Dealing with deer causing rifts among neighbors
KITTRELL — Ann Stars had never had a problem with wounded deer coming to die on her Kittrell property in the 20 years she has lived there.
But, within the past few weeks, she has found two deer on two separate occasions injured with the same stomach gash.
“This is the first time that I’ve been aware this has happened,” she said. “I can only imagine how many deer were out there on my property that I didn’t know about and the dogs hadn’t found.”
She learned from her neighbors that some soybean farmers in the area shoot deer that wander on their land to eat the beans. The wounded deer flee the farm and are left to die on a neighboring property — like Stars’.
“What they are doing is aiming to shoot in their stomachs so they run away,” she said. “Whether it’s legal or not, it’s torture. North Carolina farmers are torturing deer.”
Alan Hedgepeth, of the Ruin Creek Animal Protection Society, said he has heard of the issue.
“Unfortunately, this seems to be a growing problem in this area,” he wrote in an email. “This is a cruel and barbaric practice, and anyone with information should report this to the Wildlife Resources Commission.”
State wildlife resource officer Johnny Young said he deals with this complaint often.
He said farmers are allowed to shoot deer that have eaten more than $50 worth of a crop — regardless of whether it is deer season, which runs from September to January.
“The deer population is getting out of hand so farmers have no choice but to shoot the deer,” he said, adding that the farmers don’t need a permit or license to do so.
Young said they do need a permit to remove the animal from their property, if the deer dies on the farmer’s land.
According to the state Wildlife Resource Commission, North Carolina’s population of white-tailed deer is estimated at 1.35 million — compared to only 10,000 in 1990.
North Carolina’s major efforts to restore deer in the state took place in the 1940s through the 1970s when the state was responsible for stocking approximately 4,000 deer throughout the North Carolina, according to the state Wildlife Resource Commission.
There are 45 or more deer per square mile in Vance, Granville, Warren and Franklin counties, according to data from the state Wildlife Resource Commission.
Young said farmers can endure huge financial loses when deer ravage the crops.
“If I take your paycheck and cut it in half, you wouldn’t be happy about it,” he said. “I understand it’s somewhat cruel to leave the deer wounded, but on the other side that is the farmer’s livelihood, and he has to make money.”
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