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Understanding DMPs: Quota Setting and Permit Selection

Deer Management Permits (DMPs), often called "doe tags", are a critical part of New York's deer management program. By adjusting the number of DMPs available in individual Wildlife Management Units, we can influence the number of does that are taken by hunters and thus manipulate the population toward desired levels. Annual removal of appropriate numbers of does is essential for ecologically responsible deer management. It is beneficial for sustaining biodiversity and maintaining healthy habitat and healthy deer.

DMP Quota Setting

The math involved in setting DMP numbers is actually quite simple, though the process of determining the desired adult female (doe) harvest requires biologists to consider a variety of factors that influence population dynamics. Here is the essence of the permit setting process:

Step 1. Assess deer population status relative to the objective.

Deer population trajectory objectives (increase, stay the same, decrease) are assigned to each WMU based on public interests and assessments of deer-impacts to forests. Biologists use adult buck harvest density (bucks taken per square mile of habitat) as an index of deer abundance within each WMU, and review trends in this index to determine whether the population is changing consistent with the objective. It's not quite as simple, though, as seeing that the buck take went up and assuming that the population must be increasing. Biologists also study previous levels of doe harvest and observe how they influenced recent buck harvests. We monitor indices of herd health and productivity through annual measurements of yearling antler beam diameters and fawn to doe harvest ratios, and we consider likely impact of winter conditions on deer survival based on the number of days with temperatures below zero and snow deeper than 15 inches. All of these factors weigh into the biologists' interpretation of whether or not the deer population is on track to meet the objective.

Step 2. Determine the desired doe harvest.

Based upon the deer population status assessment, DEC biologists decide whether additional, fewer, or roughly the same number of does need to be harvested during the next hunting season to modify population growth according to the WMU's objective. Biologists review recent trends in doe harvest and determine the desired total doe harvest.

Step 3. Calculate the target doe harvest on DMPs.

Because does can also be harvested during bow and muzzleloader season and on DMAP tags, we review harvest records for each WMU to determine the desired doe harvest on DMPs.

(Desired Total Doe Harvest) - (# Adult Does Taken by Muzzleloader Hunters and Archers and on DMAP tags) = Target Doe Harvest on DMPs

Step 4. Add in the expected fawn take.

All antlerless deer, including fawns and adult does, can be taken on DMPs, and the proportion of fawns in the harvest varies by WMU. Biologists review harvest records and adjust the desired DMP take to include fawns.

(Target Doe Harvest on DMPs) ÷ (% Adult Doe in DMP Harvest) = Total Desired DMP Harvest

Step 5. Account for hunter success.

Not all of the DMPs issued result in a harvested deer, and that success rate varies by WMU. Biologists use past DMP harvest success to adjust the target DMP issuance level to ensure the desired number of antlerless deer and the desired number of does are harvested.

(Total Desired DMP Harvest) ÷ (DMP Success Rate) = Total # of DMPs to Issue

Example. To illustrate the DMP quota setting process, consider the following:
Step 1. Population Trajectory Objective Stay the Same
Current Population Status Increasing, need additional doe harvest
Step 2. Recent Total Doe Harvest 1,000 does; 2.0 does/mi2
Desired Total Doe Harvest 1,250 does; 2.5 does/mi2
Step 3. Recent Doe Harvest by Bow, Muzzleloader, & DMAP 150
Target DMP Doe Harvest 1,250 - 150 = 1,100
Step 4. Percent Does of DMP Harvest (accounts for fawns) 70%
Total Desired DMP Harvest 1,100 ÷ 0.70 = 1,571
Step 5. Recent DMP Success Rate 20%
Total # of DMPs to Issue (DMP Target) 1,571 ÷ 0.20 = 7,855 rounded to 7,900

DMP Allocation

Quota setting is only the first part of the DMP process. The next step is to get the permits in the hands of hunters. DMPs are issued by an instant selection process when hunters buy their license allowing applicants who are selected for DMPs to receive their permits immediately. The system is designed to provide equal opportunity for a hunter regardless of whether they apply on the first or last day of the application period. The chances for DMP selection are determined by the DMP quota and the number of applications expected for each WMU. An applicant's chances of selection are also affected by their residency, qualification as a landowner of 50 or more acres, status as a veteran with disabilities, or the number of preference points accumulated through previous DMP applications. The order of priority for DMP selection is:

  1. Landowners and Disabled Veterans
  2. NYS Residents and Nonresidents with 3 or more preference points.
  3. Residents with 2 preference points.
  4. Residents with 1 preference points.
  5. Residents with 0 preference points.
  6. Nonresidents with 2 preference points.
  7. Nonresidents with 1 preference points.
  8. Nonresidents with 0 preference points.

Example. To illustrate DMP issuance, consider the following simplified process. In reality, this process incorporates each category of residency and preference noted above.

DMP Target = 7,900

Landowners & Veterans with Disabilities
Expected # Applicants Odds of Selection Expected # DMPs to Issue Expected # DMPs to Remain
100 100% 100 7,800
Residents with Preference Points
Expected # Applicants Odds of Selection Expected # DMPs to Issue Expected # DMPs to Remain
2,800 100% 2,800 5,000
Residents without Preference Points
Expected # Applicants Odds of Selection Expected # DMPs to Issue Expected # DMPs to Remain
8,000 62.5% 5,000 0
NonResidents with Preference Points
Expected # Applicants Odds of Selection Expected # DMPs to Issue Expected # DMPs to Remain
250 0% 0 0

Actual DMP issuance is impacted by the overall number of people that apply for DMPs in a given WMU and their preference status, but we examine past application trends to predict application rates in each category for each WMU. If a WMU unit is substantially under-subscribed at the close of the initial application period (October 1 each year), DEC runs another random selection process for any hunters that were denied in that WMU during the initial period. If necessary, the unit is opened for a first-come, first-serve application period for leftover DMPs in November.

Hunters play an essential role in maintaining appropriate deer numbers in New York and our DMP system is the cornerstone of that process.

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