Vermont 2010-20 Management Plan Now Available

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Vermont's new Big Game Management Plan for 2010-2020 is now available.

The plan will guide the management of all four of Vermont's big game wildlife species -- white-tailed deer, black bear, moose, and wild turkey. Produced by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, the plan was created over almost two years time with public opinion, including a public survey, public meetings and direct public input. The new plan includes the potential for several new hunting opportunities, especially for turkeys, moose and deer.

The 88-page Big Game Management Plan is available on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website www.vtfishandwildlife.com. A black and white copy may be obtained from their Waterbury office. Email them at fwinformation@state.vt.us or call 802-241-3700.

"We are excited about the new big game management opportunities that this plan offers," said Scott Darling, species management supervisor. "While there is still work to be done on the finer details of some of the proposed hunting opportunities, the public has provided some clear guidance on the direction the department should take in managing these populations."

Some of the strategies outlined in the plan include:

Wild Turkey

The plan's management strategy continues to emphasize a high quality, spring turkey population and harvest, coupled with enhanced but modest fall harvest opportunity.

Under consideration are expanded fall archery hunting statewide, expanded fall gun seasons in new Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), and longer fall gun seasons.

White-tailed Deer

The plan now sets deer density objectives for six regions within the state based on human land-uses, productivity of the land with regards to deer forage, and climate.

Deer are managed first with consideration for biological carrying capacity and then for cultural carrying capacity. The plan calls for a healthy, abundant but not overabundant deer herd. The deer herd is kept from becoming overabundant by harvesting the right number of adult females.

Hunting opportunities will need to be expanded for those hunting seasons that aid in the management of the female component of the deer herd. In particular, the archery and muzzleloader seasons may be revised to increase their success when and where more adult females need to be taken for responsible deer population management.

Antler restrictions have increased the number of 2- and 3-year-old bucks in the buck population, so bucks at check stations now tend to be older and larger. However; the current antler-point restriction (APR) will need to be re-evaluated to determine if it is a biologically appropriate long-term strategy to protect spike-horn yearling bucks. If not, there are other viable alternatives to achieve similar characteristics in Vermont’s deer population. Vermont hunters may be asked to weigh-in on them in the near future.

Moose

Implementation of a special archery hunt for moose will be proposed.

The plan calls for maintaining a statewide population goal of between 3,000 – 5,000 moose, a level consistent with the current statewide population.

Moose and deer carrying capacity will be considered, and decisions may need to be made favoring one species over the other in selected WMUs.

Black Bear

The bear population will be closely evaluated and monitored to determine if and when management actions are needed to keep the population between 4,500 – 6,000 bears. Strategies such as changes to harvest method, season length, or bag limit as well as regional differences in bear hunting regulations could be considered.

The expanding Vermont bear and human populations over the past two decades have led to an increased number of conflicts between bears and humans. The department will enhance its efforts to minimize these conflicts.

The department will continue its bear habitat conservation strategies supporting a wild and free-ranging bear population.