Shelby County cotton farmer shoots 40 deer that damaged crops

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Officials say a cotton farmer in Shelby County has shot and killed nearly 40 deer he claims were damaging his crop.

David Ciarloni, who leases about 200 acres of land from the Chickasaw Basin Authority near the Wolf River, had been given permission by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to kill the deer.

Basin authority chairman Charles Perkins says, however, that as a result of several neighbors protesting the shootings, the basin authority has had Ciarloni's hunting permit pulled.

Nearby residents discovered the animals had been killed and left to rot in the surrounding woods near Ciarloni's farm and complained to the basin authority, which earlier this week held a meeting where members heard testimony from residents.

Ciarloni said the deer population has grown in recent years and he estimated 30 to 50 percent crop damage.

Wildlife agency officials say state legislation allows farmers to receive hunting permits if they can prove significant crop loss.

A permit was issued to the basin authority after wildlife agency officers sent to Ciarloni's farm noted significant crop loss and 81 deer.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)