Deer Management Assistance Program
The Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) enables biologists to help landowners and resource managers implement site-specific deer management on their lands. DEC issues a special permit and a determined number of deer tags to a landowner or resource manager, or a group of landowners or resource managers, whose property is in need of site-specific deer management efforts. DMAP permits are valid for use only during the open deer hunting seasons and can only be used by licensed hunters. Only deer without antlers or having antlers measuring less than three inches in length may be taken under the authority of a DMAP permit.
Under DMAP, the landowner or resource manager is responsible for distributing the antlerless deer tags. Hunters hunting under DMAP are responsible for reporting each harvested deer to both the permit holder and to DEC. The permit holder must submit a harvest summary report to DEC each year, postmarked by January 15, except that permit holders in Suffolk County must send their report by February 15. All DMAP permits will expire on July 31, three (3) years following the year of application, unless revoked earlier by the department.
Number of Tags
No more than two DMAP tags (four as per below) may be used per hunter per year per DMAP permit. A hunter may fill two tags (four as per below) on each of multiple separate DMAP permits. There is no limit on the number of DMAP permits that a hunter may be authorized to take deer on. Additionally, the department, at its discretion, may authorize the use of up to four DMAP tags per hunter per year on DMAP permits in Wildlife Management Units where the objective is to reduce the deer population.
DMAP is intended to supplement but not replace Deer Management Permits on specific sites. In some situations, Damage Permits may also be necessary to help landowners reduce deer numbers.
To be eligible for DMAP, applicant(s) must own or control lands in New York State that meet one of the following criteria:
- Land where agricultural damage has been documented or can be documented by the DEC, or:
- A municipality that has an identified social or ecological problem due to deer within their municipal boundary. Municipal applicants must maintain a list of all participating properties with written consent of the associated landowners. They must ensure a process of tag distribution that provides equal opportunity for licensed hunters, or:
- Land where deer damage to significant natural communities has been documented or can be documented by the DEC, or:
- Land contained in one or more parcels totaling 100 or more acres of forest land and sharing a contiguous boundary, or multiple non-contiguous parcels of forest land of at least 100 acres each within the same or adjacent Wildlife Management Unit(s), where forest regeneration is negatively impacted by deer. Parcels of less than 100 acres may also be considered, if enrolled in the Real Property Tax Law section 480a program. The negative impact must be identified in an existing forest and/or land management plan for the land, or:
- Land contained in one or more parcels totaling 1000 or more acres and sharing a contiguous boundary that is involved in custom deer management such as Quality Deer Management (QDM). A deer management plan is required, or:
- Land where deer damage has been documented or can be documented by the DEC, and which is adjacent to or bordering a parcel of publicly-owned land that is at least 250 acres and is not open to deer hunting by law, regulation, or public agency policy.
Two or more landowners with contiguous boundaries may cooperate to meet the above acreage requirements to be eligible for DMAP.
Purpose of a DMAP
The Deer Management Assistance Program aids in controlling targeted populations of white-tailed deer. Additionally, damage to agriculture, plant communities, and property decreases. It improves landowner-sportsman relationships. Times and public attitudes have changed. Landowners no longer provide the level of open access they once did. DMAP offers an avenue for landowners to meet deer management needs on their property, while providing an incentive to give licensed hunters access to deer and deer hunting. Lastly, it helps to provide sound deer management practices, such as QDM, to produce custom white-tailed deer hunting opportunities.
How to Apply
The application deadline is August 1. Download the DMAP application (PDF). Depending on the category under which you apply, you may be required to submit a land or deer management plan describing the background and scope of the deer problem or stating the deer management goals.
Deer Management on Private Lands
The Bureau of Wildlife is responsible for deer management in New York State. Landowners and hunters actually carry out that management.
Regulated hunting remains the most efficient means to manage deer. Adequate harvests of antlerless deer are essential to successful efforts.
It is hard to generalize, but harvest and other losses must exceed the number of fawns produced on the area if you want to reduce deer numbers.
If you have a sense for how many fawns are born each year on your lands, you have a valuable piece of information for setting harvest goals. More often, past harvests have to be reviewed to shed some light on productivity levels. On heavily hunted areas, the buck harvest provides a rough estimate of the male fawns produced on the area. A similar number of female fawns would also be born.
On heavily hunted areas, such as much of the Southern Zone, taking about 7 or 8 adult does for every 10 antlered bucks harvested will tend to stabilize deer numbers. If you want to reduce deer numbers, more does need to be taken for a year or two. On areas with less hunting or restricted buck harvest, more does per antlered buck would need to be taken to accomplish the same result.
Doe harvest rates needed to stabilize deer numbers vary around the state due to differences in habitat quality and mortality rates other than legal hunting. Your local DEC Wildlife office can provide guidelines for your area.
What Landowners Can Do to Manage Deer
Like managing any resource or controlling any nuisance problem, deer management requires forethought and planning. Knowing the management options available and the importance of antlerless harvest are key.
- Evaluate what is being done on your land. Are you allowing hunting? If not, consider providing access to some hunters. If you allow hunting, get to know the hunters using your lands and their harvest tendencies. Hunters who are only interested in taking bucks do little to help control deer numbers.
- As the property owner you can control access and put conditions on those using your lands. Be sure hunters are aware of your deer management interests.
- If your goal is to reduce deer numbers, encourage antlerless harvest. Ask, or insist, that hunters apply for and use Deer Management Permits. If the hunters currently hunting your lands are not willing to take antlerless deer, provide access to others that will.
- Finally, when standard hunting opportunities alone do not provide the means to adequately control deer numbers or problems, apply for Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) Permits or Deer Damage Permits (DDPs) as appropriate.