DEC: Hunters harvested 13% more deer in 2020 than 2019

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NEW YORK (WWTI) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced the statewide deer harvest estimates for the 2020-21 hunting season.

According to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, hunters in New York harvested an estimated 253,900 deer during the 2020-21 season. This is a 13% increase from the previous season.

The DEC claimed that an increase antlerless harvests may be due to additional hunters and “renewed motivation” to harvest venison during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the number of licensed big game hunters, bowhunters and muzzleloaders increase

“With a 7% increase in licensed deer hunters, a 30% increase in antlerless harvest, and two new record-breaking bucks taken by bowhunters, 2020 was a remarkable year despite pandemic-related challenges,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Regulated hunting benefits all New Yorkers by reducing the negative impacts of deer on forests, communities, and crop producers, while providing more than 10 million pounds of high quality, local protein to families and food pantries across the state annually.”

The DEC reported that the 2020 estimates included 137,557 antlerless deer and 116,433 antlered buck. Statewide, this is a 30% increase in antlerless harvest and a 3% decrease in buck harvest from last season.

Specifically for zones, hunters took 33,260 deer in the Northern Zone; a 10% increase from 2019. In the Southern Zone, hunters took 220,730 deer, resulting in a 14% increase. Both increases were primarily due to an increase in antlerless harvests.

Across New York, the harvest of 2.5-year-old bucks exceeded that of yearling bucks for the second year in a row.

Additional notable numbers provided by the DEC include:

  • 16.9 and 0.6: Number of deer taken per square mile in the units with the highest (WMU 8R) and lowest (WMU 5F) harvest density.
  • 61.7%: Portion of the adult buck harvest that was 2.5 years or older statewide, up from 45% a decade ago, and 3% in the 1990s.
  • 45%: Portion of successful deer hunters that reported their harvest as required by law. This is down from 52% in 2019.
  • 14,825: Number of hunter-harvested deer checked by DEC staff in 2020 to determine hunter reporting rate and collect biological data
  • 2,720: Deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in 2020-21; none tested positive

DEC deer harvest data is gathered from harvest reports required from all successful hunters and the Departments examination of over 14,800 harvested deer at meat processors and check stations across the state.

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