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February 24, 2006     Cape Gazette
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February 24, 2006

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20 - CAPE GAZETrE - Friday, Feb. 24 - Monday, Feb. 27, 2006 Farmers demand riot to hunt trespassing deer By Rachel Swick Cape Gazette staff Sussex County farmers are fed up. They say trespassing deer are ruining their livelihood and they want the stateto help out. At a rally organized by Farmers Against Infringement of Rights (FAIR) on Tuesday, Feb. 21, in Georgetown, approximately 50 farmers gathered to discuss the deer population and the problems deer cause. Attorney Thomas Neuberger of Wilmington, who represented the 26 members of FAIR, said the state has been wasting time on the deer issue. He said the members of FAIR control about 43,000 acres of farmland in Sussex County and in the past three years they have lost millions of dollars as a result of trespassing deer that eat and trample young plants dur- ing the spring growing season. Statewide, about 300 farmers have lost more than $18 million. "For the past three years, these farms have repeatedly and unsuc- cessfully sought assistance from your office," wrote Nenberger in a letter to Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary John Hughes. "But in every case, your office invariably responded by offering deer control methods that have proved ineffective and useless." Neuberger and the members of FAIR demanded that DNREC allow farmers to get permits from the state to destroy the deer. A let- ter was also sent to state Attorney General Carl Danberg asking that farmers not be prosecuted for killing deer outside--of hunting season. Phone calls seeking com- ment to Hughes and other DNREC officials were- not returned. Most of the attacks on the farm- ers' plants occur during the spring growing season, which will soon be upon us, said Neuberger. Spring is when farmers say they want the right to shoot deer on their properties. But arming farmers during the spring has its drawbacks as well, said Rep. Joe Booth, R- Georgetown, who said he was not informed of the rally. Booth said the state has boosted deer control up in its list of priorities in the past three years, recognizing that growing deer populations are becoming a problem for farmers. The state conducted .infrared thermal scanning in Delaware this past summer to determine where deer populations are located in order to modify how we take deer in the state, said Booth. "I've always been open to pro- posals and information from farmers," said Booth. ''lais past year we were up 30 percent in deer takes, which was more than Maryland. It becomes a property fights issue for farmers when they want to start taking these deer dur- ing the year." Neuberger cited a section of the Delaware Constitution that states "all people have by nature the fights of...acquiring and protect- ing. , tin)petty." Heal'so noted that many other states, including Pennsylvania, have already amended laws to allow farmers to kill deer out of season without threat of prosecu- tion. Neuberger said if FAIR's plans don't work, filing a lawsuit might be the next step. But, he said, he hopes it doesn't get that far. Until then, FAIR plans to find a sponsor in the General Assembly to back a farmers' rights bill and they requested a legal opinion from the Attorney General's office to remove the threat of prosecu- tion for killing deer on their prop- erty outside of hunting season. The group may also hire a lobby- ist, said Neuberger. In the past, farmers have written to Hughes requesting more per- mits for killing deer in the off-sea- son, but many of these requests were turned down, said Neuberger. "Hughes has claimed that he cannot obey the law due to politi- cal concerns," said Neuberger. "Farmers face enough economic difficulty without the deer. If they go bankrupt and they must sell to developers, Sussex County will become more and more congest- ed. Development of the farmlands also will threaten the rivers and COLOR CONSULTANTS INTERIOR & RESIDENTIAL & DONALD A. PROL (302) 947-9001 OFFICE EXTERIOR COMMERCIAL CSDE.DAI=MCHSI.COM (302) 745-8455 CELL Rachel Swick photo Attorney Tom Neuberger speaks to a crowd of almost 50 farmers while surrounded by mem- bers of Ftrmers Against Infringement of Rights (FAIR) at the Marvel Museum Tuesday, Feb. 21 in Georgetown. Neuberger, of Wilmington, represents Sussex County farmers who have lost millions of dollars to trespassing deer that destroy crops. At the farmers rally on Tuesday, Neuberger urged Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNRFA3) Secretary John Hughes to take a preactive ppreaeh in supporting the farmers' rights to destroy trespassing deer. marshes and all Delawareans will feel the loss." Booth said he was disappointed that legislators were not invited to the rally. He said the state and his office have tried to work with the farm bureau and farm groups in the past. Booth's office has always had an open door policy, and he said he didn't understand why FAIR members need a lobbyist. Booth appeared to agree that something must be done, but he said with better communication among farmers and state officials, a plan of action could be reached. "The deer population is a con- cern not just for farmers, but for vehicles. It's a safety issue," said Booth. "I think we've tried to be responsive to complaints, but maybe it doesn't move as fast as they would like. "I've seen some of the damage caused by deer, and it is substan- tial," he said. "And I understand that they watch their crops get decimated and they can't do anything about it until the season starts in November. But they will end up needing our help if they start shooting deer in the growing sea- son because of liability prob- lems." The Delaware School of Protocol 2006 SPRING SCHEDULE TEEN ETIQUEITE FOR TODAY -(Age 13-18) Sat., March 11, 2006 10 A.M. - 3 P.M. Boardwalk Plaza Hotel-Rehoboth, DE TEEN ETIQUZFI EMPLOYMENT AND YOU DINING SKILLS FOR TEENS (Age 13-18) Sat., March 18, 2006 10 A.M. - 4 P.M. Boardwalk Plaza Hotel-Rehoboth, DE DINING WITH CONFIDENCE LUNCHEON TUTORIAL SOCIAL ETIQUETTE BASICS BUSINESS SAVVY FOR PROFESSIONALS (Adult 21 +) Wed., April 19, 2006 9 A.M. - 6 P.M. Boardwalk Plaza Hotel-Rehoboth, DE PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS ETIQUETTE * PROFESSIONAL DINING SKILLS DINING TUTORIAL (ENROLLMENT IS LIMITED) For Course Description, Registration and Fees Contact: The Delaware School of Protocol Post Office Box 266, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware 19971 Telephone/Facsimile - (302) 684-0440 Email -