Thursday, June 24, 2021

DEC releases final deer management plan

deer planThe “Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in New York State, 2021-2030” is the product of public input, expert review, and sound science that will improve the management of white-tailed deer across New York State. This second-edition deer plan, available on DEC’s website, outlines strategies to manage deer populations across a range of abundance levels and diverse deer-related impacts in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

The plan enhances DEC programs that provide relief to landowners and the public experiencing deer damage and conflicts, seeks to protect New York’s deer from the devastating potential of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) particularly – in light of the recent announcement about a confirmed detection in bordering Warren County, Pennsylvania – and enhances the state’s deer hunting traditions. In addition, the plan provides information about how DEC determines population objectives, sets harvest quotas, calculates annual deer harvest, and describes the effectiveness of various management strategies for reducing impacts from overabundant deer.

Draft Regulations Proposed to Implement Key Plan Provisions

To begin the implementation of portions of the management plan, DEC proposed rule changes that will improve deer management, simplify big game hunting, expand hunting opportunity, and increase hunter safety. To view the proposed regulations and provide comment, visit the Fish and Wildlife Proposed Regulations webpage. DEC will accept written public comments through August 8, 2021.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

13 Responses

  1. JB says:

    The detection of CWD in a captive herd bordering New York state is the biggest ecological threat that the state has seen in nearly 20 years. DEC has apparently thus far been successful in preventing reintroduction of CWD since 2005, especially with their ban on importation of live cervids and cervid carcasses into the state, but now there is a new risk that the same tragic pattern that we have seen nationwide will befall us, that of captive cervids infecting wild cervids which then cross state lines. Hopefully DEC will respond continue to respond dynamically in light this situation with locally increased monitoring and even more anti-CWD regulation and enforcement. Also, I eagerly await news about the banning of cervid-derived biological attractants, which is long overdue. Anyone interested should definitely read the Appendix 3 of the new Management Plan for White-Tailed Deer, “Recommendation to Prohibit Cervid Biofluid Products”.

  2. Rodney clark says:

    One buck per hunter very important

    • Richard Monroe says:

      One buck per hunter?! To the best of my knowledge, at least in my hunting lifetime, while that may be the case within select WMUs, and may have more validity within the Blue Line, across the state at large that has never been the standard. Depending on what WMUs folks hunt in, and what implements they use (bow, crossbow, muzzleloader, rifle/shotgun- I believe it has, at least for most of my lifetime, been possible for legally and fully licensed to harvest up to 3 bucks in any given season (Reg season buck tag, Bow tag, Bow/Muzz either sex tag). Effective deer management in most WMUs involves harvesting both. Those does don’t get impregnated all by themselves!

      • Dan says:

        I’m not sure where the third buck comes in? You get a regular season buck tag and an additional “either/or” tag if you buy a muzzleloading or bow license. You get a third tag if you buy both, but it is strictly antlerless. It’s been that way for about two decades now. It works for me. Some years I get two bucks, some years I get none. That’s Adirondack hunting for you.

        • Richard Monroe says:

          No- you are right Dan. I actually thought about that after posting my comment. Must have been late or something. I misspoke. It’s 2 bucks as you said. Not counting any “DMP bucks”, of course. For some reason I was thinking that in some years we had gotten a 2nd bow/Muz either sex tag if we hunted bow +muz + regular season. In truth most years between bow/muz/regular tags/DMPS, consigned DMPs etc. I end up with so many tags I never come close to filling all of them- probably wouldn’t even if I could! Not that it matters really- I’ve never gotten more than 1 buck in a year. My overriding point though- still stands- “one buck per hunter” is not the standard. But you are right. I stand corrected- it is 2 bucks, not 3.

  3. JT says:

    I think the new management plan offers some positives. I agree with the mandatory fluorescent orange requirement for deer and bear hunting. I expect a lot of hunters will disagree. Not sure about the extended hunting hours from sunrise to sunset to half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset. Some days are ok but some days it’s dark at sunrise or sunset. Wearing fluorescent orange will help with this.
    In WMU 6A where I live and hunt they are bringing back the either sex tag for early muzzle loading, previously was bucks only. My household has hit six deer with our vehicles in the last couple of years. Now they need to bring back the DMP’s and get the herd thinned out.

    • JB says:

      I agree with you on the blaze orange, too, JT.
      I think that there are some hints in the new plan that DEC might take a more localized approach to managing harvests–phrases like “increase recruitment”, “manage over-population”. Although, I think that the systems in some other states may be better set up than ours to granularly manage specific areas, such as the establishment of more than two zones with different seasons and different tags for specific areas. I guess that’s why we have DMPs for population control. But on the other hand, in 50 years as the forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks mature (and more are added), I do wonder if deer populations in places will actually become too small to justify the current system of universal over-the-counter tags. That being said, I will point out that I am not one who believes that all forests should be managed to maximize deer habitat and timber production, and in the bigger picture, setting aside somewhere in the Northeast (i.e., the Adirondack Park) to be left unmanaged is essential.

    • Dan says:

      As soon as I heard, last fall, the proposal for extended hunting hours beyond sunrise/sunset, I had a feeling a fluorescent clothing requirement would eventually accompany it. I’m fine with it, but I have mixed feelings on the hours extension, mainly from my own observations in the woods (not fields). But statistics from other states support it, and not my argument.

