After three straight mild winters, state wildlife biologists were confident that Maine’s deer population was bouncing back from two consecutive harsh winters in 2008 and 2009 that had decimated the herd in some regions.
That belief was supported on Friday with hard data, as the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife announced the final harvest data gathered during the deer season of 2013.
Hunters killed 24,795 deer last year, which is a 15 percent increase over the 21,552 deer. Deer kill increased in nearly every Wildlife Management District in Maine, according to a DIF&W news release.
“I commend the [DIF&W] for its management of the deer herd and I congratulate hunters who participated in one of our state’s most popular sporting pursuits,” Gov. Paul R. LePage said in the news release. “Deer hunting is not only a time-honored tradition, but it attracts economic activity from hunters throughout Maine and those from other states.”
In response to the recovering deer population, the DIF&W issued 36 percent more any-deer permits in 2013, which allowed hunters to target deer of either gender. As a result, the adult doe harvest rose from 4,297 in 2012 to 5,307 last year, a 24 percent increase.
DIF&W commissioner Chandler Woodcock cautioned hunters that a conservative management approach is still warranted.
“The increase in the number of successful hunters last season reflects a growing deer population in much of the state,” Woodcock said in the news release. “However, with the long, cold winter we experienced, it is prudent to move forward thoughtfully in 2014 concerning the number of any-deer permits issued.”