2003-2004 Maryland Deer Harvest Drops Slightly
Maryland Deer Hunting Provides Wildlife Management, Recreation and Economic Benefits
ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service announced today that Maryland deer hunters took 87,223 deer (85,352 white-tailed deer and 1871 sika deer) during the 2003-2004 hunting season. The harvest figures represent a modest decline from 2002-2003 total of 94,114.
“The overall antlered white-tailed deer harvest of 36,829 was nearly 6 percent lower than the previous season,” said Wildlife & Heritage Service Director Paul A. Peditto. “Many rural counties in Maryland showed even greater decline in their buck harvest, an indication that we are beginning to see real progress toward balancing our deer populations in some areas.”
“The current and proposed hunting regulations encourage the taking of antlerless white-tailed deer and discourage the harvest of young antlered bucks,” Peditto added. “The recent harvest data demonstrate this model works, as evidenced by the reduction in buck harvest and the anticipated decline in deer population growth across Maryland’s rural regions. At the same time, the harvest regulations increase the number of older bucks in the population and a healthier deer population overall---this is a quality deer management outcome.”
The total white-tailed antlered harvest was 36,829 and the antlerless white-tail take totaled 48,523. White-tail antlered totals dropped by 5.7 percent, and the antlerless harvest dipped by 8.5 percent from the previous year. The sika deer antlered harvest dropped by 12.8 percent to 875 deer while the sika antlerless harvest declined 4.1 percent to 996 deer. Peditto said that the DNR would closely monitor the sika harvest next season to ensure the sika remains a viable part of our lower Eastern shore landscape.
The attached charts indicate current deer harvest figures compared to last year’s harvest for bow, firearm and muzzleloader seasons.
Maryland’s Deer Management Plan guides DNR to stabilize white-tailed deer populations at levels present in 1997-98. Deer seasons and bag limits are designed to meet this goal. Since 1997, DNR has expanded hunting days and bag limits for antlerless deer and moderated the taking of antlered deer. The DNR is currently proposing additional modifications to the deer hunting regulations to further ensure the goals of the plan are met.
Additionally, Maryland deer hunters enjoy the outdoor challenges of bow, firearm and muzzleloader hunting. They spend over 1.1 million days in Maryland’s rural and suburban landscapes. Deer hunters provide fresh venison for their families and donate needed meat to charitable groups that feed the hungry.
The most recent U. S. Fish & Wildlife survey of wildlife-associated recreation found that Maryland retail sales related to deer hunting in 2001 totaled $82.3 million, up 104 percent from 1996. When purchases related directly to deer hunting ripple through Maryland’s economy, the total effect rises to $156 million annually---an economic engine more powerful than many large Maryland corporations.
Additional facts regarding deer biology, deer management, hunting regulations and deer harvest are available at DNR’s Web site at: www.dnr.maryland.gov.
Posted March 19, 2004