Vermont Deer News

... New Hampshire’s deer population is still free of a form of mad cow disease that once seemed likely to arrive here, having moved as close as New York state, but to keep us safe the state is asking hunters to give up something useful: Urine-based lures..

... Fawns do not attempt to evade predators during their first few weeks, instead relying on camouflage and stillness to remain undetected ... Dogs often will kill fawns and other baby animals....

Deer herd expected to be largest since 2007 April 30, 2016 Vermont, BurlingtonFreePress.com
...  wildlife biologists expect the statewide deer herd going into the fall will number 140,000 to 145,000 ... few antlerless deer permits were issued last year ... the past winter  ... the mildest since the state Fish and Wildlife Department began tracking daily snow depths and temperatures in 1970...

... "The number of muzzleloader season antlerless deer permits has increased to account for the expected increase in the deer population following the exceptionally mild winter of 2016," ... "We expect the statewide deer population to be 140,000 to 145,000 prior to the start of the 2016 deer seasons," said Fortin ...

A rare visit to the Irasburg, VT elk farm in autumn of 2008. See elk, moose, deer and even buffalo. After the demise of "Pete the Moose" a few years ago, there was a decision to end the elk residing there as well. - April 8, 2016 Vermont


We need a deer hunting pause March 30, 2016 Vermont, Brattleboro Reformer
...As a deer hunter in Vermont, I love hunting, but when you don't see any deer for the past two years it makes you feel discouraged and wonder what happened to the deer...   People should stop hunting deer in Vermont for at least one to two years so the population could go up. Hunters don't realize that the deer population is going down ...

2015 White-tailed Deer Report [PDF] March 16, 2016 Vermont, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department 
     Hunters harvested a total of 12,747 deer during the four Vermont deer seasons in 2015, providing more than 2.5 million meals of local, nutritious venison. The overall harvest was 6% lower than 2014, but the total buck harvest of 8,330 was 5% more than the 2014 buck harvest (7,954; Figure 1) and slightly higher than the previous 3-year average (8,286 bucks). The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department estimated a 10-15% decrease in the deer population due to consecutive severe winters in 2014 and 2015 ...

Wildlife Management Open Houses March 11, 2016 Vermong, Vermont Fish and Wildlife
Join us for an afternoon to discuss Vermont's big game and furbearer management with the wildlife biologists responsible for the projects.  Where and When:  Kehoe Conservation Camp, Castleton, VT, Sunday, March 20, 2016. Montpelier High School, Montpelier, VT.  Saturday, March 26, 2016

Shumlin Appoints Three New Fish & Wildlife Board Members February 28, 2016 Vermont, vtdigger.org
... Tim Biebel has been appointed from Windsor County to replace Steven Adams. David Fielding has been appointed from Bennington County to replace Ron Wilcox. And Patrick Berry has been appointed from Addison County to replace Gary Gibbs...

Coyote Genome February 26, 2016 Vermont, Vermont Public Radio
...  venison accounts for one third of their diet, coyotes may have replaced automobiles as the principle deer predator in the Northeast... One recent genome study determined the ancestry of the average eastern coyote is 64% western coyote, 26% wolf, and 10% dog …In Virginia, coyotes average 13% dog and 2% wolf. In Florida, coyotes are mostly coyotes ...

Brandon men fined for poaching deer February 15, 2016 Vermont, Addison County Independent
...  Vermont game wardens witnessed a truck approach a field in Pittsford. Someone shined an artificial light out of the truck and a crossbow was fired out the window...

Lack of response hurts wildlife management February 14, 2016 Vermont, Burlington Free Press
... Despite extensive public outreach efforts to get hunters to submit a tooth from harvested big game, the number of teeth actually received by the Fish and Wildlife Department remains disappointingly low. That, biologists say, can leave them with gaps in the information they need to most effectively manage wildlife...

Wildlife Events Planned for March February 10, 2016 Vermont, VFWD News
    Hunters, landowners and anyone else interested in Vermont's wildlife should plan on attending one of the three events hosted by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department in late March.  Each March the department holds three public hearings to provide the results of the deer hunting seasons and receive public input on the status of Vermont's deer herd. This year, two of the hearings will be held on weekend afternoons, and they will also feature management of black bear, wild turkey, moose, and furbearers as well as a discussion of Vermont's wildlife habitat. These two Wildlife Open Houses will also include several poster displays of various wildlife-related topics...

