MONTPELIER, Vermont — Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department officials, based on early numbers, say hunters took 12,710 deer during the last year's hunting seasons.
The state reduced the number of muzzleloader antlerless deer permits by 43 percent in response to the toll taken on deer by severe winters of 2014 and 2015, officials said Thursday.
Hunters took a total of 13,590 deer in 2014 and 14,107 in 2013.
Last year 8,294 legal bucks were taken, which is similar to the previous three-year average, said Nick Fortin, the state's deer project leader.
"Following a winter like 2015, a stable buck harvest clearly demonstrates the value of managing for a healthy deer herd," he said.
Biological data was gathered from more than 1,700 deer examined at biological check stations and hunters were asked to provide teeth from bucks, which will help to understand the age composition of the state's buck population, officials said. More than 2,600 teeth were collected.
The weights of deer examined by biologists indicate that the state's deer population is as healthy as it has been at any time since the data was first collected in the 1940s, the department said. Deer with healthy body weights are better able to survive tough winters, officials said.
The final numbers of the 2015 deer hunting seasons will be on the Fish and Wildlife Department's website in early February.