Deer Vandalize Winter Silage on Island

Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
1/23/2013 11:35 AM
Category: Environment

Farmers in Saaremaa say they have their hands full with red deer who are damaging their dairy herd's winter silage.

The deer are punching holes in sealed rolls of silage to try to get at the contents, a trend that becomes worse in colder weather.

Maku farm in Tahula village told the islands' daily Saarte Hääl that the damage started already before Christmas, when 80 bales were damaged.

For a while, the raids lessened during a thaw, but the deer are back and have damaged 300 bales out of 1,800 on that particular farm.

The Environmental Board's hunting specialist Ivar Marlen said that the agency's 2011 count found there were 1,700 red deer on Saaremaa. It says the population should be decreased and has taken steps toward this.

"We have raised the bag limit and increased the percentage of does that can be hunted," he said, noting that red deer can be hunted in unlimited quantities during hunting season. He added that the farmers should be more responsible for their fields, saying the damage to bales was not covered by wildlife damage compensation paid to farmers.

Some of the farmers interviewed by the daily said they thought hunters should provide food for the deer to make them less likely to venture on to fields. But Laugi hunting club director Andrus Sepp, interviewed by Saarte Hääl, countered: "As hunters we don't make hunting policy, the Environmental Board does. If we're told that the damage to the baled silage is not a hunting problem, we can't see it as a failure on the part of hunters."