Comment to DNR on Deer Quotas and Hunting Seasons

Tom HaugeWI Green Fire, May 18, 2018

To: Natural Resources Board Members
c/o Laurie J. Ross, Board Liaison
Office of the Secretary, Wisconsin DNR
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921

Re: Agenda Item 2B2 – 2018 Antlerless Deer Quotas & Hunting Seasons

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this action item. Wisconsin’s Green Fire has reviewed the department recommendations for 2018 and offer the following comments for your consideration and action.

Ashland & Price County should have antlerless quotas – We believe the department’s recommendations for modest antlerless deer quotas for Ashland and Price County Deer Management Units is well supported by the herd performance data available for these units. The quotas are targeted to private lands and recognizes the herd growth differences between the farmland and forest regions of these units.

More herd control tools needed for Farmland Zone Units – We wish to draw your attention to the following concern outlined by the department on page 3 of the agenda item memo:

“In sharp contrast to most counties in Forest Zones, CDAC members are expressing growing frustration as they struggle to achieve “maintain” or “decrease” objectives in the Farmland Zones. High antlerless tag levels and extra hunting opportunity have not proven to be enough to reach their population objectives.”

Without action by the NRB, CDAC frustration will grow and more importantly needed herd control will be delayed. We encourage you to act at your May meeting or soon to begin development of the herd control tools CDACs desire in time for 2019 deer season implementation. If legislative authority is needed, we encourage you to reach out to the legislature to seek such authority.

CWD warrants greater attention in season choices – There is no greater challenge to the health of Wisconsin’s deer herd and deer hunting heritage than Chronic Wasting Disease. We are very concerned by the lack of consistency in season choices recommended by the County CDACs within the endemic CWD infection areas of southern Wisconsin. This is best illustrated by the season recommendations for Iowa County. Neither the Iowa County CDAC or the department have recommended the Holiday Hunt for this county. Consequently, Iowa county would also be precluded from using the extended archery and crossbow season. From a disease response perspective, this simply doesn’t make sense. Iowa County has produced 54% of total number of CWD+ deer Wisconsin has detected since 2002. In 2017, it produced 2-4 times the number of positive animals than its neighboring counties of Dane, Richland and Sauk. Yet these counties have season recommendations that include a Holiday Hunt and extended archery and crossbow hunt. The attached department map of 2017 CWD+ deer shows the important role Iowa County plays in our current CWD situation. We recommend the NRB correct this disparity and implement a Holiday Hunt and Extended Archery/Crossbow season in Iowa County at a minimum. Similar consideration should be given to the other southern Wisconsin counties without such hunts that are within the endemic zone. CWD disease research has indicated that frequency-dependent transmission (the frequency at which healthy deer contact sick deer) is a key driver in increasing prevalence rates and spread of this disease. This means we should be seeking strategies that increase the removal of sick deer from the landscape. The Holiday Hunt and extended bow seasons are such tools and need to be used. Based upon the 2017 testing and harvest data from Iowa County, the Holiday Hunt alone could remove as many as 40 CWD+ deer from the landscape. We are not suggesting that the Holiday Hunt or extended bow seasons will turn the tide of this disease, but these seasons will help remove more CWD+ animals from the landscape. Your action to correct this inconsistency will complement the CWD control actions you are taking under Agenda Item 2B6 for carcass transport and deer farm fencing.

Thank you for consideration of our comments.

Tom Hauge, Cochair – Wildlife Working Group
Wisconsin’s Green Fire
P.O. Box 1206
Rhinelander, WI 54501

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