the urgency.


Last week, more than two dozen farmers met with County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) and state and county officials to begin devising a strategy to decrease the deer population in the county's rural areas.


Officials say they are considering a variety of options, which include expanding the fall hunting season, allowing people to shoot deer on certain Sundays and opening more public land to hunting. The county is also considering building a processing plant so harvested deer can be more quickly turned into edible meat.


"The farmers are telling us the greatest threat to Montgomery agriculture is the white-tailed deer," said Jeremy Chriss, Montgomery's agricultural services manager. "We all must work together to solve this problem, and it is going to involve a comprehensive approach involving the county, the state and property owners to identify ways to manage deer more effectively."


County officials hope to propose a plan within a few weeks.


Hunting and deer management have long been thorny issues in Montgomery County, which is home to the national office of the Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals' regional office.


"We don't believe killing deer is going to solve this issue for farmers," said Mike Markarian, executive director of the Fund for Animals. "This is a very progressive county, and people want to deal with these humanely and constructively. People assume hunting is going to be a magic bullet, but killing a bunch of deer simply means the surviving deer are going to get more food and reproduce more quickly."


Yet Gene Phillips, who operates a produce stand and farms 10 acres on Shaffer Road in Germantown, said the deer population has forced her to quit growing sweet corn in the county. She now plants pumpkins -- which the deer still damage, albeit at a slower pace than other crops -- in Montgomery and grows corn in Frederick County.


"They don't have as much of a deer problem as we do down here," Phillips said.


Deer are also ravaging George Lechlider's crops in Laytonsville.


"I already planted my tomatoes over three times this year," said Lechlider, 83.


Paul Peditto, director of the Department of Natural Resources' wildlife and heritage service, said Montgomery's combination of suburban development, protected forest land and 77,000 acres of farmland makes it prime habitat for the highly adaptive white-tailed deer.


Deer have chewed through much of the county parks' forestland this year, exposing a noticeable "browse line," where most vegetation below a certain height has been eaten.


"They have eaten everything they can in the forest, so in the evenings they come and start in the farmers' fields," said David Plummer, district manager for the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District.


Because of aggressive efforts to limit development in the northern part of the county, Montgomery remains a vital part of state agriculture. The county ranks first in the state for pumpkin and strawberry production and is in the top five for ornamental plants, peaches, sweet corn, apples and Christmas trees.


In July, Montgomery County sent questionnaires to the more than 500 active farms in the county to gauge their problems with deer.


Of the 200 farmers who have responded, 42 said they had stopped growing some crops, and 14 said they were renting less farmland this year because of deer. The farmers reported an average deer-related crop loss of 20 percent, but vegetable producers say they have lost half of the crop.


"The problem is getting worse and worse," said state Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery), who helped organize last week's meeting. "One way or another, there needs to be less deer in Montgomery."


Garagiola conceded that it could be difficult for county and state leaders to agree on a solution that satisfies everyone.


Last spring, Duncan considered introducing a bill in Annapolis to expand the county's two-week firearms deer hunting season, but natural resources officials rejected the plan.


Peditto said a better option would be to allow hunting on Sunday during the firearms season. Two years ago, the General Assembly passed legislation that allowed Sunday hunting for the first time since 1723 in seven rural counties. Montgomery was exempt because local legislators believed the woods should be reserved for non-hunters on Sunday.


"There really is no difference in my mind between taking a deer on Saturday and taking a deer on Sunday," said Peditto, who said the county could increase its deer harvest by as much as 25 percent if it allowed hunting on the first Sunday of the firearms season.


Mindful of the intense opposition from animal-rights groups and outdoors enthusiasts, including equestrians, county officials said they will probably not support Sunday hunting. But county leaders say they are open to the idea of allowing hunting on more public land. Last week, the natural resources department began studying whether hunting should be allowed in more state parks in the county.


State officials have also promised to study whether to extend the department's crop damage program to hay producers. The program allows farmers to hunt deer on their land to avoid crop damage, but hay producers are not eligible.


Farmers are also pleading to have a processing plant constructed in the county so they have a place to take harvested deer. The crop damage program mandates that the slain deer be used as food. But farmers say the animals often spoil in the summer before they can get them processed at the nearest plant, which is in Frederick County.

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MikeK
September 2, 2004, 11:48 PM
Let's not shoot them deer and use them for food - it's more humane to let them get hit by a car and die on the road and injure some humans and cause the insurance rates to go up even more.

The problem is getting worse and worse," said state Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery), who helped organize last week's meeting. "One way or another, there needs to be less deer in Montgomery."

Once those 'assault weapons' are legal again watch the deer population decline. Perhaps there's some hope for MD yet.

You'd have had to been there to understand.

4v50 Gary
September 3, 2004, 01:01 AM
Deer are needed on the Eisenhower Ranch at Gettysburg. Ike started a small apple orchard and just couldn't get it right. Wound up buying his apples from a fruitstand. The trees still produce but a Ranger told me they aren't very good. So, there's plenty of apples on the ground and on the trees. I suppose we could bring a couple in to clean up and then move them off the farm so they can be "cleaned up." Hmmm... tastes just like apple fed venison.

