Rhode Island Releases Preliminary Deer Hunting Figures
The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife has released preliminary deer hunting figures for the 2007-2008 deer hunting seasons. According to data collected from the Division's vendors and biological check stations, 2,540 deer were taken, 225 more than last season.
A total of 1,376 deer were taken during the muzzle-loader season, 165 more than last year, and 652 deer were taken during the shotgun season, 67 more than last year. The numbers include 79 deer taken during a late shotgun season offered for the first time this year.
Mainland archery hunters took 440 deer, 88 more than last season. Prudence and Patience Island archery hunters took 53 deer, 49 less than last year, which was expected due to efforts to reduce the herd. An additional two deer were taken on Prudence Island and one on Fort Greene during the special hunt by paraplegics and double amputees.
Block Island hunters took 17 deer during the archery portion, and have taken 15 to date during the shotgun season.
The numbers include those from the 90 hunters who purchased the first-time-offered "All Outdoors" permit package, which entitled them to buy all nine mainland deer permits at one time and receive two additional mainland permits free of charge valid for either sex or antlerless deer. The hunters reported using their extra permits to harvest 59 deer: 29 by muzzleloader, 29 by archery, and 1 by shotgun.
Many impressive deer were taken this season. One muzzle-loader hunter checked in an 8-point deer from Scituate weighing 226 pounds dressed. The largest deer taken by shotgun was a 10-point deer taken in Coventry that weighed 215 pounds. The largest deer taken by archery, weighing 220 pounds with 11 points, was taken in North Kingstown.
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.