A meeting will be held Tuesday at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on the proposed number of any-deer permits allocated statewide.

The number of any-deer, or doe, permits being considered is 22,435, a 46 percent decrease from last year and 20,000 fewer than the previous low since the department switched to 30 management districts in 1998.

Reducing the permits is being considered in an effort to help stimulate the herd’s growth, said state deer biologist Lee Kantar.

“This reduction seems fairly significant but it is what it is. And what it came down to is to meet our public objective (for deer numbers) based on very good science,” Kantar said.

The IFW advisory council will vote to approve the number of permits in June.

Public comment is accepted until May 13, and the advisory council meeting Tuesday is open to the public.

Comment to date has been largely supportive of the reduction in permits, said IFW wildlife division director Mark Stadler.

The statewide deer herd has been noticeably smaller, particularly after back-to-back severe winters in 2008 and ’09 hurt the whitetails’ ability to survive the deep snow statewide.

The any-deer permit system has been used since 1986 to help manage the deer herd. However, never in the past 14 years, since the state was divided into 30 hunting districts, has the number of any-deer permits dipped below 43,000.

After the any-deer permits given out reached an all-time high in 2004 with 76,150, the number has been decreasing steadily.

Historically, the lion’s share of any-deer permits are allocated in hunting districts 17 and 23, which roughly encompass the area north of Clinton over to Lagrange, and the district east of Augusta.

Two hunting districts in central Maine, including the one north of Clinton, recently were studied more intensely with an aerial survey that is used in Quebec and New Brunswick. The double-count survey by a low-flying helicopter is considered one of the most reliable forms of estimating deer density, Kantar said.

The survey of the two hunting districts — the one north of Clinton and a second near Boothbay Harbor — showed the deer per square mile in those areas is below the goal, which is set by a public group.

Kantar said those areas are not far off the goal, but they are clearly below it.

This is but one indication the department uses to determine if permit numbers should be reduced.

“What is really relevant is if the population is not where it should be, and what do you do to respond to that?” Kantar said, pointing to the reduction of any-deer permits.

The department received $100,000 for a two year aerial study from the Pittman-Robertson Fund and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, and the work with the aerial survey will continue at least one more winter.

The IFW flight crew that is assisted by the Maine Forest Service won’t count deer up north, Kantar said. The survey becomes less effective when the number of animals on the landscape decreases to low numbers.

The statistical significance of the study would not be as high with only five deer per square mile in parts of northern Maine, Kantar said.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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