Irasburg couple fined for poaching deer February 3, 2016 Vermont, WCAX-TV 
...  well-worn deer trails from the woods to the Dions' backyard, with a sliding port and gun rest cut into the back of their home... baiting deer ...

Rockingham man pleads guilty to hunting offense January 26, 2016 Vermont, Brattleboro Reforme
... a wound on the deer was inconsistent with an arrow wound and believed that the deer was shot with a bullet. Brough did not have a muzzle-loader tag ... He will lose his right to hunt, fish and trap in Vermont for three years ...

State deer harvest shows healthy population January 14, 2016 Vermont, Addison County Independent
... “Compared to the previous three-year averages, harvest numbers increased slightly during the archery and rifle seasons, but decreased during the youth and muzzleloader seasons,” said deer project leader Nick Fortin. “The legal buck harvest of 8,294 was nearly identical to the previous three-year average of 8,286...

Taking aim at Vermont predators January 10, 2016 Rutland Herald
... has killed more than 500 coyotes since he started hunting them six years ago ...  the numbers don’t seem to die down despite his efforts ... deer hunters are reporting seeing more and more coyotes and people are coming out to see how they can bring down the coyote population...

Vermont 2015 deer harvest reflects stable buck population January 8, 2016 Brattleboro Reforme
...A decrease in the number of buck taken from higher elevations and the Northeast Kingdom could be attributed to tough winters, Fortin said. But early counts show a stable population In Southern Vermont, where the elevation is comparatively lower...

Vermont deer kill down in 2015 January 7, 2016 Burlington
... Preliminary figures ... 12,710 deer in all seasons this past fall... about 900 fewer than the year before ...

Taking deer out of season has consequences December 31, 2015 Vermont, Times-Argus 
... a $400 fine and serve nine to 10 days on a work crew after admitting he took a nine-point buck a week before hunting season...

What colors can deer see? December 24, 2015 Vermont, BurlingtonFreePress.com
... They can pick out short (blue) and middle (green) wavelength colors, but they’re less sensitive to long wavelength colors such as red and orange. “They’re essentially red-green color blind,” ...

November buck kill increases despite harsh winters December 19, 2015 Vermont, BurlingtonFreePress.com
... Despite back-to-back severe winters and unusually warm hunting conditions, the buck kill during the November rifle season is projected to finish 6 percent ahead of last year ... We expected the population to be down following the last two winters, and that the (November buck) harvest would also be down” by about 10 percent...

Addison County, Deer season was the best since 2002 December 3, 2015 Vermont, Addison County Independent
... The total of 444 deer weighed locally is the highest in 13 years and the most in the county since Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations changed in 2005, when a ban on shooting younger spikehorn bucks during rifle season went into effect...

Telling the truth about Vermont's energy policy November 15, 2015 Eagle Times 
...  David Blittersdorf, has stated he expects one-third of Vermont’s useable ridgelines (200 miles) would be capped with wind towers in this effort... This level of development will have negative impacts on bird and bat populations, and the habitats and migratory corridors of deer, bear and other wildlife ...

Deadline nears for homeowners to seek wildlife grants November 14, 2015 Vermont, Washington Times
... covers habitat work, from managing forests for game populations ... biologists may suggest cutting sections of forest to promote habitat for game species like grouse, woodcock, and deer ...

... “Vermont’s pre-hunt deer population is estimated at approximately 120,000 this year with the greatest numbers of deer found in the northwestern, and southwestern regions of the state,”  ... biologists are collecting middle incisor teeth from rifle season deer in order to evaluate regional differences in ages and antler characteristics of bucks as well as to help estimate population size, growth rate, health, and mortality rates. Each tooth will be cross-sectioned to accurately determine the deer's age, and the results will be posted on the Fish & Wildlife website next spring.  Hunters who don't make it to a biological reporting station are asked to obtain a tooth envelope from their regular reporting agent. Write your name, Conservation ID number and date of kill on it. Remove one of the middle incisor teeth, being careful to include the root. The root of the tooth is needed to age the deer. Place the tooth in the envelope and give it to the reporting agent...

