Deer Harvest Climbs Slightly In New York 2008 Season
15,000+ Signup for New Junior Big-Game License
Hunters harvested approximately 223,000 deer in the 2008 season, a 2 percent increase over the previous season, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.
The annual deer harvest report also showed that more than 15,000 14- and 15-year-olds signed up for the new “Junior Big-Game License” and that researchers detected no cases of Chronic Wasting Disease.
Harvest numbers increased slightly in every category: bucks, antlerless deer, muzzleloading and bowhunting. However, the increases were smaller than the 5-10 percent increase DEC projected, largely due to weather.
“Rough weather during the first week of the Southern Zone regular season seems to have kept overall take below expectations,” Commissioner Grannis said, explaining that steady growth of the deer population in the Southern Zone fueled predictions of a larger harvest.
The important milestone of 2008 was the success of the new “Junior Big-Game” hunting license authorized by Governor David A. Paterson which allows 14- and 15-year-olds to hunt big game for the first time. Records indicate that 15,651 junior hunters participated, harvesting about 3,900 deer.
“The first year of the junior big-game hunting license has been a success – one of the biggest developments on the state hunting scene in recent memory,” Commissioner Grannis said.
Deer-harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports by hunters and DEC staff’s examination of harvested deer at check stations and meat processors. Statewide harvest estimates are made by cross-referencing these sources and are statistically accurate to within plus or minus 2 percent. The 2008 deer take included 105,747 bucks and 117,232 antlerless deer (adult females and fawns).
Buck takes grew by 1 percent over 2007 (104,451) and 10 percent over 2006 (96,569). Antlerless deer takes grew by 2 percent over 2007 (114,690) and 26 percent over 2006 (92,539). Totals for all categories are listed in the chart at the bottom of the release.
The majority of New York’s deer harvest typically occurs during the first week of the Southern Zone regular season. Because of wet, windy and snowy conditions, opening week harvest was down about 30 percent from 2007. Conditions improved through the season, allowing hunters to surpass the 2007 totals though they fell short of projections.
Since 1990, DEC has used local Citizen Task Forces to establish deer population objectives for most Wildlife Management Units. These panels represent a broad range of public interests and consider concerns of landowners, farmers, foresters, conservationists, hunters and others. The population objectives reflect the approximate buck take per square mile that would be taken when the deer population is close to the desired level. Deer populations vary widely across the state, and 2008 harvest data indicate that about 50 percent of the WMUs had deer populations below objective levels while 29 percent had populations above objective levels.
Western New York continues to lead the state in total deer-harvest densities. The top five counties for 2008 were Yates (12.7 total deer per square mile), Steuben (9.5), Genesee (9.4), Livingston (9.1), and Allegany (9.0). Importantly, total harvest is strongly impacted by the number of Deer Management Permits (DMPs) available in an area, which directly affects the harvest of antlerless deer. A more accurate picture of relative deer population densities is revealed by the density of buck harvest. By this figure, the top counties for buck harvest density were: Yates County (4.6 bucks per square mile), Allegany (4.2), Orange (3.8), Wyoming (3.7), and Steuben (3.7).
Chronic Wasting Disease
Efforts continued with CWD surveillance through sampling of hunter killed deer statewide and mandatory deer checks in the Oneida-Madison County CWD Containment Area. Despite testing approximately 2,940 deer (including more than 1,100 deer from the CWD Containment Area), no cases were detected. CWD is a rare neurological disease that affects the brains of deer, elk and moose, causing the animals to become emaciated, lose body functions and eventually die. CWD surveillance began in New York in 2002, with increased efforts since 2005 after the disease was detected in five captive and two wild deer in Oneida County. Since 2002, about 29,300 samples have been collected throughout the state, including about 6,500 samples from the Oneida-Madison County CWD Containment Area, and no additional cases have been detected.