DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL

Division of Fish and Wildlife

Statutory Authority: 7 Delaware Code, Sections 102 and 103 (7 Del.C. §§102 & 103)

7 DE Admin. Code 3901

FINAL

ORDER

3900 Wildlife

Secretary's Order No.: 2008-F-0043

3907 Deer

I. Background:

A public hearing was held on Monday, August 25, 2008, at 6:30 p.m. at the DNREC Richardson & Robbins Building Auditorium to receive comment on proposed amendments to the existing Delaware Wildlife Regulation No. 3907: Deer (2008). These proposed revisions would expand hunting opportunities for young hunters, and would clarify regulations related to illegal possession and transport of deer, as well as the regulations related to the tagging of deer.

Two members of the public attended this hearing on August 25, 2008, however, no public comment or questions were received by the Department regarding this proposed action. Proper notice of the hearing was provided as required by law.

After the hearing, the Department performed an evaluation of the evidence entered into the record in this matter. Thereafter, the Hearing Officer prepared her report and recommendation in the form of a Hearing Officer's Memorandum to the Secretary dated September 10, 2008, and that Report is expressly incorporated herein by reference.

II. Findings:

The Department has carefully considered all relevant public input regarding its proposed regulation, and has provided a reasoned analysis and a sound conclusion with regard to the response given to each such comment, as reflected in the Hearing Officer's Memorandum of September 10, 2008, which is attached and expressly incorporated into this Order. Moreover, the following findings and conclusions are entered at this time:

1. Proper notice of the hearing was provided as required by law.

2. The Department has jurisdiction under its statutory authority to make a determination in this proceeding;

3. The Department provided adequate public notice of the proceeding and the public hearing in a manner required by the law and regulations;

4. The Department held a public hearing in a manner required by the law and regulations;

5. The Department considered all timely and relevant public comments in making its determination;

6. Promulgation of these proposed amendments would expand hunting opportunities in Delaware for young hunters by dropping the minimum age requirement from 12 years old to 10 years old, thus corresponding with the age at which minors can obtain the Department's hunter certification to hunt deer;

7. Promulgation of these proposed amendments would also clarify the existing regulations related to illegal possession and transport of deer, as well as the regulations related to the tagging of deer here in Delaware;

8. The Department has reviewed this proposed amendment in the light of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and believes the same to be lawful, feasible and desirable, and that the recommendations as proposed should be applicable to all Delaware citizens equally that hunt deer;

9. The Department's proposed amendments to Regulation 3907 are adequately supported, not arbitrary or capricious, and are consistent with the applicable laws and regulations. Consequently, it should be approved as a final regulation, which shall go into effect ten days after its publication in the next available issue of the Delaware Register of Regulations; and that

10. The Department has an adequate record for its decision, and no further public hearing is appropriate or necessary.

III. Order:

Based on the record developed, as reviewed in the Hearing Officer's Report dated September 10, 2008, and expressly incorporated herein, it is hereby ordered that the proposed amendments to State of Delaware Regulation No. 3907: Deer be promulgated in final form in the customary manner and established rule-making procedure required by law.

IV. Reasons:

The promulgation of the Division of Fish and Wildlife Regulation No. 3907: Deer will aide the Department in its ability to expand hunting opportunities for young hunters, and clarify existing regulations related to illegal possession and transport of deer, as well as the regulations related to the tagging of deer.

In developing this regulation, the Department has balanced the absolute environmental need for the State of Delaware to promulgate regulations concerning this matter with the important interests and public concerns surrounding the same, in furtherance of the policy and purposes of 7 Del.C., Ch. 60.

7.0 Deer (Formerly WR-7)

(Penalty Section 7 Del.C. §103(d))

7.1 Limit.

7.1.1 Unless otherwise provided by law or regulation of the Department, it shall be unlawful for any person to:

7.1.1.1 Kill or take or attempt to kill or take more than four antlerless deer in any license year;

7.1.1.2 Kill or take four antlerless deer in any license year without at least two of the four deer being female deer; or

7.1.1.3 Possess or transport any an antlered deer that was unlawfully killed.

7.1.1.4 Possess or transport an antlerless deer that was unlawfully killed.

7.1.1.5 Kill any antlered deer without first purchasing a Delaware Resident Combination Hunter’s Choice Deer tag and Quality Buck Deer Tag, or a Delaware Non Resident Antlered Deer Tag, or a Non-Resident Quality Buck Deer Tag except that persons exempt from purchasing a hunting license shall be entitled to take one Hunter’s Choice deer at no cost.

