State seeks to increase deer harvest with regulatory change

A buck in a Chilmark field. - Tim Johnson

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) relies on the two-week deer shotgun season to make a significant dent in the burgeoning deer population on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Unlike hunters in the western part of the state, Island hunters do not have to enter a lottery to claim a doe tag and there is no limit on the number of doe tags they may purchase. However, individual hunters are only allowed to possess two deer daily.

On August 30, DFW will hold a public hearing at 4 pm at the UMass Cranberry Experiment Station, located at 1 State Bog Road in East Wareham, on a proposal to increase the Island possession limit from two to four deer.

Matt Poole, Edgartown health agent and a member of an Island-wide task force working to reduce tick-borne infections, said representatives would attend and support the proposal.

The Massachusetts deer hunting season runs from mid-October to December 31. It includes a six-week archery season, two-week shotgun season, and approximately three-week muzzleloader season.

In communities around the state and country, an increase in the number of deer is blamed for heightened incidences of tick-borne diseases, a rise in deer-vehicle collisions, and environmental damage caused by over-browsing on young plants.

DFW divides the state into 14 wildlife management zones. Deer populations have increased, particularly in suburban areas of eastern Massachusetts. In response, DFW has expanded the length of the hunting seasons and increased the availability of doe permits in select zones in an effort to control deer herds.

DFW welcomes written comments from Islanders unable to attend. Comments may be sent to Chairman, Fisheries and Wildlife Board, c/o Wayne MacCallum, MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.