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December 19. 2012 8:47PM

Hunting kills rise; Fish and Game credits weather

CONCORD - The statewide deer kill was up 4 percent for fall 2012, which also saw a double-digit increase in successful turkey hunts and a record for bear kills, the state Fish and Game Department reported.

The department said that weather patterns of the year, including a mild winter and low rainfall during the summer, provided ideal conditions for animal survival but stressed their food supply, which kept them hungry and on the move.

Across the state, hunters took 11,590 deer, about 14 percent of a herd estimated at 85,000. Deer hunting closed Dec. 15, the final day of archery hunting.

"Last year's mild winter helped the deer population in much of the state, and the statewide kill increased for the second year in a row," said Kent Gustafson, a Fish and Game deer biologist, in prepared remarks.

County-by-county comparisons are available at the department's website, www.huntnh.com.

Fish and Game said 806 black bears were killed this fall, surpassing the previous record of 803 in 2003.

Bait hunters took 426 bears; still hunters/stalkers took 282 bears; and hound hunters registered 98 bears.

The kill exceeded the five-year-average by 39 percent and was nearly double that of last year.

Officials attributed the high number to a decrease in fall bear foods such as fruit and beechnuts, driving bears to specific areas such as cornfields and oak groves.

New Hampshire turkey hunters registered 1,024 birds, a 60-percent increase from 2011.

Turkey biologist Ted Walski said the semi-drought conditions proved good for hatching, and the scarcity of acorns, apples and beechnuts in the woods made turkeys vulnerable to hunters.

Fish and Game said 56,000 people, both resident and non-residents, are licensed to hunt in New Hampshire.


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