7.1.2 For the purposes of this section, a person “driving deer” and not in possession of any weapon or firearm shall not be treated as if they are hunting deer, provided they are assisting lawful hunters.

7.1.3 It shall be unlawful for any person to purchase, sell, expose for sale, transport or possess with the intent to sell, any deer or any part of such deer at any time, except that hides from deer lawfully killed and checked may be sold when tagged with a non-transferable tag issued by the Division. Said tag must remain attached to the hide until it leaves the State or is commercially processed into leather. This subsection shall not apply to venison approved for sale by the United States Department of Agriculture and imported into Delaware.

7.1.4 Notwithstanding subsection 7.1.1 of this section, a person may purchase Antlerless Deer Tags for $10 each to kill or take additional antlerless deer during the open season. Hunters may take additional antlerless deer on Antlerless Deer Damage Tags an no cost.

7.1.5 Notwithstanding subsection 7.1.1 of this section, a person may use one Quality Buck tag to take an antlered deer with a minimum outside antler spread of fifteen inches, provided the tag is valid for the season in which it is used. Hunters exempt from the requirement to purchase a hunting license must purchase a Quality Buck tag in order to take a second antlered deer in any one license year.

7.2 Tagging and Designated Checking Stations.

7.2.1 Attaching Tags. Each licensed person who hunts and kills a deer shall, immediately after the killing and before removing the deer from the location of the killing, attach an approved tag to the deer and record in ink the date of harvest on the tag. An approved tag shall mean an Anterless Deer Tag or Doe Tag received with the hunting license, a Delaware Resident Quality Buck Deer Tag, a Delaware Resident Hunter’s Choice Deer Tag, a Delaware Non Resident Quality Buck Deer Tag, a Delaware Non Resident Antlered Deer Tag, an Antlerless Deer Damage Tag, or an Antlerless Tag purchased in addition to the hunting license tags. Any unlicensed person not required to secure a license shall make and attach a tag to the deer that contains the person’s name, address and reason for not having a valid Delaware hunting license.

7.2.2 Retention of Tag. The tag required by subsection 7.1.1 of this section shall remain attached to the deer until the deer is presented to an official checking station for examination and tagging or registered by phone or over the internet, as prescribed by subsection 7.1.3 of this section.

7.2.3 Checking Stations. Each person who hunts and kills a deer shall, within 24 hours of killing said deer, present the deer to a checking station designated by the Division or to an authorized employee of the Division. Hunters may also check deer by phone or over the internet through systems authorized by the Division.

7.2.4 Dressing. It shall be unlawful for any person to remove from any deer any part thereof, except those internal organs known as the viscera, or cut the meat thereof into parts, until such deer has been examined by an authorized employee of the Division or a checking station, as prescribed by subsection 7.1.3 of this section or registered using the phone or internet system.

7.2.5 Receipt Tag. The Division shall issue, at a checking station or otherwise, an official receipt tag proving the deer was examined by an authorized employee of the Division or a checking station, as prescribed by subsection 7.1.3 of this section. The receipt tag shall remain with the deer until such time as the deer is processed for consumption or prepared for mounting. Deer checked over the phone or internet will be given a registration number. These deer shall be tagged by the hunter, butcher or taxidermist with the registration number, hunter’s first and last name, hunter’s date of birth, and date of kill. This tag may be homemade or be one provided by the Division and must remain with the head and/or carcass until the mount is picked up from the taxidermist or the meat is processed and stored as food.

7.3 Method of Take.

7.3.1 Shotgun. It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt deer during the shotgun season using a shotgun of a caliber smaller than 20 gauge, or have in his or her possession any shell loaded with shot smaller than what is commonly known as “buckshot.”

7.3.2 Bow and Arrow. It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt deer during the longbow season and have in his or her possession any weapon or firearm other than a knife, a bow and sharpened broadhead arrows having minimum arrowhead width of 7/8 of an inch.

7.3.3 Muzzle-loading Pistols. A single shot muzzle-loading pistol of .42 caliber or larger using a minimum powder charge of 40 grains may be used to provide the coupe-de-grace on deer during the primitive firearm season.

