GA DNR offers options too fight deer and feral hog crop damage
Posted on Aug 22, 2023 at 20:00 PM
By Jennifer Whittaker, Georgia Farm Bureau
While speaking at the 2023 Georgia Farm Bureau Commodity Conference on Aug. 10, Charlie Killmaster, a deer and feral hog biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), outlined steps the agency is taking to help farmers control deer and feral hog populations to prevent crop damage.
Killmaster says feral hogs may be hunted year-round, day or night with no bag limits on privately owned land.
“It’s open season on feral hogs,” Killmaster said. “No one wants hogs.”
The DNR also offers permits that allow hunters to shoot feral hogs from a vehicle on private roads. Killmaster said these permits may be obtained by calling a regional DNR office.
To prevent hunters from creating feral hog herds, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation several years ago that requires one to get a very restrictive permit from the Georgia Department of Agriculture to transport live hogs, Killmaster said.
“We’ve cracked down really hard on the transport of hogs. You’ll get a huge fine and it’s a misdemeanor if you’re caught doing it without the required permit,” Killmaster said. “Your Farm Bureau President Tom McCall was instrumental in getting this legislation passed when he was serving as a state legislator.”
Killmaster said the USDA is increasing its aerial gunning efforts to kill feral hogs.
“We’re working with USDA trying to move the needle on controlling populations, Killmaster said. “We currently share a helicopter with other states, but we’re working to get one just for Georgia.”
Killmaster encouraged farmers and landowners to research the control programs and eradication services the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts offers in cooperation with the Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission. Visit www.gacd.us/feralswine to learn more about these programs.
For a list of feral hog control services available in each GACD Conservation District, visit https://gfb.ag/feralhoggacdresources.
Killmaster also discussed changes DNR has made to Georgia deer hunting regulations for the 2023-24 season to control Georgia’s deer population. These include expanding the number of doe days in north and southeast Georgia and extending deer season in southwest Georgia.
“We recognize significant monetary damage is occurring when deer eat crops as they emerge and farmers have to replant” Killmaster said.
To help farmers fight deer crop damage that occurs in the early spring as row crops emerge and during the growing season, the DNR allows farmers to apply for a deer crop damage permit. In the months outside of deer season, this permit allows the applicant and up to six other people to shoot deer caught in growing crop fields the applicant has registered.
Killmaster estimates the DNR issues 800 to 1,000 deer control permits statewide in a year. Most of the permits are issued in South Georgia in an area ranging below the fall line from the South Carolina line to the Alabama line. Permits have also been issued for Northeast, Northwest, and West Central Georgia.
Visit www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com to apply for a deer crop damage permit from late February through the summer. On the DNR website, first select the Licenses & Permits icon which will take you to a box titled Online Licensing Features. Select Purchase/Reprint a License/Obtain Permits. If you have an exisiting Go Outdoors Georgia account you will log into it to access the crop damage control permit application. If you don't have an account, select the Enroll Now! icon to create an account. While the application to receive a deer damage hunting permit must be completed online, applicants may call 1-800-366-2661 to request help with navigating the online application.
Visit www.gfb.ag/deercropdamagepermits to learn more about deer crop damage and the permits.