W.Va. deer harvest decline continues

December 11, 2005|By Bill Anderson

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources has released the preliminary numbers for the recent two-week firearms season and the number are interesting and very telling.

This year's overall buck kill total was 56,347. This is down 12 percent from the 2004, which was not a good year. The numbers for the past five years show a declining trend, which does not bode well for future seasons.

The DNR has its own spin on the preceding numbers, but any knowledgeable person can see that the number of bucks available to hunters in West Virginia is down significantly.

The antlerless deer harvest during the two-week buck season was also down significantly, from 44,297 in 2004 to 27,790 this year.


The DNR's position on the declining buck kill is that it is a result of the department's efforts to reduce deer densities in certain areas and poor mast conditions in recent years. Officials also report good body weights and condition of the deer checked at check-in station and meat processors.

Surprisingly absent from recent DNR news releases is the status on CWD in the state. It would be interesting to know how hunters' concerns about CWD may have affected the pathetic buck harvest, particularly in certain counties. For example, the buck kill in Hampshire County, the county with the positive cases of CWD, was 3,643 in 2001 and 1,964 in 2005. Hmmm.

I have generally been supportive of aggressive, but competent deer management, to include antlerless harvests in order to achieve herd balance. But it should be apparent from the numbers that West Virginia DNR has overmanaged the state's deer herd, and their much-vaunted "White-tailed Deer Operational Plan" is a failure.

It's time for Plan B.

W.Va. deer harvest

2001 99,375

2002 96,555

2003 73,128

2004 63,873

2005 56,347

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