Northwest Florida Farmers Concerned Over Deer Population

By: Bergen Baucom
By: Bergen Baucom

Most people would never imagine something as cute as a deer could put a farmer out of business. But, Washington County farmers told us Friday, that's what's happening. They said the deer population was growing out of control.

"I don't know if they know the extent of whats going on out here, but something needs to be done pretty quick" farmer, Monty Kowitz of Kowitz and Son's Farms said.

When many people see a deer they think of Bambi. But Monty Kowitz said, when he spots a deer, he sees dollars going down the drain.
"They've gone to hitting a lot of these crops mighty heavy" he said. "A lot of people can't even grow a soybean anymore in certain areas. Five, six, seven watermelons- in one spot every night, and [the watermelons] would bring you four or five dollars a piece...it starts to hit your pocketbook pretty heavy" Kowitz said.

""One watermelon grower told me, "I don't want to work all day and then stay up all night to try and shoot a deer in my watermelon field. I want to go to bed so I can work the next day"" Andy Andreasen, Director of the Washington County Agriculture Extension Office told us.

The problem is that it's against the law for farmers, or anyone, to kill most of the deer right now. A doe can give birth to as many as three fawn, twice a year. But hunting season only lasts a few months of the year. Farmers claimed the Florida Fishing and Wildlife Conservation Commission wasn't doing enough to control the population.

"What they need to do is open up doe days a little bit longer or shut the buck season off and tell everybody, if they're going to kill a deer, they've got to kill a doe" Kowitz said . Adding, "there's some people who won't even kill a doe during doe days. That would help out even if they'd just kill one or two every now and then to thin out the population."

Farmers told us they hoped the commission would reevaluate some of their guidelines to help protect their livelihood.


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