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Massachusetts lawmakers consider allowing deer hunting on Sundays to help farmers

Lawmakers consider allowing deer hunting on Sundays to help farmers
Lawmakers consider allowing deer hunting on Sundays to help farmers 02:16

LANCASTER - Massachusetts is now considering allowing deer hunting on Sundays to alleviate the stress farmers are feeling.

Massachusetts is one of the only states left in the country that recognizes blue laws, a set of regulations controlling operating hours for businesses and even restricting certain activities on Sunday, including hunting. But not everyone is for it.

"We love the beauty and tranquility of the natural world and enjoy hiking, bird watching, photography," said Marge Peppercorn speaking at a public hearing. The proposal is top of the docket after a hearing this month full of passionate perspective.

"I believe it would be highly unfair to us if the 100-year-old Sunday hunting ban was reversed," said Peppercorn.

On the other side of the argument, a group just as vocal, farmers claiming the deer threaten their livelihood.

"It's really frustrating. We've seeded a patch of lettuce and then we come back the next morning and the deer have trampled through it," said Harper's Farm and Garden owner David Harper. He's a fourth-generation farmer and like so many others facing unpredictable weather and a pandemic causing financial problems, the deer don't help

"The tops of the carrots, they'll eat right to the ground. They'll eat cauliflower, broccoli," said Harper

According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, at any point in Massachusetts there can be anywhere between 12 to 50 deer per square mile. So farmers are hoping to protect their crops the best they can. There are other deer deterrents in place on farms in Massachusetts, including fake coyotes and electric fences.

"[I] tried to chase them with a tractor and I popped my tire," said Harper.

Harper understands the need for the ban.

"There's nothing I like more than going out in the woods and running on a Sunday afternoon, you don't have to worry about any hunters out there," said Harper, who admits the deer have gotten worse. "The deer population in our fields have grown in the last few years."

Avid hunters have attempted to overturn the ban for decades but no decision has been made.  

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