Sunday, April 09, 2006

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Annual Crop Damage at $75 Million

Solanco Area Online News

HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania farmers continue to pay a high price to repair damage caused by deer. State Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff told the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee that bill is $75 million.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has increased deer management efforts during the last five years to protect agriculture – the commonwealth’s number one, $4.9 billion industry – but deer are still leaving their mark, he said.

“Despite the Game Commission’s commendable efforts,” said Wolff, “deer continue to eat into farm profits and cause many farmers to substantially alter their farm operations in order to grow crops and commodities.”

Currently, Pennsylvania’s only effective deer management tool is hunting. However, due to increased suburbanization and development, specifically in southeast and south central Pennsylvania, safety zones and shotgun-only hunting areas have increased dramatically, limiting the effectiveness of hunting as a management tool for deer control.

The Game Commission offers a variety of management programs, including the Deer Management Assistance Program, to help farmers micromanage deer on their farms. Matched with the Commission’s fencing and public access programs, participating farmers have seen a decline in financial losses over the past several years.

Wolff highlighted several direct losses due to deer damage:

A study by Penn State University pegged deer damage to agricultural crops at $75 million.

A Pennsylvania Farm Bureau study in the late 90’s indicated an average crop loss per farm at $9,000.

Forest productivity losses were estimated at $73 million annually on that portion of the forest that is actively managed.

The Pennsylvania Forest Products Association estimates as much as $18 million lost to taxpayers in deferred and lost timber stumpage sales on state lands.

Cost to landowners and business people associated with damage at nurseries and suburban landscaping has become one of the most important issues for the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association.

$78 million annual costs associated with 39,000 dear/car collisions in Pennsylvania.

Public health costs associated with Lyme disease and other deer related concerns.

For more information on the Game Commission’s deer management programs, visit (click on ‘Deer Management Programs’ and ‘Agriculture Deer Control’).

A transcript of Secretary Wolff’s testimony is available at (click on “Deer Damage Testimony”).

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