The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has tabled a big proposal that would see the state offer over 66,000 any-deer permits this fall. The allocation represents a whopping 44 percent increase in available tags from 2016’s numbers and represents the largest volume of available permits in a decade.
After a pair of fairly mild winters, whitetail populations across Maine have flourished, particularly in York County and central Maine, where a good portion of the tags will be allocated. The 66,000 available permits is a stark contrast to the 26,390 permits that were available in 2011 after the harsh winters of 2008 and 2009 decimated much of the whitetail populations.
“It’s a function of a healthy deer herd in the state,” Ryan Robicheau, supervisor of IFW’s wildlife management section told the Press Herald. “Deer are highly successful in the reproduction rate and the herd has grown pretty quickly. We see that in biological harvest data that we collect after the fall hunt. In the breadbasket of the deer herd – central Maine working to the south – we really are at slightly above our objective for the deer herd.”
Currently speaking, state biologists have estimated Maine’s deer populations to reside somewhere in the neighborhood of 240,000 deer, but with some areas of the state still lacking, the plan is to allow those herds to grow as well.
“In northern and western Maine we want to grow the herd. We do see some opportunity to issue a small number of permits in these areas to provide hunting opportunity,” Robicheau said.
The proposal is set to go to public hearing on June 21 and will be open for comments.