Town of Hanover Issued Additional Hunting Permits
Deer sightings in Hanover may not occur as frequently this year. On Aug. 29, the town of Hanover administered an additional 100 deer hunting permits for use this season. Each additional permit allows a hunter to harvest two extra deer from the town’s Deer Management Area, Hanover senior planner Vicki Smith said.
According to Smith, the population of deer in Hanover causes problems like decreases in plant regeneration, overbrowsing and damage to residents’ gardens and landscaping. She added that deer overpopulation has also contributed to deer-related vehicle accidents and high levels of Lyme disease, a sickness transmitted through parasitic deer ticks.
“If there aren’t enough natural predators, then humans have to … control the population,” said Philip Bennett ’19, chair of the Dartmouth Outing Club’s Bait and Bullet sub-club.
The additional permits take advantage of the first year of a New Hampshire Fish and Game Department deer management assistance program. The program allows New Hampshire municipalities to identify where deer densities are too high for the existing habitat conditions and issue special hunting permits to “reduce the deer population through the regulated use of recreational hunters,” according to current New Hampshire Code of Administrative Rules.
The deer management program is largely a result of the town of Hanover approaching the state fish and game offices regarding its high deer numbers and resulting issues, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game wildlife programs administrator Kent Gustafson. He added that though other towns may take advantage of the additional permits in the future, Hanover is currently the only town using the special permits.
Permit-holders can hunt in forested areas close to the town center, including College property such as Oak Hill and parts of Balch Hill, according to Rory Gawler ’05, assistant director of outdoor programs at Dartmouth and a member of the subcommittee of the Hanover conservation commission that led the deer project.
Gawler noted that deer overpopulation stems from an increase in urban development.
“Over the past 100 years, we have eliminated all their predators and created, through logging and disturbances, wonderful environments for them to breed,” he said.
Gawler said that townspeople “used to manage [deer] just fine by eating them,” but now that people have moved away from the hunting tradition, the deer population has soared.
In order for a town to be approved for additional deer hunting permits, it must submit an application to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Wildlife Division, including a written document describing past deer damage to the town, past efforts to mitigate the damage and a map outlining the proposed designated hunting area.
Smith said Hanover will continue to monitor the deer population and will apply for the special hunting permits again in future years should it be necessary.