Island deer harvest rose in 2006
Despite warm weather and a scarcity of deer in some areas, both of which generated occasional grousing, Vineyard deer hunters finished up the season pretty well in 2006, according to state wildlife officials.
Island hunters took 134 deer during the archery season, 416 deer during the two-week shotgun season, and 72 deer during the muzzleloader season.
MassWildlife Deer Project Leader Bill Woytek reported that, statewide, hunters took a total of 10,479 white-tailed deer during the combined 2006 seasons. Additionally, 117 deer were taken during the Quabbin Reservation hunt. The 2006 statewide harvest combined with Quabbin was 10,596.
That overall state tally represented a significant drop from the 2005 total of 11,943. State officials cited weather and the success of state efforts to reduce the doe population as factors.
Mr. Woytek said that 2006 was another record year for archery. Most zones reflected an overall increase, good news for wildlife managers intent on reducing deer numbers. "Archery is an important management tool in suburban areas where deer densities are higher and firearms discharge and other local bylaws are in place," he said.
A lack of snow in some areas and unseasonably warm weather created poor hunting conditions that were reflected in the statewide totals for the shotgun and muzzleloader seasons in 2006, according to Mr. Woytek. In addition, fewer antlerless deer permits were issued in 10 of the 15 wildlife management zones because the state had met goals for reducing deer density in those zones.
State deer management goals are designed to maintain deer numbers at a healthy level so that they do not become pests. An increase in the deer population in some areas such as Nantucket has been linked to an increase in deer-vehicle collisions, property damage, and tick-borne diseases.
Mr. Woytek said that because deer population growth rates can exceed 30 percent annually, hunters provide a unique service in helping wildlife managers to achieve population density goals of between 10 and 30 animals per square mile.
Interest in deer season tallies is no longer restricted to hunters. An increase in tick-borne diseases has led to wider support for expanded hunting seasons among non-hunters on Martha's Vineyard.
Deer are the primary host for the adult deer tick, which is capable of laying thousands off eggs. The Tick Task Force, a group of Island residents concerned about the spread of Lyme disease, were among the strongest supporters of an extension to the Vineyard shotgun season.