January 29, 2023

Delaware Farmers Getting Eaten Out of House and Home

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Deer in some areas of Delaware number in the 90-plus per square mile range, while others are around a dozen. Farmers don’t really care whether there are 12 or 1200 deer per square mile. Their gripe is the deer that are there are eating their crops by 20-30 percent and cutting into their profits. The farmers are seeking permission to kill the deer.

There is legislation pending in the Delarware Congress that would provide farmers the chance to do that but like any political drafting, there is conflict and opposition. Some say the drafted bill is too general and wouldn’t protect endangered species and of course there’s always those who don’t want the animals killed at all.

From information that I have been able to gather on this issue, it appears to me that the state of Delaware has not done a very good job in managing their wildlife and not simply because there are too many deer in some places. There are no wildlife zones to define areas that need closer scrutiny for example and officials have no clear estimates of deer populations now and where all the more heavily populated regions are.

One issue that may hold up this legislative process to give the farmers some relief, is that the fish and game officials will have to provide some data to show scientifically that there are too many deer. They don’t have the facts.

Last winter the game officials did some aerial surveys to get better estimates of deer populations. Hunting is one method used to control and manage deer populations but last year 5,200 antlerless deer permits were issued. Less than half were filled.

Delaware’s problems with deer populations are identical to state after state. Deer are congregating in large numbers in areas where there is a lot of food and they are not harassed – urban areas. In Delaware, many large farms abutt urban parks and the edges of towns. The combination of the two, wooded areas and ample food, provides safe havens for the deer to roam freely and multiply.

When towns ban hunting, it removes one of the biggest resources used for deer management. Overgrown populations of deer bring many hazzards to human populations – disease and accidents.

Delaware needs to get caught up by the sounds with their wildlife management programs and at the same time do something to help out these farmers who are losing their shirts.

Tom Remington