AUGUSTA, Maine -- As deer hunters ready for opening day, hunters will find the most deer in the southern and central areas of the state, but some of the biggest deer in Western, Northern and Eastern Maine. The regular firearm season for deer opens on Saturday, October 29 for residents, and Monday, November 1 for nonresidents. The Firearms Season for deer concludes on Saturday, November 26.
"Deer season is a tradition rooted deep within the state," said Roland D. Martin, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, "It is a heritage that is passed on generation to generation."
Department biologists believe that if normal hunting pressure and weather prevail, this year's deer harvest should be in the range of 32,400, slightly higher than last year's total of 30,926. The total deer kill for each of the past ten deer seasons is as follows: 2004 - 30,926; 2003 - 30,313; 2002 -- 38,153; 2001 -- 27,769; 2000 - 36,885; 1999 - 31,473; 1998 - 28,241; 1997 - 31,152; 1996 - 28,375; 1995 - 27,384; 1994 - 24,683.
This year, the department issued 70,725 Any Deer permits. An Any Deer permit allows a hunter to harvest a deer of either sex. By controlling the number of female deer in a population, the department can manage deer population trends. Any Deer permits are issued through a lottery system, and 85,451 hunters applied for an Any Deer permit.
The number of Any Deer Permits and where they are issued reflect publicly derived long term population management goals that were implemented back in 2001. In central and southern Maine, the department maintaining or reducing deer numbers, while in Northern and Downeast Maine, the department is trying to rebuild deer populations. Maine's wintering deer population last winter was estimated to be approximately 259,000.
The archery season for deer is currently ongoing, having started on September 29. In certain suburban areas of the state where high population densities of deer are common, an expanded archery season began on September 10, and will continue until December 10.
Last year, the highest deer kill per square mile occurred in central and southwestern Maine, in wildlife management districts 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24. Of the 30, 926 deer killed by hunters in 2004, 1,537 were taken during the expanded archery season, 547 during the regular archery season, 599 on youth hunting day, 27,004 during the firearms season, and 1,239 during the muzzleloading season. Overall, residents killed 88% of the deer statewide.
The Any Deer permit system was designed to reverse a statewide decline in the deer herd that began in the late 1950's. Since 1986, the herd has grown from 160,000 to the present total of approximately 259,000. Population growth rates have been monitored in each of the 30 wildlife management districts within the state, and targeted harvest totals have been set accordingly to coincide with population objectives in each individual district.
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