DEM Releases Deer Season Dally March 21, 2003 Rhode Island

Rhode Island Deer Population, Management News and Information Archive

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife has released deer hunting figures for the 2002 season, which show that 2,087 deer were harvested, 161 less than last season. DEM's wildlife biologists attribute the reduced harvest to the decline of an earlier abundant acorn crop and to poor weather conditions during the muzzle-loader season. A total of 917 deer were taken during the muzzle-loader season, compared with 1,178 last year.

Shotgun hunters were greeted with perfect snow conditions on opening day and harvested 465 deer, 61 more than last year. Mainland archery hunters took 315 deer, 36 more than last season. Prudence and Patience Island archery hunters harvested 235 deer, including eight taken on Prudence Island during a special hunt by paraplegics and double amputees. Block Island hunters took 13 deer during the archery portion of the season and 141 deer during the shotgun portion, an overall decline of 56 from last year.

The largest deer taken by archery was in Scituate, and at 250 pounds and 10 points was the largest deer taken in the state by any means. The two largest deer taken by muzzle-loader this season came from Foster and South Kingstown. They each had a hog-dressed weight of 206 pounds and eight point racks. The largest deer taken by shotgun came from Cranston, weighing in at 195 pounds, hog-dressed, with six points.

Data on health, weight, age, sex, and antler beam was collected during the season and will be analyzed by Fish and Wildlife Division staff to guide DEM's deer management program. The Division continues to focus on managing the antlerless population on private land to keep the deer herd in balance with habitat and the concerns of local residents. Deer have high reproductive capabilities and can double in population within five years if not controlled. The Division will analyze the deer data in order to project the population and make recommendations for next year's deer hunting seasons.

Deer/auto collisions remain high in Rhode Island although the number of deer struck by autos is slightly less than the previous year. A total of 643 deer were recorded as being struck in 2002, with the highest number, 117, occurring in November. In 2001, a total of 679 were struck.

A final report of the 2002-2003 Deer Harvest Data will be available for distribution in the spring, and will be posted on the Department's website.

Preliminary numbers show that more than 18,000 permits to harvest deer were issued in 2002. Funds generated from deer permit sales are a major contributor to wildlife management. The Federal Wildlife Restoration Act matches every dollar contributed by state fish and wildlife agencies with three dedicated dollars, derived from an excise tax on the sale of arms and ammunition, which may only be used for habitat purchase, research, management, and maintenance.

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