State says coywolves are no myth November 8, 2015 Vermont, Times-Argus
...  it is a hybrid of wolf, coyote and dog ... They certainly are in Vermont ...  72-pound animal ...The DNA analysis at that time suggested that it was an Eastern wolf-coyote hybrid ... the wolf-like traits help the Eastern coyote be more efficient deer killers...

Speaker Combats Lyme Disease Spread November 4, 2015 Vermont, Middlebury Campus
... in Cranes Beach, Massachusetts. In this scenario, when the deer population was driven to zero, the nymphal tick population also decreased – but after a certain point, it began to increase again, almost reaching its initial size ... This has led Dr. Ostfeld to conclude that species other than the white tail deer influence the size of the tick population...

Fewer Hunters Means Fewer Dollars For Conservation November 4, 2015 Vermont, Vermont Public Radio
... Hunting license sales have been on a steady decline in Vermont over the last few decades, mirroring a trend seen in many states around the country. License fees account for a significant portion of the budget for Fish and Wildlife departments...

Vermont data: An estimate of 140,000 to 145,000 deer prior to the 2016 hunting season.  About 120,000 deer prior to 2015. The severe winter of 2014-15 significantly reduced the deer population so Fish and Wildlife cut antlerless tags dramatically for 2015 from 17,050 to 9,650. No antlerless deer can be taken in two northeast units.  They estimated the deer population at about 135,000 pre-hunt in 2014 after three below average winters. About 130,000 in 2013 (115,000 to 145,000), up about 4 percent from 2012. According to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife department there were about 125,000 to 135,000 in 2012, higher than 2011 although the estimate that year was about 123,000 +/- 15,000 deer. The 2011 population was about 10 percent less than 2010. The goal of the department is 13 to 18 deer per square mile, or 102,000 - 141,000 deer. This is less than the population of the mid 1990's since "Many forest habitats were younger in the mid-1900's and could support more deer ..." Coyote predation has increased.  Average reported hunter success is about 19 percent.  There were about 66,000 deer hunters in 2012.
     A two-point antler restriction was enacted in 2005, having support of about  75% of hunters.  The rule limits legal bucks to those having at least one antler with two or more points, protecting yearlings.  About half have only single spiked antlers.  This rule was dropped for the archery and muzzle-loader season in 2014.  The Wildlife board decided to focus more on hunting opportunities than balanced age distribution.  About 40 percent of the deer taken in 2013 were antlerless, mostly does.  Hunting contributes about $260 million to the state economy. 
     Historically, by 1779 deer populations had been decimated by over hunting and habitat change, the state passed the first deer welfare law to regulate hunting.  Deer populations fell to very low levels by the late 1800s.  To promote herd growth, a buck only harvest was begun in 1897 and continue until 1963 when the herd reached a population peak of about 250,000.  The era of modern deer management began with a focus on balanced herd demographics, including doe harvest.  [Management History]  Moose were hunted to extinction in the late 1800's, returned to the state in 1950 from Maine where hunting was banned to save the species.[Management History]
     Vermont does not allow for rehabilitation of orphan fawns.  Although successful rehabilitation occurs in many states, Vermont's deer project leader has asserted that fawns need their mothers guidance to survive although many states have successful rehabilitation programs.
     Vermont has no captive deer farms. The last captive white-tailed deer herd in Vermont was destroyed in October, 2014.
     Slightly more than 6,000 black bears in 2012 and 2013.

Other useful links:
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

Tweets about Vermont Fish and Wildlife


Antler Point Restrictions: The antler restriction has worked. With the exception of the higher percentage of yearlings harvested in 2010 due to the previous mild winter, the age structure of the buck population has improved. It has worked because hunters have been counting antler points before they shoot. It was designed to increase age structure of the buck population, not increase overall deer numbers. We now have as many legal bucks in the state as we did before the antler restriction, but there are an additional 7,000–8,000 yearling and 2-year-old “spike-horns” out there that are pretty much guaranteed to survive the hunt.