Upcoming shotgun and archery hunts at Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley are expected to reduce the white-tailed deer population by about 40, a refuge spokeswoman said.
Officials are accepting applications for 166 hunting permits, which they will grant using a random lottery. Typically, between 450 and 2,000 applications are submitted, they said.
The hunts, conducted annually since 2004, are an ongoing effort to reduce the deer population to the refuge's goal of 20 to 30 per square mile, deputy refuge manager Sharon Ware said. The concentration is currently 61 deer per square mile, she said.
"Keeping the deer population at our goal can increase the diversity of plants that grow in the habitat," she said. "It will allow the forest to regenerate and it will improve the habitat for ground- and shrub-nesting birds."
An overabundance of deer creates problems for ornamental landscapes, she said, and leads to more deer-car collisions. The hunts also provide recreational opportunities for hunters, she said.
Hunters are not allowed to kill a buck until they have already killed two does, she said, because killing does manages the population more effectively.
Archery hunts are planned for Nov. 4-5, Dec. 2-3 and Dec. 9-10. Shotgun sessions are scheduled for Jan. 10-11 and Jan. 18-19.
During the hunts the 2,550-acre refuge will be closed to all other activities, including fishing, hiking and wildlife observation.
Applications, which are due Aug. 12, are available on the refuge website, at refuge headquarters at 360 Smith Rd. in Shirley, and at the state Department of Environmental Conservation office, Building 40 at 50 Circle Rd. in Stony Brook.