Preliminary deer harvest numbers show a decrease of 14 percent from the 2008 harvest with an initial tally of 18,045 deer taken by hunters.

“To put this into perspective, we must consider that the 2008 and 2009 winters represent the most severe back-to-back winters since 1971-72,” said IF&W deer biologist Lee Kantar.

Long winters with deep snows have a tremendous impact on the overwinter survival of deer. Both expected regional declines in deer abundance and adverse hunting conditions — two weeks of poor hunting conditions during the firearms season — played a role in the fall 2009 harvest decline. Decreases in the deer harvest from 2008 also were expected given the 16 percent decrease in any-deer permits for Maine’s hunters (reducing overall success rates). The reductions in any-deer permits for 2009 were necessary to allow the deer herd to begin to recover.

Relative to adjacent provincial and state jurisdictions, the decline in Maine’s deer harvest was less in comparison to our Canadian neighbors in Quebec and New Brunswick whose deer harvests declined greater than 30 percent during the same time period, but was greater than the decline in New Hampshire’s deer harvest (decrease of approximately 5 percent).

For 2009, Department biologists projected a statewide harvest of approximately 19,289 deer. The annual deer harvest projections by department biologists in the late spring result from an analysis of mortality and reproductive rates, harvest trends, and any deer permit allocations to meet Wildlife Management District (WMD) goals and objectives. Thus our initial number for statewide harvest was six percent less than projected.

Over the next few weeks, department biologists will complete a more detailed analysis of the 2009 harvest and will release the final deer harvest number and further details about how the harvest looked by season, WMD, sex and age.

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