Hunters in New
York Harvested More than 253,000 Deer in 2020-21
Disease Risk is Real, No Evidence Currently in New York State
Hunters in New York harvested
an estimated 253,990 deer during the 2020-21 hunting seasons, an increase
of 13 percent from last year, State Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos
"With a seven-percent
increase in licensed deer hunters, a 30-percent increase in antlerless
harvest, and two new record-breaking bucks taken by bowhunters, 2020 was
a remarkable year despite pandemic-related challenges," said Commissioner Seggos. "Regulated hunting
benefits all New Yorkers by reducing the negative impacts of deer on
forests, communities, and crop producers, while providing more than 10
million pounds of high quality, local protein to families and food
pantries across the state annually."
The 2020 estimated deer take
included 137,557 antlerless deer and 116,433 antlered bucks. Statewide,
this represents a 30-percent increase in antlerless harvest and a
three-percent decrease in buck harvest from the last season. Across the
board, whether with a bow, muzzleloader, or rifle, hunters targeted
antlerless deer more in 2020 than 2019, supporting DEC's management
objectives to maintain stable deer populations in most of the State and
to reduce deer abundance in a few areas. Hunters took 33,260 deer in the
Northern Zone, a 10-percent increase from 2019, primarily due to
increased antlerless harvest. Southern Zone hunters took 220,730 deer, a
14-percent increase from 2019, also because of increased antlerless
Increased antlerless harvests
may have been due, at least in part, to additional hunters and renewed
motivation to harvest venison during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, the number of licensed big game hunters increased to just over
588,000, approximately seven percent more than 2019. The number of
bowhunters increased 10 percent, reaching a new high of more than
251,000, and the number of muzzleloader hunters increased six percent to
more than 253,600. And after several years of declining participation,
the number of youth deer hunters ages 14 to 15 increased by 23 percent.
This year, new legislation allows 12- and 13-year-old youths
to hunt deer with adult supervision. With these additional
hunters, DEC issued approximately six percent more Deer Management
Permits (antlerless tags) than in 2019, and hunters were more successful
filling DMPs at a greater rate than prior years, resulting in a
34-percent increase in DMP harvest.
Across the state, harvest of
2.5-year-old bucks exceeded that of yearling bucks for the second year in
a row, as hunters continued to voluntarily pass up young bucks. In
portions of southeastern New York without mandatory antler point
restrictions, 70 percent of the bucks taken were 2.5 years or older,
demonstrating that the voluntary choices of hunters are effective at
providing opportunity for hunters to take older bucks. The goal of
DEC's Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow campaign
is to preserve hunter freedom of choice while advancing the age structure
of harvested bucks, predominantly into the 2.5-year-old age class. As
proof of the effort's success, in 2020 two new records were set with the
largest typical and non-typical archery bucks ever taken in New York,
from Suffolk and Niagara counties respectively, according to the New
York State Big Buck Club.
16.9 and 0.6 --- number of deer taken per
square mile in the units with the highest (WMU 8R) and lowest (WMU 5F)
61.7 percent --- portion of the adult
buck harvest that was 2.5 years or older statewide, up from 45 percent a
decade ago, and 30 percent in the 1990s.
45 percent --- portion of successful deer
hunters that reported their harvest as required by law. This is down from
52 percent in 2019.
14,825 --- number of hunter-harvested
deer checked by DEC staff in 2020 to determine hunter reporting rate and
collect biological data (e.g., age, sex, antler data).
2,720 --- deer tested for Chronic Wasting
Disease (CWD) in 2020-21; none tested positive. DEC has tested more than
56,000 deer for CWD since 2002.
Deer harvest data are
gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all
successful hunters; and DEC's examination of more than 14,800 harvested
deer at meat processors and check stations across the state. Harvest
estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources and
calculating the total harvest from the reporting rate for each zone and
tag type. DEC's 2020 Deer Harvest Summary report (PDF) provides
tables, charts, and maps detailing the deer harvest around the state and
can be found on DEC's website. Past
harvest summaries are also available on DEC's website.
Stay Vigilant to Keep CWD
out of New York
DEC tested 2,720 harvested
deer across the state and found no evidence of CWD in the herd. DEC
partners with cooperating meat processors and taxidermists to obtain
samples for testing each year.
"Every year New York
remains free of Chronic Wasting Disease is a success, but the risk
Seggos said. "Hunters
are critical for New York's ongoing monitoring and CWD prevention
efforts, as well as continuing to take
preventative steps to keep our state's deer herd safe.
Hunters who hunt deer or elk out of state may inadvertently-but
illegally-bring CWD-infected carcasses or animal parts into New York, a
potential disaster for deer and those who love deer. We encourage hunters
to continue to support DEC's efforts to keep New York CWD-free."
CWD is a highly contagious
disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and caribou. CWD poses a
significant threat to New York's wild white-tailed deer herd. It is
always fatal and there are no vaccines or treatments available. CWD is
believed to be caused by a prion, which is an infectious protein, that
can infect animals through animal-to-animal contact or contaminated
environments. CWD has been found in 26 states.
To expand protections for New
York deer and moose, DEC adopted regulations in 2019 to prohibit
importation of carcasses of deer, elk, moose, and caribou taken anywhere
outside of New York. Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs)
have increased enforcement efforts, seizing and
destroying hunter-killed deer brought in illegally. DEC also strongly
recommends that hunters not use natural deer urine-based lures, which
could contain CWD prions. Hunters that believe lures are important for
their success can use synthetic products.
For wildlife diseases like
CWD, prevention is the most effective management policy, and hunters are
important partners in disease prevention. If CWD is detected in New York,
DEC and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets will implement
the Interagency CWD Response Plan (PDF). The
plan will guide actions if the disease is detected in either captive
cervids-any species of the deer family-or wild white-tailed deer or
moose. There are no documented cases of CWD infecting humans, but DEC
urges caution when handling or processing CWD-susceptible animals. For
more of what DEC is doing and what you should know about CWD,
visit DEC's website.