|North state deer hunting returned to earth last year as hunter success fell 20 percent, settling back to levels of 1999's buck kill, the Department of Fish and Game's Region 1 office reported today.
Statewide, the estimated deer kill fell 14 percent, from year 2000's tally of 39,041 to last year's 33,500. California's 2001 kill was very close to the level of 1999, when the estimated harvest was fixed at 33,103, the DFG said.
For the 19 deer zones within the eight-county Region 1, hunters bagged an estimated 13,257 bucks, compared with a kill of 16,596 in 2000. The 1999 kill for the region was estimated at 13,889.
Fish and Game officials said hunters plying 19 north state deer zones last fall were not blessed with the storms they enjoyed in 2001 when cold and wet weather improved forest hiking conditions and encouraged deer movement. In fact, the spring was one of the driest on records in many areas, the agency said.
The return to kill levels of two years ago came as no surprise to Region 1 wildlife biologists, according to the DFG. They pointed to the "lack" of weather, to a continuing degradation of deer habitat due to such factors as fire protection and to the improved kill in 2000 as factors in the success.
For decades, Fish and Game said, intense firefighting practices have robbed forest habitats of the natural renewal of plant life that was a part of the ecosystem cycle for centuries prior to the 1900s. As forests have thickened, plant life on the forest floor that is vital to deer survival has faded.
Preliminary kill numbers provided by Fish and Game show that rifle and archery deer hunters in Region 1 bagged 9,006 bucks in six northwestern B zones, down from the 11,365 of 2000; an estimated 2,435 in the four central C zones, including hunt G1, down from the kill of 3,155 in 2000; and, 1,816 in the nine northeastern X zones, down from 2,076.
The kill in the large, central coastal Zone A is estimated to have been 11,387, down from 12,091.
Hunters bagged an estimated 2,852 bucks in zone B1 in 2001, compared with 3,897 in 2000; an estimated 2,853 in B2, versus 3,482; 592 in B3, versus 798; 549 in B4, versus 579; and, 740 in B5, versus 915.
C-zone hunters killed an estimated 589 bucks in C1, versus 589 in 2000; 288 in C2, versus 327; 420 in C3, versus 524; and, 1,334 in C4, including hunt G1, versus year 2000's 1,541.
X-zone numbers showed hunters bagged an estimated 625 in X1, versus 803; 69 in X2, versus 62; 189 in X3a, versus 170; 362 in X3b, versus 365; 180 in X4, versus 217; 40 in X5a, versus 55; 96 in X5b, versus 115; 166 in X6a, versus 197; and, 89 in X6b, versus 92.
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