The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on Friday released its preliminary deer harvest numbers for the 2009 season.
The initial tally of 18,045 deer killed by Maine hunters represents a decrease of 14 percent from 2008.
“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,” DIFW deer biologist Lee Kantar said in a press release.
Long winters with deep snows have taken a toll on Maine’s deer herd during the last two years. Those anticipated regional declines in deer numbers, combined with adverse hunting conditions, were key factors in the 2009 harvest decline.
There were poor hunting conditions during two weeks of the regular firearms seasons.
The decline was expected, especially since the state issued 16 percent fewer any-deer permits, reducing overall success rates. The reduction in any-deer permits for 2009 was part of the strategy to help the deer herd begin to recover in the areas most affected by harsh winter conditions.
Maine’s deer harvest, which was six percent less than predicted by DIFW biologists, did not suffer nearly as those in Quebec and New Brunswick. Those areas experienced a decline of 30 percent.
New Hampshire, on the other hand, saw a decrease of approximately five percent in 2009.
Late last spring, DIFW biologists had projected a statewide harvest of approximately 19,289 deer for 2009. Those numbers were based on an analysis of deer mortality and reproductive rates, harvest trends and any-deer permit allocations to meet Wildlife Management District goals and objectives.
In the coming weeks, DIFW biologists will complete a more detailed analysis of the 2009 harvest and will release the final deer kill and how the harvest broke down in terms of season, WMD, sex and age.