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Waterfowlers Cautioned about Hunting Crop-Damaged Fields

Waterfowlers Cautioned about Hunting Crop-Damaged Fields
Hurricane Irene flattened corn in this Somerset County, Md., field. (John R. Nottingham photo)

DOVER, DE – This fall, migratory bird hunters will need to be aware that many farm fields where hunting usually takes place have suffered heavy crop damage that could have an impact on their use for hunting, according to DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement.

Many crops, especially corn, were damaged or flattened by rain and wind from Hurricane Irene and other late summer severe weather events and cannot be harvested. Under federal law, if these crops that have not been harvested have been mowed, disked or otherwise manipulated, these fields are considered baited areas and cannot be legally hunted for waterfowl and other migratory birds that would be attracted to the crops for food.

“Hunters are allowed to hunt a crop-damaged field if the crop has not been manipulated and has been left intact on the ground as it was naturally blown down,” said Sgt. Gregory Rhodes of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement. “For fields that have been manipulated, hunters must wait to hunt until 10 days after all the manipulated crops are gone.”

The Delaware Farm Bureau sent letters this week to farmers who host hunting on their fields, encouraging them to leave damaged crops in their natural state until after hunters have finished for the season.

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