Deer damage assistance for farmers
The Division of Fish & Wildlife currently offers three programs to assist farmers who are experiencing deer damage to their crops. In situations where established deer hunting seasons do not provide adequate regulating of the deer population for commercial farming operations, growers can apply for the Deer Damage Assistance Program (DDAP), the Severe Deer Damage Assistance Program (SDDAP), or the Extreme Deer Damage Assistance Program (EDDAP).
The three assistance programs, created in 1996, 2006, and 2018 respectively, are designed to promote the harvest of antlerless deer, specifically does, which has been proven the most effective way of helping reduce the state's deer population. Anyone hunting with the specific intent of harvesting an antlered deer, or buck, must follow the regular hunting season and bag limit framework
As with all deer harvested in Delaware, deer killed within the auspices of these programs must be registered within 24 hours either by a toll-free telephone call or via the Internet.
Deer Damage Assistance Program Application
Individuals enrolled in the DDAP receive free antlerless deer damage tags from the DFW to use in conjunction with the regular license tags received with each hunting license. Furthermore, enrollees are able to harvest antlerless deer with a shotgun or handgun during the October and January Muzzleloader Seasons and they may use a shotgun or muzzleloader during January Handgun Season.
Severe Deer Damage Assistance Program Application
Agricultural producers enrolled in the SDDAP also receive antlerless deer damage tags from the DFW, but unlike the DDAP, are able to harvest antlerless deer outside of the regular hunting season, specifically August 15 - May 15. Within this program, participants are able to use a shotgun, muzzleloader, handgun, straight-walled pistol-caliber rifle, crossbow, compound bow, recurve bow, or longbow to harvest antlerless deer every day of the week that the program allows. All first time applicants to the SDDAP must have a completed site visit to assess crop damage to determine if damage is severe enough to justify the issuance of a permit.
Extreme Deer Damage Assistance Program Summary
With the addition of the Extreme Deer Damage Assistance Program, the SDDAP and EDDAP programs are a step-wise process. Applicants must first go through the SDDAP for at least one year and if specific eligiblity criteria are met, may be eligible to apply for the EDDAP. For more information about the EDDAP, please refer to the above summary.
Deer Management Plan Content Description
A deer management plan is only required by properties enrolled in the Extreme Deer Damage Assistance Program. However, a deer management plan provides valuable information to farmers wanting to better manage deer on their properties, and is useful to properties enrolled in all Deer Damage Assistance Programs. In the link above, you will find the required information for a deer management plan, as well as, the required qualifications to write a deer management plan in Delaware. For more information on deer management plans and how to find a qualified author, please contact the DFW at 302-735-3600 or you may email us at DNREC_DeerMgmt@delaware.gov
Delaware Deer Management Plan:
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