Extra deer hunting permits lead to additional deer harvested
Hanover residents might notice fewer deer around town this spring. Following Hanover’s issuing of 100 extra deer hunting permits, at least 30 hunters harvested additional deer this season, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game deer project leader Daniel Bergeron. He said Hanover’s new permit program made local hunters nearly twice as successful as hunters in other towns across New Hampshire.
An official tally of total deer harvested in the town this season has not yet been released. However, this season in Hanover, New Hampshire Fish and Game has logged 41 harvested deer in the special management area so far.
Developed in conjunction with New Hampshire Fish and Game, this year’s Deer Management Assistant Program pilot issued 100 extra deer hunting permits which allowed permit holders to take two female deer in addition to the regular permit allowance.
Hanover senior planner Vicki Smith said the town plans to apply again next year. Whether Hanover continues the program will be based on New Hampshire Fish and Game deer population estimates, which will inform decisions regarding deer population control in coming years, Smith said.
Town manager Julia Griffin said she hopes the program will be able to continue for up to a decade. If approved for next year, she said the town will look at ways to expand the size of the special management area and make the permit process easier for interested hunters.
“This is not a one-shot thing,” she said. “You really need to have a sustained deer-thinning procedure in place to implement over multiple years.”
The special permits applied to several deer-hunting seasons starting on Sept. 15 and ending Dec. 15.
Hunters were allowed to use the permits to harvest deer within a special deer management area designed to promote hunting on land most heavily populated with deer. The management area included land owned by Dartmouth, the Hanover Conservancy, the town of Hanover, areas of the Appalachian trail and private property.
Town officials initially applied for the extra permits in order to curb an overabundant deer population, according to Griffin. Deer overpopulation on public land around the town has eliminated native plant species and led to an increase in invasive species growth, Griffin said.
“The fact that they’re over-browsing the natural landscape is providing more opportunity for invasive species to take hold explosively,” she said.
The excessive deer population in Hanover can cause issues for residents as well. Vehicle collisions, destruction of gardens and incidences of Lyme disease spread by deer ticks have all been on the rise, according to Hanover Conservancy program coordinator Courtney Dragiff.
Bergeron said the special management areas were chosen carefully to encourage hunters to frequent areas with a high density of deer, but where deer tended to be smaller and less desirable to hunters.
“We wanted this to be very focused in the areas where problems existed,” he said.
Of special concern to the town were the Trescott Water Supply Lands — over 1,000 acres of watershed land used to provide the area’s drinking water. Griffin explained that intense hunting on the property is necessary to reduce the deer population, following decades of seasons without hunting and declining numbers of natural predators.
The town of Hanover will host a meeting open to the public to discuss future plans for the program at Trumbull Hall on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.