WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - With fewer hunters in the woods, there are more deer and that has the state thinking about new management strategies. The deer population has been steadily increasing in recent years in the North Country.
State officials say you can blame it on the weather.
“Deer populations really fluctuate depending on the winter severity year to year. And because we’ve had a series of fairly mild winters, deer populations are growing,” said Jeremy Hurst, big game unit leader, Department of Environmental Conservation.
Although the state isn’t at it’s peak numbers, when deer populations grow, so does the cause for concern.
“When we have too many deer, that is a danger to motorists or agriculturalists growing their crops and deer do a number on the habitat. Ultimately, that cycles back and it’s bad for the deer, too,” said Hurst.
Brian Robbins has been hunting deer for years and says this year he has noticed more deer in his neck of the woods.
“Certainly, deer populations are ample and in some places excessive. Not only are we hunters for recreation, but we’re farmers too. They’re so excessive they’re causing financial burden in some areas of the business,” he said.
Some of the proposed plans by the DEC in its deer management draft plan include expanding antlerless hunting opportunities by providing more antlerless tags and extending hunting hours.
“Hunting hours, I mean, expanding those, that’s definitely a benefit. New York is one state out of only a few in the nation that tightens down on hunting hours like they do,” said Robbins.
The DEC says these ideas are just that, ideas. And it’s taking public comments regarding the draft until December 28.