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Wis. Senate leader demands DNR fire deer experts

December 03, 2009 at 03:30 PM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A powerful state senator called Thursday for wildlife officials to fire anyone involved with deer management after hunters killed the fewest deer in years during Wisconsin’s traditional November hunt.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, said the Department of Natural Resources’ has draconian herd-control policies that have devastated the deer population, leaving hunters empty-handed. The experts who designed the regulations deserve to lose their jobs, he said.

“They’ve earned what they got coming. They’ve screwed us over too many years in a row now,” Decker told The Associated Press. “They got what they wanted. They wanted a decimated deer herd. I don’t think anybody trusts them anymore.”

DNR officials rejected Decker’s demand.

“We know there is hunter frustration, but the suggestion to fire staff is not a constructive proposal,” DNR Secretary Matt Frank said in a statement.

Wisconsin’s November deer hunt is as much a part of the state’s culture and image as cows, cheese and the Green Bay Packers. Hunters constantly complain about the DNR’s deer regulations, but Decker’s statements reflect a new level of anger over two years of anemic hunts.

At the heart of the issue are the DNR’s herd-control policies.

For much of the last decade the agency insisted Wisconsin’s herd had grown too large, creating more car-deer crashes and jeopardizing forest growth.

The DNR has imposed several herd-control measures, including multiple hunting seasons, more antlerless deer tags and earn-a-buck regulations, which require hunters to kill an antlerless deer before they can take a buck. The idea was to kill more does and cut the herd’s reproductive potential, but hunters dislike the requirements because it forces them to pass up trophy bucks.

Between 2004 and 2007, the November hunt netted anywhere from 320,000 to 350,000 deer. Last year that dipped drastically, to 2 85,240 deer.

The agency still estimated about a million deer roamed the state in February, about 300,000 over its target goal. But hunters insisted fewer deer were in the woods, and state lawmakers backed them up.

Bowing to pressure, the DNR this spring cut back on antlerless tags and suspended earn-a-buck rules across much of the state. But hunters killed even fewer deer over the nine-day November hunt - 195,650, according to preliminary figures - and now they say the herd is too thin.

DNR officials have acknowledged the population appears to have decreased. But they say it’s due as much to harsh winters and wet conditions this fall - which prevented farmers from harvesting corn, giving deer more cover - as their regulations.

Plus deer populations vary from locale to locale, they said. One area may be under goal while another may be over goal, they said.

Wisconsin isn’t alone. The deer kill in several Midwestern states appears down so far this year. But Decker still called the DNR’s explanations “horse hockey.”

He told the AP his group of 14 hunters in Lincoln County would spend days in the woods without seeing anything.

Decker insisted earn-a-buck, early season hunts and wolves have destroyed the herd in central and northern Wisconsin. He urged the DNR’s Frank or the Natural Resources Board, which sets agency policy, to sack the big game management team.

Natural Resources Board Chairwoman Christine Thomas didn’t immediately return messages Thursday.

Ed Harvey is chairman of the Conservation Congress, an influential group of sportsmen who advise the DNR. He said firing the DNR’s deer management team and replacing them with “greenhorns right out of college” isn’t the answer.

The agency should improve its population estimates, involve the public in setting population goals and keep earn-a-buck off the table.

“We’ve got an issue here,” he said, “that’s larger than just firing some people.”

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Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/04 at 11:21 AM

Paul, are you LISTENING???!!!! We are coming for you!


“They’ve earned what they got coming. They’ve screwed us over too many years in a row now,” Decker told The Associated Press. “They got what they wanted. They wanted a decimated deer herd. I don’t think anybody trusts them anymore.”

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/04 at 07:43 PM

Amazing! There are real people for the people. This guy is the senate majority leader and a Democrat. This guy has balls! I love him…IDNR, take note.

Posted by deerhead on 12/04 at 07:48 PM

This man has to have an iq of 170.  Hes a senator and a busy man and smart enough to see whats going on.  I was in my stand today thinking about going to springfield this year and visiting the dnr but i feel i would have to call higgins or walmsly to bail me out of jail.  And no im not kidding.  If the weather men did the same quality of work as our Dnr has over the last 20 years they would be insisting that this cold weather is caused by the full moon and that summer was coming any day to just keep wearing shorts.  Its a joke and a really really really sad one.

In the 90s we had it ALL.  Seeing plenty of deer even on property where anyone can hunt.  Now there are 2 places a person can hunt and see deer in my area.  In or if your a fence sitter near a large patch of forest where the landowner is working for large deer numbers because they seen this coming and they are trying to prolong their hunting a few years past this mess or in segments of the county where population is low and cover is high.

Several may recall the season my ?team? had a few years ago where we killed 6 bucks with a bow that scored from 140 to 190 gross scores.  They were killed from 5 different forests.  This year we were able to hunt 2 of those areas because the other 3 forests were completely decimated.

In the 90s the dnr could have implemented a 10,000 NR cap.  This would have ensured that only good quality outfitters could exist while the junk fly by night outfitters couldnt.  Instead they attempt to maximize their income by putting it at 20,000 and raising tag prices to ungodly amounts.  This likely causing the ? over population? problems that do exist and forcing residents to group up in smaller areas to fight over the remaining deer. They could have implemented a 3 deer per season max with a 1 buck limit and increased it slightly if needed.  Or adding a sept anterless season as needed to keep the ratio in check.  Instead they again attempted to maximize profit by making every season they could sell new tags for and selling it to the public as ? hunter op?.  This resulted in a completely decimated herd in areas where landowners werent selective on hunters on their land.  They could have managed the herd for the hunters, instead they managed it for the insurance companies and the 500 farmers in the state who hate deer.

Now they use lies like ?hiding in the corn? why didnt deer ever hid in the corn in the 90s?  Never seemed to be a problem then when there were 3 times more deer in this county.  They use lies like EHD killed a large part of the population.  EHD didnt kill a drop in the bucket compared to their extreme lies about how good the herd is and how hunters should shoot does.  Not near as many as their rediculous ?shoot a doe so the herd wont grow? days.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/04 at 10:57 PM

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