Local farmers are dealing with thousands of dollars worth of damages due to the growing population of wildlife such as deer and elk. 

The wildlife is tearing into grain bags and stealing livestock feed. Nick Cornea, who farms southeast of Moose Jaw, doesn’t have livestock and keeps his grain in bins. Even then, he’s seeing an influx of mule deer wandering into his yard and eating trees and shrubs. 

“I had 25 of them all year. I've still got a dozen or more that come in and out of the yard and I push them out with the quad or the snowmobile myself. Our farmyard is just getting decimated by them. They’re snapping trees. I planted 21 trees in my new farmyard this year and they're all a foot tall now,” Cornea said. 

Cornea said, this year alone, he’s lost thousands of dollars worth of trees and scrubs in his yard to mule deer. 

He said one of the best deterrents is hunting, but he runs into an issue because his house is located in conservation zone 19, while his main farmyard across the road is in conservation zone 20 making it illegal to hunt the deer as soon as they cross the road. 

Cornea has also been battling with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment in order to allot more mule deer hunting tags for his area to help weed out the herds. 

Other than hunting and driving the animals out with a quad or snowmobile, Cornea said the only other option would be to use scare cannons, although they aren’t as effective. 

“You use a scare cannon for a week or two in your bale stacks and they know what's coming. They know, oh, it's about this time it's going to go bang. It might startle them, but they don't run off,” he said. 

During last week’s Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) “bear pit” session, Premier Scott Moe and Minister of Environment Dana Skoropad were asked about the damage being caused by wildlife. 

They said depredation tags could be issued. Those permits would allow farmers to shoot certain wildlife on their property to protect crops and livestock. 

“I definitely hear what your concern is,” said Skoropad. “We’re going to be looking at offering more tags to address the population.” 

“I’m going to ask … our minister of environment to engage with (SARM President Ray Orb) and his team on the potential of some depredation tags being made available to SARM,” said Moe. 

- With files from Lara Fominoff, 980 CJME