LANSING — Agriculture is Michigan’s second largest industry and represents one of the greatest resources the state has to offer. However, current law leaves valuable crops largely unprotected from nuisance deer that disturb and destroy them, said Sen. John Proos.
Proos announced Monday night at the Cass County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting that he is working to solve this problem by introducing legislation to allow farmers to take more nuisance deer.
“Farmers are currently able to obtain a deer damage shooting permit as a result of nursery or crop loss, which allows three employees to take nuisance deer responsible for damaging crops,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Often, a farm operation includes many more employees who might be able to help alleviate the crop damage problem by eliminating nuisance deer.”
If passed, Proos’ bill would allow up to 15 farm workers to be included under a Department of Natural Resources deer damage shooting permit.
“We are seeing the deer population in our state rising and the number of hunters falling,” Proos said. “This is a common-sense preventative measure to allow farmers to protect their livelihoods, keep the deer population in check, and help save hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of crops across the state.”
Michigan's agricultural industry contributes $64 billion to the economy each year, with approximately 50,000 farms employing a total of more than a million residents.
“Residents of Southwest Michigan understand the importance of agriculture to our region,” said Proos. “Now – more than ever – we must cultivate those industries that are creating jobs and supporting our local economy.”