For many years , Wisconsin deer hunters have complained about whitetail management in their state. This doesn't make them unique: Deer hunters always want more and bigger animals in their sights — like the two Wisconsin bucks above, killed during a recent November season.
Oddly, a politician turned the complaints into a political issue, promising that, should he be elected, he'd have the state's DNR studied, or investigated, or reviewed, to determine whether the agency was competent, and if so, whether it was pursuing deer management correctly in the Badger State.
Gov. Scott Walker's campaign promise came true today, Tuesday, with a report issued by Dr. James Kroll ("Dr. Deer'') that Wisconsin DNR Commissioner Cathy Stepp says will take time to digest.
So it will — it's fairly exhaustive.
Meanwhile, here's the report's Executive Summary.
The full report can be found here.
1. Limit the use of SAK/accounting style models to monitoring deer population size and trends at the state and regional levels.
2. Do away with population goals and population estimates at the DMU level. 3. Replace the current DMU population goal definition of comparing the deer population estimate with the desired population goal for the DMU with a simplified goal statement of increase, stabilize or decrease population
density. 4. Develop a set of metrics to monitor progress towards the DMU goal of
increasing, stabilizing, or decreasing population density. 5. Reduce the number of DMUs and combine the Farmland regions. 6. Revise the Wisconsin Deer Management Plan.
Hunting Regulations, Seasons and Bag Limits
1. Simplify the regulatory process by setting antlerless harvest goals, harvest regulations and antlerless permit quotas on a 3-5 year cycle.
2. Base Antlerless Permit Quotas on DMU historical demand. 3. Increase the cost of all antlerless tags for Regular and Herd Control Units to
$12. 4. Consider charging a fee for antlerless tags in the CWD Zone. 5. Establish a public lands antlerless permit system. 6. Limit antlerless deer harvest in Regular and Herd Control Zones. 7. Establish a Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) antlerless permit
8. Re-evaluate the effectiveness of the October antlerless seasons in the CWD Zone.
9. Maintain the current buck limit of one buck per Deer Gun License (may be used in muzzleloader season) and one buck per Archery Deer License.
10. Maintain the Bonus Buck Regulation in CWD Zone. 11.Resolve the cross-bow season issue through the public involvement
process. 12. Resolve the baiting and feeding issue outside CWD affected areas. 13. Put the fun back into hunting by simplifying seasons, bag limits and youth
Predator Studies and Management
1. Continue to conduct research on the impacts of predators on the deer herd. 2. Involve the public as much as practical with field-based research projects. 3. Revise the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan to include updated information
and provide current public attitudes to guide management decisions through
the early years of this post-delisting era. 4. Establish a wolf population management program to limit/decrease wolf-
5. Geospatial studies of predator distribution and densities, especially for wolves, should be encouraged and developed to assess long-term trends and issues.
Chronic Wasting Disease
1. We believe it is time to consider a more passive approach to CWD in the DMZ.
2. There is a clear need for a new sampling protocol for CWD in Wisconsin, one that gives a true picture of the progress of the disease; but more importantly, one designed to detect spread.
3. Dealing with wildlife diseases is not unlike responding to wild fires, and response plan should be developed on this model, focusing on early detection of “break outs” and citizen involvement (active approach).
4. We recommend implementation of a statewide DMAP program; and, nowhere is such a program needed more than in the DMZ.
5. There is a need to provide more information about concerns for humans contracting a CWD variant.
6. The time required to receive CWD test results from hunter-killed animals must be decreased to a few days.
7. An annual meeting of DMAP cooperators would be an excellent venue for reporting on various aspects of CWD, in addition to the topics discussed earlier. This would greatly enhance public awareness and WDNR credibility.
8. WDNR should work closely (through the local biologist) with the Conservation Congress in developing goals and strategies at the county level. we feel use of human dimensions research to anticipate, rather than reacting to issues as they arise would be very effective.
9. We feel use of human dimensions research to anticipate, rather than reacting to issues as they arise would be very effective.
10. Charlotte the Deer should become the “Smokey Bear” of CWD in Wisconsin, serving as the centerpiece for a public education program developed with stakeholder organizations such as QDMA, Whitetails of Wisconsin and Whitetails Unlimited.
