- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Hunters in New Hampshire killed fewer deer this season, but a robust bear population and a change in the way they’re hunted meant more success for people trying to bag one, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

In total, hunters bagged 11,464 deer during the fall season, down 8.6 percent from the 2013 total of 12,540, according to preliminary numbers released last week. It was still the fifth highest take in 10 years and the ninth highest since 1922.

Official numbers will come out in March. Fish and Game said hunting brings $61 million to the state each year.

“Some of the decline in this year’s harvest may be due to last year’s winter, which was slightly above average in some areas of the state based on long term winter severity index data the department collects,” said Dan Bergeron, the department’s deer project leader.

The state’s deer herd is estimated at 100,000 after this year’s hunting season.

Meanwhile, a robust bear population meant more success for those hunters. A total of 784 bears were taken in 2014, a 20 percent increase over the five-year average of 653. Biologists say other factors leading to the higher kill include a good acorn crop and more hunters using methods like baiting and dogs to boost success. Between 50 and 60 percent of hunters used bait while 15 percent used dogs and had a record harvest of 117 bears.

Fish and Game Bear Biologist Andrew Timmins said the take is consistent with management objectives and hit the desired numbers of males taken compared to females - 428 to 356.

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