Louisiana deer harvest numbers are finally starting to rebound after a decade of decline.
A recent article from NOLA.com outlines a recent Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries report which claims deer harvest numbers statewide have increased for the first time in a decade.
The statewide harvest for the 2013 season was estimated to be 166,200 deer, which is an estimated increase of 14,000 animals over the 2012 season. Harvest numbers in 2013 are now equivalent to harvest numbers from the late 1980s.
Louisiana's harvest numbers are only an estimate, because the state relies on a mail survey system to collect data for their annual harvest reports. In 2008, the state implemented a tagging system that requires all hunters to tag animals, and then report a harvest. Hunter participation in the tagging program has been horrid, to put it mildly.
The self-reported harvest statistics have fallen every year since 2008. Overall, statistics show only around 42 percent of hunters have recorded their harvest within the new system.
Hunter participation in the program is essential to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' plan to fine-tune the state's hunting regulations. Scott Durham, Deer Study Leader for the state, has stated if participation does not increase in the tagging system, the Department may be forced to reduce hunting seasons in some areas to ensure wildlife management goals are met.
The statistics are particularly important in the Southeast regions of the state that are often plagued with hurricanes and flooding. The deer population in these areas has seen a recent drastic decline. Hunters in the area have even called for the season to be shut down in order to let the population recoup.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has already implemented either sex days in the costal zones in hopes these looser regulations will help spur repopulation. Durham states it may be too soon to tell if the new regulations are having the desired effect.
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What are your thoughts on the current situation in Louisiana? Could hunters be doing more to help the state reestablish a healthy population? Comment below and share in the discussion.