The HuntOhioFarms.com website was launched in August 2009 with the expectation of addressing crop damage by deer, while at the same time increasing hunting opportunities. This was a joint effort between the Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) and the Division of Wildlife (DOW). While the concept was not new, uniting hunters and farmers using the Internet was. After the first year, more than 9,000 hunters had enrolled as compared to the 83 farmers in the 4-county test area. In spite of very little interest by the farming community, the OFB urged the DOW to expand the program to 38 counties across southeast Ohio in 2010. At the end of year two, an additional 5,000 hunters had enrolled. Only 40 additional farmers signed up in spite of direct mailings from the DOW and strong marketing efforts by the OFB. Farmers also showed little interest in participating in post-season surveys to evaluate program strengths and weaknesses.
Based on the program results over the past two years, it appears that many farmers simply are not interested or willing to allow additional deer hunting as a means of managing deer and ultimately crop damage on their property. While we value and respect their opinion, it makes little sense to continue funding this program which currently serves no purpose but to unnecessarily raise expectations of Ohio's hunters. Therefore, until we have concrete evidence that there is real interest on the part of the OFB to use this tool to address deer crop damage, the HuntOhioFarms.com website will cease to exist. The DOW will continue to work with the OFB, as we have in the past, to find practical solutions to deer crop damage using deer hunting and other means as needed.
We want to thank you for your interest in this program and for your continued support of the Division of Wildlife's deer program. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and look forward to offering you an alternative to HuntOhioFarms.com in the near future.