Top ranking not worth celebrating
Doyle Dietz, Correspondent / Published: April 28, 2019
When it comes to whitetail deer, Pennsylvanians can make the claim “We’re No. 1!”
Unfortunately, it’s not a boast if made by deer hunters.
Instead, it reflects the ongoing sad state of affairs for hunters and non-hunters alike when it comes to deer-vehicle fatalities.
Pennsylvania remains No. 1 by a wide margin over all other states in deer-vehicle collisions, with more than 10% of the nation’s estimated total of deer-related accidents, according to the 2019 Quality Deer Management Association Whitetail Report.
Based on industry data provided by State Farm Insurance, Pennsylvania filed an estimated 141,777 claims from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018.
Even that total is conservative as it is based solely on comprehensive and collision claims. Not included are collisions by policy-holders with only liability coverage on their insurance.
Of the top five states that contributed to the nation’s 1,330,276 deer-vehicle-accident claims, Michigan reported 87,959 incidents to trail Pennsylvania by 53,818 accidents. Completing the top five are New York, 72,314; North Carolina, 64,200; and Texas, 60,857.
With an estimated 374,690 deer taken by hunters during the 2018-19 hunting seasons, the deer-vehicle accident total represents approximately 38% of the overall state total, and hunter success was approximately 10% more than the 367,159 taken during the 2017-18 seasons.
In 2018-19, hunters took 147,750 bucks, which is fourth overall, since the start of antler restrictions in 2002, but a decline of 10% from the 163,750 bucks taken in 2017-18.
Today, the biggest deer-related challenge facing hunters, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and independent agencies is containing the spread of chronic wasting disease and culling deer from the herd that have been identified with the disease, which always is fatal to the deer it affects.
CWD has been found in both captive and free-ranging deer, but has not been detected in most Pennsylvania counties.
The PGC is not deterred in its commitment to battle CWD in spite of opposition from some who have refused to accept scientific research that has identified the cause of the disease.
One of the immediate steps the BOGC has taken to address combating the spread of CWD is increasing antlerless allocations for the 2019-20 hunting in the six wildlife management units were the disease is present in free-ranging deer.
WMUs 2C, 2D, 2E, 4A, 4B and 4D will receive a combined allocation of 37,000 more antlerless permits than issued for the 2018-19 seasons.
No matter what it takes, keeping Pennsylvania from being No. 1 among CWD states is worth doing.
Walked 7 miles turkey hunting yesterday morning and saw no less than 30 deer. I’m thinking the number was closer to 50. This was on land open to hunting. I’m not sure who the owner actually is? Collins pines? Seneca resources? Some may have been state land. I was amazed at the amount of deer and deer sign though. Probably should have did a little more turkey scouting because we weren’t over run with them.