Statewide kill tops 15,000 on DMAP and nuisance permits

Albany — Over 15,000 deer were killed last year under a pair of programs criticized by some hunters as open to widespread abuse but labeled by DEC wildlife biologists as necessary to control whitetail numbers.

DEC’s 2012-13 deer harvest report showed 9,989 deer were shot via the state’s Deer Management Assistance Program, which enables the state to assist landowners with deer problems.

Another 5,046 whitetails were taken through the Deer Damage Permit program, which authorizes the culling of deer – typically antlerless deer only – in areas where deer damage is occurring.

Deer Damage Permits are also often called nuisance permits.

While the DMAP take was included in the state’s deer harvest total of about 243,000, whitetails taken through the Deer Damage Permit program are not.

“Deer Damage Permits typically authorize the removal of antlerless deer only, though take of antlered deer is authorized for some permits,” DEC’s harvest report read. “DDPs authorize deer culling, not deer hunting. The reported take on DDPs is not included in annual deer harvest totals.”

The total kill on the DMAP and Deer Damage Permits last year was in line with recent years. Since 1999, the kill on DMAP tags has ranged from a low of 4,200 in 1999 to a high of 12,504 in 2002. But from 2006-2012, the tally has varied little (from 9,789 to 12,384).

Under the Deer Damage Permit program, totals have ranged from 3,294 to the 2012 total of 5,046, which is the highest in the program’s history but only 39 deer more than the previous year.

DEC statistics showed DMAP and nuisance permits are used the most in DEC regions 8 and 9 in central and western New York, primarily to address agricultural damage in 2012.

A total of 3,092 deer were killed via the DMAP program in Region 8, and 2,813 in Region 9. Another 1,595 were taken in Region 6, much of which is part of the Northern Zone.

Through Deer Damage Permits, 1,595 deer were killed in Region 8 and 931 in Region 9 last year.

The DDP program was also used heavily in Region 1, where 896 deer were removed, and Region 3 (751). In Region 1 (Suffolk County on Long Island), many of the deer were culled to address community and residential whitetail problems in 2012, according to the DEC report.

Both programs have been criticized by deer hunters in the past who claim there’s widespread abuse of the programs and some landowners are using the tags to create their own hunting club-type setup.

“It’s a source of frustration among hunters because farmers get all those tags and yet hunters often can’t get permission to hunt there,” said Mike Price, owner of Heritage Outdoor Sports, a popular archery shop in Phelps (Ontario County). “I understand it’s their property, but there are a lot of good, decent hunters out there who could help them knock down the deer herd.”

Price also says the programs can also impact neighboring properties in cases where many deer are harvested. “A lot of deer get taken through the programs,” he said. “And in some cases I don’t see the kind of crop damage people are claiming.”

DEC has prosecuted individuals – including participating landowners – for violating the conditions of the DMAP or nuisance program.

In 2011, the state altered its management of the programs, primarily because of budget cuts that limited travel to properties looking to participate in DMAP or the nuisance permit program. But officials say the changes still allow for sound oversight of the programs and have simply reduced printing and mailing costs and improved communication between the participating landowners and the hunters.

Still, the perception remains in the deer hunting community that both programs are severly impacting deer numbers.

Under DMAP, the state issues a special permit and a pre-determined number of antlerless deer tags to a landowner or property manager responsible for doling out the tags. The permits may be used only during the deer hunting seasons and is designed to trim whitetail numbers in areas where crop damage or other forest impacts are seen.

The nuisance permit program goes a step further, allowing deer to be killed outside the regular season – even at night – on lands approved by DEC.

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