Hunters in Suffolk County killed fewer deer this winter than last, but their harvest still far exceeded historical averages, according to a report by state environmental officials.
Hunters killed 3,397 deer this past hunting season, from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31, according to a report the Department of Environmental Conservation released Friday.
That’s about 100 fewer deer than the prior hunting season, when the harvest was 3,491.
Statewide, the harvest of 202,973 deer this past winter was about 20 percent less than the prior season. DEC officials, in a news release, said “overall deer harvest was lower than expected, as hunting success was apparently also reduced by the unseasonably warm conditions and lack of snow during much of November and December.”
But both of Long Island’s past two hunting seasons yielded far more deer than the prior seven seasons, when the average harvest was 2,709 deer, according to DEC data.
All of Long Island’s deer harvest data pertains only to Suffolk because deer hunting is not allowed in Nassau County. Bow season on Long Island extended from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31 while firearms season was Jan. 3 to Jan. 31. Since 2014, Long Island hunters have benefited from new rules designed to help them kill more deer — a response to complaints about deer overpopulation linked to increased motor vehicle collisions, tick-borne illnesses, and damage to forests, farms and landscaping.
Prior to the 2014-2015 hunting season, state officials loosened rules about where bows could be fired and extended bowhunting season to overlap with firearms season in January.
In August, state officials further loosened rules for the 2015-2016 season by increasing the allowable harvest of antlerless deer in 10 counties, including Suffolk.
State officials said they estimate the number of deer killed each season by tallying reports by hunters as well as examining thousands of check stations and meat processors.
Brookhaven, Southampton and Southold had Long Island’s biggest deer harvests this season, the report said.