This Saturday, Nov. 20, marks the opening of the Southern Zone’s regular deer season, and come whatever the weather may throw at them. Hundreds of hunters will be seeking to put some prime venison in their freezers. While a few may harvest a trophy buck, the season is more about culling the deer herd to a level that the habitat can support and also reducing damages to private property, including car-deer accidents on roadways.
Although the DEC can only estimate the state’s deer population – which is given at around one million – densities vary greatly from one area to another, depending on the quality of the habitat. As such, densities in the Adirondacks are substantially less than in western New York’s heavily agriculture regions. And as our area continues to see our habitat reverting to forests, our deer densities will also decline. A side note to that is deer are progressively becoming more adaptive to living closer to human development areas, where habitat is better. And since developed areas mean more roads and traffic, car-deer accidents have steadily increased there.
Despite what some might think, deer stand a better chance of escaping hunters than they do avoiding traffic on the highways. Statistics annually show that for every deer taken in the state by hunting, three succumb to collisions with road traffic. Deer taken by hunting obviously provide a valuable edible resource, while most that die on highways are usually wasted and end up in landfills with the trash.