Concord, NH – The preliminary numbers for New Hampshire’s recent deer and bear hunting seasons are in. The estimated statewide deer kill for New Hampshire’s 2011 season was 11,167 deer, up 14% from 2010 (9,759 deer) and the highest harvest since 2007. It appears that the last weeks of the season were quite successful, because as late as Thanksgiving weekend, the estimated take was running just 4% above 2010 levels at that point in the season.
New Hampshire has an estimated population of about 85,000 deer, with the 2011 kill representing about 13% of that total. Deer hunting closed in the state on December 15, the final day of the archery deer season.
“The increased kill suggests that the state’s deer population may have begun to recover from recent declines following some bad winters. Further analysis of the final harvest data by unit, age and sex will provide a better assessment of population status,” said Kent Gustafson, a deer biologist at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
The unofficial deer kill for New Hampshire’s 2011 season by county, with comparisons to previous years, is posted at http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/deer_hunt_take_by_County.htm. These figures are estimates based on the number of deer reported as being registered in each county, not necessarily killed in that county.
New Hampshire bear hunters took a total of 418 bears (246 males, 172 females) in 2011. The numbers are still preliminary. Bait hunters harvested 193 bears, still hunters/stalkers took 155 bears and hound hunters registered 70 bears. The overall harvest sex ratio was 1.4 males per female.
Regionally, 65 bears were taken in the North, 128 in the White Mountains, 147 in the Central, 46 in Southwest-1, 30 in Southwest-2, and 2 in the Southeast regions.
The 2011 total of 418 bears is down from recent harvest levels (down 41% and 45% from 2010 and 2009, respectively). N.H. Fish and Game bear biologist Andrew Timmins puts this into perspective, saying, “It’s important to recognize that the annual bear harvest has been high during several recent years as a result of a variety of factors. We have seen record bear harvests in New Hampshire during five of the last eight years. Some years have been abnormally high, which greatly influences recent averages and complicates comparisons to previous years. While the 2011 harvest may seem low, it actually is a more average year than some we’ve had recently. Low-harvest years help buffer high-harvest years, which generally gets us closer to our bear management objective of about 500 bears per year.”
For a comparison of bear season results in recent years, visit http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/bear_hunt_take.htm.
Final official numbers from all the year’s hunting seasons will be summarized in the 2011 New Hampshire Wildlife Harvest Summary, which will be issued in March of 2012.
New Hampshire’s successful hunting seasons are a reminder that hunting activities, made possible by science-based wildlife management, contribute significantly to New Hampshire’s economy. The most recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey indicates that approximately 60,000 people hunt in New Hampshire, generating more than $75 million in hunting-related expenditures annually in the state.