A series of harsh winters on the East Coast could result in reduced whitetail deer hunting opportunities in 2015 as states contemplate reduced bag limits.
Wildlife officials in many eastern states with very strong hunting traditions, such as Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are contemplating different ways to reduce the whitetail deer harvest this season in response to a series of harsh winters that have killed thousands of deer.
Long periods of extreme cold and heavy snowfall are tough on deer herds. Very young and very old deer (including many trophy bucks) are especially vulnerable to starvation and exposure during extremely harsh winters. However, the past two winters have been so tough that many mature deer have simply died off.
Maine is considering a 23% cut to the total number of deer tags to be issued this year. Vermont will be implementing an approximately 50% cut to the antlerless whitetail deer permits for this year. Additionally, Michigan may close deer hunting completely on the Upper Peninsula after suffering a nearly 40% drop in the deer population.
David Trahan, the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine had this to say:
This last winter was one of the worst that I can remember. I suspect that we lost a lot of deer. Although it’s disappointing to see permits go down, I would have to agree.
Pennsylvania will likely reduce the number of antlerless whitetail deer permits by about 4% (~30,000). However, this follows a 7% reduction from last year. Biologists in New Hampshire are also concerned about the higher than usual winter mortality of their deer herd. Though they have not made any concrete decisions about bag limits for this year’s deer season, there is always that possibility.
Here’s hoping that the weather over the next year is better than last year on the East Coast. It sounds like the deer herds there really need a break.