Frequently Asked Questions About DMAP


What is DMAP?
The Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), established by the Game Commission, provides assistance to landowners whose lands are impacted by deer overbrowsing or who have specific deer management goals that include harvesting additional antlerless deer. Permits issued through DMAP are valid only on the area they were assigned to, allowing landowners to accomplish specific deer management goals on individual areas.
 
Why is DCNR Using DMAP?
Many state forests and parks have been overbrowsed for up to 70 years. Deer are currently impacting these lands by browsing tree seedlings, shrubs and wildflowers beyond their capacity to reproduce, impacting the ability to sustain a healthy, fully functioning forest. DCNR’s goal is for a healthy deer herd and a healthy forest that can provide a full suite of benefits and values to citizens. The DMAP program allows DCNR to promote forest regeneration by targeting the most vulnerable and severely impacted tracts for additional antlerless deer harvests.
 
What are DCNR’s DMAP Goals and Objectives?
 DCNR’s goals for DMAP are to:
 
· Promote a diverse, healthy natural habitat that supports wildlife diversity and healthy deer populations.
· Provide additional hunting opportunities.
· Establish and maintain regeneration to support sustainable forestry practices with minimal need for deer fencing.
· Promote a healthy, sustainable forest and native, wild plant communities.
 
To meet these goals, DCNR will follow these objectives:
 
· Increase the number of native plants that are indicators of a balanced deer population.
· Increase the number of regeneration sample plots adequately stocked.
· Increase the number of seedlings present.
· Decrease the number of plants browsed by deer.
· Eliminate the need to fence for successful forest regeneration.
· Maintain good hunter participation.
   
How Does DCNR Decide Where to Place DMAP Areas?
DCNR foresters and biologists determine where to place DMAP areas based on numerous criteria. One source is deer impact data. DCNR collects this data using transects with plots (6-foot radius) every 100 feet. There are 1,800 miles of transects and 47,000 plots across 2.2 million acres of state forest. The following measures are collected: Percentage of plots with acceptable seedlings; presence of indicator species; percentage of plots “adequately stocked” and percentage of species browsed. 
 
Foresters review this data to understand deer impacts in local forest districts. Other sources of information help determine DMAP decisions, such as past regeneration successes or failures; deer fencing needs; current and future management activities; sale of DMAP tags and hunter success rates.
 
How is Success Evaluated?
Healthy habitat is DCNR’s primary indicator for success. Continued, systematic monitoring of forest vegetation assists field managers in making decisions on the effectiveness of individual DMAP areas.
 
Are There More Deer in DMAP Areas?
DMAP areas may not necessarily have more deer than other areas. In fact, DMAP units are often in areas of the state where deer overbrowsing has eliminated the understory, allowing ferns and other competing vegetation to dominate. These areas are poor deer habitat and food is often scarce. What seedlings do emerge are vulnerable to deer impacts. Deer populations may need maintained at relatively low levels in these areas for more healthy forest habitat to become established. 
 
How Many Deer Should There be on State Forest?
There are many opinions about how many deer there should be on state forest land. While deer numbers can generate a lot of discussion, DCNR focuses its efforts on habitat conditions.
 
“Biological carrying capacity,” which refers to a forest’s ability to support deer while maintaining healthy habitat, can vary year to year. Carrying capacity can change annually, seasonally and across properties, which is why some hunters see more deer than others just a few miles away.
 
The “right number” of deer for a given area can be a moving target. That is why on state forest DCNR focuses its deer management activities on habitat conditions and collects forest health data to help determine DMAP enrollment.