      As for taking antlerless deer with a muzzleloader, that’s a tough one. Where I live and hunt in R5 we have plenty of deer near my home, and we do hunt them here with muzzleloaders. You really can’t kill enough of them. However, on the Forest Preserve lands I hunt 6 miles away, and 1,200 feet higher in elevation, it’s a different story; night and day. Like JT says, near is home in 6A there’s obviously a deer problem, but not so, at least from what I can see, up in Cranberry Lake (also R6), where I also hunt state land. I do support DEC’s position on this, and understand it can’t be micromanaged within a WMU. In 2012 they proposed doe permits for muzzleloading hunters. It got crucified, but I thought it might work.

      • JB says:

        Yes, exactly. There is so much diversity of habitat in the Park and surrounding areas, and it is basically impossible, at least within the current framework, for DEC to micromanage the herds on the forest preserve. There are places elsewhere in the country where they do have the power to micromanage public lands better, but often that means outright banning most hunters. Given the powers granted to them, DEC is doing their best, and recently it seems like they are trying to take a more evidence-based approach in general when it comes to managing state lands. Things that would fly 10 or 15 years ago probably wouldn’t now. And right now, deer hunters are without doubt helping the forest ecosystems on the state lands, especially since here in NY we have killed and continue to kill predators at a higher rate than in other places. But it does seem to me like people have been taking larger and larger numbers of deer from the state lands, especially compared to decades ago (although maybe I’m wrong on that), and the lack of control by DEC could eventually (maybe) become more of a problem if trends continued indefinitely. I would hate to see severe restrictions on hunters, but the only thing worse than something like a lottery system is a forest that is mostly devoid of its native large herbivores.

        In general, most North Americans, especially in the Northeast, are not even aware that overhunting cervids is possible, obviously partially due to big game regulations. But I would reason that herds have also been artificially boosted due to the fact that we have had a logging-based economy unlike anything seen elsewhere in modern history, and in those few temperate American forests where logging is prohibited, hunting is typically prohibited too. The Adirondack Park is fairly unique in that regard, but very similar places exist in central Europe. Looking at some of the remaining unmanaged European old-growth forests, it would actually be very easy to mistake them for Adirondack forests. But in many of those forests, large native herbivores have been severely imperiled or extirpated from overhunting, at least at various points in history. The nobility had to step in impose death penalties on hunters. As a result, Europe doesn’t have a hunting culture anywhere near what we do, even in those heavily forested areas that remain.

        Anyway, I will also add that I believe the state bureaucrats here are more clever than we often give them credit for. For example, they are hesitant to even mention things like permits and lotteries, because they know that controlling the hunt is more of an exercise in psychology than anything. That’s why the lottery systems out west are such a mess–the more exclusive something becomes the more people demand and exploit it.

        • JT says:

          JB, Dan
          I think the NYSDEC’s job managing the deer herd is very difficult. With less than 50% hunters reporting their harvests, it’s somewhat of a guessing game. Then the only tool they have to increase or decrease the herd size is regulating the doe harvest, where you have archery, muzzle loading, DMP’s and DMAP’s. Like you say Dan, in the forest preserve, they cannot be to liberal with doe harvests. A couple of hard winters could knock the herd size down and it could take years to recover. Outside of the forest preserve I think they really need to re-assess the herd size. I base my opinion on the habitat. Example, on my 80 acre property I have a lot of older cedar trees but no younger trees. Most of the soft maple, oak and hickory seedlings grow crooked because the deer over browse and nip off the leader branches. They even resort to eating white pine seedlings in the winter. Then to complicate things even further, I have a buckthorn and honeysuckle invasive species problem. The deer do not eat these invasive species which gives them a competitive advantage over the native tree species. And we now have the EAB infestation killing all the black, green and white ash trees, providing more sun light for the invasive species. By reducing the herd size, this could give the native trees a chance to compete. If the DEC could model or forecast out 50 years on the direction the habitat is going in and communicate this to the hunting community, hunters may be willing to harvest more does. I feel that failure to do this may result in collapsing ecosystems, where the land cannot support our favorite game species. It does present a dilemma because as a deer hunter, I like to see a lot of deer, but the other side of it is I am trying to grow a forest. The NYSDEC needs to attract new hunters and keep the existing hunters they also want to see more deer.

          • JB says:

            Amen, JT. We have a property in rural Saratoga county, basically a hill with rich soils overlying limestone bedrock, nothing like the precambrian granite in the core of the Adirondacks…But buckthorn and honeysuckle have taken over about 10% of the property, anywhere where the sugar maple forest had been cleared decades ago and goldenrod, white pine or poplars could not crowd them out. I feel your pain on that.

            • JT says:

              About the only thing you can do is cut them down and treat the stumps with 18% glyphosate to prevent re-sprouting. I do this between July and November when the fluid flow through the phloem is traveling to the root systems. This method has been very effective and I also get some fire wood out of it. It will take me years to get most of it cut but I realize I will never get all of it. The main thing is giving the native trees room to grow.

              • JB says:

                Sounds like we are both trying to rehab old pasture land. After about 10 or 20 years, it is a rewarding experience. It is really interesting and often surprising to see the rarer native species start coming in. Eventually we may go in and start clearing the buckthorn thicket. That will be a huge undertaking; I’ve thought about going in with an excavator. Luckily, the thicket on our property is essentially an island surrounded by patches of successional forest and asters. From the looks of it, the buckthorns have been a no man’s land since long before we got the property. Some cherry trees and grape vines have started to choke the buckthorn a bit in recent years. But agreed, the key is that once you get enough healthy native trees, they will for the most part exclude the buckthorn, although sporadic individuals do continue to occasionally pop up even in older forests. Some of the neighbors aren’t as luckily, and they have thickets that probably go for miles. I would’t want to even try to navigate through the mess and find out exactly how far they go. But it does seem like deer basically avoid that entire stretch of land.

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