Albany – New York sportsmen often contend that thousands of deer
are being killed each year through the state’s much-maligned Deer
Management Assistance Program (DMAP)_and Deer Damage Permit plan,
commonly known as nuisance permits.
A check of state statistics shows that’s generally the case, but
perhaps not to the extent that whitetail hunters believe is
Last year, for example, DEC says 9,789 deer were killed through
the DMAP_program in which landowners are issued permits to trim the
deer herd in an effort to reduce crop damage or manage forestland.
Those numbers were plugged into the state’s total deer harvest of
222,798 last year.
Another 4,468 deer were taken through the state’s nuisance
permit program, according to DEC statistics. Those numbers were not
included in the total statewide harvest.
“DMAP tags are filled during typical hunting seasons, so the
deer taken on DMAP_tags are included in our tallies of annual deer
harvest by hunters,”_DEC_wildlife biologist Jeremy Hurst said.
“Damage (nuisance) permits are issued for removal of deer while
damage is occurring, typically outside of normal hunting seasons.
Because this type of removal is not hunting-related, it is not
included in our summaries of annual deer harvest.”
Hurst added, however, that biologists “review trends in deer
damage permit activity when determining our Deer Management Permit
quotas each year.”
Over the past decade, the DMAP harvest has ranged from a low of
8,196 (in 2000) to a high of 12,504 in 2002. And DEC has issued
more tags over that period to get a similar harvest; in 2000, 1,174
permits were issued, compared to 2,616 last season – the highest in
the past 10 years.
The kill through the nuisance permit program has ranged from
2,735 to 4,866 over the past decade, and DEC statistics showed it’s
rare that a landowner requesting permits is denied tags. Last year,
there were 1,371 total complaints and 1,358 tags issued.
Still, the perception exists that huge numbers of whitetails are
killed each year through both programs. In an online poll conducted
by_New York Outdoor News earlier this year, 44 percent of
respondents felt that nuisance permits had the biggest impact on
the state’s deer herd. Another 40 percent considered coyotes the
biggest threat, while 16 percent tagged vehicles as having the
Statistics have shown that nearly 75,000 whitetails are killed
on New York highways annually – the third-highest total in the
The state used the DMAP system to control deer numbers primarily
to alleviate crop damage. DEC officials say they prefer to go the
DMAP route, since those tags can only be used during the open deer
season and “can afford additional opportunities to local hunters,”
according to the DEC Web site.
Critics of the program, however, says landowners are often using
the tags to create their own private hunting club. They also
contend deer taken through the program impact hunting on
neighboring tracts where whitetails often travel.
Deer damage permits, known as nuisance permits to many, are
doled out to alleviate crop damage, and also to address situations
where whitetails are “causing damage to public or private
property,” DEC’s Web site states. (Nuisance permits) may also
facilitate deer removal from areas where traditional hunting is not
Harvest on Deer damage permits is generally limited to
antlerless deer only, and both the shooters and permit holder have
to comply with specific conditions governing how and when the deer
are to be taken.
“Most deer damage permits are issued for removal of five or
fewer deer,”_DEC’s Web site says. “All deer killed must be tagged
and reported to DEC, and every effort is to be made for the meat to
Chief Wildlife Biologist John Major says DEC calculates the DMAP
harvest using the same methodology by which the state determines
the deer take on other tag types.
“The reporting rate on DMAP tends to run about 80 percent,”
Major said. “That’s substantially higher than reporting on other
tag types which, in 2009, ranged from a low of 39 percent on DMPs
in southeastern New York to 48 percent on bow-muzzleloader tags.
The overall reporting rate (for all tag types in all areas) in 2009
was 45.5 percent.”
With deer damage permits, Major says the permittee is required
to “provide a report of their activity within 10 days of the
expiration of their permit. These records are maintained by our
regional wildlife offices.”
A check of the 2009 nuisance permit numbers confirms that most
permits involve the removal of only a few deer. The 1,358 permits
issued last year resulted in the taking of 4,468, an average of
about four deer per permit.
Major said DEC, in an effort to guard against permit abuse, has
reduced the number of tags issued in subsequent years “to more
closely watch the number actually used by a permittee, and will
work with law enforcement to investigate complaints. Failure to
report has resulted in some landowners being denied future permits
if they refuse to comply with the conditions of the permit.”
Still, DEC admits that shooting deer through the deer damage
permit system can affect hunting on adjoining properties.
“This may lead to a misconception that damage abatement
procedures are affecting the deer population at large,”_the
department’s Web site stated. “In reality, DEC issues relatively
few DDPs to landowners. In 2008, fewer than 4 percent of New York
farms received DDPs. The 1,247 DDPs issued resulted in 4,070 deer
reported taken. By comparison, New York hunters received 557,673
deer management permits (doe tags) in 2008 and took an estimated
117,232 antlerless deer during hunting seasons. The impact of DDPs
on statewide or regional deer populations is negligible.”
DEC’s Region 8 issued the highest number of DMAP and nuisance
permits, at 1,178 and 545, respectively. That’s largely a product
of the region’s high amount of agricultural land.
DEC officials said in some cases nuisance permits were issued to
municipalities for deer damage control.
Critics of both programs say abuse is rampant, with more deer
being shot than what’s permitted. DEC says it occasionally receives
reports of permit abuse, “and we take these complaints very
seriously when the abuse can be verified.”
Anyone aware of illegal killing of deer should report it to
DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement Dispatch (1-877-457-5680) as soon
as possible after witnessing the violation.