Restocking Efforts, August, 2017 Alabama

Alabama Deer Population, Management News and Information Archive

RESTOCKING EFFORTS  (Excerpt from 2016-17 Alabama Hunting and Fishing Digest, p. 10-12)

By 1920, Alabama’s deer population had reached a historic low with estimates placed at only 2,000 animals. Most of these deer were found along the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers in southwest Alabama, with a few remnant populations located in other areas. To facilitate the re-establishment of deer herds throughout Alabama, a restocking program was initiated. This marked the beginning of the extremely successful restoration of the Alabama’s deer population. 

The first documented restocking effort in Alabama occurred in 1925. This first release was a joint project with the Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Forest Service, and citizens of several northern Alabama counties. One hundred five deer were purchased from Michigan and released on the Bankhead National Forest in Lawrence and Winston Counties. Other releases occurred in several counties from 1934 to 1944, utilizing deer from various locations in Alabama, as well as sources from outside the State.

Alabama’s deer population increased to an estimated 18,000 animals by 1940, but the recovery of Alabama’s deer herd was just beginning. In 1945, the Department of Game and Fish began a much larger statewide restocking program, primarily using deer from the agency’s wildlife sanctuaries located in Clarke County. Deer from private lands in Clarke, Marengo, Pickens, and Sumter Counties were also utilized for restocking. By 1970, approximately 3,000 deer from various Alabama sources were relocated and released in fifty-two of Alabama’s sixty-seven counties. About one-half of these deer (1,552) came from Clarke County. An additional 410 deer from other states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin, were released in thirteen counties.

In comparing the maps depicting the re-stocking locations/sources and the average conception dates for collection sites, the explanation for the late breeding is clear. Areas restocked with Alabama sources, primarily the Clarke County sources, have breeding dates that almost always mirror dates currently found in Clarke County. Other areas that were not restocked and were allowed to repopulate from remnant deer populations tend to have conception dates in late December and early January. This muddying of the rut date waters is most prevalent in that part of Alabama east
of Interstate 65 and north of Interstate 85. The diverse collection of average conception dates caused by the restocking history makes it almost impossible to delineate smaller February zones outside of the current Zone B. By allowing hunting until February 10th, while still allowing gun
hunting in early December in all three zones, WFF should be able to address the desires of hunters to hunt the rut in most regions of Alabama

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Deer Friendly,
Aug 2, 2017, 7:41 AM