7.3.4 Refuge in Water. It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot, kill or wound or attempt to shoot, kill or wound any deer that is taking refuge in or swimming through the waters of any stream, pond, lake or tidal waters.

7.3.5 Dogs. It shall be unlawful for any person to make use of a dog for hunting during the shotgun or muzzleloader seasons for deer (in each county), except as permitted in the hunting of migratory waterfowl from an established blind or for hunting dove, quail, raccoon or rabbit on properties closed to deer hunting with firearms during December and January.

7.4 Illegal Hunting Methods; Baiting.

It shall be unlawful for any person to set, lay or use any trap, snare, net, or pitfall or make use of any artificial light, or other contrivance or device, for the purpose of hunting deer. This subsection does not preclude the use of bait for the purpose of attracting deer in order to hunt them on private land.

7.5 Seasons.

7.5.1 Shotgun Seasons. Deer may be hunted with shotgun in accordance with the statutes and regulations of the State of Delaware governing the hunting of deer: from the Friday in November that precedes Thanksgiving by thirteen (13) days through the second Saturday succeeding said Friday; and from the Saturday that precedes the third Monday in January through the following Saturday in January.

7.5.2 Archery Seasons. Deer may be hunted with longbow in accordance with statutes and regulations of the State of Delaware governing the hunting of deer: from September 1 (September 2, if September 1 is a Sunday) through the last day of January, provided hunter orange is displayed in accordance with § 718 of Title 7 when it also lawful to hunt deer with a firearm.

7.5.3 Muzzleloader Seasons. Deer may be hunted with muzzle-loading rifles in accordance with the statutes and regulations of the State of Delaware governing the hunting of deer: from the Friday that precedes the second Monday in October through the second Saturday that succeeds the Friday opening day; and from the Monday that follows the close of the January shotgun season through the next Saturday.

7.5.4 Special Antlerless Season. Antlerless deer may be hunted with a shotgun in accordance with the statutes and regulations of the State of Delaware governing the hunting of deer during all Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays in October except for during the October Muzzleloader season and the last Monday prior to the opening Friday of the October Muzzleloader season. Notwithstanding the foregoing, antlered deer may be taken with archery equipment that is legal during this October shotgun season. Antlerless deer may be hunted with shotgun in accordance with the statutes and regulations of the State of Delaware governing the hunting of deer: from the second Saturday in December through the third Saturday in December.

7.5.5 Crossbow Seasons. Crossbows may be used in lieu of shotguns during that part of the November shotgun season that runs from Monday through Saturday of each year and in any shotgun or muzzleloader deer season open in December or January.

7.5.6 Special Shotgun Season for Young and Disabled Hunters. Deer may be hunted on the first Saturday of November by disabled (non-ambulatory) hunters using a wheelchair for mobility, and hunters 12 10 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age (12 10 to 15 inclusive) who have completed an approved course in hunter training. Hunters 13-15 years of age must have completed an approved course in hunter training and possess a Delaware Resident or Non-Resident Junior Hunting License. Young hunters must be accompanied by a licensed non-hunting adult who is 21 years of age or older. Young hunters must be of sufficient size, physical strength and emotional maturity to safely handle a shotgun.

7.6 Carcass Importation Ban.

7.6.1 Importation. It shall be unlawful to import or possess any carcass or part of a carcass of any member of the family Cervidae (deer) originating from a state or Canadian province in which Chronic Wasting Disease has been found in free-ranging or captive deer. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following parts may be imported into the state:

7.6.1.1 Boned-out meat that is cut and wrapped;

7.6.1.2 Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or skull attached;

7.6.1.3 Hides or capes with no skull attached;

7.6.1.4 Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached;

7.6.1.5 Antlers (with no meat or tissue attached);

7.6.1.6 Upper canine teeth (buglers, whistlers, or ivories); and

7.6.1.7 Finished taxidermy products.

7.6.2 Carcass Notification. Any person who imports into Delaware any deer carcass or parts described in subsection 7.6.1 of this section and is notified that the animal has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease must report the test results to the department within 72 hours of receiving the notification. In order to facilitate the proper disposal of any infected material, the department may take into possession any imported carcass or carcass part of an animal if the animal has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.

3 DE Reg. 289 (8/1/99)

6 DE Reg. 536 (10/1/02)

8 DE Reg. 352 (8/1/04)

11 DE Reg. 334 (09/01/07)

12 DE Reg. 496 (10/01/08) (Final)