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Wildlife did millions in damage to crops last year

March 14, 2006

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland farmers lost $10.5 million in potential crop production income due to wildlife damage last year, according to the Maryland Field Office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The survey results were collected and tabulated from the agency's fall acreage and production survey, with nearly 1,500 reports tabulated.

Damage statewide was attributed to the following wildlife species with the corresponding estimated percent loss due to each species: deer, 83.8 percent; resident geese, 6.4 percent; migrant geese, 5.8 percent; groundhogs, 2.1 percent; bear, 0.9 percent; and other wildlife species, 1 percent.

"One of the things we heard over and over from farmers during the listening sessions leading up to the Governor's Agricultural Forum held in February was a very real concern about crop damage due to wildlife," said Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley.

"Aside from weather, wildlife damage is the single largest uncontrollable cause of crop loss. This report from USDA - Maryland Agricultural Statistics is the first in recent years to verify these concerns with sound science-based information."

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Secretary of Natural Resources C. Ronald Franks said the data will be used "to analyze our efforts to manage wildlife populations and, hopefully, reduce or minimize the impact on crops."

Estimated economic loss was greatest in North Central Maryland, which includes Washington County, with crop losses reported at $4.2 million, 39 percent of the state's total estimated losses. Most of these losses were due to deer damage (86.6 percent) followed by resident and migrant geese.

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