SunBear
September 3, 2004, 01:02 AM
Morally, of course, it is much more natural for about half of them to starve to death long about January than for them to be eaten like the prey animals they are. :barf: :what: :cuss:

El Tejon
September 3, 2004, 09:09 AM
County officials will propose a plan?:confused: :rolleyes:

Here's a plan: shoot the stupid deer. Nothing like the grand old American tradition of waitng around and letting government fix things.:rolleyes:

mtnbkr
September 3, 2004, 09:37 AM
Once those 'assault weapons' are legal again watch the deer population decline

What do "assualt weapons" have to do with anything? MD deer can't be killed with a bolt action 30-06?

Chris

CatsDieNow
September 3, 2004, 09:39 AM
Woodchucks love soybeans. One den will eat an acre of beans. He's probably got a rodent problem too.

2nd Amendment
September 3, 2004, 09:54 AM
It's amazing what can be accomplished by ten farmers, some spotlights and several lever actions in the dark of nite. :banghead:

MrMurphy
September 3, 2004, 10:11 AM
There's actually bowhunting groups where guys on their days off sit in tree stands around people's houses etc where lack of hunting due to law has caused a deer boom, eating up people's bushes, lawns etc... they see the deer, whack. No more problem deer.


Similar thing here. Put a hunter or two in a stand on each farmer's field. After two or three deer get whacked in that area, they'll learn.

dsb
September 3, 2004, 10:13 AM
" People assume hunting is going to be a magic bullet, but killing a bunch of deer simply means the surviving deer are going to get more food and reproduce more quickly."

:confused: :confused: :confused:

Someone buy this fella a clue!

mtnbkr
September 3, 2004, 10:13 AM
There's actually bowhunting groups...

They have a group like that in Northern Va, or at least they used to...

Chris

Atticus
September 3, 2004, 10:18 AM
"Montgomery was exempt because local legislators believed the woods should be reserved for non-hunters on Sunday."



The firearm deer season is two weeks? Those other groups can't give hunters access to the woods for one or two Sundays ?? :confused:

SteveS
September 3, 2004, 12:41 PM
"We don't believe killing deer is going to solve this issue for farmers," said Mike Markarian, executive director of the Fund for Animals. "This is a very progressive county, and people want to deal with these humanely and constructively. People assume hunting is going to be a magic bullet, but killing a bunch of deer simply means the surviving deer are going to get more food and reproduce more quickly."

Huh!!?!?!? I'm no wildlife biologist, but I don't think that having more food will decrease the gestational period of a deer. I am curious as to what a humane way to deal with this problem. Maybe we could just reason with the deer...ask them nicely to stop it. Or we could just do nothing until the farms go under and then the deer could starve from a lack of food. This guy was a big help.

Can'thavenuthingood
September 3, 2004, 12:57 PM
The Humane way to deal with this is to run the Fund for Animals out of town. Deputize the hunters, go out there and harvest the deer.
Take them to the schools for the school breakfast and lunch programs, give the kids some of that new fangled "W" ketchup and call it Bambi day.

Or "Bambi's" for life. Or Bambi feeds the poor.

"Kids get rare delicacy as Bambi sacrifices self for the children"

Corn fed venison has just got to be scrumptous. And tomatoes and pumkin eaters too.
The deer are vegetarians, who could complain?

And think of all the wasted enrgy in petrol used to replant. Energy better used in the Yugo's and SUV's.

It's the city council and county supervisors where it starts.

Run the do-gooders out of town.

Vick

longrifleman
September 3, 2004, 02:52 PM
Deer have chewed through much of the county parks' forestland this year, exposing a noticeable "browse line," where most vegetation below a certain height has been eaten.

By the time the population gets to this point there is almost certainly some reduction in the long term carrying capacity of the forest due to elimination of the deer's favorite/most nutritional forages. Because of the stupidity of the politicians/animal rights dufusses(dufi?) the number of deer will need to be reduced below the normal numbers to alow the habitat to recover. So much for their caring about the animals.

Darkside
September 3, 2004, 03:20 PM
Is there a local Hunter for the Hungry org. nearby? There must be a "soup kitchen" that could use the meat.

In 1984-86 a friend of mine was having the same problem on his land. His father received permission for the local game warden to shoot any deer he found on his land. We killed 20-30ish deer. We were told by the GW not to touch them but to leave them lay and rot or call him and he would tag it and drive it into town for a "needy" family. After about the 7th or 8th call he asked if we would at least drag them to the side of the road for him.:D

We must have kept at least a few families in meat that winter.

Darkside

MikeK
September 3, 2004, 03:54 PM
mtnbkr - It was an attempt at a joke. Garagiola was pushing for MD's own assault weapon ban last year. I do believe that you may use a rifle in far western MD, shotgun elsewhere.

mtnbkr
September 3, 2004, 04:31 PM
mtnbkr - It was an attempt at a joke.

