Revise White-tailed Deer Antlerless Season

Regulation Number: 
2020-04-13
Status: 
Decided
Region: 
Region 4 - Kootenay
MU: 
4-1
4-2
4-3
4-4
4-5
4-6
4-7
4-8
4-9
4-14
4-15
4-16
4-17
4-18
4-19
4-20
4-21
4-22
4-23
4-24
4-25
4-26
4-27
4-28
4-32
4-33
4-34
4-35
4-36
4-37
Regulation Type: 
General Open Season
Species: 
White-tailed Deer
Closing Date: 
January 19, 2020 at midnight
Decision Statement: 

This regulation was approved as proposed and is included in the 2020-2022 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis.

Current Regulations: 

White-tailed Deer

4-1 to 4-9, 4-14 to 4-40

Antlerless

Oct 10 - Oct 31

1

Proposed Regulations: 

Shorten the antlerless white-tailed deer season in MUs 4-1 to 4-6, 4-20 to 4-26, 4-37, 4-40:

White-tailed Deer

4-28 to 4-31, 4-38, 4-39

Antlerless

Oct 10 – Oct 31

1

 

4-1 to 4-6, 4-20 to 4-26, 4-37, 4-40

Antlerless

Oct 21 - Oct 31

1

Rationale: 

White-tailed deer have been managed for maximum hunting opportunity since the inception of the provincially-coordinated white-tailed deer regulation was implemented in 2010. In the Kootenay Region, this management strategy has General Open Seasons for both white-tailed bucks and antlerless whitetails.

Recent harvest estimates from 2018 became available and these results were consistent with previous years data pointing to a precipitous decline in harvest in the West Kootenays. Harvest did not change substantially in the East Kootenay between 2017 and 2018, but observations from aerial surveys and anecdotal reports suggest a decline in abundance in the East Kootenay.

West Kootenay:

In the West Kootenay, white-tailed deer buck harvest has declined by more than 50% between 2017 and 2018 and is 60% below the 30-year average (770). There has also been an increase in the average number of hunting days required to harvest an animal as well as decreased hunter success; hunter success in 2018 was below the 20% minimum objective. This metric is also well below long term averages (30-year average success = 30%). Evidence suggests that whitetail populations can be regulated by extreme winter severity, as evidenced by the rapid population decline in the late 1990’s following a historically harsh winter. Antlerless hunting opportunity was significantly decreased after this population crash, and antlerless harvest declined with it. Recent winters 2016-17 and 2017-18 have been the most severe in 20 years in the Kootenay region.

Removing the white-tailed deer antlerless GOS in the West Kootenays may reduce mortality pressures on the population and may allow for a faster recovery. MU’s with a large proportion of the zone falling within the range of Mountain Caribou range would retain the antlerless season to help meet caribou recovery objectives. Hunters will still be able to harvest antlerless deer during the youth season and the December archery only season.

East Kootenay:

In the East Kootenay, antlerless harvest of white-tailed deer is still within management objectives, despite reductions in population size over the past 10 years (Figure 2). This area continues to support the highest hunting pressure and white-tailed deer harvest in the province. A modification of antlerless season dates is requested to address enforcement challenges that are exacerbated in the 10 day overlap between the 6-point elk season and white-tailed deer antlerless season. Conservation Officer reports show a two-fold increase in illegal harvest of elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer from October 10th to 19th (2 illegal kills per day), compared to October 1st to 10th (1 kill per day). This regulation change should help prevent further reductions in white-tailed deer abundance across the East Kootenay.

Additional Information: 

West Kootenay:

Total white-tailed deer harvest in 2018 was the second lowest on record since data collection began in 1987 and was only marginally higher than after the white-tailed deer population decline in 1997 (487 harvested in 2018 vs 451 harvested in 1997). Further, the number of bucks harvested in 2018 (314) was the lowest recorded since 1987. This decrease in harvest was not a product of lower hunter effort, as the number of hunters has remained relatively stable over the past decade. The number of hunting days per kill rose remarkably in 2018, indicating that hunter effort was not a primary driver of lower harvest rates. Recent winters 2016-17 and 2017-18 have been the most severe in 20 years in the Kootenay region and have likely driven substantial population declines, similar to the population crash in 1997.