PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Hunters are facing a changing landscape in Maine as the deer herd moves south.
Only Maine residents owere allowed to begin the firearm deer hunting season on Saturday, October 30. The season expanded to include all hunters on Monday, November 1.
News Center's Lee Nelson recently spoke with George Smith from the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine about the conditions hunters are encountering.
Smith said the deer herd has been decimated in the north woods. He blamed the drop off on back to back harsh winters, a lack of adequate shelter and heavy losses from predators such as bears and coyotes.
The declining population is also a serious economic blow to the region. Smith said bookings at sporting camps by non-resident hunters are down by 90 percent. To offset the losses, Smith said efforts are being made to expand the moose hunt and improve fishing.
Smith estimated it would take 20 to 30 years for the northern deer herd to recover to previous population levels.
The sport is facing a different problem in the south. With so much posted land south of Bangor, the southern deer herd is booming. In fact, Smith said there are so many deer that hunters are having a hard time keeping them in check.
As the deer overrun the region, they are causing more car crashes. They are also contributing to the spread of deer ticks which cause Lyme disease.
Smith said he is confident hunters and landowners can reach an agreement to better manage the deer population by allowing access to private property.
To learn more about the Sportsman's Alliance and its recommendations about improving hunting conditions, click here to visit the group's website.