Letter: Protect deer, or protect our forests, farms and gardens?

In the Feb. 12 edition of the Rappahannock News, Richard Brady makes a case that Rappahannock County should not participate in the “Earn A Buck” (EAB) program of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), which manages the deer population in Virginia. In this program a hunter, after taking an antlered deer, must take a female deer before taking another buck. This would have the effect of reducing the overall deer herd in the following year, because females generally bear two fawns.

Mr. Brady asserts that “from all indications the deer population is dropping like a stone” (without providing any documentation for this statement). While Mr. Brady may be concerned about hunters not being able to take deer in Rappahannock, I am much more concerned about the herd of does that are decimating my small forest and my yard. I can barely find a sapling in the forest that the deer have not eaten. The plants in my yard are constantly at risk from deer predation.

The Co­op sells 15-foot-high deer fencing and liquid deer repellant. Why? Because, throughout the county, deer are voracious in eating our vineyards, our vegetable gardens, and the plants in our yards. According to VDGIF, deer eat 3­5 percent of their body weight per day; under optimal conditions, a deer population can double in size annually; and deer are responsible 2 percent of all motor vehicle casualties in Virginia.

While I appreciate that deer hunting is a deeply­ rooted social tradition in Virginia, deer in Virginia belong in the wilderness of our western counties, not in rural agricultural Rappahannock County.

Maureen Harris

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