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Testimony

Presented to:
PENNSYLVANIA GAME COMMISSION
Board of Commissioners

By:
Jeff Grove, PA Farm Bureau Director, Local Government Affairs
jegrove@PFB.COM


September 2014
Delmont, PA

President Schlemmer, Commissioners, Executive Director Hough, Commission staff, I am Jeff Grove, and offer comment on behalf of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. Thank you for this opportunity to share comments regarding issues that affect agriculture.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is the state’s largest farm organization with nearly 60,000 farm and rural families. Our family members operate farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.

We thank Commissioner Martone for his dedication and service to the agency. You will be missed by many for your insight and meaningful input on the many issues you have worked on as a member of this Board.

We also thank Commissioners for moving forward with the special permit for deer attractants in the Special Regulations Area (SRA). That action addresses crop and property damage, and helps reduce deer ticks (black leg ticks) associated with Lyme Disease.

PFB is hearing increasing complaints about larger deer herds and damages increasing across the state. This year has been a very difficult year for crop damage for many farms.

Actions by the Commission to eliminate concurrent seasons and reduce doe allocations appear to be returning us rapidly to tens-of-millions of dollars of crop damage from deer.

We are also hearing increased complaints about bear damage. Thank you for the past attempts to improve this problem. It appears to be time again to look adjustments to season lengths and possibly running bear season with deer in some areas. Tioga, Potter and Warren counties are seeing extensive damage.
I was asked by a Commissioner at a recent PGC meeting “how much area does a bear roll-over in a field?”

To help put the damage in perspective you have been given a series of photographs from the ground and the air of what field damage looks like.
The photos depict part of a farm in Warren County near Columbus. You cannot see how extensive the damage is from the ground or a ground based photo. The Photos from the air, however, demonstrate nearly 30% of a 20-acre field damaged by bear. This particular farm operation covers 900 acres and has damage in most fields.

Bear damaged corn is not recoverable and cannot be picked up by a harvester after a bear does this damage. The economic damage to just this farm is conservatively estimated to exceed $15-25,000.

We ask for your attention to this problem this season, and to do all within your power or the authority of the Executive Director to help farmers in these damage areas to reduce damage. Waiting until the 2015 season will mean famers will have a repeat of this year to contend with and the losses associated with this kind of damage.

I would be happy to address your questions.
Thank you.