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Preliminary numbers show drop in Vermont deer hunt harvest

December 30, 2021 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Hunters in Vermont took more than 15,000 deer in this year’s seasons, several thousand less than in 2020, based on preliminary reports, according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

The final tally will on the department’s website in early March and the department expects that about 15,600 deer were taken, officials said Wednesday. That’s down from a total of 18,991 deer harvested in 2020.

“Some decline in the harvest was expected this year, as we’ve been working to reduce deer numbers in some areas to keep them in balance with the available habitat,” Nick Fortin, the department’s deer project leader, said in a written statement.

Hunting conditions were challenging and the pandemic likely affected the results, too, he said.

“Warm weather and abundant fall foods limited deer movement and made it difficult for hunters to locate them,” Fortin said. “Changes in hunting participation and effort related to the pandemic likely affected this year’s harvest as well.”

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The number of bucks taken will likely be close to 9,000, down from 9,255 last year but close to the 10-year average of 8,938, the department said. The final tally of antlerless deer will be roughly 6,600, a substantial drop from 9,735 in 2020, the department said. Some of the decline was likely due to fewer muzzleloader antlerless permits issued this year, officials said. But it said the archery season, which accounts for much of the antlerless deer harvest, will also likely be down considerably from last year, the department said.

The main goal of the state’s deer management strategy is keep the deer population stable, healthy and in balance with available habitat, the department said.