I haven't hunted Montague Island for deer since the year following the big snowfall which according to ADFG resulted in a 60% mortality rate. So, I called the Cordova ADFG office today (907-424-3215) to see how the population is progressing. Charlotte and Samantha were both out but another nice lady provided me with some info which may or may not be of interest to others. So, I thought I'd pass it on.
Last year, the deer pellet counts performed by ADFG indicated the 2nd lowest population on record. It showed a 12% recovery since the 60% loss. This year, the population has improved from 12% to 20% since the 60% loss. The gal told me things greened up about one month earlier than usual this year, which prompted the deer to move out of the areas they normally use to count deer pellets to approximate population. So, their pellet count got cut short.
So, it would appear the herd is still at a deficit of 40% from the 20 year average population numbers. Put another way, on their graph, the deer population is close to the 2nd lowest data point on record for the 20 year average. So, once again I will postpone my trip to the island in hopes the 5 deer I would have taken will reproduce like...well...deer.
I asked the gal why ADFG didn't close the season for does for several years as opposed to the one year they did. She didn't know but it's possible there would have been political pushback for doing so. She said they don't anticipate doing an emergency order to close or restrict any hunting unless there is a really bad winter.
So, there you have it. The deer on Montague Island are recovering but they are not back up to their 20 year average population numbers just yet. At this rate, it may be quite a while before they do.