Harvest Data, Herd Health and Productivity
1. Involving the public in data collection produces many benefits, including buy-in on management and harvest strategies and cost-efficiencies of data collection.
2. Each field biologist should be required to organize and conduct at least one field necropsy study each year, conducted along with cooperators and volunteers during late winter.
3. Training should be provided to biologists and technicians to standardize methodologies and educate them on deer anatomy and basic physiology. 4. An annual report should be prepared for each DMU and Region summarizing
these studies and a Powerpoint/video presentation developed for annual DMAP workshops and public presentations.
1. As both part of DMAP activities and public lands management, local biologists/technicians should be required to conduct annual range evaluations to assess habitat health and condition. Foresters also should be involved in these activities, public and private.
2. Training programs should be developed for state and private resource managers to standardize habitat/range assessment methodologies.
3. There is a need for modernizing the GIS and GPS capabilities of Wisconsin’s agencies.
4. A statewide geospatial information system, similar to that used in Texas, should be developed which provides seamless support to all state resource managers across agencies, which also supports economic development, emergency planning and response, and a host of citizen services.
5. Form a Young Forest Initiative Task Force.
6. Funding for these activities should arise from fees assessed by stakeholders and landowners using these data and services, as well as grants and contracts for various state agency activities.
7. The WDNR adopt an advocacy role in dealing with the National Forests of Wisconsin to encourage sustainable forest management, especially for early and mid-successional species (game and non-game).
1. Implement a Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP). 2. Each DMAP cooperator should receive an annual report summarizing
current data and trend data over years to monitor progress toward goals. 3. Develop a public lands antlerless permit system. 4. In addition to providing hunting opportunities, the impacts of deer
depredation on agricultural crops, forest regeneration and biodiversity, deer/vehicle collisions, the special significance of deer to the Ojibwe people and other factors also must be considered in management of Wisconsin’s white-tailed deer resources. This will include strict adherence to all agreements with the Voight Intertribal Task Force (GLIFWC), the tribes serving as “co-managers’ where appropriate.
5. Expand public education/outreach efforts to serve landowners whose goals include management for white-tailed deer and other wildlife species.
DNR Research and Technical Publications
1. We strongly suggest establishment of a research steering committee, with representation from user groups, stakeholders and regional WDNR biologists, and Tribal representatives.
2. A significant effort should be developed in Human Dimensions research. Wisconsin is blessed with two excellent researchers (Holsman at UW-SP and Petchenik in house), and a plan for long-term monitoring of trends and issues should be developed between them.
3. We are concerned about long-term contracts for research services. There need to be milestones and project evaluations.
4. Projects should involve the public whenever practical.
5. There is a need for a long-term research plan (developed through 1), based on needs assessments, and prioritized for funding.
6. Synergies with other agencies and greater cooperative efforts, particularly with those in forestry and geospatial disciplines, would help leverage funding and strengthen projects.
7. Research projects should be of an applied nature, rather than basic research with clearly defined application to the needs for managing Wisconsin’s deer and habitat resources.
8. Project results should be extended to the public through media, workshops and field days, as part of the DMAP program and regional stakeholder conferences.
9. In the long-term, we recommend developing a wildlife disease unit to: 1) respond quickly to CWD outbreaks; 2) monitor health and disease of other wildlife species; and, 2) train and support local biologists/technicians in conducting annual herd health surveys.
1. We feel the Conservation Congress must have a more active role in deer management decision-making at the local level.
1. We strongly suggest addition of a Deer Management Assistance Coordinator, a highly qualified individual with the following characteristics: 1) considerable experience with DMAP or related programs; 2) well- respected in both the scientific and public communities; 3) highly skilled communicator; and, 4) highly motivated to work with the public.
2. We also recommend development of a “boots-on-the-ground” culture in the WDNR; and, job descriptions of field biologists be adjusted accordingly.
Power is out at some North Shore parks due to storms and heavy rains, the DNR says, and the agency has closed some state parks in northeast Minnesota because of flooding.
Jay Cooke State Park just south of Duluth has been evacuated, and the park will be closed until further notice, the DNR says.
The campground at Moose Lake State Park also has been closed, and will remain closed at least through the weekend.
Savanna Portage State Park near McGregor also has been closed at least through the weekend due to flooding.
