Preliminary Deer Season Tally
The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife has released preliminary deer hunting figures for the 2005-2006 deer hunting seasons. According to data collected from the Division's vendors and biological check stations, 2,672 deer were taken, 11 less than last season.
A total of 1,204 deer were taken during the muzzle-loader season, 31 more than last year, and 685 deer were taken during the shotgun season, an increase of 18 percent from last year.
Mainland archery hunters took 437 deer, 29 more than last season. Prudence and Patience Island archery hunters took 175 deer, 50 percent less than last year, which was expected due to efforts to reduce the herd in prior years. An additional three deer were taken on Prudence Island during the special hunt by paraplegics and double amputees. Block Island hunters took 24 deer during the archery portion, and 145 during the shotgun portion, similar to last year's total of 163.
Many impressive deer were taken this season, despite the lack of acorns. Three muzzle-loader hunters checked in deer weighing 225 pounds dressed: one from Foster with 8 points, one from Smithfield, also with 8 points, and one from Scituate with 10 points. The largest deer taken by shotgun was taken in West Greenwich and weighed 230 pounds. The largest deer taken by archery was in Glocester and weighed 225 pounds, dressed, with 10 points.
Most of the data from the various hunting seasons was collected at the state's four biological check stations and 14 vendor-operated check stations, where hunters were required to check their deer within 24 hours of taking. Data on health, weight, age, sex, and antler beam are analyzed after the season, providing a major source of information to guide the Division's deer management program.
The Division continues to focus on managing the antlerless population on private land to keep the deer herd in balance with habitat and the concerns of the residents. Deer have high reproductive capabilities and can exceed available habitat if not controlled. This is especially true on islands where a rapid increase in the number of deer can cause severe habitat damage, as well as increasing the risk of Lyme disease.
Deer/Auto Collisions Increase
Noteworthy this year was a large increase in the number of auto/deer collisions. A total of 1,261 deer were reported stuck, a 22 percent increase over the previous record of 1,032 reported last year. The highest number of deer were struck by vehicles in North Kingstown (111) and South Kingstown (100). Statewide, more deer were struck by vehicles in November - 238 - than in any other month. Wildlife officials note that efforts to reduce auto/deer collisions are a challenge because many occur in urban and suburban areas with limited deer management options.
A final report on the 2005-2006 deer harvest data and deer/vehicle collisions will be available on DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov, later this spring.