Deer season and management have become a paradox

Late last winter, the Wildlife Management Unit 7M Deer Management Citizen Task Force, an appointed stakeholder group living within the unit and from all walks of life, recommended that the Department of Environmental Conservation reduce the unit's ongoing annual deer population by approximately ten percent. This would be done via the future number of deer management permits (DMPs) that are issued by the DEC to harvest antlerless deer. The primary reasoning of the task force's request was largely based on damages caused by deer depredation of crops and domestic flora, collisions with motor vehicles, etc. However, the annual harvest data collected by the DEC indicated the number of antlerless deer taken in the unit should be reduced. The DEC's primary management guide is the bucks taken per square mile, and when that figure began dropping steadily in the unit over the past few years, it signaled that the deer population in WMU 7M had been decreasing. So last year no management permits were issued, a move to allow the herd to stabilize and probably increase slightly in 2006. But to honor the decision of the task force, the DEC issued more 7M permits for 2006 that it had probably intended

With the regular firearms hunting season opening this Saturday, it's estimated that about half the hunters will be carrying a DMP for 7M and, as such, be able to harvest an antlerless deer, in addition to an antlered buck. The burning question is, will this have a positive impact on reducing the deer-related problems voiced by various members of the task force? In talking with many long-term hunters, writers who specialize in deer hunting and management subjects, and deer management biologists, the answer was probably not.

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