DEC Adopts New Deer Management Plan
DEC recently adopted a second-edition Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in New York State, 2021-2030 (www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7211.html), building off progress made during the first plan and considerable research and input from the public, including hunters.
Deer management, deer hunting, and deer-related impacts to agriculture, forests, and communities across the state are important concerns for many New Yorkers. With this updated management plan, DEC is taking innovative steps to address overabundant deer in urban and suburban areas, provide relief to farmers and forest owners experiencing deer damage, protect New York's deer from the potential devastation of Chronic Wasting Disease, and enhance our great deer hunting traditions.
The plan details a new method for setting deer population objectives that integrates an assessment of deer impacts on forests with public preferences for deer population changes. It emphasizes new and adaptive approaches for harvesting antlerless deer by recommending strategic hunting season and tag changes in rural landscapes where additional harvest is needed and developing new opportunities for community-based deer management in suburban and urban areas. The plan provides greater transparency into the processes behind deer management including the methodology for setting harvest quotas for antlerless deer and estimating annual deer harvest totals. In addition, the plan identifies a series of statutory recommendations that would improve deer management capacity throughout New York.
To read the plan, go to www.dec.ny.gov and search “Deer Management Plan.”
Some highlights include:
- Establish desired deer population trajectories (more deer, fewer deer, stay the same) for 23 regions of the state by including data on deer impacts on forest regeneration and public preferences for deer population change.
- Monitor deer populations for diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and take steps to reduce disease risk
- Recommend a number of hunting-related changes to provide additional hunter opportunity or strategically increase antlerless harvest where needed including: a September season for antlerless deer in select areas, a late bow and muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone between Christmas and New Year’s Day, restoring either-sex harvest to the early muzzleloader season in several Northern Zone WMUs, extending the daily hunting hours to 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset, establishing a January season in Westchester County and a youth deer hunt with firearms in Suffolk County, creating an urban hunt program, and modifying the way that DMPs are issued.
- Continue DEC’s successful effort to encourage hunters to voluntarily Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27663.html) which balances hunters’ desire to see and take older bucks with their strong desire to maintain the freedom to choose what type of buck to harvest.
- Encourage the use of non-lead ammunition (such as copper) by deer hunters to reduce human and wildlife exposure to lead by ingestion.
- Provide technical assistance for community-based deer management including local hunting programs, suburban/urban hunter-training workshops, and explore the potential for a small grants program to assist communities in developing and implementing local deer management plans.