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Delbert Moore, Published February 09 2011

ND Game and Fish mismanagement makes deer problems worse

This commentary is intentionally harsh. It is harsh because I hope to finally get the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to engage in public dialogue about deer depredation.

Game and Fish gets its revenue from game licenses, not from taxes. It is therefore in the interest of Game and Fish to maximize game numbers regardless of habitat limitations.

We are now in the third successive winter of severe deer damage to stored feed supplies. (We have been involuntarily feeding more than 200 deer since December. They not only eat and damage stored feed but eat out of our 600 feet of fenceline bunks and are munching on the dwarf lilacs by my door. The total damage for this season is in the thousands of dollars.)

Unfortunately, the sole management plan of Game and Fish for severe winters is for the deer to depend on feed resources of ranchers. If Game and Fish did not depend on these, deer numbers would plummet. We cannot negotiate with Game and Fish; it offers a totally inadequate and unworkable fencing program. If the rancher rejects it, Game and Fish makes us ineligible for any further consideration.

In addition, signing a contract with Game and Fish requires the rancher to allow open hunting on his land for a period of years. Now, we all want the maximum number of deer killed, but we cannot allow free access to every hunter in North Dakota. It is our land, not that of Game and Fish.

A number of things need to be done:

Moore operates a cattle-feeding business near Forbes, N.D.