The Potomac Highlands Watershed School 

High School Environmental Forum

Farmer POV

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Deer and Agriculture Ė Point of View

Berkeley Springs High School, Kelsey & Eric REVISED 11/3/05


            The increasing deer population in West Virginia and the surrounding areas has caused severe problems and concerns regarding harvesting crops and the overall wellbeing of farms.  In the Cacaponís Lost River Watershed alone there are about sixty-seven deer per square mile, or about twelve thousand deer.  There are so many deer that the demand for food has greatly increased, causing deer to eat the crops of the farmers in order to survive.  Something needs to be done about the increasing deer overpopulation problem affecting the farmers of West Virginia.

            The increasing deer population has caused many problems to farmlands.  The deer eat the crops that are planted by the farmers; this causes the bankruptcy of some farmers due to severe crop destruction.  When the deer eat the crops set out by farmers, the farmers have to replant them in order to meet the quota of crops that are needed for business, and depending on the time of the season, replanting enough crops to meet the quota can be almost impossible.  When the farmers have to continue to plant and replant their crops, they are constantly spending money and not receiving any in return.  If this cycle continues long enough, farmers risk losing a majority of their profit for that harvest.  Not only can the deer cause severe crop destruction, their persistence to find food can also cause destruction to fences and other structures.  This causes more economic losses for the farmers as they are forced to repair destruction caused by the deer.

            Another major factor that causes problems on farms is the disease of livestock.  People do not often consider the fact that deer can carry disease, and when they come into contact with livestock, they can transfer the disease to the livestock.  Although deer do not hurt livestock by using physical harm, they do hurt the livestock with the diseases they carry.  Deer have become a major problem in terms of infecting healthy livestock with disease.  Once the livestock has been infected by a diseased deer, the livestock no longer can profit the farmer which causes another great economic loss.

            Every year, deer cause economic problems to the agriculture business. It is estimated that each year deer damage to crops and livestock causes a 35 million dollar loss to the farmers.  There are ways to control these problems at least temporarily without any harm to the deer themselves.  Noises and flashing lights alone can frighten a deer to an extent.  Although this may only offer temporary relief from deer, it does keep them away from crops and livestock for that much longer.

Another popular method of keeping deer away from the crops is using fences.  This takes the population from sixty-four deer per square mile to only sixteen deer per square mile.  People can use exclusion fences that simply blockade the deer out of a certain place.  These fences can be placed around the perimeter of the farm in order to keep the deer completely out of the farmland, or the fence can be placed around a particular field in order to avoid crop destruction.  They can also use electric fences that are less noticeable to people, but that will keep the deer away more effectively.  It will only take coming in contact with the fence one time for the deer to realize that they are not wanted in the certain fenced area around the farm.  Even limiting the deer population from one small area can shift population demographics forcing the deer to adapt to new surroundings.

Farmers are being affected greatly by the overpopulation of deer in West Virginia. Since deer eat so much (about five to seven pounds of food per day), they eat quite a bit of crops.  A lot of times, the deer eat high value crops which make the farmers use low value crops so as to not lose so much money.  The deer have caused economic problems for farmers, but they have found ways to help eliminate some of the deer.  Hopefully, some day the deer will no longer affect the farmers. 


Overpopulation of Deer Ė Farmer POV

Petersburg High School

We are taking the position of farmers and homeowners. We think we have a significant problem with deer because the deer have overpopulated our region.  The estimated total deer damage from auto collisions, crop, and timber losses reaches at least one billion a year. There are over 40, 000 car accidents each year that are caused by deer. Deer eat farmerís crops, destroy native vegetation, damage gardens and horticultural plantings and cause accidents on the highway. Deer have destroyed 10-20% of a 2,500-acre farm. Most of the losses have been in corn, soybean, and wheat crops. (1)

            Attra, known as the national sustainable agriculture information service, has five general methods for preventing or controlling deer damage to crops.  According to Lance E. Gegner, these methods include exclusion, cultural methods, scare devices, repellants, and culling or harvest. Several methods of exclusion are available. They can involve permanent or temporary fences, a wireless deer fence, or other methods of keeping deer from getting to the plants to browse. Deer damage to landscape plants and flowers usually occurs when the deerís natural browse is low, generally in the late fall through early spring, by choosing species that are undesirable to deer, you can reduce the amount of damage to these plants. Methods of frightening or hazing deer may be effective and economical in some situations, especially at the fist sign of a problem. Propane cannons or gas exploders set to detonate at irregular intervals are the most common scare devices, and they are sometimes available for loan from wildlife refuges or wildlife agencies. (2)

            These policies may help reduce crop damage, but they will not help reduce the deer population. Minister David Ramsay, of Ontario National Resources, announced that the Ontario government is helping farmers reduce crop damage by making deer removal authorizations more effective.  We agree that deer removal authorizations should be increased.

