State of the State’s Deer Herd
large portion of the region was hit hard by hemorrhagic disease in 2012, with Benton and Henry counties having the most reported cases within the region. In rural areas affected by hemorrhagic disease, it may be necessary to reduce doe harvest to allow deer populations to recover.
Deer populations in the Northeast Region have been slowly decreasing over the last several years; however, some areas still have high deer populations. Several areas within the Northeast Region experienced significant hemorrhagic disease mortality, which likely contributed to the 6-percent decrease in deer harvest from 2011. In general, deer populations in many parts of the Northeast Region have been stable to slightly increasing, including Adair, Lewis, Putnam, Sullivan, Clark, and Schuyler counties. Some counties have experienced declines with the most dramatic being in Monroe, Randolph, and Shelby. However, the 2012 hemorrhagic disease outbreak will result in some localized reductions in deer populations. Localized decreases in doe harvest, without regulation changes, should be sufficient to allow recovery of populations reduced by hemorrhagic disease mortality.
There has been a steady reduction in the deer population and harvest over the past decade in the Northwest Region with harvest in 2012 decreasing by 10 percent from the 10-year average. Declining harvest is a reflection of lower deer populations across many counties, including Atchison, Caldwell, Carroll, Clinton, Daviess, Nodaway, and Ray. Large concentrations of deer are far less common today than in the early 2000s in many of these areas. In areas that were heavily affected by hemorrhagic disease in 2012, a reduction in doe harvest is likely warranted to aid population recovery. However, a few counties, including Worth and Mercer, continue to have strong deer populations. Additionally, changes in land use within the region are reducing the amount of available habitat, which may be contributing to localized reductions in deer density.
Deer populations in the Ozark Region have been slowly increasing over the past decade as a result of continued conservative regulations on antlerless harvest. A slowly increasing population and poor acorn abundance is reflected by a 22-percent increase in deer harvest from 2011 to 2012. Ozark counties with the greatest deer harvest increase compared to the 10-year average harvest were Pulaski, Shannon, Carter, Howell, and Ripley. Both 2010 and 2011 had relatively good acorn crops, which, as previously mentioned, made them less vulnerable to harvest, allowing populations to increase. The