2002 Firearm Season Deer Harvest Up 9%

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A preliminary count of the two-week deer hunting firearm season indicates that Maryland firearm hunters took 41,469 deer, an increase more than 9 percent from last year.

After taking an estimated 15,473 deer on opening day, firearm deer hunters bagged an estimated 25,996 deer during the remaining two-week season. Since the expansion of the firearm season from one week to two in 1992, the department has increased deer hunting opportunities by 50 percent.

"We've reached this effective level of deer management because of the dedicated deer project team and the support from Maryland's hunting community," said Paul A. Peditto, Director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service.

For the first time in over ten years, Maryland's approximately 75,000 firearm hunters experienced snow cover across most of the state during portions of the season. Deer hunters logged many hours in the forests and fields with temperatures below normal over the entire state. Both contributed to favorable hunting conditions. More hunters across the state heeded safety guidelines this year, resulting in an overall decrease in accidents and zero safety-related fatalities.

Because hunters are not required to check deer in the county in which they are bagged, these preliminary numbers are subject to change. Maryland's deer management is based on the official totals tabulated in February after the close of the bow season. Data collected by Wildlife & Heritage Service staff and volunteers during firearm season at check stations also plays a major role in Maryland deer management.

Hunting remains the most effective tool for managing Maryland's growing deer population. For more information about the state's deer management program, visit the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/deermgmt.html.