The Kings County Wildlife Association has been given good news about the status of the deer herd in Nova Scotia.
At its April meeting Association members were told by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that, based on the 1997 spring pellet survey, the condition of the whitetail herd is “excellent” and has increased by about 27 percent. This means that this fall hunters may have the opportunity to harvest a limited number of antlerless deer, DNR spokesperson Vince Power told Association members. A final decision on this season will be made after a formal assessment of the herd is completed, Power said. Hunters will probably have to enter a draw to hunt antlerless deer. In anticipation of the bonus season, the province already has been divided into seven zones.
While there was a slight drop in license sales, hunters harvested 20 percent more deer last season, Power said. The deer harvest was up in Kings, Hants and Annapolis County. About 19 percent of the hunters who purchased a big game license were successful in bagging deer.
On the downside, the increase in the deer herd has resulted in an increase in deer/vehicle collisions. The deer mortality rate (and property damage) from these collisions is high, Power said, but it’s something the DNR has little control over. According to DNR records the rate of deer/vehicle collisions increased by 25 percent in 1997.
During the meeting, Mr. Power explained how ongoing monitoring of the deer herd by the DNR determined its numbers and condition. Pellet counts, which indicate population density, are done annually, for example. Antler measurements and deer jaws, which are contributed by hunters, are also part of the ongoing assessment of the deer herd. Antler sizes have been increasing annually, Power said, an indication that the deer herd is in good condition.
Mr. Power also said that the percentage of mature bucks represented after the season has increased in recent years. Between 1995 and 1997 the number of yearling bucks harvested has dropped from a high of 60 percent to about 45 percent, indicating there are still a fair number of older bucks in the herd.
Hunters will be pleased to hear that Mr. Power reported a downward trend in the number of deer kills by coyotes. Coyote numbers appear to be down across the province.
After Mr. Power completed his report, it was announced that the Association has won the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation’s Shield award. The Shield is presented annually to the wildlife association that through their work has best advanced freshwater sportfishing. Association president Scott Cook was also recognized by the Federation for his years of wildlife work. Mr. Cook received the Jack Nichols trophy, which is awarded annually to the person who best exemplifies the aims of the Federation. At the local level, Bev Russell was awarded a wildlife association hat for his 25-year membership.