Deer Hunters Harvested 93,868 Deer During 2004-05 Season
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service today announced that Maryland deer hunters harvested 93,868 deer this season, a 7.6 percent increase over last year. In addition, hunters bagged a record 59,229 antlerless deer (58,373 white-tailed deer, 856 sika deer). The 2004-05 antlerless deer harvest climbed by 9.5 percent from the previous record set in 2002 and exceeded the 2003 figure by 19.6 percent.
“This is great news because we know that increasing the antlerless deer harvest is the most important step toward balancing our deer population,” said Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul A. Peditto. “The new record harvest demonstrates that hunters are embracing this management strategy and helping us move toward our desired goal.”
In contrast, the 2004-05 season saw a decrease in the number of antlered deer taken. The number of bucks included 33,740 white-tailed deer and 899 sika deer and represented a decline of 8.1 percent over the previous season.
“The decrease in buck harvest combined with an increase in antlerless harvest suggests we have been successful in implementing our deer harvest strategies,” Peditto added. “The outcome of this effort over the long-term will be a healthier, higher-quality deer population that is balanced with its environment and human neighbors. We’ve got a long way to go but this data demonstrates that we’re on the right track.”
Maryland is divided into two Deer Management Regions. Region A is comprised of Allegany and Garrett counties and Region B encompasses the rest of the state. In Region A, deer harvests were measurably reduced from past seasons. The Region A antlered harvest of 4,659 deer is 25 percent lower than last season, while its antlerless harvest of 5,253 is 12.5 percent below last season.
“We recognize the concerns raised by some Western Maryland hunters and will be reaching out to them during the coming months to discuss the results of this season and our plans as we go forward,” said DNR’s Deer Project Leader, Doug Hotton.
Maryland’s Deer Management Plan guides DNR toward stabilizing white-tailed deer populations at 1997-1998 population levels. The current deer seasons and bag limits are designed to meet this goal. Recent deer harvest trends indicate that Region A’s deer population (Allegany and Garrett counties) has exceeded the deer plan goal. DNR Deer Project staff is evaluating the status of current Region A deer hunting regulations in relation to the deer population target.
Deer hunting is one component of DNR’s deer management project. In Maryland, deer hunting provides outdoor recreation for over 80,000 hunters who spend over 1 million days hunting in the state’s woods, fields and marshes. Deer hunting also contributes to a healthy Maryland economy, contributing over $150 million to the state’s economy and generating $1.4 million in state income tax and $4.1 million in state sales tax.
Almost eight out of 10 Maryland citizens support hunting. A 2003 survey of Marylanders by Responsive Management, an internationally recognized natural public opinion research firm, revealed that 78 percent approve of hunting.
The charts below indicate the current deer harvest figures compared to last year’s harvest for bow, firearm and muzzleloader season.
For more information on deer hunting in Maryland, visit DNR Online, http://www.dnr.state.md.us/huntersguide/index.asp.