Location:
FISH AND GAME;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


February 7, 2011

 

2011-R-0062

DEER POPULATION AND HUNTING ACCIDENTS

By: Janet L. Kaminski Leduc, Senior Legislative Attorney

You asked (1) how many deer were killed in 2003 in hunting and vehicle accidents and by other means and (2) how the deer population has changed during the last decade. You also want to know the (1) number of hunting accidents in Connecticut since 2000, (2) age of those involved in hunting accidents (i.e., under and over age 18), and (3) number of arrests for hunting while under the influence of alcohol or drugs since 2001.

SUMMARY

According to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), 16,502 deer were killed in the state in 2003. This includes 12,670 killed by hunters and 2,778 killed in reported vehicle accidents. Statewide deer population peaked in 2000 and is now declining.

Since 2000, there have been 27 hunting accidents in Connecticut, including one fatality. In the cases where DEP determined the age of the hunter involved in the accident, he or she was age 18 or older.

According to Judicial Department data, since 2001, there have been three charges for hunting while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in violation of CGS 53-206d(b): one each in 2004, 2009, and 2010. All were dismissed (i.e., nolle prosequi).

DEER POPULATION

Deer Killed in 2003

DEP provided deer mortality information for 2003 and, for comparison purposes, 2009, as shown in Table 1. Deer deaths were higher in 2003 than in 2009.

Table 1: White Tail Deer Mortality Summary, 2003 and 2009

Year

Hunter-Killed

Vehicle-Killed

(Reported)

Crop-Killed

Other

Total

2003

12,670

2,778

831

223

16,502

2009

11,774

1,902

780

96

14,552

Source: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

DEP noted that the number of deer killed by vehicle accidents is likely under represented because not all such accidents are reported. A comparison of data between the DEP Environmental Conservation Police and the Department of Transportation (DOT), indicates that for every one vehicle-killed deer reported, DOT picks up another unreported five deer.

Population Trend

DEP indicates that Connecticut deer population peaked in 2000 and is now declining. DEP bases this on aerial deer surveys and deer-vehicle accidents. Most recently, DEP estimated the 2006 statewide deer population at about 126,000. Deer densities remain highest in Fairfield County, estimated at about 60 deer per square mile in 2009.

HUNTING ACCIDENTS

History of Hunting Accidents, Including Age of Hunter

Table 2 provides a history of hunting accidents in Connecticut since 2000, including the game sought, injury, and contributing factor. Where a shooting is involved, DEP includes the shooter's age, which is also included in the table. Over the 11-year period (2000 – 2010), there were 27 hunting accidents. Of the 27, 18 involved the discharge of a firearm, and one resulted in a fatality. In the 13 cases in which DEP determined the shooter's age, the shooter was age 18 or older.

Table 2: Connecticut Hunting Accidents, 2000 - 2010

Year

Game Sought

Injury

Shooter Age

Contributing Factor

Victim was Non-hunter?

Fatality?

2000

Turkey

.22 caliber wound

50

Failure to identify target

No

No

2000

Pheasant

Pellet wounds

Unknown

Victim out of sight

No

No

2000

Deer

Fall from stand

N/A

No safety harness

No

No

2000

Pheasant

Pellet wounds

Unknown

Victim out of sight

No

No

2000

Deer

Fall from stand

N/A

No safety harness

No

No

2001

Geese

Pellet wounds

61

Victim in line of fire

No

No

2001

Coyote, squirrel

Fall from stand

N/A

Alcohol

No

No

2001

Deer

Fall from stand

N/A

No safety harness

No

No

2001

Deer

Heart attack

N/A

Natural causes

No

No

2002

Pheasant

Pellet wounds

68

Swinging on game

No

No

2002

Deer

Fall from stand

N/A

No safety harness

No

No

2002

Deer

Fall from stand

N/A

No safety harness

No

Yes

2003

Pheasant

Pellet wounds

33

Swinging on game

No

No

2004

Pheasant

Pellet wounds

18

Careless handling

Self-inflicted

No

2004

Deer

Projectile wound

38

Unavailable

No

No

2005

Pheasant

Pellet wounds

43

Victim out of sight

No

No

2005

Pheasant

Pellet wounds

Unknown

Victim out of sight

Yes

No

2007

Turkey

Pellet wounds

48

Mistaken for game

No

No

2007

Deer

.12 slug wound

31

Mistaken for game

No

No

2008

Turkey

Pellet wounds

69

Mistaken for game

No

No

2008

Geese

Pellet wounds

35

Careless handling

Self-inflicted

No

2009

Geese

Pellet wounds

64

Careless handling

No

No

2009

Deer

Fall from stand

N/A

No safety harness

No

No

2009

Pheasant

Pellet wounds

65

Careless, reckless

No

No

2010

Deer

Fall from stand

N/A

No safety harness

No

No

2010

Pheasant

Pellet wounds

Unknown

Victim out of sight

No

No

2010

Deer

Projectile wound

Under investigation

No

No

Source: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

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