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State plan to privately lease public lands disturbs hunters

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(AP) — A proposed plan by the Delaware Forest Service to launch a deer management pilot program that includes the private leasing of public lands has area hunters up in arms.

In an effort to reduce crop damages and loss from deer, the program announced last week would offer exclusive hunting rights on more than 1,000 acres (405 hectares) of state forest land. State Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Stacey Hofmann tells The Daily Times of Salisbury the leasing of the two tracts in the 12,000-plus-acre Redden State Forest will only be open to in-state bidders and were specifically chosen because they’re hard for hunters to access.

But area hunters like say their tax money pays for the land and worry a successful pilot program will set a precedent for public hunting grounds turning private.

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