DMP permits boosted by 18 percent

Albany — Deer Management Permits are being increased by about 18 percent this season in an effort to trim whitetail numbers in several areas of the state, notably the Finger Lakes and Lake Plains regions.

But DEC officials said that move may not be enough in some wildlife management units where the allocation total might not be met.

The situation is becoming so critical that DEC officials haven’t ruled out “some form of an early antlerless season” and making a portion of the archery deer season an antlerless-only offering.

Those options could come into play in subsequent seasons if deer numbers continue to soar in some units.

“We’ve been issuing permits basically to anybody who asks in the Finger Lakes and Lake Plains areas, but we haven’t met our target quota,” DEC wildlife biologist Jeremy Hurst said. “The demand for permits isn’t sufficient to achieve our harvest objectives in some units. And we’re getting to the point where just issuing more tags is not achieving the (harvest) results we’re looking for.”

A similar situation exists in WMU 3M in Orange County, Hurst said.

Statewide, the total DMP allocation is about 690,000, a figure that excludes several units – WMUs 1C, 3S, 4J and 8C – where there is no target allocation.

DMPs are the chief means used by DEC to control deer numbers. But deer management challenges have grown in recent seasons as a result of limited hunting access in many units, a failure to sell out all permits in many WMUs, and pockets of unhuntable land where whitetails become inaccessible to hunters.

“Even in rural areas where there are larger parcel sizes, in many cases those parcels are being hunted but limited to a few individuals – family members or a few friends,” Hurst said. “So that area isn’t hunted sufficiently or effectively and not enough deer are being killed on those parcels.”

That’s the case in many areas of the Finger Lakes and Lake Plains region, where deer numbers continue to grow, he said.

Hurst said in addition to the Finger Lakes and Lake Plains regions, some parts of the Mohawk Valley, central New York and even some portions of southeastern New York are being targeted for an increased antlerless harvest.

“As always, some parts of the state are above our objective and others are below objective,” he said. “If we sense deer populations are not growing as fast as we’d like, we want to pull back on permits a little bit to allow populations to grow for the next few years. Conversely, if we’re not seeing the reduction we want to see we’ll increase permit numbers.”

The scenario where hunting pressure and success isn’t trimming deer numbers sufficiently has DEC wildlife staff looking at creative ways to get the kind of harvest they’re looking for.

“We’re exploring more ways to make bonus permits more available,” Hurst said. “We’re making all bonus permits antlerless-only this year. Historically, bonus DMPs have been either-sex tags, principally in the bowhunting-only units (such as WMUs 8C, 4J and 1C). We’re testing that out a little bit this year.”

Resident New York hunters typically have better odds of being successful in drawing a DMP, while nonresidents, in some units, have no chance. But in other units where plenty of tags are available, out-of-state hunters may actually have odds equal to those of resident hunters.

DEC officials reminded hunters to do their homework prior to buying their hunting licenses to make sure they apply for the unit in which they plan to hunt.

While the deadline for applying for DMPs is Oct. 1, hunters will have the same odds of securing a permit whether they apply immediately after hunting licenses go on sale Aug. 12 or in the final hours leading up to the deadline.

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