85,000 to 95,000 statewide. Densities range from about 10 per square mile in northwestern Massachusetts to 45 to 55 per square mile on Nantucket Island.
Population is managed in 15 Wildlife Management Zones (WMZs) . Goal densities are set as policy by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. Hunting seasons , bag limits, and antlerless deer permit numbers are set to achieve goal densities.
In Massachusetts, there are 3 major hunting seasons Archery, Shotgun, and Muzzleloader. Deer hunting with rifles in Massachusetts is prohibited. There is no hunting on Sundays.
White-tailed deer are managed in Massachusetts as a valuable natural resource. As such, MassWildlife sets deer density goals below human tolerance limits. If deer densities exceed human tolerance, people tend to label deer as pests. This attitude is contrary to MassWildlife's mission of wildlife conservation. Our experience has demonstrated that it is possible to maintain a healthy deer population that can be enjoyed by all citizens of the Commonwealth.
MassWildlife manages the population using regulated hunting during three distinct hunting seasons. Since deer population growth rates can exceed 30% annually, hunters provide a unique service in helping us achieve our population density goals. By proactively limiting deer densities, we avoid the consequences of over-population. Although MassWildlife maintains deer densities between 10 and 30 per square mile, we know of cases where deer populations in other states exceed 100 per square mile. This causes excessive property damage, road collisions and Lyme disease. It is more effective to maintain optimal deer densities, than to reduce over-populated deer populations.
Deer management goals can be maintained statewide, even in high developed, suburban areas. Where firearms are prohibited by local ordinances, hunters can effectively manage deer with archery equipment. MassWildlife recently increased the archery season to 36 days for this reason. Additionally, hunters can continue to use archery equipment throughout the muzzleloader season.
It is important that landowners and hunters cooperate to safely and effectively manage the Commonwealth's deer resource within desired population density goals. If done correctly, we can all enjoy the benefits of a healthy statewide deer population.