It's official. Ohio hunters killed a record number of deer during the 2008-2009 hunting season. According to Ohio Department of Natural Resources figures released this week, 252,017 deer were killed. That exceeds the previous record of 237,316 deer set in '06-'07. In '07-'08 hunters took Ohio 232,854 deer.
Farmers will be the first to say that's still not enough and even the officials at ODNR admit it. "In spite of a record harvest, work remains to lower the deer population, particularly in eastern Ohio." says David M. Graham, chief of the Division of Wildlife.
However, it is a sign that state wildlife officials are on the right track. By encouraging hunting of antlerless deer, the future population should be driven lower.
"I was very pleased with the season. Hunters continued to put heavy pressure on the antlerless deer," says Graham. He adds, the solution is not longer seasons or larger bag limits, but access to growing deer herds. "It is not realistic to rely on a limited number of hunters to hunt and harvest more deer. The division of wildlife along with local and state landowner organizations needs to work with landowners to find places for people to hunt. This will continue to be a priority for the division of wildlife and its partners in 2009."
That echoes a theme we have promoted in Ohio Farmer before. Farmers have the control of local deer herds in their own hands. By allowing hunting on the farm and by requiring hunters to take at least one doe before they kill the trophy buck, landowners can reduce the damage the state's deer herd visits upon crops and cars.
ODNR has announced that the rules encouraging antlerless deer hunting especially in the state's southern zone C will continue next year. Open houses will be held on Sunday, Mar. 1 in each of the state's five wildlife districts to provide the public an opportunity to view and discuss proposed hunting and trapping regulations with state wildlife officials. Directions to the open houses can be obtained by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE or visiting wildohio.com on the Internet.
A statewide hearing on all the proposed rules will be held at 9 a.m., Thursday, Mar. 5 at the wildlife division's District One Office, located at 1500 Dublin Road in Columbus. After considering public input, the Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on the proposed rules and season dates during its April 2 meeting.
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