Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Opinion

April 1, 2014

Hunters harvest less deer in 2013

It looks as if the 2013 season is coming in as the eighth best season for Indiana deer hunters.

Statistics show hunters harvested fewer deer in the 2013 season than in each of the previous five seasons. Hearing the annual tally might be sobering news to some deer hunters, but it wasn’t unexpected.

“Going into the year, I knew it was going to be down,” said Chad Stewart, Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife deer management biologist. “It’s what we thought it would be.”

The reported harvest of 125,635 deer was about 10,600 fewer than the record harvest of 136,248 in 2012, a decline of 7.8 percent. It still ranks eighth best since regulated deer hunting began in Indiana in 1951. The full harvest report is at wildlife.IN.gov, under “Featured Topics.”

“Down about 8 percent is very similar to what we’re seeing in a lot of other Midwest states, so we’re par for the course,” Stewart said. “We’re still harvesting a lot of deer. The 125,635 shows we’re down but not collapsing.”

At least two and possibly three factors contributed to the lower harvest – carryover from a widespread outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in 2012 and more in 2013, a record antlerless harvest in 2012 and the second season of new hunting regulations aimed at lowering deer densities in some areas of the state.

EHD, a viral disease transmitted by biting flies, was confirmed or suspected in 67 counties in 2012. It was reported in 23 counties in 2013, with 20 of them taking a hit for the second straight year. EHD is often fatal to deer.

“We had a record antlerless harvest in 2012 on top of a major disease outbreak, which tells us there were a lot less deer going into the season,” Stewart said. “It was pretty easy to predict the harvest would be down.”

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