Minnesota DNR staffer deals with farmers’ complaints about deer
The Associated Press
ELBA, Minn. (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources is listening to farmers’ complaints about destructive deer in southeastern Minnesota.
Clint Luedtke, the agency’s new deer depredation specialist, helped Whitewater Gardens Farm near Elba after owner Lonny Dietz turned to the DNR.
Dietz estimates that deer destroy $5,000 to $10,000 of his crops annually.
“They come into these rows and, after that, you don’t see any rows,” said Dietz, whose vegetable farm sits atop a bluff. “The deer say, ‘Thank you for dinner.’ “
The first thing Luedtke did was bring over temporary electric fence to keep the deer out. He also is arranging for up to $5,000 in permanent fencing that the Dietzes will have to put up on their own around eight acres of vegetables. They expect to have that ready for next year.
But while Luedtke can do some things to help, he told the Post-Bulletin of Rochester (http://bit.ly/QNVlx6) the problem will not go away.
For years, farmers have been complaining about too many deer, Luedtke said. How much they complain depends on their tolerance for damage — some are upset with losing $100, others need several thousand dollars of damage before they speak up, he said.
“This thing has gotten political down here,” Luedtke said. “It’s a big deal. We have got big deer, we have a lot of deer.”
The blufflands of southeast Minnesota are well suited for whitetails. The wooded valleys near cropland and mild winters mean the deer are well fed and produce a lot of fawns, Luedtke said.
Because of that, deer numbers rose so high, especially in Winona and Houston counties, that the DNR was allowing hunters to register up to five deer each year.
The region’s population is now near what the DNR wants, and hunters this fall will be limited to one or two deer.
With corn and soybeans bringing high prices, demand to control deer is increasing, Luedtke said.
“I’ve got a new complaint call every day,” he said.
Fencing and chemical deterrents help in some cases, but “hunting is really the ultimate tool,” he said. “We have to reduce the numbers.”
Some landowners are hesitant to allow hunters on their land, so Luedtke’s challenge is to find ways to get landowners to allow more hunting. He’s also trying to attract more hunters.
Dietz said hunting might help but “we could shoot 20 deer and they would be replaced in a week.”
Information from: Post-Bulletin, http://www.postbulletin.com
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.