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Several hundred hunters participated in a winter hunt requested by the town of Nantucket and authorized by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board.  246 deer were harvested during this special 6 day season running from Monday, February 7 through Saturday, February 12. Over 900 hunters purchased the required permits for this hunt.  The majority of deer were taken by hunters new to hunting on Nantucket.  This special hunt is part of a long-term conservation and public health management strategy to reduce high deer density, and reduce deer ticks, thereby reducing the incidence of tick diseases in people. Reducing high deer densities (40-60/ square mile of habitat) will also result in fewer deer/car collisions, as well as reduce damage to wildlife habitat, benefitting other wildlife and plant species.  

Many new island hunters, used to less underbrush in other parts of the state, expressed surprise at the thick scrub oak habitat which covers much of the island.  Hunters initially concentrated on certain areas of the island, but as they became more familiar with the areas open for hunting, they dispersed more evenly throughout the island.  The Environmental Police increased patrol support with two officers on duty on the island for the week. Local and state police also provided assistance.  Environmental Police issued over a dozen citations and arrested three people for hunting violations.

To reduce the island’s deer population by 50%, biologists estimated 100 deer/year would need to be harvested above the usual numbers taken in the regular deer seasons, over a period of 5-7 years.  “We are pleased with the number of deer taken,” said MassWildlife Deer Biologist, Bill Woytek. “Given that this was a new season, we didn’t have a sense of how many hunters would be interested and how many deer would be taken in this first season. This level of success may reduce the amount of time needed to achieve deer density goals.  Sustained hunter participation is crucial to achieving deer density goals thereby reducing the incidence of tick diseases in people.” Analysis of the information from the deer hunt is in process at this time.


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