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Strawberry farmers facing deer problem with crop

Posted December 29, 2009

— The state's exploding deer population is practically devastating strawberry farmers. The deer are eating their developing crops.

Roger and Jean Copeland, who own Jean's Berry Patch in Apex, say deer feasting on the fruit could hurt their crop.

Deer's feasting problematic for farmers Deer's feasting problematic for farmers

"It's terrible. You come out, and you see where it looks like they've just played all night," Jean Copeland said.

"If you don't do something to stop them and they keep coming back and they nibble the stem and they eventually get the crown, then you're 80, 90, 100 percent gone," Ron Copeland said.

He said he has tried protecting the crop with a wire fence and using ribbon, lights and a radio to scare away the deer, but they keep returning.

"I tell you, I've tried everything under the shining sun," he said.

Growers have lobbied state lawmakers to extend the deer-hunting season, which begins mid-October and ends Jan. 1, in hope that might result in more deer kills.

But some wildlife officers believe shortening the season could actually be more beneficial because the tighter deadline could bring out more hunters.

North Carolina is the fourth-largest strawberry producer in the nation, with nearly 200 growers and about 2,000 acres and nearly $20 million in sales each year.

"We'll have to raise prices as long as we have to keep spending more to keep deer out of our field," Jean Copeland said.

"It's awfully, awfully, awfully embarrassing for families to come out and pick strawberries, and I have to meet them at the road and say, 'I'm sorry, I don't have any.'"


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  • davidbh61255 Dec 31, 2009

    Seems like leash laws allow the unwanted animals to not have any dogs to keep them away! But I think dogs could still help with this problem. .02 worth!!

  • scline Dec 30, 2009

    Touche" my friend, touche"

    This is a link for anyone that would like to donate venison to needy families in N.C.


  • mdaphoto Dec 30, 2009

    good points scline. the ability of counties to impose thier own rules are part of the problem. wildlife management should be left to the profesionals at the wildlife resourse commission. not to local polititions. until sound conservation pratices are brought in the problem will exist. and as you also eluded to hunters are patialy to blame by not practing sound managemnt themselves. trophy hunting for bucks is a large part of the problem. it dose nothing to control deer populations. to much land is leased by individuals that only want to havest prime bucks, and will later complain that all they see are does. by hogging open land to themselves they make it harder for younger and less experanced hunters that would be happy to bag a doe find a place to hunt.

    sooner or later wake county will have to address the problem its self. all you have to do is a search of wral for "deer" and you will see it is a problem and left unchecked it will only multiply

  • scline Dec 30, 2009

    Two more points and I will shut up... When you harvest a buck you remove one deer from the population. When you harvest a doe you remove that deer, her future offspring, their future offspring and so on. If you cannot utilize the extra venison please donate it to Hunters For The Hungry.

  • scline Dec 30, 2009

    Many of these farms are within city and/or townships, nearly all of the municipalities do not allow bowhunting within their boundries. The NCWRC has allowed an urban season for municipalities that wish to paticipate. The season runs from 1/9-2/13 and is open to bowhunting only. Unfortunatly only 15 municipalities within N.C.are currently participating in the program,none of which are in Wake county, and Wake county has the highest incedents of auto/deer colisions in the state. Of course this is partly due to the high human population but not completly. I am a hunter, I live in Wake county and I hit a deer with my truck earlier this year...(To the tune of 7k in damage.) I believe that there are far far too many deer in this area and there has been for many years. I know you hunters want to harvest a big buck for the wall but please start harvesting some of those does! Talk to your local government and tell them you want your area included in the urban bow season.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Dec 30, 2009

    They may need to spray some Hot Sauce(red pepper solution)on thier strawberry beds. That may be the only deterrant.

  • mdaphoto Dec 30, 2009

    "But some wildlife officers believe shortening the season could actually be more beneficial because the tighter deadline could bring out more hunters"

    there ya go, finaly some sound management. and the season should be much later also, starting in november with the rut. and to these strawberry farmers. do they alow hunting on thier land? if so to how many people.