- Associated Press - Monday, August 7, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Wildlife biologists say all indications point to a good season for deer hunters in the Juneau area.

During surveys this spring, biologists counted an increase in pellets, and as such, they’re expecting an increase in successful hunts.

Biologists count “pellet groups” - piles of droppings - to assess the health of deer populations in different areas around the southeast region of the state, the Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/2fltnOs ).

Alaska Department of Fish and Game regional supervisor Ryan Scott said the amount of pellet groups can’t be directly tied to a number of deer, as “one deer can leave a lot of poop,” but it does tend to correlate with the number of deer hunters shoot.

“We had a significant increase in pellet groups on Douglas, when we went out and took a look at those places, which suggests there are more deer on the ground,” Scott said. “Bottom line is I am very optimistic for the deer season. That doesn’t mean there will be a deer behind every tree, but it should be a very successful season for hunters.”

Deer season opened August 1 for bucks and will be extended to those on Douglas, Shelter, Lincoln and Sullivan islands after September 15. Hunting on the mainland is limited to bucks all year to protect populations.

A series of low-snow winters in Southeast Alaska also bodes well for deer and their hunters, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Stephanie Sell said.

“Winter snowfall basically drives deer out of the alpine and into lower elevations. And so what happens is most of our people around here hunt later in the fall because they see deer around the beach line,” Sell said. “So certainly when we get a lot of snow, deer come down to the beaches and people kind of slaughter them.”

Deer hunting on Douglas, Sullivan, Lincoln and Shelter islands runs through Dec. 31 and is limited to four deer per hunter.

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