A declining deer population in Howard, Miami and Cass counties has caused the Indiana DNR to shorten the deer-hunting season in those counties.
The DNR on Thursday released the number of antlerless deer hunters can bag in each county this season. Howard County dropped from eight to three. Miami and Cass counties dropped from four to three.
Counties with a quota of three or less are not allowed to participate in the late antlerless hunting season, which this year runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 4.
“Howard County simply doesn't have a populous deer herd because it doesn't have a lot of habitat,” said Chad Stewart, a wildlife biologist with the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, in an email. “Miami County has fared better, and certainly has more deer, but trends in both counties have shown a decline over the past couple of years.”
With the declining deer population in those counties, he said the late antlerless season is no longer needed as a tool for population control.
Sixty-three counties will be allowed to participate in the late antlerless season this year, down from 69 counties last year.
In total, 19 counties saw a decrease in the number of deer hunters can bag. Four counties in southern Indiana saw an increase.
“With the harvests that we’ve been seeing over the past couple of seasons, this pressure is no longer needed in some counties to get the deer harvest where we want it to be,” Stewart said.
He said determining antlerless quotas is based on a variety of factors like crop damage reports, deer-vehicle collisions and landowner and hunter surveys measuring individual satisfaction level with deer numbers in their county.
If a county’s antlerless quota is changed, the new quota usually is left in place for a couple of years to evaluate impact.