Sen. John Proos: Hunters helping farmers would help protect cropsPublished 9:31pm Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Agriculture is Michigan’s second largest industry, yet each year hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of crops are lost due to nuisance deer. The problem has been exacerbated over the years as the number of deer has increased.
Farmers and other landowners may soon be able to enlist the help of hunters to manage the number of deer on their properties under legislation recently sent to the governor.
Senate Bill 717 establishes a “Hunters Helping Landowners” program within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow hunters to assist our farmers in the protection of their crops.
Individuals willing to help hunt nuisance deer would submit an application to the DNR and indicate up to two Michigan counties in which they are interested in hunting. Landowners who feel they need additional antlerless deer harvested on their property would contact the DNR and request a list of those who have expressed interest in hunting in their county.
I sponsored this measure to connect farmers experiencing crop losses and potential hunters who have expressed interest in helping reduce the number of excess deer.
Modeled after an Indiana initiative, it is designed to complement an earlier reform that gives landowners with significant crop damage more flexibility in managing deer on their property.
My earlier reform, now Public Act 65, allows an individual with a DNR deer damage shooting permit to include up to 15 authorized shooters to implement the permit. The bill became law in March.
Southwest Michigan families know about the importance of agriculture to our region and way of life. I worked to enact both of these common-sense measures because they will allow our family farmers to protect their livelihoods and the crops that fuel a multibillion-dollar industry and support thousands of Michigan jobs.
Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien and Cass counties and most of Van Buren County.
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