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How deer damage permit changes will affect farmers

Ohio Farm Bureau has been working with the ODNR’s Division of Wildlife to ensure farmers still have appropriate access to deer damage permits. OFBF policy supports year-long deer damage permits.

“For farmers, the damage done by deer to their crops continues to be a significant problem,” said OFBF Executive Vice President Jack Fisher in a letter to ODNR Chief Scott Zody. “Considering the division has continued to reduce bag limits in recent years, it is even more critical that farmers have a workable deer damage permit to utilize.”

ODNR will no longer issue year-long deer damage permits but shorter ones that are based on crop type (see graphic below), said Brandon Kern, OFBF’s director of state policy. OFBF is concerned how the policy change will affect farmers, particularly those with nursery stock, orchards, Christmas trees and landscape plants. Those plants and trees are grown in months not covered by the new deer damage permit periods.

“Those operations’ permits expire during the busiest time of the year for them, and it can be challenging to get an extension. It’s not really workable for them,” Kern said.

ODNR has instructed its wildlife officers to be flexible in issuing the permits and told them the damage permit dates are guidelines, not a rigid set of rules. Ohio Farm Bureau notes, however, that this approach has led to inconsistency in how the program is administered, resulting in confusion and unequal treatment of farmers.

ODNR has said it will continue to work with Farm Bureau on this issue and plans to conduct a survey of landowners soon to gain a better understanding of how the program is viewed. In turn, OFBF will continue to educate members and get their feedback on the use of the permits.

New deer damage permit dates

Corn: April 15 until start of archery season.*

Soybeans: May 1 until start of archery season.

Wheat: End of archery season until July 15.

Hay field with significant legumes: End of archery season until start of archery season.

Standing or shocked crops from previous planting season: End of archery season until April 15. Consider special condition permit that expires April 15 or when crops are removed from fields.

Nursery stock: End of archery season until start of archery season.

Christmas trees (browse damage): End of archery season until April 1.

Christmas trees (rub damage): End of archery season until March 1 and/or Aug. 15 until start of archery season.

Garden: June 1 until start of archery season

Landscape plants: April 1 until start of archery season. Consider starting permit when plants being damaged emerge and end permit when those damaged plants go dormant.

Ornamental trees (browse damage): End of archery season through April 1.

Ornamental trees (rub damage): End of archery season until March 1 and/or Aug. 15 until start of archery season.

* Archery season for 2015-2016 is Sept. 26, 2015-Feb. 7, 2016.

** Source: ODNR

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.