AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wants to cut the number of antlerless deer permits this fall by nearly half to maintain a healthy deer herd.

Commissioner Chandler Woodcock is proposing 26,390 antlerless deer permits, also known as “any-deer” or “doe” permits. That’s a reduction of 22,435 permits or 46 percent from 2010.

A string of severe winters, attacks by coyotes and human hunting and poaching are at the heart of a loss of deer in northern, eastern and western Maine. Deer are abundant in the southern and central parts of the state.

Maine hunters have killed fewer deer over the past five years, from 29,918 in 2006 to 20,063 in 2010. Woodcock says the proposed reduction in permits is necessary to help the state’s deer herd grow.