AUGUSTA — Wildlife officials say hunters killed more than 21,000 deer in Maine this fall, representing an 11 percent increase from 2011.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on Monday released its estimate for this year’s deer harvest, with the official tally scheduled to come out in February.

Biologist Lee Kantar said the increase is due in large part to last winter’s mild weather, resulting in a high survival of fawns that produced a bumper yearling crop.

The deer harvest has been low the past five years, with the state issuing fewer hunter permits to allow the population to recover following harsh winters in 2008 and 2009 that thinned the herd.

The harvest the past five years has ranged from about 18,000 to 21,000 animals.


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