COLUMBUS — State Senator Chris Widener (R–Springfield) recently participated in the first-ever national whitetail deer policy summit hosted by the Quality Deer Management Association in Branson, Missouri.
“Conversation largely centered on needs for improved deer population control measures, such as adoption of urban hunting, hunter recruitment and retention efforts, better industry-wide communication strategies and more accurate, scientific data to determine populations,” said Widener.
Over 200 stakeholders participated in the policy discussions. These included: representatives from 19 companies; 18 state wildlife agencies, nine leading institutes of wildlife research; 17 major landowner groups, 13 hunting and conservation organizations, and hunters from more than 20 different states.
The objective of the summit was to formulate a national policy platform for national whitetail deer management by culminating the perspectives of the various stakeholders.
Participants were broken into groups based on their respective constituencies. Many topics were echoed across all groups, including: demand for urban hunting; hunter recruitment and retention; hunting land access; need for more scientific research to accurately determine deer population levels; disease control; and predator issues.
“Ohio will continue to struggle in striking a balance between managing a healthy deer population and upholding our commitment to protecting Ohioans and their property from the dangers associated with deer overpopulation until a compromise is reached between various groups,” added Widener.
“It’s clear that the associations, hunter groups, and other stakeholders are fractured, and rarely speak with one voice, making it difficult for state agencies and lawmakers to agree on the majority opinion,” said Widener.
Widener encouraged the national audience to unify and simplify their message when speaking to state and national legislative offices.
State Farm Insurance categorizes Ohio as a “high-risk” state for the likelihood of being involved in a deer-related accident. Deer-related crashes resulted in 874 injuries and five deaths in 2012, and 774 injuries and seven deaths in 2013.