The state of Kentucky is working to give farmers more options when it comes to dealing with wildlife that eat their crops. The primary target of the legislation is deer.
The bill, easily approved by the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee, would give landowners or their designees the authority to kill or trap any wildlife causing damage to crops or personal property.
Jeff Harper with the Kentucky Farm Bureau says it also allows for the speedy removal of animal carcuses. “The one thing that we wanted to be very careful of was not to do anything to harm the sport of hunting or anything to harm wildlife, but at the same time, they were causing crop loss,” said Harper. Harper says faster removal of dead animals will allow for quicker processing and that can benefit food bank organizations. State Division of Wildlife Director Karen Alexy Waldrop says management of the female deer population is a long term way to help remedy crop loss problems. She says her agency wants to work with landowners and show them how to decrease the population on their properties. "Doing it out of season and just shooting when they’re causing damage, that’s not gonna solve the problem," said Waldrop. While deer certainly impact growers in western Kentucky, Waldrop says the animals are also making a mark in the eastern part of the state. “In a Zone Four county in Eastern Kentucky, where we don’t have a lot of deer, but you have a large family garden, and you’ve got some deer coming in every night that are eating your family garden, well that’s just as important to that landowner as a large farming operation could be in western Kentucky, because that’s their livelihood , that’s there food for their families,” added Waldrop.
Waldrop says there are some areas of the state where as many as 50 deer can be found in a square mile.