Friday, March 07, 2008

INDIANA NEWS: A Near-Record Deer Havest in 2007

A viral disease reportedly affecting white-tailed deer appeared to have a minimal impact on the 2007 hunting seasons in Indiana, the Department of Natural Resources said.

According to a statement released today, hunters harvested 124,427 deer, compared to 125,381, a decrease of less than 1 percent.

“The big thing for me was that number,” said Chad Stewart, deer research biologist for the DNR. “We were guessing the harvest was going to be down a lot more than it was this year.”

A widespread outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), a viral disease transmitted by biting flies, led researchers to expect a significant drop year over year. Instead, the statement said, hunters recorded the third-best season on record in 2007 and were within 1,000 deer of the all-time mark of 125,526 set in 2005.

“That’s not to say (EHD) didn’t affect harvests in some parts of the state,” Stewart said. “The southwestern part of the state had a noticeable drop in harvest level, but that seems to have been made up elsewhere in the state.”

The central and west-central parts of Indiana both recorded good numbers. “Where EHD affected counties like Clay, Fountain, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, and Vermillion in 2006, (numbers) all bounced back in a big way in 2007,” Stewart said. “In most cases, antlered harvests were up to 2005 levels.”

That’s potentially good news for counties like Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Martin, Pike, Spencer, and Crawford, where harvest levels dropped at least 20 percent from 2006, Stewart said, since deer which survive EHD exhibit an immune response that can be passed on to their young, providing protection if the disease occurs in the next year.

Other highlights of the 2007 season include hunters’ success in harvesting female deer in the latter part of the firearms season and the muzzleloader season, which Stewart said plays an important role in controlling deer populations.

“Antlerless deer are shot at a two-to-one margin over the last nine days of the firearms season, and 80 percent of the harvest during the muzzleloader season is antlerless, with the majority of those being does,” Stewart said. “Without those efforts, the deer herds in some areas could rise dramatically.”

A total of 1,275 deer were harvested in Porter County last year: 530 antlered and 745 antlerless.


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