Establish Deer Management Zones

Issue/Problem Statement
Research and experience of other jurisdictions have demonstrated that white-tailed deer herds are successfully managed on a sustained bases by allowing a general antlered hunting season but closely controlling the harvest of antlerless deer. This is achieved by implementing a limited entry hunt for antlerless deer and setting the available permit numbers for separate "Deer Management Zones" (DMZ's). These zones are established through consideration of habitat productivity, size and condition of the zone's deer population, herd growth rate, land use activities, access, etc. and perhaps most importantly, hunter success (which is dependant on many of these other factors). By adjusting the antlerless deer harvest, at a zone level, the optimum recreation hunting opportunity can be realized.

To establish in regulations, Deer Management Zones that together include all lands of Nova Scotia and to develop a system for setting and allocating an appropriate number of antlerless deer hunting permits, by DMZ's annually.

During 1996 a wildlife biologist was hired to work with staff throughout the province and to review all pertinent information relative to this subject. The province was divided into seven "Proposed Deer Management Zones".

During the winter of 1996/97 the proposed zones were presented to the public through articles in N.S. Conservation, Eastern Woods & Waters and Nova Outdoors. As well, maps of the proposed zones were posted in all NR&R Area offices and staff were available to attend local interest group meetings, to address the subject when asked.

Public and staff feedback were assessed and appropriate changes made to zone boundaries. In September, 1997, the Deer Management Zone boundaries were legally defined, and the necessary regulation changes passed.

Although the zone system was established prior to the fall of 1997, no antlerless permits were issued for the upcoming hunt. A decision was made to allow at least one more year of herd growth and more closely approach our provincial herd objective (about 80,000 overwintering deer) before beginning an antlerless harvest. Antlerless permits were made available to hunters, on a limited entry basis (application - draw), for fall 1998. Click here Antlerless Deer Hunting

Each spring, available data will be reviewed and, using a common approach, an appropriate number of antlerless permits will be made available in each DMZ. An appropriate application and draw process will be employed and an application fee established to recover costs of the program. Annually, a communications plan will be developed to ensure the hunting community is properly advised of the program, application dates and procedures.

Regional staff, hunting organizations and media at the appropriate time to announce the program.

Project Dates and Duration
Annual. Key dates for applications, the draw and when results of the draw are available, will be announced each June.

Progress to Date
Program developed and employed. Ongoing


Management Recommendations
Continue to use this management approach on an on-going (annual) basis. Shortly after PGI results are in (mid June) a decision will be made on how many permits will be issued for each Deer Management Zone for the upcoming fall hunting season. Periodically, data on distribution of deer (densities) their condition, area harvest rates, road kills, and nuisance complaints will be assessed to determine is there is a need to change DMZ boundaries or further sub-divide zones.

Final Report: Annual with harvest results.

Completion Date: Ongoing each year.