- Report Published -
|Deer Damage in Virginia|
|Department of Game and Inland Fisheries|
|HJR 588 (Regular Session, 1993)|
|House Joint Resolution No. 588 requested "...that the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, assisted by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the Virginia cooperative Extension Service, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Animal Damage Control Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, be requested to undertake a study assessing the extent of damage to crops, vehicles, property, and citizens of the Commonwealth caused by deer." The resolution also specified that "...the study shall make recommendations on the establishment of deer management plans by county or by physiographic region."|
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) established a Deer Damage Committee in April of 1993. This committee solicited input from state agencies and agricultural commodity producers regarding the economic impact of deer damage in Virginia. Based on presentations made to the Committee and other available data, the Committee estimated that the amount of agricultural crop damage and property damage caused by deer in Virginia in 1992 was approximately $11.4 million and $4.5 million, respectively. Additionally, the Committee concluded that reduction of deer herds primarily through harvest of antlerless deer by hunters is the most effective and cost-efficient method to manage deer damage to crops, vehicles, and property.
The Committee also determined that, although deer damage crops, vehicles, and property, Virginia's white-tailed deer population is a beneficial economic resource. Virginia deer hunters contributed approximately 140 million dollars to the state's economy in 1991. This figure does not include indirect economic multiplier factors or nonconsumptive and aesthetic values.
The committee also reviewed recent steps taken by VDGIF to liberalize deer seasons and thereby increase deer harvest. Deer kill has increased rapidly in recent years and biologist believe the population may actually be decreasing. Even more liberal regulations were implemented for 1993 and 1994.
The Deer Damage Committee offers the following recommendations:
That the VDGIF continue to develop and refine a statewide White-tailed Deer Management Plan that establishes deer herd objectives by defined management unit(s).
That the VDGIF consider, ad needed, further liberalization of their current deer hunting regulations (e.g., season lengths, bag limits, license design, number of either-sex hunting days, bonus deer permits) and deer management programs (e.g., the Deer Management Assistance Program, Damage Control Assistance Program).
That the federal and state land management agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia be strongly encouraged to implement and/or expand deer management activities on lands under their supervision. The effect of a "no hunting" deer management strategy on some of these lands should be revaluated. This analysis should address the effects(s) of current deer management on (1) crop and property damage levels of adjacent landowners and the efficacy of their damage control efforts, (2) deer-vehicle collision rates, and (3) the impact that high deer herd densities have on native floral and faunal communities.
That the VDGIF, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, and Virginia Farm Bureau consider developing a private land deer hunter access program.
That the VDGIF, in cooperation with the Cooperative Extension Service, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the United States Department of Agriculture (APHIS) should be encouraged to pursue funds to produce educational materials regarding deer management and damage options.