Deer management group agrees with recommendation to maintain antlerless tag allocations in 2021

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MANITOULIN – There will be no changes to the number of antlerless deer tags available for hunters on Manitoulin Island during the annual deer gun hunt this November.

Ian Anderson, mayor of Billings Township and a member of the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club (GBFGC) told the Recorder after the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) annual deer management meeting conference call held April 22, “the group and MNRF agreed with the (ministry) recommendation to maintain the antlerless deer tag permit numbers at the same levels as they were in 2020.” 

Mr. Anderson pointed out the MNRF representatives’ (which included Wayne Selinger and Derrick Luetchford, both of the Sudbury district office) presentation noted that there was a decline in the number of overall deer harvested in last year’s annual hunt. Some of this was because, “the first couple of days of last fall’s hunt provided some of the worst weather many have seen in years with high winds, rain and snow.” 

It was pointed out the deer populations have also been slow to recover after the severe winter of 2019.

The number of deer harvested in the annual deer gun hunt was down from the year before in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 43B, with a total of 2,041 deer taken in 2020, compared to the previous year of 2,144. In the West 43A WMU there was actually a slight increase of 21 in the number of deer taken, with 197 harvested in 2020, compared to 176 deer taken in 2019. 

“It is apparent the deer have not recovered from the severe winter of 2019 to the level they once were,” said Mr. Anderson.  

The deer management group, “agreed to hold the line on antlerless deer tags available (in 2021) to give the deer another year to recover,” said Mr. Anderson.

Mr. Anderson explained the group agreed to have the antlerless deer tag numbers remain exactly the same as they have been in 2019 and 2020, with 300 antlerless deer permit tags available in WMU 43A and 4,000 in WMU 43B. 

“It was a relatively brief meeting,” Mr. Anderson told the Recorder. “There were no huge issues raised, although a lot of people pointed out their hunt camps didn’t do very well during last year’s hunt.”

With the relatively mild winter Manitoulin experienced this year Mr. Anderson said, “there should be a really good fawn crop this year. We had a quick, short winter, and green-up has been at least three weeks earlier than I can remember previously. There are a lot of years it is mid-April and we still have significant snow on the ground. This earlier green up is such a boost for deer and any animals that eat grass.” 

As well, “this past winter there would be very little deer mortality, except any deer that were taken down by coyotes/wolves,” continued Mr. Anderson. “It is very positive, and most fawns survived the winter. There should be a noticeable increase in the deer population across Manitoulin Island this year.”