Any-Deer Permits Slashed for 2011

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The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in reaction to a devastating decrease in deer numbers across the state, will slash the number of any-deer permits this fall.

After handing out 48,825 any-deer permits in 2010, the department’s wildlife staff has recommended only 26,390 permits for 2011, a 46 percent decrease. That number could change before the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council acts on the recommendation, but don’t count on it.

Despite two devastating winters that clobbered our deer herd, DIF&W actually increased any-deer permits last year by 3,440, 7.5 percent.

Many hunters were surprised, considering that the deer harvest plunged from 28,884 in 2007 to 21,061 n 2008 to 18,045 in 2009. With the help of those extra any-deer permits, last year’s harvest increased to 20,063, apparently at the cost of a significant increase in deer numbers. At least, that’s what you’d have to conclude by this year’s decision.

I sharply questioned DIF&W’s decision to increase any-deer permits last year, particularly in my WMD 16, where the number of permits increased by 2000. This year WMD 16’s allocation of any-deer permits will bounce right back down to 2,575 (nearly 3,000 less than last year!). 2010 Up 2,000. 2011 Down 3,000. No population count was made in the district over these years, making these decisions hard to understand.

The only explanation I can conjure up is that last year DIF&W’s wildlife biologists did not feel the hot breath of deer hunters, angry at the loss of our deer herd, but finally felt the heat this year.  In other words I had no influence over the allocation in WMD 16 last year, but all of you had a dramatic impact this year. So I thank you!

Oh, for the good old days. I’m not talking the 1950s. I’m talking the early 2000s. In 2002 Maine hunters took 38,153 deer, the highest total since 1968 and the tenth best season ever. The 2002 harvest of bucks was one of the best ever, 20,694, second only to the record buck kill of 21,422 in 2000. 72,600 any-deer permits were issued in 2002.

Seventeen of Maine’s 29 WMDs will get no any-deer permits this year, one more than last year (WMD 12 being added to the list). The sharpest decreases in permits occurred in WMDs 16, 17, 22, 23, 25, and 26.

Ironically, these central and southern Maine WMDs are not included in DIF&W’s new Maine Game Plan for Deer.

As I was wrapping up this report, I noticed a news story just posted on the website of the Bangor Daily News, headlined Drivers Urged To Heed New Warning Signs in High-Deer Collision Areas. There’s got to be a message here! I just don’t know what it is.

WMD Permit Numbers

The first number is the number of permits proposed for 2011.

The second number is the number of permits issued in 2010.

WMD 1 – WMD 11  0  0

WMD 12  0  645

WMD 13  170  490

WMD 14  0  0

WMD 15  2880  4210

WMD 16  2575  5400

WMD 17  840  3500

WMD 18  0  0

WMD 19  0  0

WMD 20  3600  4400

WMD 21  5670  5670

WMD 22  2280  5530

WMD 23  3320  7800

WMD 24  2050  2680

WMD 25  2000  5900

WMD 26  405  2000

WMD 27  0  0

WMD 28  0  0

WMD 29  600  600

2011 Total 26,390   

2010 Total 48,825

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