The state's leading deer biologist expects hunters to meet with frustration this fall.
"What I'm trying to make people understand is that they should lower their expectations," Lee Kantar of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said this week. "Fawns from a winter like last year's don't over-winter very well. We've got the deer harvest slated to be down about 5,000 deer this year."
That's a drop of more than 18 percent, a significant hit to the fortunes of Maine's hunters, who will learn whether or not they were selected in the annual any-deer permit lottery today.
DIF&W will issue just more than 50,000 doe permits across Maine this fall, down from the more than 66,000 issued last year.
The reason, of course, was the near-record snowfall from last winter, which took a significant toll on the state's deer herd. The unusually cool and wet spring and summer months we experienced may have helped those deer who did survive last winter, allowing them to fatten up and get healthier heading into this season, Kantar said.
But the real issue were those deer who never made it through the winter at all. Though just less than 30,000 deer were taken by hunters in 2007, Kantar expects this year's number to be closer to 24,000 deer.
"It was very, very harsh and severe winter," said Keel Kemper, a local wildlife biologist stationed in Sidney. "In many ways, deer science is rocket science -- and we've accounted for the winter mortality."
Source: Kennebec Journal