Plan approved to manage deer population

Wednesday, September 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Wildlife Commission has approved a five-step plan to manage the growing deer population in the state.

The proposal approved unanimously Monday now goes through the commission's formal adoption procedures and then to the Legislature and the governor for consideration.

``We're looking at the end of May before all or any of the rules will have been implemented,'' said Greg Duffy, Oklahoma Wildlife Department director.

The plan seeks to establish deer management zones ``based on habitat types and social considerations'' and to optimize the harvest of does with changes in programs and regulations to increase the antlerless harvest. The committee recommended reducing the aggregate limit for bucks from three to two to balance the harvest of young bucks.

The plan proposes giving hunters greater opportunity to hunt on private land once more landowner concerns are addressed.

``An amicable and cooperative partnership among landowners, hunters and the ODWC is an ideal to which the committee aspires,'' says the plan submitted by The 21st Century Deer Stakeholder Committee.

The committee also recommends increasing education and communication about ways to improve the health of deer herds.

``The committee did a very good job and presented an excellent, comprehensive plan to address both long-range and short-term goals,'' Duffy said. ``It's a very good start. This is the beginning and where we go from here will be time tested.''

Three controversial areas _ trespass, poaching and landowner liability _ were not included in the plan, said Mike McCormick, the committee chairman.

``There probably will be attempts by groups representing landowners outside the scope of the committee to try to address issues with the Legislature next year,'' he said.

``I think the plan will offer a lot more hunter opportunity and improve the health of the deer population,'' said Alan Peoples, Wildlife Division chief.

``We believe the major components will help to manage and control Oklahoma's ever expanding deer population which was the basis for this committee's work to begin with,'' McCormick said. ``While the commission has given its approval to this concept, it is imperative they follow through and support the components of this plan in order to be successful.''

Duffy said funding for the Wildlife Department is crucial to carrying out the plan.