The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced hunters in New York killed an estimated 224,190 deer during the 2019-20 hunting seasons.
The 2019 estimate includes 103,787 antlerless deer and 120,403 antlered bucks. Statewide, this represents a nine percent decrease in antlerless deer taken and a six percent increase in bucks from the last season. Regionally, hunters took 30,236 deer in the Northern Zone and 193,954 deer in the Southern Zone.
Across the state, hunters continued to pass up young bucks. The portion of yearlings (1.5 years old) in the adult buck harvest dropped to 37 percent, the lowest level ever, and for the first time, harvest of 2.5-year-old bucks (41 percent) exceeded that of yearling bucks, demonstrating that New York hunters are adhering to the DEC campaign, Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow.
In addition, the 2019 season proved favorable for bowhunters, as take during the bowhunting season increased 18 percent from 2018. Deer take during the regular and muzzleloader seasons both dropped about six percent.
DEC’s 2019 Deer Harvest Summary report provides tables, charts, and maps detailing the deer hunting season around the state can be found on DEC’s website. Past summaries are also available on DEC’s website.
- 4 and 0.6 – number of deer taken per square mile in the units with the highest (WMU 8R) and lowest (WMU 5F) harvest density.
- 6 percent – portion of the adult buck harvest that was 2.5 years or older, the greatest in New York history and up from 40 percent a decade ago, and 30 percent in the 1990s.
- 65 percent – portion of eligible junior hunters that participated in the 2019 Youth Deer Hunt.
- 15,574 – number of hunter-harvested deer checked by DEC staff in 2019 to determine hunter reporting rate and collect biological data (e.g., age, sex, antler data).
- 2,658 – deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in 2019-20; none tested positive. DEC has tested more than 54,000 deer for CWD since 2002.
Deer hunting data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all successful hunters and DEC’s examination of more than 15,000 deer at check stations and meat processors across the state. Estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources and calculating the total from the reporting rate for each zone and tag type. A full report of the 2019-20 deer season, as well as past deer and bear hunting season summaries, is available at DEC’s deer and bear harvests webpage.
DEC tested 2,658 deer across the state and found no evidence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the herd. DEC partners with cooperating meat processors and taxidermists in obtaining samples for testing each year.
CWD is a highly contagious disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and caribou. CWD poses a significant threat to New York’s wild white-tailed deer herd. It is always fatal and there are no vaccines or treatments available. CWD is believed to be caused by a prion, which is an infectious protein, that can infect animals through animal-to-animal contact or contaminated environments. CWD has been found in 26 states.
To expand protections for New York deer and moose, DEC adopted regulations in 2019 to prohibit importation of carcasses of deer, elk, moose, and caribou taken anywhere outside of New York. Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) have increased enforcement efforts in recent years, seizing and destroying hunter-killed deer brought in illegally.
For wildlife diseases like CWD, prevention is the most effective management policy. Hunters are important partners in disease prevention and should adopt several practices to prevent the introduction of infectious prions:
- Debone or process your deer, elk, moose, or caribou before returning to New York. This practice removes “high risk” parts (brain, spinal cord) that could potentially spread CWD. If you bring a whole, intact carcass from anywhere outside of New York, you will be ticketed and your entire animal (including trophy heads) will be confiscated and destroyed. Deboned meat, cleaned skull cap, antlers with no flesh adhering, raw or processed cape or hide, cleaned teeth or lower jaw, and finished taxidermy products are permitted.
- Consider alternatives to natural deer urine or lure products.Prions are shed in a deer’s bodily fluids before the deer appears sick. Commercially available urine products are not tested for prions. Prions bind to soil and plants and remain infectious to deer. There is no method of disinfection.
- Dispose of carcass waste, even from New York deer, into a proper waste streameither by putting butcher scraps in with your household trash or otherwise assuring it goes to a licensed landfill. A landowner may dispose of their own deer on their property, but it is illegal in all cases for businesses (butchers and taxidermists) to dispose of waste generated from their business in any way other than a landfill or rendering facility.
- Do not feed wild deer or moose. Animals concentrated together can spread disease quickly.
If there is another CWD outbreak in New York, DEC and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets are expected to implement their Interagency CWD Response Plan. The plan is written to guide actions if the disease is detected in either captive cervids—any species of the deer family—or wild white-tailed deer or moose. There are no documented cases of CWD infecting humans, but DEC urges caution when handling or processing CWD-susceptible animals. For more of what DEC is doing and what you should know about CWD, visit DEC’s website.
DEC is encouraging hunters, trappers, and anglers to purchase sporting licenses online to help further limit the community spread of COVID-19. Sporting licenses may be purchased online at any time, and anglers may use their privileges immediately by simply carrying their transaction number (DEC-LS#) with them while afield.
Anglers, hunters, and trappers may also use the HuntFishNY mobile app to display an electronic copy of their license. The HuntFishNY app is available for download through the Apple App or Google Play stores. Back tags and carcass tags must still be mailed, and customers should allow 10-14 days for receipt of their tags. Visit DEC’s website for more information about sporting licenses.
Map of the density of adult buck killed by hunters in 2019 provided by DEC.