(02/29/2012)
West Virginia's DNR is coming up with several proposals for state hunters to kill more doe deer.

Gary Foster, the DNR's game management supervisor, said agency officials want hunters to kill more doe deer in order to reduce whitetail populations in many areas of the state.

"The overall habitat quality in the state isn't as good as it was a generation ago," Foster said.

"Today the state is 79 percent forested. People might think that's good for deer, but it isn't. Deer thrive best in diverse habitats. Ideal deer habitat is about 60 percent forested, with 30 percent in open lands or farmlands. In the past 30 to 40 years, about 3 million acres worth of farmland has been allowed to revert to forest."

He said today's fully grown forests contain far less deer-sustaining vegetation.

DNR officials are setting future deer-population goals at 20 to 35 deer per square mile, depending upon forest type, human population density and other factors.

Herd levels in the most overpopulated counties currently range between 60 and 100 deer per square mile.

DNR officials say they use hunters as their main tool for controlling deer populations.

By increasing the number of female deer that hunters kill, agency biologists hope to curb overpopulation, particularly in the state's Northern Panhandle, in the upper Ohio Valley, and along Interstate 79 between Weston and Morgantown.

One of the proposals requires hunters in counties with very high deer populations to kill an antlerless deer before they're allowed to kill a second buck.


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