A major overhaul in the rules for deer hunting is in the works, according to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. "Last year's anterless deer kill fell 30 percent below our objectives," according to Paul Johansen, assistant wildlife chief.

The are too many deer in several counties for the habitat to support the population.

The doe kill for 2001 was 69,112, with the DNR figuring a kill of 90,000 was needed to appropriately maintain the population.

Proposed changes include:

Extending the antlerless-deer season by 10 days throughout most of the state. The proposal calls for a 22-day season in 40 of West Virginia's 55 counties. Last year, the season lasted 12 days in 38 counties.

Splitting the season into three parts. Twelve days would run concurrently alongside the state's firearm season for bucks, Nov. 25-Dec. 7; six days would fall during the traditional antlerless-deer season, Dec. 9-14; and a supplemental four-day season would be added, Dec. 25-28.

Allowing doe hunting on private lands only during the buck season, on public and private lands during the traditional antlerless season, and on private lands only during the supplemental season.

Allowing hunters to purchase up to three antlerless-deer tags in the 40 counties with the 22-day season.

The commissioners gave no indication as to whether they intended to adopt the biologists' proposals, although historically they have supported most of the agency's regulatory requests.

Several changes also were proposed for the 2003-04 hunting seasons. They include:

Increasing the daily bag limit for antlerless deer from one to two, on private lands only.

Increasing the annual archery bag limit from one deer to two (the second deer would have to be antlerless) in Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties.

Allowing lights to be used at night for hunting coyotes.

Prohibiting feeding and baiting game birds and animals on all public lands.

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