Additionally, flooding has closed a state recreation area — Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area — near Crosby in central Minnesota.
Fast-changing weather-related DNR state park closures and other information can be found on the agency's web site.
Guns.com is reporting that a California bill is gaining traction that would ban the open carry of rifles and shotguns in public, with some exceptions.
The bill was approved by the California Assembly, according to the website.
The bill was sponsored by Anthony Portantino, and Guns.com is quoting him as saying, "This bill just makes sense. Sooner or later, somebody's going to get hurt. If you see somebody walking around a mall or main street with a shotgun, it's pretty intimidating. It's unnecessary and it's just going to lead to trouble."
For the full story, and links to the proposed legislation, go here.
The DNR essentially capitulated to dissatisfied deer hunters on Monday, announcing it would re-evaluate whitetail population goals in 23 permit areas in southwestern and northern Minnesota.
"Hunter dissatisfaction has increased as deer numbers have decreased to meet established goals," said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife programs manager. "In fact, hunters are even expressing disappointment in certain areas where deer populations have increased to meet goals."
As a result, he said, population goals will be revisited.
Which doesn't mean hunters who want to see more deer necessarily will. As in the past, the goal-setting process will take into account not only hunters' wishes, but landowner and "other societal and resource interests.''
When the DNR last set population goals, about half the state's permit areas were due for reductions, while about 40 percent were slated for increases. Most of the latter were in western and southern Minnesota.
The DNR says that nearly 70 percent of deer populations are within goal, while 15 percent remain below goal and 18 percent are above goal.
But many hunters strongly disagree. They say deer numbers in many parts of the state are drastically reduced, in part because of too-liberal bag limits, and in part because of tough recent winters.
Some of these hunters say the DNR listened too intently to parties wanting deer population cutbacks, and that previously organized stakeholder groups weren't representative of many hunters and their concerns.
Stakeholder input groups in the southwest and portions of northern Minnesota will be organized to begin the latest process. One red flag for hunters: The DNR says it will use the same stakeholder groups it used in the previous goal-setting process, if possible.
In time, the DNR will also take public comments on its website.
Forest health, crop depredation, deer-vehicle collisions and other factors will be considered, in addition to hunters' wishes, the DNR said.
The entire statewide reassessment process will take more than one year. It will begin by focusing on the following permit areas: 118, 119, 171, 173, 176-179, 181, 199, 234, 237, 238, 250, 252, 279, 286, 288, 289, and 294-296.
In the rest of the state where deer are at or below goal, DNR will set regulations for the fall of 2012 that will maintain or increase populations until the statewide goal review process is completed.
Overseeing the process will be acting big game program leader Erik Thorson, whose appointment also was announced Monday.
Thorson follows in the footsteps of Lou Cornicelli, who now is the DNR's wildlife section research manager.
In addition to managing the population review, Thorson will oversee the state's elk and moose programs.
According to the DNR:
Thorson began his DNR career in 2001 as a private lands specialist. He served as Park Rapids area assistant wildlife manager from 2001-2006. He has served as a regional forest wildlife coordinator for about six years.
Thorson will work out of the DNR's Park Rapids office.
Thorson has been a member of the DNR's Deer Management Committee since 2005. He led the DNR's deer goal-setting process for north-central Minnesota in 2006. He coordinated Chronic Wasting Disease sampling efforts in the DNR's Northwest Region in 2004, and has assisted with Bovine Tuberculosis control and sampling in northwestern Minnesota.
The appointment is scheduled to end after the agency selects a permanent big game coordinator, which is anticipated to occur later this spring.
Thorson earned a bachelor's degree in fisheries and wildlife and an MS in wildlife conservation from the University of Minnesota.
David Chapman of Minnetonka has won his third Minnesota turkey stamp contest with a watercolor painting of two toms.
Chapman's latest design will be featured on the 2013 version of the stamp, and was selected from among 13 entries in the DNR-sponsored competition.
Chapman previously won in 2002 and 2006.
Entries from five artists reached the second round of competition. In the end, two entries tied for first, but Chapman won over Mike Zillgitt of Cannon Falls. Nicholas Markell of Hugo finished third.
Stamp-sale funds are used for wild turkey management and research.