Sorry, I was humor impaired this morning. :p

Chris

PinnedAndRecessed
September 3, 2004, 04:33 PM
Environmentalists have had a similar impact on the left coast. They have obstructed clearing dead trees from forests. Idiots. Has made forests virtual tinder box. When it burns, it really burns.

That's what happens when we, the people, allow this kind of trash to dictate public policy.

Same with the anti hunting garbage.

cookhj
September 3, 2004, 05:05 PM
see, in most places in VA, farmers can get DMAP/DCAP tags and go spotlighting for deer on their property to thin the herd. sounds like that's what they need up in maryland.

moa
September 3, 2004, 05:08 PM
The deer situation in Montgomery County is ridiculous. My employer has 40 acres in the upper county and when I leave in the early evening I encounter a herd of about a dozen deer out in the parking lot.

Before I cut my hedge down (it was enormous) and installed a privacy fence, around January/February, small herds of deer would come out of the park an eat my hedge. I could stand on the back porch and spit on them.

Maryland has a hunter problem. Not very many percentage wise compared to Virginia, West Virginia and PA. Might need to import some hunters.

Heck, the deer are getting so tame, you could probably start hunting them with a baseball bat or a spear.

mussi
September 3, 2004, 06:01 PM
We had a deer problem with outlying communities down here.

Seems like our authorities had more brains, and allowed some deputized hunters to make short work of them with sound-suppressed rifles.

Not too much of a deer problem now if you cull the herd a bit more than prescribed (I suspect they will make the hunting season a bit longer, though).

Luthien
September 3, 2004, 06:36 PM
Hunters, you have my personal thanks for killing those stupid deer.

Two years ago my mom and dad were almost killed when a huge buck went through our car windsheild. They have caused SO many accidents in Western PA. The sides of the roads are littered with them.

And it's not even like it's natural- there's more deer here then there were in the 1700's. They no longer have animal predators, so what's wrong with humans killing them? Hunting is PROTECTING the enviornment and restoring the natural ecosystem.

Deepest thanks to anyone who has ever killed a deer. I'd like to learn to hunt just for that reason. It would make everything a lot safer!
(But someone else would have to eat the deer meat. I'm not that crazy about it. :D )

Violet

Monkeyleg
September 3, 2004, 06:50 PM
Luthien, your problem is that you've never tried my brother's venison sausage. ;)

I love this: "People assume hunting is going to be a magic bullet, but killing a bunch of deer simply means the surviving deer are going to get more food and reproduce more quickly."

The Nazis managed to reduce the population of Jews in Europe substantially, a population that took a long time to recover.

It's funny that people who hate guns and bullets never comprehend their potential, for good or for bad, until it's too late.

HankL
September 3, 2004, 07:38 PM
Not to worry, Mother Nature WILL take care of the problem. The solution to the farmer's problems will not come in time for this year's harvest but it will come in time.

An epidemic of Blue Tongue, running through the Montgomery Co. herd, will have Mike Markarian standing in line for a deer rifle.

4v50 Gary
September 3, 2004, 09:14 PM
Thomas Mathus developed a theory that a population left unchecked could outgrow its capacity to feed itself at which point it begins to die off. We proved in on Angel Island in the SF Bay Area back in the '80s. No natural predators and 200 Bambis. The state had to call in professional hunters to cull the herd.

Standing Wolf
September 3, 2004, 09:17 PM
People assume hunting is going to be a magic bullet...

Whenever you hear leftist extremists talking about "a magic bullet," duck.

harpethriver
September 4, 2004, 11:02 PM
Deer, coyotes, whatever...I've never understood how they reproduce when they're dead.:banghead:

mcooper
September 5, 2004, 12:03 AM
"Hunting's not a magic bullet" WTM?

It's real easy. Treat the deer like cattle until the population is at the level where regular hunting can control the population.

How? Make a processing plant and shoot as many deer as you can in the area, then feed the hungry w/ the meat that the hunters can't use.

countertop
September 5, 2004, 12:45 AM
"We need something to be done in the next 30 days. It's a must," said Billy Willard, a Poolesville farmer
County officials hope to propose a plan within a few weeks.


Thats government for you.

4570Rick
September 5, 2004, 02:42 AM
I did a quick google check using "Annual cost of deer-car accidents" and this is a little of what under utilizing this food source is costing us.

Up to 150 people die each year in Deer Related Vehicle Accidents.

According to insurance statistics, there are more than $1.5 million DRVA annually.

Annual DRVA cost about $1.1 billion.

Average cost pr car to repair $2,000.

Annual cost of damaged landscape and crops, more than $1 billion.

Deer cost homeowners $251 million in lost landscape.

Deer cost MD farmers $38 million pr year.

$7.5 million in lost crops in NJ annually.

This is what happens when Bambi is elevated to the same status as humans.:fire:

Ex-Doc
September 5, 2004, 03:27 AM
quote:
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" People assume hunting is going to be a magic bullet, but killing a bunch of deer simply means the surviving deer are going to get more food and reproduce more quickly."

Someone buy this fella a clue!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------





Nothing like the pinheads using welfare logic on animals. CA has the same problem with illegals. Replace hunting/killing with deportation and deer with mexican....

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