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Outdoors notebook: Deer harvests holding strong

Deer harvest numbers for 2014 are similar to 2013 and last season no cases of chronic wasting disease were reported.

Weather and food sources always affect deer hunters’ success, but harvests have held slightly above the five-year average for the past two hunting seasons.

The total take for 2014 of 238,672 dipped from the 243,567 in 2013, but both were above the average of 233,556 since 2010.

In Western New York, the northern counties of Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Genesee totaled about 10 percent above average; the Southern Tier counties were at or just below 10 percent lower.

The third year of the Youth Hunt drew slightly more than 9,000 participants with similar harvest numbers of 1,275 in 2013 and 1,182 this past year.

A renewed crossbow season resulted in a 5,535 take; the bow hunting total dropped from 36,676 in 2013 to 35,388 in 20143, which puts the bow/crossbow total comparable with previous years and slightly above the five-year average of 35,657.

CWD studies showed no presence of the disease across New York. But the threat of CWD looms nearby. Pennsylvania’s Game Commission reported six cases discovered in wild deer in South-central counties of that state in 2014. CWD had been found in captive deer in that area in previous years.

The Department of Environmental Conservation recommends that hunters avoid using urine-based lures and cover scents, dispose of waste in household trash or a public landfill and know the regulations for big-game hunting outside of New York State.

Earlier bear harvest reports showed a slight jump in bruin numbers for the Southern Zone, up to 1,110 in 2014 from 978 in 2013, with eight hunters filling two tags and the largest, a 646-pound bruin, taken in Hamilton County.

For a complete summary of the 2014 bear harvest, visit dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42232.

Scholar sought

The Wilson Harbor Invitational Fishing Tournament is sponsoring a Don Johannes Memorial 2015 Scholarship to an enrolled student with interests in nature and conservation.

The $500 award will be presented to a student pursuing a degree in environmental protection, conservation, natural resources, forestry, wildlife and fisheries, biology or environmental law and public policy.

Applications must be received by June 12. For more details, call Michael Johannes at 791-3646.

email: odrswill@gmail.com