Firearms deer kill shows 8 percent decline

December 15, 2005|By CANDUS THOMSON

Hunters killed fewer deer during Maryland's two-week firearms season this year, most likely because the deer population in rural areas has declined from record-high numbers, wildlife officials say.

The preliminary state tally shows that hunters shot 40,735 deer - an 8 percent decline - in the season that began Nov. 26 and included one day of Sunday hunting. The breakdown was 15,211 antlered deer and 25,524 antlerless deer.

Over the past several seasons, state biologists have liberalized bag limits and urged hunters to kill more antlerless deer in an effort to bring the burgeoning population, at one time estimated at 260,000, under control.

FOR THE RECORD - Because of an error by a state contractor, the preliminary totals for the modern firearms deer hunt were underreported in Wednesday's editions of The Sun. Hunters shot 44,941 deer during the two-week firearm season, a 1.5 percent increase over last year. Using a new Internet and telephone checking system, hunters reported to the Department of Natural Resources that they killed 16,123 antlered deer and 28,818 antlerless deer.
The Sun regrets the error.

"We are beginning to see the positive results of that strategy," said Doug Hotton, head of the project.

Junior hunters bagged 3,406 during their one-day hunt that preceded the regular firearms season.

This season also marks the first time hunters reported their kill by Internet or telephone rather than taking the deer to a state check station.

Wildlife and Heritage Service director Paul Peditto called the new system "an unqualified success" that saved hunters time and allowed his biologists to collect data faster.

Late muzzleloader season will start Saturday.

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