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Wet weather puts a damper on Delaware muzzleloader season

From the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife

-- A half hour after sunset Oct. 17 marked closure of Delaware's 8-day muzzleloader deer season. The seemingly never-ending nor’easter put a damper of the deer harvest of 1,423 deer, down 235 deer compared to the 2008-2009 muzzleloader season.  
 
“Even though the harvest was slightly down this season compared to last year, I’m very excited to have this information so soon. Now that we have switched to an all electronic registration system via phone and internet, we are able to monitor the harvest throughout the season instead of waiting until May after we entered all of the harvest data into the computer,” said Joe Rogerson, Deer and Furbearer Biologist with the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife.  
       
Since the deer season opened on Sept. 1 (Aug. 15 for farms enrolled in the severe Deer Damage Assistance Program), 2,607 deer have been harvested. Compared to the 2008-2009 season, the harvest is down 19.9 percent. Because of the poor weather conditions during the muzzleloader season, 14 percent of the decline can be attributed to the muzzleloader season.  
 
“We have several firearms seasons scattered throughout our five-month hunting season so that we are able to compensate for poor weather. The fewer deer taken during this season should mean that there are more deer available for hunters to harvest during the upcoming seasons,” Rogerson said.
       
Even through the wet weather, Division of Fish and Wildlife staff were collecting samples to test for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at several deer processors in each of the three counties.  
 
“During the muzzleloader season we had staff stationed at five deer processors on each of the Fridays and Saturdays of the season (four days total). Even with the harvest being slightly down, we managed to collect more than 100 CWD samples. Our goal is 600 samples, 200 in each county, so we will be back out during the November shotgun season collecting our remaining samples,” Rogerson said.  
       
he Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife has been sampling deer since 2002. Thus far nearly 3,000 samples have been collected and all have been negative.  
 
Hunters now required to register deer online or by phone
 
Hunters are reminded to register their deer by calling the new toll free phone line, (866)511- 3337 or on the internet at
www.dehip.com.  When registering deer, hunters will need to know their hunting license number and the deer management zone in which the deer was harvested.  Zone information can be found on pages 19 to 22 in the 2009-2010 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide.
 
After registering, hunters receive a 6-digit registration number, which should be recorded and kept as proof of registration. If the deer will be processed by a butcher, hunters need to give butchers this number when the animal is taken for processing.  

For more information on the Automated Deer Checking System and a flow chart depicting the questions hunters will be asked to answer, refer to pages 3 and 24 in the hunting guide. For more information about the deer harvest, registration change, or any other deer related issue, contact Wildlife Biologist Joe Rogerson at (302)735-3600.

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