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Early numbers show hunters took most deer since 2000

January 6, 2019
FILE- In this July 5, 2011, file photo a deer looks up from grazing in Barre, Vt. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says preliminary numbers from last year's hunting seasons show hunters took the most deer since 2000. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Preliminary numbers from last year’s hunting seasons in Vermont show hunters took the most deer since 2000, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Reports from big game check stations show hunters took a total of 18,845 deer, the department said this week.

“The legal buck harvest of 9,993 was 8 percent more than the previous three-year average of 9,267, and the second highest buck harvest since 2002,” said Nick Fortin, a deer biologist with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “Harvest numbers increased during the archery, rifle and muzzleloader seasons. The muzzleloader harvest of 6,066 is an all-time record.”

A number of factors contributed to the increase, he said. Recent mild winters have allowed the deer population to grow and a lack of food in the fall caused the animals to be more concentrated, with snow making it easier for hunters to find them, he said. The department also issued more muzzleloader permits for antlerless deer last year in part to decrease the number of deer in certain areas of the state.

“Maintaining an appropriate number of deer on the landscape ensures deer and the habitats that support them remain in good condition and productive,” he said.

The department operates biological check stations during the hunting seasons to collect data on the age, sex, weight, antler characteristics and health of the deer population. This past year data was gathered from more than 900 deer. The department also asked hunters to submit deer teeth. Hunters provided more than 2,700 teeth from bucks, which the department says will provide more age information. The full report with the final hunt numbers will be available on the department’s website in February.

Officials in Maine have also said hunters in that state had their biggest harvest since 2002.

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