Reduction In Either-Sex Deer Days Proposed

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The severe winter this year is likely to take a toll on New Hampshire's white-tailed deer population; as a result, New Hampshire Fish and Game has reviewed potential impacts of this year's deer hunting seasons. Based on recommendations of Department biologists, the Fish and Game Commission has decided to propose changes to the 2003 deer hunting days in about half of the state.

"This winter has been hard on our deer in central and southern New Hampshire," said Fish and Game deer biologist Kent Gustafson. "We're expecting mortality to be dramatically higher than average in these areas, so we're planning to reduce the number of 'either-sex' hunting days allowed this year, facilitating more rapid population recovery."

The winter was average for the northern parts of the Granite State, but in southern and central areas, unusually cold temperatures and deep snow made it a very challenging year for deer. Overseeing the state's deer population, Fish and Game divides the state into 17 Wildlife Management Units or "WMUs" (click here for WMU map). In eight of these units -- those northernmost in the state, as well as in "Unit M" on the seacoast -- no changes were proposed. In nine other units, primarily in central and southern New Hampshire, the number of "either sex" deer hunting days will be reduced for firearms and/or muzzleloaders. During "either sex" seasons, hunters may take either bucks or does. The management units affected would be G, H1, H2, I1, I2, J1, J2, K and L.

Administrative rules to implement deer season changes will be proposed later this spring. A public hearing will be scheduled and announced in the coming weeks. The following tables detail the season changes to be proposed in various areas, as well as the winter severity index values upon which they are based.