Orleans hunters see big jump in deer harvests

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2019 at 4:22 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: These deer are pictured in March 2015 on Route 98 in Gaines, south of 104.

The number of deer harvested in Orleans County continues to rise since it became legal for hunters to use rifles for deer and other big game hunting in Orleans.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation released the deer harvest numbers for each county and state-wide.

In 2018, hunters harvested 4,560 deer in Orleans County, which was up from 3,949 in 2017, the first year rifles were allowed. In 2016, the number of deer harvested in the county was 3,586. (In 2015, it was 3,562.)

The Orleans County Legislature voted on Feb. 22, 2017 to allow rifles for deer and bear hunting. Members of sportsmen clubs presented a petition signed by about 500 people, supporting rifles.

The town by town breakdown in Orleans County for 2018 includes: Albion, 390; Barre, 698; Carlton, 375; Clarendon, 453; Gaines, 338; Kendall, 291; Murray, 422; Ridgeway, 659; Shelby, 578; and Yates, 356.

The deer taken other WNY counties in 2018 includes: Allegany, 8,449; Cattaraugus, 8,382; Chautauqua, 9,944; Erie, 6,447; Genesee, 5,720; Livingston, 7,782; Monroe, 4,585; Niagara, 2,604; and Wyoming, 6,488. (Steuben County had the most deer taken in the state with 11,829.)

State-wide, the DEC reports today that an estimated 227,787 deer were harvested by hunters during the 2018-19 hunting seasons, approximately 12 percent more than the previous season.

“Hunting benefits all New Yorkers by reducing negative impacts of deer on forests, agricultural crops, and communities, while contributing an estimated $690 million to the state’s economy through hunting-related expenses and license purchases, which helps support conservation and resource management efforts at DEC,” said Basil Seggos, DEC commissioner.

The estimated deer take included 114,402 antlerless deer and 113,385 antlered bucks. Statewide, this represents a 20-percent increase in antlerless harvest and a 5-percent increase in buck harvest from the last season.

In addition, hunters increased the rate at which they reported their harvest in 2018, for the second year in a row. Although harvest reporting is required by law, the portion of successful hunters who report their harvest has averaged around 45 percent for the past decade. Hunters have increased their reporting rates to 50 percent in 2017, and 51 percent in 2018.

The DEC also reports it tested 2,483 harvested deer across the state and found no evidence of Chronic Wasting Disease in the herd.

“Preventing the introduction of CWD into New York is a high priority for DEC to ensure the health of our deer herd and to protect the recreational and viewing opportunities deer provide,” Seggos said.

CWD has now been found in 26 states, with Mississippi and Tennessee joining the list in 2018. Environmental Conservation police officers stepped up enforcement efforts this past year, seizing and destroying hunter-killed deer brought in illegally from states where CWD has been found.

Chronic wasting disease is a highly contagious disease that affects deer, elk, moose and reindeer. CWD is always fatal and there are no vaccines or treatments available. CWD is believed to be caused by a prion, which is an infectious protein, that can infect animals through animal-to-animal contact or contaminated environments, the DEC said.

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