Friday, December 18, 2009

Wisconsin DNR Deer Hearing -A Lot More Talk and No More Action

Wisconsin deer harvests dropped 30% in the 2009 season to its lowest level in 27 years. Over the last few years Wisconsin hunters have been forced to deal with an aggressive deer management policy from the state DNR that has included a “Herd Reduction Zone” that covers a large part of the state. Control tactics have included early and late special season doe only hunts, earn a buck requirements (Where the hunter is required to shoot a doe before they can shoot a buck) and unlimited doe tags. Couple a few years of back to back hard winters and it’s not surprising that the deer population is way down.

Hunters are angry about the low deer numbers and many are reporting seeing very few deer and deer sign in the woods. Due to public hunter outrage lawmakers finally held a hearing in Madison this past Thursday and Lawmakers took turns telling DNR Secretary Matt Frank how they have been over whelmed with calls and letters from angry Hunters (Voters, I might mention after all, it’s an election year) expressing their distaste for the way the Wisconsin deer herd is being managed.

Frank acknowledged that the deer herd has indeed been reduced in some areas due to DNR herd reduction programs and harsh winters but added that the Midwest population is down this year adding that Minnesota saw a 12 percent drop and Michigan a 10 to 20 percent drop. Frank took strong exception to claims by hunters that the DNR is not listening to hunters sighting the tabled discussion on extending the traditional 10 day hunt to 17 days and the abandonment of the earn a buck program. “I think we are listening,” he said. “Look at our actions.”
Many hunters are saying those actions are to little and to late. Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, asked why DNR's deer herd managers hadn’t taken action to stop some of the deer reduction programs earlier in spite of the fact that hunters were telling DNR managers that they weren't seeing deer in the woods. Some hunters are suggesting that the DNR stop all herd reduction activities and go back to the doe lottery system of earlier years to restore deer populations. The general consensus of most of the deer hunters we spoke to felt that the DNR deer counts have been way off for years and that the deer herd hasn’t been strong enough to support herd reduction strategies for many years.
Wisconsin deer hunting activities are believe to be a $1 billion a year industry and many hunters in the state believe that the industry is in trouble.

Author’s Note- It is my personal opinion that it is time for lawmakers to do more the just hold hearings on this issue. If the DNR won’t listen to hunters it’s time to replace those managers with folks who will listen. If the lawmakers won’t make that happen it’s time to replace those lawmakers with folks that will act to protect this Wisconsin tradition and the businesses that depend on it. We as hunters are also partially to blame here. Just because we have 6 doe tags we don’t need to take 6 does. Every doe taken is 2 less you will see the following year. It’s time for hunters to use their voices. Contact your state representatives and tell them how you feel about these issues, after all they work for us. I personally have written letters to many of the representatives in the area. Here is a copy of my letter. Feel free to copy it if you need a place to start:

“Thank you for your hard work on behalf of our state. I appreciate your dedication and hard work. As a long time Wisconsin resident and hunter I am very concerned about the DNR’s management of the deer herd. As I’m sure you are aware this year was the worst hunting season in 27 years across much of the state. I’m upset with the way the DNR has handled the herd and the liberal doe tags being issued along with all the extended early and late doe hunts going on across the state. CWD has been present in other states for years and in no other state have the wildlife managers taken such measures to eliminate deer. I think it is time for new managers in the DNR that value the deer and it’s time to eliminate the herd reduction nonsense and all the money being spent to “Control” CWD. Please act now to preserve the tradition of deer hunting and a great revenue source for our state. Let’s clean house at the DNR.”

Wisconsin Voters take note, I emailed this letter to: Judy Robson, Kim Hixon, Chuck Benedict, Gary Sherman and Mike Sheridan- To date I have received no responses with the exception of Judy Robson who’s assistant sent me a poorly worded response that said the Senator Robson would respond by mail. I will updated this as I receive response if I ever do.


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