The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) has made two significant changes to its Deer Management Assistance Program (DMP). Starting with the 2012-13 hunting season, the enrollment fees will be dropped, and a series of regional meetings will be conducted by WFF biologists to collect the data gathered by participating hunting clubs.
The WFF’s goal is to enroll 400 to 500 hunting clubs scattered evenly across the state in order to collect enough data to help it better understand and manage the state’s deer population. During the 2011-12 hunting season, only 104 participating hunting clubs were enrolled in the program.
Hunting clubs in all parts of the state with 500 acres or more are especially encouraged to enroll in the program. Clubs in the northern part of the state with less than 500 acres that are interested in participating in the DMP are encouraged to contact their district office to discuss enrolling in the program.
According to WFF Wildlife Section Assistant Chief Ray Metzler, participation in the DMP is a win-win situation for both the hunting clubs and the WFF. “Hunting clubs and deer managers will receive free professional technical assistance from a WFF wildlife biologist regarding habitat management, harvest recommendations, breeding chronology, population dynamics, and other facets of white-tailed deer management,” he said. “The WFF will receive much needed age-specific harvest data from hunting clubs throughout the state.”
The DMP was started in 1983 with 10 hunting clubs. Participation quickly grew to approximately 2,200 hunting clubs and included more than 12 percent of the state’s land area. Enrollment in the program declined significantly over the past decade as a result of the liberalization of the statewide antlerless deer hunting seasons. The decline in participation resulted in less age-specific data available to WFF biologists to use in assessing the health and condition of Alabama’s white-tailed deer population.
“By lowering the barriers to DMP participation we hope to ensure the long-term health of the state’s deer herd,” said Chris Cook, WFF Deer Project Study Leader. “Alabama’s hunters are vital to that effort.”
DMP participants are required to obtain sex, weight, lactation rates, antler measurements, and other data for all deer harvested during the hunting season. Hunting clubs interested in partnering with the WFF to assess and better manage local deer populations can enroll in the program by contacting their district office. WFF District Wildlife Office contact information is listed below and can also be found online at outdooralabama.com.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.