AUGUSTA — Maine hunters harvested more deer in 2020 than they had in almost two decades.

State wildlife regulators increased the number of deer hunting permits this year, and officials including Democratic Gov. Janet Mills asked residents to consider hunting as a safe, outdoor activity amid the pandemic. Hunters responded by tagging 33,157 deer, the Bangor Daily News reported.

The total is unofficial, but it’s the highest number in 18 years. Hunters took more than 38,000 deer in 2002.

Sales of hunting licenses were also up slightly in Maine. Biologists have said the state’s deer herd has benefited from relatively mild winters in recent years. The state uses the deer hunt to help control the size of the deer population.

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