Preliminary All Season Deer Numbers

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The 2001 combined Massachusetts deer seasons will likely rank as the fourth highest deer kill in the state's history when all data cards are tallied. Preliminary figures generated by phone calls to 73 official deer check stations around the state suggest licensed archery hunters took 2886 deer, shotgunners took 6014 and muzzleloading enthusiasts tagged 846. Four additional deer were taken during the special hunt for paraplegic sportsmen. The preliminary all season total of 9750 deer places 2001 behind the 2000 (11096), 1995 (11059) and 1997 (10286) seasons in terms of combined harvest. An additional 101 deer were taken as part of the Quabbin Reservation Controlled Hunt and are considered separately from the statewide totals.

A preliminary total of 953 deer were reported from stations in the Western Wildlife District, 1195 from the Valley District, 1480 from the Central District, 637 from the Northeast District and 1749 from the Southeast District. The 6014 figure is 1604 deer fewer than the 7618 final total recorded for the 2000 shotgun season. A handful of remote check stations could not be reached, nor were deer taken as part of the Quabbin Controlled hunt included.

Numbers compiled by MassWildlife's five District offices for the 6-day Primitive Firearms season show 111 deer checked in the Western District, 195 in the Connecticut Valley, 214 in Central, 158 in the Northeast and 168 in the Southeast. The Primitive Firearm season preliminary total is 184 deer higher than the final total of 662 deer taken during the same season in 2000. According to Deer Project Leader Bill Woytek, "The goal of MassWildlife's Deer Project is to provide a healthy, viable deer herd at levels that are compatible with available habitat and in balance with the public?s interest. This means managing for deer population densities high enough for the enjoyment and benefit of the public, whether it be for wildlife viewing, photography or venison in the freezer. It also means keeping those population densities in check to avoid damage from over-browsing to the habitat that deer and other wildlife depend on, or damage to property from deer/vehicle collisions or browsing on crops, gardens and landscape plantings."

Regulatory changes for the 2002 season should bolster MassWildlife's continuing efforts to balance deer densities with both available habitat and the public's interest. Among these are a requirement that an antlerless permit be in possession for the taking of all antlerless deer, regardless of the season. Also coming in 2002 is a statewide six-week archery season and a muzzleloading season extending to the end of the calendar year. Read all about the changes in the Abstracts of the 2002 Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Laws, available on-line at www.MassWildlife.org or in hard copy format when you purchase your 2002 hunting or sporting license.For more information, contact Bill Woytek, 508.792.7270 x121.

Woytek believes unseasonably warm temperatures during the shotgun season, abundant natural foods such as acorns and fewer hunters in the woods with limited access due to development are factors that kept the total harvest under 10000 animals. "We have an incredibly valuable and renewable resource in our white-tailed deer," he continues. "Not only do they have ecological value as an important part of our native fauna, they have aesthetic value for people who enjoy seeing and watching deer, and economic value in terms of money expended on equipment, clothing, travel and meals for hunting and watching deer. Just the venison brought home from the woods in 2001 is worth a conservative 1 million dollars."

Woytek reminds all licensed hunters that an antlerless permit will be required to take an antlerless deer during any season and in all Deer Management Zones beginning in 2002. The permit application deadline is July 16. Application forms come with traditional paper licenses available from most Town Clerks, many sporting goods stores and all MassWildlife District and administrative offices. Internet license buyers visiting