AUGUSTA, Maine -- Hunters in Maine killed a record number of antlered bucks this past year, and overall, hunters registered more deer than they have since 1980. However, hunters fell short of Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife management projections for does, and the deer population will continue to increase in central and southern Maine.
Hunters registered 36,885 deer in 2000, up from 31,473 in 1999, the highest kill since 1980, and second highest since 1968. Hunters killed 21,422 antlered bucks, the first time the buck kill is over 20,000.
The department is recommending an increase in the number of any-deer permits to stabilize or decrease deer population in parts of the state, while permits will stay the same or decrease to allow populations to grow in other areas of the state. Biologists are proposing an increase in the number of any-deer permits to 93,200, up from 75,525 permits in 2000.
“Even though there is a significant increase in the number of permits that will likely be issued in many districts, the amount of the increase varies greatly according to population levels and deer management objectives designed by the public,” said Deputy Commissioner Fred Hurley. “Permit allocations will remain low in some wildlife management districts in order to achieve population goals.”
In addition, the department is proposing a new bonus antlerless permit, which will allow deer hunters to harvest an extra deer in an area where antlerless permits go unclaimed. Last year, 5,810 any-deer permits went unclaimed in six different wildlife management districts. There are 30 districts statewide. In 1925, deer hunters went to a one deer, either sex bag limit that has remained relatively unchanged since.
This any-deer permit number is a recommendation by staff biologists and could change. Biologists will still be monitoring the effects of winter throughout the state for the next month. The public comment on this proposal is open until April 20. The commissioner’s advisory council will then determine the final number factoring in public comment and final winter data during their council meeting in late April.
The Any-Deer Permit system plays a vital role in the management of deer in Maine. Since this management system was implemented in 1986, the statewide population of deer has increased from a population of 150,000 to now over 300,000. This permit system used in conjunction with the 30 wildlife management districts throughout the state provides biologists the flexibility needed to closely regulate the take of female deer throughout the state and achieve desired population levels.