Small Turnout For DNR Deer Trustee Hearing
Wisconsin DNR is proposing some changes in deer hunting regulations based on the results of what is known a the Deer Trustee Report. One of the 35 hearings being conducted around the state to get hunter input was held in Crivitz on Wednesday evening, Oct. 30. Only about 20 hunters attended, including Assemblyman Jeff Mursau, Crivitz.
Few members of the audience chose to speak. Everyone attending was given a questionnaire to fill out. Anyone wishing to express an opinion for or against the rule changes can fill out a survey online until Friday, Nov. 8, at dnr.wi.gov, and then doing a keyword search for Deer Trustee Report.
The two who did address the DNR personnel at the Crivitz hearing both expressed concern about rule changes they feel will result in reducing the deer population to a lower number than they would like to see.
Ben Treml, Warden Supervisor for the DNR team at Peshtigo, introduced Wildlife Biologist John Hoff, who briefly explained what recommendations are being considered at this time, and presented a video with more detailed explanations.
This rule makes some pretty significant changes, Hoff commented. The changes will be transitioned in starting in 2014, and are expected to be fully in effect for 2015.
Among them are a move to an automated deer registration system in 2015, with a pilot occurring in 2014, restoring a statewide ban on shooting white (albino) deer, reducing the number of Deer Management Units by either following county lines or combing current units into larger units with identifiable boundaries such as roads, lakes, rivers and streams, and establishing Deer management Advisory Committees in each county that would hold public meetings to evaluate local data regarding the deer herd.
Hoff said combining the current units would allow them to use data that has been collected since the existing units were established, while county line delineation would eliminate that .
Potential members of the advisory committees would be representatives of Conservation Congress, agriculture, forestry, tourism, transportation, urban and tribal in ceded areas.
Many of the proposals affect the more metropolitan, farmland and chronic wasting disease areas of the state.
Most new rules coming out as a result of the report will not go into effect until 2015, but a few changes already are in place for 2014.
No change is proposed for the 9-day gun season, which as usual will run from Saturday, Nov. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 30 (the traditional Saturday before Thanksgiving until the Sunday after.)
The one day that archery season is closed on the eve of the 9-day gun season has been eliminated, so bow hunting will be allowed from Sept. 13, 2014 until Jan. 4, 2015, in most of the state and until Jan. 31 in Metro Zones as it is now.
There are no plans to change the Youth Deer Hunt on Oct. 4 and 5, 2014 or the deer hunt for hunters with disabilities, which is set for Oct. 4 through 12.
Hoff said gun hunting in Metro Zones will go back to the regular 9-day season in 2014. Somewhat as compensation, the DNR is adding four days to the muzzle loader season, which is set for Dec. 1 through 14.The antlerless hunt is being discontinued.
There is no change to the Holiday Hunt from Dec. 24 through Jan. 4 in Farmland or CWD Management Zones, probably south of Hwy. 64. There will be no Holiday Hunt in state parks.
Statewide, bonus tags for antlerless deer will cost $12 each. In Forest Zones, hunters can take one buck, and can purchase antlerless tags if available. In Farmland Zones hunters are entitled to one buck and one antlerless tag per license, but additional antlerless tags can be purchased if available.
Overall, the new rules will eliminate Park Zones for hunting statewide; convert Metro Units to sub-units or zones within a new aggregation aimed at consolidating the current Deer Management Units from the current 134 to 74 or 53, depending on which options is chosen.
There are also plans to enroll property owners in a 3-tiered Deer Management Assistance Program. Rewards for participating would include eligibility for antlerless tags at a reduced rate.
Level 1, aimed mainly at increasing communication between land owners and hunters, would have no annual fee, no minimum acreage or participation requirements. Participants would receive deer management reports and information, attend annual workshops and meetings, assist with citizen science opportunities and get information on forming deer management cooperatives.
Level 2, for properties with a minimum of 160 acres, would include the Level 1 components, but would be required to submit an application, biological harvest data, and pay a $75 fee for a 3-year enrollment. Cooperatives between neighboring land owners can be formed to come up with the 160 acres. The Level 2 properties would get an onsite visit by a wildlife biologist and forester, a management plan with habitat and harvest recommendations, aerial photo, reduced fee antlerless tags, and specific harvest reports.
Level 3 participation is for properties or cooperatives with 640 or more acres. Enrollment is proposed at $150 for three years, and there would be requirements to submit an application, biological harvest data and attend an annual meeting. Each of the Level 1 and 2 components would be included, plus there would be management recommendations for wildlife other than deer, assistance with deer population monitoring, annual habitat evaluations, assistance with other conservation programs, including property design/layout recommendations, additional site visits and in-depth management recommendations.
There are some additional specific options proposed for regulating deer hunting on public lands.
Hoff explained the long process that led to the Deer Trustee Report, including an action team that met over a 5-year period during which members collected and shared information and ideas.
After the informational portion of the meeting ended the floor was opened to questions and comments.
A sportsman from Amberg said there is already a problem with over hunting of Unit 45, which is all public land. He felt combining with neighboring units will mean less control and slaughtering of more deer.
Another, from Pound, was concerned about proposals for allowing people to keep wild deer in return for paying a fine, and asked what would keep someone with deep pockets from establishing a private deer herd. Hoff said the Deer Trustee rules do not address that issue, but the Natural Resources Board did not like the DNR proposals on the subject of pet deer, so they are taking another look at possibilities.
(That proposed rule referred to and the continuing discussions came about after the governor pardoned a pet deer that had been sentenced to death because owners were prohibited from keeping it.)
Snowmobile Alliance representative Andy Malecki did not speak formally, but said said after the hearing that the holiday hunt interferes with snowmobile and ATV trails because property owners will not allow the trails on their land if they will be deer hunting during the winter season. However, it should not affect this area because proposed boundary would be south of Hwy. 64 or lperhaps father south.
Scott Durand said he would prefer to see no change in deer management units, as he feels the larger units will lead to greater depletionof the deer herd in the north.
The final package of recommendations, after public hearing and online comments are analyzed, will go to the Natural Resources Board at its meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 10 and 11.
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