In 2009 damage by wildlife to agricultural operations was in the $30 million range in North Carolina with the bulk attributed to deer. Joe Folta, District 3 Wildlife Biologist for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission offers this advice for deer munching on valuable crops. For large fields primarily the only thing available is population reduction. And we prefer it’s done through the normal hunting season. Hunting season runs from the second Saturday in September through January 1. So, that’s our primary means of controlling population, and controlling damage to farmers’ crops.
If a problem arises outside hunting season, NC Wildlife will issue a permit, but be advised, they’re handed out with a teaspoon, and heavily regulated. There is a depredation permit. What the depredation permit program is, if a landowner is experiencing damage and that damage can be assessed at more than $50, and for a farmer that’s not hard to do. What they can do is contact their local wildlife biologist, main office in Raleigh, or their local wildlife enforcement officer and request one of these permits. The permit will spell out how many deer can be taken, how long the permit will be valid for, any special means or restrictions that might be necessary, that sort of thing.
While deer are the primary culprit, there are other wildlife pests. Primarily, my calls seem to be related to foxes and coyotes, raccoons, a few squirrels, now and then. We’re getting more and more calls about feral hogs. Of course, feral hogs are a special case, they’re not regulated with the exception of six counties in the mountains, so you can kill them anytime you want to.
Feral hogs are relatively new to the nuisance wildlife scene, and special caution should be taken. They can be very aggressive. Folta suggests There are many methods of trying to reduce those numbers and lot of people will be in a tree stand to do it. there’s not a lot of instances of a pig trying to climb up a tree stand after you.
As for other wildlife, there were several instances in the state of rabid foxes last year. Folta offers this. Well, a lot of people have the misconception when it comes to rabies that if a fox, or a raccoon or a skunk is out in the daytime that it’s rabid. That’s not the case. It would be analogous to you or I working in a third shift, we go out at night, well, sometimes primarily nocturnal animals do come out during the daytime.
So, we need to make sure that folks around the area know that if an animal is out in a time period that isn’t traditionally a time period that you’d not expect to see them, that it’s not necessarily a sick animal. What we want to hear about is an animal that is sick, stumbling or falling over, we want to hear about those kinds of things. They can call us, they can call their local wildlife enforcement officer, call the Raleigh office, and they can dispatch someone accordingly.
For more information or assistance in controlling wildlife damaging crops contact your county wildlife resource office.