Deer Damage Assistance

Many farmers report significant damage to their crops caused by deer. By combining non-lethal techniques with targeted harvest, farmers can reduce crop damage.

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Jessica Haggerty
DNREC Wildlife Section

Harvest of antlerless deer, specifically mature does, is the most effective way to help reduce a local deer population. If established deer hunting seasons do not provide adequate regulation of the deer population, commercial farming operations can apply for increased antlerless deer harvest opportunities.

Deer Damage Assistance Programs

All deer damage assistance programs provide additional free antlerless tags to permittees. Damage tags are only for antlerless deer harvest. Anyone hunting antlered deer, or bucks, must follow the regular hunting season and bag limit requirements.

All deer harvested in Delaware must be registered within 24 hours using our toll-free hotline or via our internet registration system. All deer harvested on properties enrolled in a deer damage program must be reported with the 4 digit Farm ID found on the permit, regardless of the tag used to harvest.

Please note, restrictions on straight-walled pistol-caliber rifle and handgun use in zones 1A and 1B (North of the C&D canal) still apply.

Applying for Assistance

Before applying, you will need to have the following information ready:

Your contact information.

The Delaware Deer Management Zone(s) in which the enrolled property is located.

The approximate tillable and forested/wetland acreage being enrolled.

The tax parcel/map number(s) for all properties being enrolled. This information is available online from each county, or may be found on your annual tax statements. Note: This is not the farm ID number that the Farm Service Agency uses.

For the severe and extreme damage programs, a list of the names of all hunters that will be hunting on the enrolled property(s).

Level 1: Deer Damage Assistance Program

DDAP Application

Accepted May 16 to Dec. 31

Farmers experiencing crop damage from deer can apply for the Deer Damage Assistance Program (DDAP). No inspection is required.

This program provides free antlerless deer tags allowing additional antlerless deer harvest during Delaware’s regular deer seasons (typically the start of September through January). Hunters may use any legal firearm during regular firearm seasons under this permit. For example, a shotgun may be used during muzzleloader seasons.

Level 2: Severe Deer Damage Assistance Program

SDDAP Application

New applications April 15 to Sept. 30
Renewals April 15 to Dec. 31

Farmers unable to meet antlerless harvest goals within the normal harvest season may apply for the Severe Deer Damage Assistance Program (SDDAP). To enroll in this program, farmers must agree to a damage inspection by the Delaware Department of Agriculture and/or Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife to document deer damage. Farmers must also supply a list of all hunters harvesting under the permit.

This program provides free antlerless deer tags allowing additional deer harvest from August 15 through May 15. During this time, any weapon which is legal within the wildlife management zone the property is in may be used to harvest an antlerless deer. The Delaware Hunting and Trapping guide lists the current legal weapons in each wildlife management zone.

Level 3: Extreme Deer Damage Assistance Program

EDDAP Application

Accepted April 15 to July 15

Farmers who have participated in the Severe Deer Damage Assistance Program and are still experiencing significant crop damage from deer may consider applying for the Extreme Deer Damage Assistance Program (EDDAP). Applicants must agree to a damage inspection by the Delaware Department of Agriculture and/or Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife and demonstrate a minimum of 10% yield loss due to deer damage.

This program requires farmers to work with an external consultant to develop a Deer Management Plan that outlines harvest goals and methods to reduce deer damage.

Renewals occur every three years and require a new inspection and management plan.