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Wisconsin hunters vocal about deer proposals

November 11, 2009 at 01:17 PM

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE (AP) - If you want to start a fire in Wisconsin, you don’t need matches: Just start a debate about Brett Favre or deer management and wait for the sparks to fly.

Number 4, though, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Deer hunting traditions - and strong emotions - date back generations.

An episode of Wisconsin deer management dispute in the 1940s became known as “The Deer Wars.” Then, like today, state wildlife managers were encouraging higher deer harvests while many hunters argued for less aggressive measures.

Two-thousand nine has seen another flare-up. Hunter dissatisfaction with last year’s smaller deer herd swelled into legislative hearings over Earn-A-Buck, a hunting regulation unpopular with many hunters but favored by wildlife officials as a tool to reduce deer numbers.

Though the state is still above its deer population goal, the Natural Resources Board approved an indefinite suspension of EAB and appointed a committe e of hunting, conservation, agriculture and forest interests to develop an alternative.

By a 6-4 vote, the committee advanced a proposal that would include a 16-day statewide gun hunt starting two Saturdays before Thanksgiving, a 5-day antlerless gun hunt in October and an either-sex holiday hunt beginning Dec. 26.

The proposal had 11 public hearings around the state in recent days. Attendance ranged from 87 in Spooner to 474 in Appleton, according to state figures. About 110 attended the Pewaukee meeting.

Although the proposal was sponsored by Mark Noll, a deer hunter and chairman of the Big Game Committee of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, and supported by representatives of Whitetails Unlimited and Wisconsin Deer Hunters Association, it failed to win much public support.

Verbal testimony at the hearings ran strongly against the proposal. Many bowhunters, arguably the best-organized hunting group in the state, oppose the earlier gun season open er. And many hunters oppose any measure that would increase harvest pressure on a herd they see as “too small.”

Indeed, many used the public hearings more as a forum to express their general displeasure with the state of deer management in Wisconsin than to comment on EAB.

There are no doubt supporters of the proposal, but they were unlikely to publicly declare it at the hearings.

According to Department of Natural Resources estimates, the state had 1 million deer after last year’s deer hunting seasons; the legally established overwinter goal is about 733,000 deer.

The DNR will review all comments and develop a recommendation to take to the Natural Resources Board in December. Any plan approved by the board would be subject to legislative review and wouldn’t take effect until the fall of 2010.

Although committee chairman Ralph Fritsch of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation framed the debate as a choice between “pizza or lasagna,” hunters who don’t believe
DNR deer population estimates and prefer more deer on the landscape are unlikely to support any proposal that seeks to trim the herd, regardless of its details.

Among the questions circulated:

Should the DNR and Natural Resources Board stick to the recommendations of wildlife managers or increasingly accommodate a vocal segment of the hunting population?

Is legislative involvement inevitable at every turn in modern deer management?

And if not EAB and not the committee’s proposal, then what?

It’s quite possible hunters will get something not currently listed on the menu: From conversations with DNR wildlife managers in recent days, it is likely the department will modify the proposal in coming weeks.

Deer management has always had a social dimension, relying as it does on hunters to manage the herd. But social concerns and hunter input have never played a larger role.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

“Is legislative involvement inevitable at every turn in modern deer management?”

Wake up and smell the coffee, Mr. Smith.  Modern deer management is not about wildlife management or deer biology any more.  Far from it!  Deer management, as practiced by DNR biologists in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois, and, I suspect, a lot more Midwestern States has become “social engineering.”  Carrying capacity of the environments in these “deer rich” States has nothing to do with the ability of the habitat to support a certain number of deer per acre. “Social carrying capacity” is how the deer herd is managed in our modern societies.  Throughout the United States, the success stories of the restoration of the white-tailed deer in record numbers has created a problem that no one had anticipated in our lifetimes. We have too damned many deer.  They are eating our suburbanites’ gardens, flower beds, and orchards off to the ground.  They are consuming soybean fields, corn fields, alfalfa fields, and causing severe damage to our farmers’ crops and threatening their livelyhood.  Just ask any Farm Bureau member, they will tell you that there are too many deer and something needs to be done about it.  There are numerous reports by automobile insurance companies that deer vehicle collisions are causing hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance claims every year.  Not to mention the toll in human life.  Every year in the U.S. there are tragic accidents where deer wander into the roadway and are responsible for people losing their lives as a result.  Something needs to be done about the expanding deer herds before we are up to our eyeballs in deer.

Obviously, there are way too many deer in Wisconsin, by the fact that so many deer are dying of CWD, EHD, and other deer diseases.  They are too crowded together and easily transmit the diseases to other deer.  The truth is that in Wisconsin the deer hunters are so bad that they do a lousy job of killing enough deer to stay ahead of reproduction by the deer.  If those Wisconsin deer hunters were any good, they could easily keep all the deer under control and manage their herd without the help of all the non-residents that have to be imported to Wisconsin to do their dirty work.

Come to think of it, Illinois and Iowa hunters are just as bad.  If they were doing their jobs instead of just sitting around reading and posting here on these forums we wouldn’t have the deer management problems that we do now.  No…Earn a Buck (EAB) is not the cure-all for what ails our deer herd.  Over-abundance of deer and lazy deer hunters is what the problem is.  Now get up off your butts and get out there in the morning and kill some deer.  You know who you are and you know that you need to do your job better.  People are depending upon you to kill these damned nuisances called deer.  Consider this diatribe your wake up call! Kill more deer or we will be forced to go to the State legislature and enact even more inane laws!  Did anyone ever think that if deer are such a big problem, why haven’t the state legislators put a bounty on them?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/13 at 08:39 PM

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