Wisconsin DNR Asking Hunters and Others for Help with Deer Management

by Jennifer Shea
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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking the public’s help with its deer management policy. It’s inviting hunters and concerned citizens to comment now on deer herd size goals and deer management unit boundaries for the next three years. 

Wisconsin Deer Advisory Councils Need Public Input

Each Wisconsin county has a deer advisory council. After the public comment window, the councils will meet remotely on Jan. 19 to 25, according to APG Wisconsin. They will talk about the feedback they got and make their final recommendations. Those meetings are open to the public. They are listed on the County Deer Advisory Council website.

The deer advisory councils have already made recommendations on whether to increase, decrease or maintain current herd size. They have also made DMU boundary recommendations. People can see those and comment on them by going to the DNR’s website and searching “CDAC.”

The DNR will go over the final recommendations from the councils. It will then present them to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board in February. The board must approve all recommendations.

Deer advisory council members are supposed to represent groups affected by deer management policies. Together with DNR staff, they schedule meetings, do community outreach and facilitate public input.

They also monitor county-level population data and deer impacts on forests and agriculture. And they supply three-year recommendations on population objectives and harvest quotas.

DNR Fighting Chronic Wasting Disease

It is the DNR’s job to examine the big picture. It also maintains deer numbers that are ecologically sound and socially acceptable. Moreover, the department’s goals are to achieve a healthy deer herd, a strong ecosystem, minimal complaints of deer damage and strong hunting and wildlife observation opportunities.

The state’s deer population objectives from 2018 to 2020 are a patchwork of “increase,” “decrease” and “maintain.” But the majority of counties opted to maintain their deer herd sizes.

Wildlife officials have been monitoring deer populations since the early 1900s. Over time, population and harvest data has grown more accurate and more easily available. So now department biologists track deer populations to keep the animals at healthy levels for hunters and non-hunters alike.

Among the deer that remain in Wisconsin, chronic wasting disease is a growing problem. And as it spreads, more counties are enacting restrictions on baiting and feeding deer within their borders. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the DNR has adopted a passive approach of testing and surveillance. That has allowed the disease to reach into new counties with increasing prevalence.

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