Deer chomping on corn and beans in Les Anderson’s Welch fields are racking up an incredible tab.
$25,000 to $30,000 a year.
That’s the loss in yields that Anderson has seen from deer eating crops in the field.
“They are out of control,” he said. “It’s a big problem.”
And the problem is growing.
“Every year it’s exponentially worse,” he said.
Anderson farms about 1,000 acres in the Welch area.
Others have reported similar problems, not just in Welch but across southern Minnesota.
The fields that are hit the worst in Welch are close to the Cannon River and up against tree-covered hillsides, places where deer have protection during the day before coming out at night to feast in the fields.
“It’s pockets,” Anderson said.
Yield maps show the most destruction right along the edges of the fields with pockets of lower yields throughout the field.
Farmers expect some losses due to deer, but the problem Anderson is seeing is causing significant financial losses.
He first noticed the problem three years ago.
“It’s gradual the way it came on,” he said.
And the problem seems to be getting worse each year.
One soybean field was decimated.
“It looks like it was hailed off,” he said.”It looked like it hadn’t been planted.”
He is looking to the state Department of Natural Resources for help in combating the problem.
He wants to be able to kill off does in the winter, not all of them, just enough to thin out the herds.
It’s not unusual for him to see herds of 50 or more deer in the area.
“We all like deer; we all like wildlife,” Anderson said, “but something needs to be done.
He has suggested a pilot project in the hardest hit areas to see if thinning the herds in the winter reduces the problem in spring and summer.
“It would be targeted areas, not statewide,” he said.
Another option would be having the DNR pay for crop losses due to deer.