PORTLAND, Maine — Maine hunters might get a shot at more deer-hunting permits next season because much of the state’s herd apparently survived the mostly mild winter.
The state has about 200,000 white-tailed deer and uses “antlerless deer” hunting permits to manage the population. The permits allow hunters to shoot deer of either sex, which helps control the breeding population.
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife officials said Thursday it is planning to offer more than 65,000 permits this year, an increase from last year’s total of more than 45,000, which itself was a 60 percent climb from the previous year.
Maine officials are holding a public hearing on the permit proposal June 21 in Augusta.
Deer seem to have fared well over the winter so the herd can withstand some added hunting, said Ryan Robicheau, a wildlife management section supervisor with the state. Controlling the deer population helps with public health issues such as preventing the spread of tick-borne diseases, he added.
“We’ve had a few successively mild winters and haven’t had severe conditions for at least two years,” Robicheau said. “That allows for a fairly rapid expansion of deer on the landscape.”
The additional permits will make a big difference in rural Maine, where many communities rely on deer hunting to boost their economies, said David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. More hunting will also help curb car accidents involving deer, he said.
“Rural and economically depressed areas will benefit,” Trahan said. “It’s a major part of some economies across the state.”
The hunt runs from Sept. 9 to Dec. 9, with dedicated weeks for archery, muzzleloaders and firearms. Most of the main firearms hunting season takes place in November.