Program involves farmers in deer managementPublished 5:11pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013
A new program — Farmers Manage Deer — is working toward reducing crop loss caused by deer in Beaufort and Pitt counties.
A town hall-style meeting to discuss the program will be conducted from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. July 30 at the Beaufort County Agriculture Center, 155-A, Airport Road, Washington. Landowners and row-crop farmers are invited to attend the meeting. Registration is requested because meals will be served. To register call the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service’s Washington office at 946-0111 or Guy and Judy Gardner at 919-552-9449.
Farmers Manage Deer is a program sponsored by the N.C. Trust Fund Commission and N.C. Soybean Producers Association.
“The goals of the program are to help landowners and farmers to work cooperatively with hunters to establish antlerless deer management goals. The objective is to effectively control deer numbers effectively over the long term and in a way that not only supports the farmers’ agriculture objectives but also gives them some additional income through responsible sports hunting practices,” said Judy Gardner with the N.C. Wildlife Federation, which supports the program. “We’ve got some best-practice tools and strategies to help them implement a hunting program successfully.
“Deer are the chief culprits in causing an estimated $29.4 million in damage to North Carolina crops,” wrote N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steven Troxler in his letter of support for the project.
The N.C. Wildlife Federation issued a statement about the program.
“Participating farmers will receive all the tools they need to establish an effective deer management program on their land — to be used both as a means of keeping the number of deer in check, and as a new source of sustainable income.
“For two weeks during the fall 2013 deer hunting season, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation will lease land from row crop farmers, promoting this hunt opportunity through of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services website ‘Hunt NC Farmland.’ An antlerless deer harvest plan will be developed in collaboration with the Wildlife Resources Commission, and hunters will harvest deer according to that plan. N.C. Hunters for the Hungry stands ready to process donated deer at NCDA&CS certified facilities so that this meat may be donated to local food banks.
“Farmers win, their community wins, and hunters win.”
The program’s goal is to introduce sport-hunting programs on row-crop farms as a long-term deer management strategy for the benefit of the farmer, who could see both higher crop yield and new income through hunt programs. Each landowner/farmer will be paid for hosting a 15-day antlerless hunt in 2013, receive guidance and support for the next two years and be provided with tools that will promote a safe hunting program. Processing fees for excess venison harvested will be paid by this program to N.C. Hunters for the Hungry processors, that they may return much needed protein back to those in need in the community.
The two-year program is being delivered by the N.C. Wildlife Federation in cooperation with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, N.C. Hunters for the Hungry, N.C. State University and others. This program is made possible by funding received from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and N.C. Soybean Producers Association.
Some farmland is being enrolled in the program. To enroll in the program, learn more about the program or pledge volunteer support, contact Rod Gurganus with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service’s Washington office at 946-0111 or the Gardners at 919-552-9449.
More information about the program may be found at www.ncagr.gov/hunt/