State

Maine’s deer harvest tops 30,000 for the first time since 2004

The regular firearms season on deer ended a half-hour after sunset on Saturday, and the state’s hunters are having a banner year, with more hunting left to come.

According to state deer biologist Nathan Bieber of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, hunters had registered 30,299 deer as of 7:30 a.m. Monday. The last time hunters shot more than 30,000 deer in Maine was in 2004, when 30,926 deer were registered.

“Muzzleloader [season] could be another 750 to 1,000 or so,” Bieber said in an email.

From 2000 through 2017, the state’s deer harvest has averaged 26,010 animals per year, with a low of 18,092 in 2009 and a high of 38,153 in 2002, according to a compilation of data provided by DIF&W.

The higher-than-normal harvest shouldn’t come as a surprise: This year the state also issued the most any-deer permits in its history, allowing hunters with those permits to take a deer of either gender.

DIF&W issued 84,745 any-deer permits spread over 22 of the state’s 29 wildlife management districts across the state, an increase of 28 percent. Last year, there were 66,050 permits.

The wildlife department uses the any-deer permit system to manage the deer population. The department says, “the ability to adjust the state’s deer populations derives from the ability to increase, or decrease, the number of breeding does on the landscape. White-tailed deer are at the northern edge of their range in Maine, and winter severity is a limiting factor concerning population growth. By controlling the harvest of female deer in the 29 regional wildlife management districts throughout the state, biologists can manage population trends.”

Deer hunting continues throughout Maine for either one week or two, depending on Wildlife Management District, for muzzeloader season.

Maine’s deer harvest since 2000:

— 2018 (as of 7:30 a.m., Nov. 26): 30,299

— 2017: 27,233

— 2016: 23,512

— 2015: 20,325

— 2014: 22,490

— 2013: 24,217

— 2012: 21,365

— 2011: 18,839

— 2010: 20,063

— 2009: 18,092

— 2008: 21,062

— 2007: 28,885

— 2006: 29,918

— 2005: 28,148

— 2004: 30,926

— 2003: 30,313

— 2002: 38,153

— 2001: 27,769

— 2000: 36,885

This article originally appeared on www.bangordailynews.com.

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