Province Helps to Reduce Crop Damage by Deer

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The Ontario government is helping farmers reduce crop damage by deer by making deer removal authorizations more effective, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced.

"We are responding to the needs of those farmers who face economic hardship due to deer-caused crop damage," said Ramsay. "The changes being implemented will make deer removal authorizations more effective and improve farm productivity without harming the overall health of deer populations in Ontario. This strengthens our rural communities and contributes to a high quality of life."

The policy changes include:

* Allowing bucks to be taken year-round as long as antler growth exceeds three inches.

* Expanding the time period during the year when removal permits can be used for antlerless deer.

* Making deer harassment authorizations available to farmers in the spring when using removal permits is restricted.

* Proactively issuing deer removal authorizations to farmers with high value crops, a history of documented deer damage, or in locations where there is a high chance of imminent crop damage.

* Streamlining the reporting requirements for farmers.

* Implementing an appeal process for farmers.

* Allowing the farmer or agent to keep the deer carcass.

"The OFA is pleased to see many of the recommendations from the farming community included in the final policy," said Ron Bonnett, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. "These changes create an additional tool for farmers that, along with increased hunting opportunities, will help balance deer populations."

The new policy is a result of ministry consultation with provincial and local stakeholder groups this past winter, running a pilot project and public comments received from the posting of the proposed changes on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry in June. The decision notice can be viewed at www.ene.gov.on.ca/samples/search/Ebrquery_REG.htm by entering Registry Number PB04E3011.

Deer populations in southern Ontario have increased due to factors such as mild winters and favourable habitat with plenty of natural food. As a result, crop damage by deer has been an ongoing problem. In response to increased deer populations, the ministry recently announced expanded deer hunting seasons and is also offering 36,000 extra deer seals this fall.

Fact Sheet: Deer Removal Authorizations