Other potential ways that the deer population could be controlled are:

  • As long as antler growth is three inches, bucks can be taken year-round.

  • Expand the time period for antlerless deer.

  • When permits are restricted, harassment authorization should be available to farmers in the spring.

  • Make a deer season all year long.

Reference Cited







The Farmers Hampshire High School 1st Block

 By:  Zanna, Tiffani, Kandi, Chris, Eric.  Ver 2 (10/31/05)


The Farmers Hampshire High School 1st Block By: Zanna, Tiffani, Kandi, Chris, Eric Over numerous amounts of research, we have realized that the deer population has had a major effect on the agricultural growth of crops. One hundred million dollars of damage is done from the overpopulation of deer in the United States every year. As the farmers, we see that there needs to be some drastic changes made to fix this problem. There are many options that we could use to control the deer population, but no one is taking actions. We use repellants, but the deer get used to it, and it doesn't bother them anymore. Another option would be to reduce the deer heard by emphasizing on killing does. Even if the DNR would allow extra does to be kill, there aren't enough land owners that will let hunters hunt on their land to lower the population of the deer. Deer management can be accomplished correctly on as little as 250 acres. Also, landowners could lease their land to hunting clubs, get money, and reduce the deer population, but again not enough people would partake in this. From our point of view and other local farmers, we think the best solutions to reducing the deer population could be to have the DNR distribute more information on crop protection, where the biggest population of the deer are, and use that information to distribute more deer permits in the overpopulated areas. In conclusion, several actions need to take place before this becomes a problem that cannot be dealt with. Sources: Local Farmers

Hampshire High School, AP Environmental Science,
4 Farmer Kids VERSION 2: 10/31/05

According to agronomist William Grafton of West Virginia University, the deer population is over abundant and affecting agricultural productivity. These farms are affected primarily because of the vegetation consumption and waste distribution caused by wild deer. It's a costly investment for farmers to keep replanting crops and restoring structures. A New Jersey survey sampled 4,403 farmers whose farm sales were reported greater than $10,000 annually. Compliant farmers reported that deer were responsible for 70 percent of their wild life caused crop losses. That's almost as much fat as there is in a McDonald's cheeseburger. Useable cropland has been abandoned due to excessive deer damage and some have even ceased growing their preferred crops. A long-term affect of this would include increasing costs for the consumers. That, along with gas to transport it, will make living even more expensive. Between five- and ten- million dollars was estimated to have been spent due to crop losses, and approximately $600,000 annually on attempting to control their feral behavior. In attempting to stop crop depletion farmers use most widely used techniques of fencing and repellants. Recent studies have been conducted on diseased deer in the Hampshire County area. If these diseases (chronic wasting disease) carry on to farmersí livestock then thatís an even greater loss for the farmers. Havenít they suffered enough financial loss? Some farmers have resorted to buying permits to shoot (PTS) the menacing deer. Forty-five percent of the surveyed farmers who used PTS at some point reported experiencing opposition to their use. Neighbors and local hunters were cited as the most frequent sources of opposition. This did not cause the farmers to cease using PTS. Our AP Environmental Science class recently received a grant to construct a deer fence in hopes of observing how deer affect the environment. This is a five-year study being conducted for future APES students to eventually come up with ideas to help farmers control deer. If there isn't a definite way to control the deer population then farmers should be able to use their own tactics to protect their crops. Hopefully in the future solutions will arise and this ongoing problem will be solved. So, until McDonald's makes a "Deer Burger," shoot away!


The O'Neal School, Environmental Science, farmer, Posted 11/08/2005

I am a farmer and think these wretched deer should all die. I live in West Virgina on my ancestors plantation that we have passed down through the years from generation to generation. We grow many different crops from corn to tomatoes and lettuce. These past few years deer have begun to overpopulate my woods and land. Im sorry to say that if these deers actions do not change I will be forced to shoot them on the spot. These white tailed deer are reproducing so rapidly that one day they might begin to push us out of our own land and homes. Deer are very beautiful animals and i understand that they are only trying to find a way to survive and feed their young but comming into my property and eating the food that i have worked hard to grow to sell to take care of my own family, just isnt right. I know these deer dont know right from wrong however there are just to many to deal with and actions should be taken to kill some off. Thanks for your time and concern Whitney and Morgan