Proposed Regulation Amendment

4VAC15-90-10. Game: Deer. Open season; generally.

Summary

The proposal is to (i) repeal 4VAC15-90-20, 4VAC15-90-21, 4VAC15-90-22, and 4VAC15-90-30 and combine them into 4VAC15-90-10 regarding open deer seasons, (ii) establish a September antlerless-only firearms deer season in the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, (iii) establish a late antlerless only firearms deer season in Arlington County, (iv) establish a uniform 7-week firearms deer season in Campbell County, (v) remove the exception for department-owned lands during the antlerless-only seasons in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, (vi) remove the late antlerless only deer season from Fauquier County, and (vii) identify the specific unit of Radford Army Ammunition Plant excepted from the standard season framework in Pulaski County.

Text of Regulation

Rationale

Combining five deer firearms season(s) regulations

Combining and presenting all regulation sections pertaining to open deer seasons in tabular form will facilitate ease of reference and future amendments. A similar change made to bear seasons during the last regulation cycle has worked well. This action is also in keeping with the Governor's request for all state agencies to conduct a Regulatory Reform Review of their regulations. If adopted, this regulation change will reduce the number of open deer season regulations.

September antlerless-only firearms deer season in the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William.

Although current deer seasons in Northern Virginia counties are among the most liberal in the country, staff was requested to consider a number of significant changes to liberalize deer seasons in these four counties (Arlington is being added to this season). Staff agrees that allowing modern firearms during what is currently an archery season will potentially increase the antlerless deer kill and reduce deer populations in this area. However, potential negative consequences include adverse impacts to the youth deer hunting day and disturbance of archers during, and just before, existing archery-only seasons, which could result in fewer archery licenses purchased. When asked about options to reduce deer populations, respondents to the 2011-2012 hunter survey indicated lower support for a September antlerless firearms season than for either a late (January-March) antlerless firearms season or an Earn a Buck requirement.

In response to a request by a Board Member, Arlington County is being added to the special early and late antlerless only deer seasons in Northern Virginia. Prior to this change, Arlington County had the typical seven week eastern firearms deer season. Over the past eight deer seasons, the reported deer kill in Arlington County has ranged from 3-9 deer annually and averaged 5 deer.

Campbell County

There is public interest in creating a uniform countywide seven-week, full season either-sex, firearms deer hunting season in Campbell County. The Board proposed establishing this opportunity to gain additional public input on the issue. As part of this change, the late archery and late muzzleloading deer seasons that previously existed in western Campbell County are being deleted.

Remove Department-owned lands exception for the counties of Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William during antlerless-only seasons

Neither Loudoun County nor Fairfax County has huntable department-owned lands, and any future lands could be managed by WMA area rules or drawings, such as that currently employed on Merrimac Farm WMA in Prince William County. Additionally, staff would like the ability to apply these aggressive antlerless-only seasons on department-owned lands in these developed counties in the future if needed.

Removing Fauquier from the late antlerless only firearms deer season

The Department's Deer Management Plan called for deer population reduction on private lands in Fauquier County. Current data indicates that deer populations have demonstrated a significant decline on private lands over the past decade (> 25%). Staff considers this reduction to have been adequate based on input from constituents and recommends that female deer kill pressure be reduced at this time.

Identify the specific unit of Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Pulaski County

The proposed amendment is to specifically identify which unit of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant is excepted from the standard Pulaski County season framework. For decades, the Department has conducted a successful special managed hunt program on the New River Unit near the Town of Dublin, which is to be distinguished from other units of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant.

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