Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Arm in arm (Farmers and hunters tie the knot)

The effort to link farmers in four southeast Ohio counties with willing deer hunters is right on track.

While the number of farmers who've signed up for the Internet-based matching service remains modest at just 58 so far, the number of eager hunters is around 5,000. And more than few of these prospective hunters are not only from out of state but also out of the country.

Still, the effort is a tool advocated by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Ohio Farm Bureau. It is an attempt to get hunters unto private farms while reducing problem deer on those holdings.

"One of the things that I tell people is that hunters from all over the world can apply but only farmers from four of the state's 88 counties," said Chris Henney, the OFB's director of legislative relations.

Henney said this is the first year for the project, one that both sides wanted to dip into cautiously. Part of the reason for that caution was because farmers have misconceptions about the consequences of allowing hunting as well as an-often past history of trespassing issues, Henney said.

Then too, Henney says, both the Farm Bureau and the Wildlife Division wanted to see how the system works before expanding it further.

"I'm pleased with where we are at," said Henney who added that this year's targeted objective is to sign up 100 landowners.

Henney said also that farms now enrolled in the computer-based survey project range in size from a few acres up to 1,000 acres.

"This is a marathon and not a 100-yard dash," Henney said.

To participate in the survey visit the Wildlife Division's web site at www.wildohio.com.

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