Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: 308,920 Deer Harvested in 2009-10

Erie hunter Tim Weaver said he saw plenty of big bucks this past hunting season.

But figures released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission on Monday suggest fewer deer overall are being harvested.

Hunters in Pennsylvania killed an estimated 27,000 fewer deer in the 2009-10 seasons than they did a year earlier.

Game Commission figures show the drop was even more significant in northwestern Pennsylvania, where Weaver shot a 10-point Dec. 28 in McKean Township during the flintlock season.

Weaver said the deer he harvested was with five other bucks. Three of them were legal size, including his, meaning they had at least eight points.

The Game Commission's management plan was designed to put more mature antlered deer in the field by limiting the harvest of yearling bucks. It has drawn support from some hunters and criticism from others who believe the state's deer herd has declined.

"It was one of the best years we've ever had hunting," said Weaver, 46. "I would imagine it depends on who you talk to. The guys I hunt with are after trophy-sized deer, so it's been great for us. But if you talk to someone who's strictly a meat hunter, they might say it's been terrible."

The Game Commission's estimates, based on harvest tags returned by hunters and field and processor reports, show a statewide harvest estimate of 308,920 deer, an 8 percent decline from the 335,850 killed in 2008-09.

The commission said hunters killed 108,330 antlered deer, down 12 percent from the 122,410 killed in 2008-09, and 200,590 antlerless deer. Hunters killed 213,440 antlerless deer in 2008-09.

In Wildlife Management Unit 1B, which includes all of Erie County, most of Crawford County and parts of Warren and Venango counties, hunters killed 5,100 antlered deer, a 32 percent drop from the 2008-09 estimate of 7,500. There were 9,500 antlerless deer killed, down from 13,400 in 2008-09 -- a 29 percent decline.

Cambridge Springs resident Dan Young, 34, said he saw far fewer antlerless deer last season and fewer deer overall, but more mature bucks.

"I did find a lot of dead bucks in the woods that weren't legal size," said Young, who primarily hunts during the archery season. "I saw a lot of six-points, which tells me someone shot them and realized they were too small, so they left them there."

Source: GoErie

DELAWARE NEWS: State Restructuring Deer Management for Population Control

By introducing new population-control measures and recruiting non-traditional hunters, state officials hope to reduce agricultural and property damage caused by white-tailed deer.

The state's first long-term deer management plan, which officials say will be finalized in April, could allow the use of crossbows during archery season, reduce the antler width limit to 14 inches and require unlicensed hunters to obtain a free identification number.

"Hunting is the most cost-effective tool we have to help control the deer population," said Joe Rogerson, a large mammal biologist at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Fish and Wildlife.

According to Rogerson, the number of hunters purchasing licenses has dropped from about 30,000 in 1975 to 18,000 last year.

"If the declining trend continues, we may not have enough hunters to help control the deer population," he said. "That's why we have to recruit new hunters..."

Many of the proposals in the plan, including those that will be discussed at a March 25 public hearing, are designed to encourage more involvement in hunting, he said.

Although many of those who would turn out for a crossbow season would be existing hunters, Rogerson said its use has led to larger harvests in neighboring states. He believes it will also encourage hunters who had retired from the sport to return.

"It could help older folks who aren't able to draw a bow out like they used to," he said.

The proposal to reduce the antler size restriction came after biological data indicated more fawns and younger deer were making it to adulthood, Rogerson said, adding that the identification number will help better track hunters who aren't required to obtain licenses.

The 10-year-plan also calls for the recruitment of young hunters and those in non-traditional groups, such as nature enthusiasts who also spend time in the forests, he said.

Charles Steele, owner of Steele's Gun Shop in Lewes, said most hunters are satisfied with the existing rules, but expanding hunting could be a good thing.

"Anything you can do to make the sport better and limit the amount of car crashes with deer would be great," he said.

Source: Delmarvanow