Berkshire Woods and Waters: No changes to be made in statewide antlerless deer permit allocations this year

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In his recent report to the Fish & Wildlife Board, MassWildlife Deer and Moose Project Leader David Stainbrook discussed the emerging trends in the Western and Central regions (Wildlife Management Zones 1-9) and in the Eastern Region (WMZs 10-14). He explained that it is helpful to break the state into two areas when looking at deer management issues and trends.

In WMZ 1-9, the deer numbers have been kept relatively stable over the past 30 years, but in the eastern zones, deer numbers have gone from very low (rare to see a deer in some areas), to quite abundant. In areas where there has been adequate hunting access, deer numbers have likely been kept stable, but in areas with limited to no hunting access, deer numbers have been steadily growing.

He reported that they are on average within the Management Range in WMZs 1-9, but there is always variability within each zone, with some areas having lower deer numbers and some with higher deer numbers. The variability typically comes down to hunting access. He also reported that one major part of MassWildlife's goal is to maintain a healthy, balanced deer population.

The data that staff collects in WMZ 1-9 — which come only from huntable areas, to investigate physical health of deer — indicate that deer are in good physical condition. The strong yearling male antler beam diameters they are recording indicate that the deer are healthy enough to devote more resources into antler growth, and also that their mothers were healthy enough to give them a good head start. Upon analyzing the age structure of the harvest data, it was revealed in WMZs 1-9 that those zones are exhibiting a balanced age structure.

In conclusion, and based on the deer density to management range of 12-18 deer per square mile, Stainbrook recommended no change to the antlerless deer permit allocation in WMZs 1-9. He also recommended that MassWildlife conduct pellet count surveys and deer browse surveys, stating that these will add to their understanding of current deer densities, so they know when they are reaching the upper end of their management range.

The proposed antlerless deer permit allocations for 2017 are as follows (WMZ—Allocation): 1—400, 2—175, 3—1,100, 4N—375, 4S—275, 5—1,250, 6—300, 7—2,250, 8—2,500, 9—4,100, 10—12,000, 11—11,000. 12—800, 13—2,700.

Hunters who applied for an Antlerless Deer Permit by the July 16 deadline must return to the MassFishHunt system to try to win a permit. The instant award period begins Aug. 1 at 8 a.m., and continues through Dec. 31. This is not a first-come, first-served system. The odds of winning an Antlerless Deer Permit during the instant award period are the same whether a customer tries to win in August, September, or any time before Dec. 31. Hunters have one chance to try for an instant award antlerless deer permit.

There are three ways in which a hunter may participate and try to win a permit: Log into the MassFishHunt system and follow the instrictuions; visit a MassWildlife office; or visit a license agent location. Staff at these locations will access the MassFishHunt system on the customer's behalf.

Stainbrook also recommended and the Board approved the following:

— Set the Youth Deer Hunt Day on Sept. 30, 2017 and continue to allow youths to take either an antlered or antlerless deer in any zone.

— Allow youth 12-17 to obtain their free youth deer hunt permit online

— Allow online harvest reporting during second week of shotgun season, starting the second Monday of the shotgun season. This is more convenient for hunters, and staff has not seen any drops in reporting with online reporting, nor is it a concern for biological data collection.

Stainbrook also recommended that MassWildlife extend the archery deer season, starting the season two weeks earlier in WMZs 10-14. This would give hunters eight weeks instead of six weeks. If approved it would start after the Youth Deer Hunt Day, on the eighth Monday prior to Thanksgiving, which is Oct. 2 in 2017. The board could not approve the recommendation at that time because it has to have a public hearing first.

River clean-up surprise

Jane Winn, Executive Director of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, thanks everyone who helped to pull canoe-loads of trash out of the Housatonic River during the clean-up which took place on June 15. She reported that the extraordinary find of the day was an ATM! Volunteer Tom Sakshaug said that they thought it was an oven or refrigerator but when he went to see how heavy it was he discovered it was an empty ATM. BEAT Stewardship Manager Ella DelMolino passed the information onto Jane, who notified the police and they arrived and removed it.

Thanks also went to the Housatonic Valley Association who co-hosted the event, to BlueQ who provided lunch and "cool" BlueQ stuff, and the city of Pittsfield who hauled the trash away and provided some funding for this year's cleanups.

Firearm Course

On Aug. 12, the Lee Sportsmen's Association will be having a Multi-License Firearm Course. This course qualifies applicants to apply for licenses in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Utah, Florida, Maine and New Hampshire. Robert J. McDermott will be conducting this course. For information and registration contact him at 413-232-7700 or robmcdermott@verizon.net.

Archery Shoot

Karen Kruszyna, spokesperson for the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, informs us that there will be a Tri-State 3-D Archery Shoot on Aug. 6. It starts at 8 a.m. and participants are advised to get there ahead of time to register. Price for adults (30 targets) is $10, Youths 12 to 15 is $5 and Cubs 0-11 are free.

Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: 413-637-1818.


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