Deer Harvest Down
Inside the Outdoors, March 20
, 2015

It was recently reported by the Pennsylvania Game Commission that the harvest for the 2014-15 was down. Hunters killed 303,973 compared to 2013-14 where 352,920 animals were harvested.

Breaking that down, during the recent harvest, 119,260 were antlered deer. Last year, 134,280 bucks were taken. The antlerless deer kill amounted to an estimated 184,713 to last season’s 218, 640.

Of the deer taken 2014-15, of the antlered deer taken, 43% were one and one-half year-olds, with the remaining 57% two and one-half years old or older. The antlerless harvest included about 61% adult females. The remaining were 20% button bucks and 18% doe fawns.

There is a reason for this, stated PGC Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. “Some of the decrease is by design.”

“The Game Commission last year reduced the number of antlerless licenses available for sale,” he said. “Fewer licenses were allocated in nearly every Wildlife Management Unit, and statewide, 59,500 antlerless licenses were issued.”

To back up his reasoning, he stated, “Reducing the allocation with a WMU allows deer numbers to grow there. Records show it takes an allocation of about four antlerless licenses to harvest one antlerless deer, so a reduced antlerless harvest was anticipated due to a reduced allocation.”

The weather played into it as well. He called it less than ideal in much of the state. Some places, he said, had high temperatures, while others were marred by rain, snow or dense fog.

One can depend on various natural effects. If it is warm, for instance, the deer tend to move less. They will also stay put if adverse conditions exist.

The availability of food may affect the deer population. Deer will tend to be on the move when they are in need of nourishment. Since they had plenty to eat where bedded, they didn’t have the need to distance themselves from the point of origins during the day’s travels.

“Harvest estimates are based on more than 24,000 deer checked by the Game Commission personnel and more than 100,000 harvest reports submitted by successful hunters,” stated the PGC. “Because some harvests go unreported, estimates provide a more accurate picture of hunter success. However, in 2014-15 the rate at which successful hunters reported their harvest increased slightly.”

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Since we are on the subject of deer, the situation of an over-population of these animals is on the minds of all animal lovers, not only in the surrounding communities of Pittsburgh, particularly Mount Lebanon, but all over the state. It really is not an easy issue to solve.

Giving a lot of thought to it, deer aren’t like nuisance bears that can be trapped and transported counties away where they can be released to run and hide in the thick of the forest. If one were to tranquilize a deer and then transport them to woods counties away, for instance, and let go, I can only presume that the animals may stay in the proximities where they were released. In all likelihood, they would stay together, roaming near or onto the roadways causing more accidents than if they were put down.

The so-called “nuisance deer” have become somewhat tame. They know very little about living in the dangers of the forests. If they were drugged long enough to be replaced and then and then naturally awakened to unknown surroundings, they may be easy targets for such predators as coyotes, for example.

In the March 13, 2015 issue of the Pennsylvania Outdoor News, Volume 12, Number 6, on the front page is a story titled, “Controversy persists over Mount Lebanon deer cull, by Deborah Weisberg.

“Concerned with the size of the local herd, (Allegheny County) commissioners for the largely affluent Township of Mount Lebanon have approved a controversial plan to bait and trap deer in 8-by-8-foot corrals, and have them shot at close range,” she said.

She went on to state, “The Township has contracted with Wildlife Specialists LLC of Wellsboro in Tioga County to kill 150 deer this late-winter and spring, at a cost of $500 per animal.”

Residents, including hunters of the area, have called for a controlled hunt, but that fell on deaf ears. “According to the PGC, Mt. Lebanon did initially explore a regulated hunt involving public works employees, but abandoned the idea. There were no doe tags available, anyway,” Weisberg reported.

This is not only the community that has had an over-population of deer grazing in people’s back yards. Residents in the South Park area in the South Hills of Pittsburgh also find over one-half dozen bucks, doe and fawn at a time nipping at the blades of the grassy surfaces along the properties that border next to woods.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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