Wildlife officials in states with large deer populations have been reporting the results of this past winter hunting season and it does not look exceptionally good compared to years past. Another brutal winter has officials in several northeast states reducing or considering a reduction in the number of deer hunting permits this year.

Biologists in Maine are recommending a 23 percent reduction in deer hunting permits. Vermont wants to reduce its antlerless deer permits in half. Eliminating the deer hunt in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was debated this year but ultimately rejected. In Pennsylvania, however, deer hunting permits were reduced by just 4 percent.

In Maine, wildlife officials issued 37,185 deer hunting permits last year, which was already a 25 percent reduction from the previous year. Next year, the state’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife plans to issue 28,770 “any deer” permits, according to an AP report.

In Vermont, an estimated 13,000 deer were hunted last year and the harsh winter was expected to account for more loss. In response, Vermont wildlife officials have made changes to the hunting rules. They will disallow the use of fake deer urine, lengthen the state’s 5-week bow hunting season, according to WCAX television

In Michigan, the whitetail deer population has declines an estimated 40 percent in two years as a result of two brutal winters. A Natural Resources Commission policy committee recently recommended not to cancel the deer hunt altogether, which had been on the table as a possible action. The news that the deer hunt would continue was good news for Tony Demboski, president of the Upper Peninsula Sportmans Alliance, who recognizing that some sort of restrictions will be necessary to maintain a healthy deer population.

“We’re looking at anything that can help save the herd,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “We know we’re going to have to take it on the nose here a little bit.” 

Lastly in Pennsylvania, which has one of the largest deer populations, the animals seem to have fared better through the winters with wildlife officials there recommending just a 4 percent reduction in the number of permits. 

Over the past two years, the statewide antlerless deer allocations in Pennsylvania has dropped from 839,000 to 746,500, a spokesman for the Game Commission told the Post Gazette. 

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by Manav Gupta