Deer: Should they stay or go? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Deer: Should they stay or go?

July 26, 2004

Lee County - There are a whopping 1.3 million deer in Georgia. That's good news for hunters, but a big headache for farmers because the deer eat their crops.

So now, the Department of Natural Resources wants input from you on how to handle the growing deer population.

A noticeable path leading into the woods, tracks in the dirt and lots of leftover snacks in a Lee County field. DNR Wildlife Technician Gerald Henry points, "They probably dug this out last night."

The diggers are deer and like most Georgians, they love peanuts.  Henry says, "It's something they are really attracted to and it's hard to keep them out."

The deer start off eating their greens, but then they dig a little deeper for some protein peanuts. With each bite they are eating up profits. Henry adds, "When you get several acres, damage like this, then you've got an economic impact that's not good."

DNR tries to lesson the impact.  Henry looks at the field, "Yes, definitly a permit on this."

They can issue crop damage permits, allowing farmers to hunt doe, even during the off season. DNR Senior Biologist Julie Robbins says, "Most permits are offered for peanuts, cotton, soy bean and corn in this area."

Damaged crops are just one of the many hot topics. DNR is in the process of collecting opinions from around the state to find out if we have too many deer roaming around. Robbins adds, "Right now, Georgia deer herd is estimated to about 1.3 million deer and in an area like this that translates to 25 to 30 deer per square mile."

That's a lot of deer having dinner in this south Georgia peanut field. Each time they eat an acre of greens, they are eating $800 worth of green out of the farmer's wallet.

If you have an opinion on whether the deer population should decrease, increase or stay the same, the DNR public meeting is August 10th from three until eight at Albany Technical College.

posted at 5:40PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com