The Land: Fencing the deer out of the field.
The Land features topics in local agriculture, one of Mason County’s top industries.
By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.
BRANCH TOWNSHIP — Damage to crops by deer can cause significant issues to farmers. Deer can transfer disease to crops and to each other. Last week, a crew from Ohse Farms was installing 6,000 feet of 8-foot fencing around a 67 acre field on First Street. The purpose is to keep the deer out, naturally, but also to help improve the deer herd.
Larry Crawford, an employee of Ohse Farms, is also the treasurer of the local Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), an organization whose mission is to promote sustainable, high-quality deer populations, wildlife habitats and ethical hunting experiences through research, education, advocacy, and hunter recruitment.
“We are trying to enclose this ag field for a number of reasons,” Crawford said. “We want to reduce crop damage and reduce crop damage permits. We want to give the deer an incentive to stay out of the field and allow them to grow so the farmer does not have to harvest (kill) them. No farmer wants to drive by a soy bean field and see 50 deer standing in it. That’s not a good thing.”
Crawford said when deer are in the field and the farmer has to harvest them, the killing isn’t really selective. He said QDMA would like to see 1 1/2-year-old bucks allowed an additional year to mature. Keeping them out of the fields and reserving them for hunting season gives them the chance to mature.
Jake Zwagerman of Ohse Farms said keeping the deer out of the field also helps with food quality standards by reducing the spread of disease and also of salmonella . The First Street field will have carrots which are grown for human consumption.