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A Declining Deer Harvest in Recent Years

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Larry Penny, the East Hampton Town’s director of Natural Resources said that in 2006, the East Hampton Group for Wildlife did the first ever deer count for East Hampton Town. The group found there were 3,293 deer in the 69.7 square miles area of East Hampton. The number of deer harvested that year, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), was 444. The following year, the number of deer harvested dropped to 390, with approximately five deer taken per square mile.

On Tuesday, the office of the Town Clerk of East Hampton, did a count of permits issued for access to town property for use of firearms for deer hunting. In their findings, it was reported in 2008, there were 92 permits issued for access to town property for use of firearms for deer hunting. This year, just two days into the season, 82 people have applied for these types of permits.

Aphrodite Montalvo, the Citizen Participation Specialist for the DEC, said the deer population in eastern Suffolk has actually declined over the past three years largely due to enhanced harvest of female deer, reduced natural food availability due to poor acorn production and severe winter weather. According to the DEC’s reports, the number of deer harvested in Southampton Town’s 142.2 square miles, was 462 in 2007 and 532 in 2006.

The DEC reports that there are roughly 4,000 to 6,000 deer on huntable land in Suffolk County. According to the DEC website, there were 850 bucks [deer with antlers] killed in Suffolk County in 2006 and a total of 2,357 deer killed overall. In 2007, however, those numbers were reduced and 2,159 deer were harvested overall and 781 bucks were harvested in the county.

For the 2008-2009 hunting season, there are approximately 360 residents in East Hampton with sporting licenses that include big game, such as deer, according to the DEC. And in Southampton Town, there are a total of 305 residents with sporting licenses.

“In areas open to hunting, the population of deer generally remains stable,” Mantavlo noted.