Minn. Farmers: Deer Hunting Restrictions are Harming Crops
Another deer hunting season in Minnesota is underway. The archery season began Saturday.
As the season begins, farmers in southeastern Minnesota are concerned about crop damage from too many deer. That's an area where archery hunting regulations changed three years ago.
The new rule is called Antler Point Restriction. Hunters in the area, which runs from the south metro to the Iowa border, are only allowed to hunt bucks that have at least one antler with at least four points.
The idea is to create bigger bucks for hunters. This means thousands fewer deer are being shot.
But many farmers, like Bob Marg, whose land is about 20 miles north of Winona, tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they have seen enough. He says since the new rules went into effect in 2010 he's seen more crop damage.
He says deer this year have done about $1,500 in damage to his 40 acres of corn.
A study just released from the DNR reveals deer in 2011 did about $3 million in damage to crops in southeastern Minnesota. DNR numbers show fewer deer are being killed since the APR program started.
The APR program seems to be growing on hunters. Many tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are seeing bigger bucks.
The DNR says they understand the concerns of farmers and acknowledge some growing pains with the antler point restrictions.
Leslie McInenly is a big game program leader for the DNR. She says deer numbers in the region are close to where the DNR wants them. But, to help farmers they recently established a program to give them special licenses to kill deer due to crop depredation.
The DNR suggests farmers call them if they're having a problem. The DNR can send someone out to review the damage and make suggestions. The agency says it's willing to work with farmers on an individual basis.