Wednesday, January 16, 2008

OHIO OPINION: Deer Damage Justifies Expanded Deer Seasons

If there’s anyone out there who still thinks that deer hunting is unnecessary or cruel, they ought to read the story published in Monday’s T-R on the damage deer have caused to area farms and nurseries.

James Smith, who operates Smith Evergreen Nursery in Carroll County, planted 15 acres of Fraser firs earlier this decade. Smith lost 99 percent of them after they were devoured by deer.

The number of deer in Ohio has exploded in the last few decades. In 1970, the statewide population was estimated at 17,000. The current estimate is 675,000. According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife, deer cause $2 billion in damage nationwide, including $100 million in agricultural crop damage, $750 million in damage to the timber industry and more than $250 million in damage to home landscape and nursery damage.

That’s not counting the cost of vehicle-deer crashes. State Farm estimates that one out of every 164 cars on Ohio’s highways will be involved in a deer-related crash within the next 12 months. The average property damage cost of one of these crashes is $2,900, up 3 percent in the last year.

Those opposed to deer hunting “probably don’t have a relative that was killed when their car hit a deer,” Michael Hogan, the Ohio State University Extension agent assigned to Carroll County, told GateHouse Media. “They probably are not farmers; their crops are not destroyed by deer. The problem is we have protected them as a society.”

With no natural predators to control the deer population, hunting is the only practical option available.

And even with an extra weekend of gun season in December, the number of deer isn’t getting any smaller. We think it’s time the state considers expanding gun season again. Perhaps that would help curb the deer population in Ohio.


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