Wednesday, November 25, 2009

16-day deer hunt starting Saturday before Thanksgiving proposed for 2010

MADISON – A 16-day gun deer hunt starting the Saturday before the Thanksgiving holiday will be the basis of a proposed 2010 deer season framework presented to the Natural Resources Board for consideration at its December 8 meeting in Madison.

“The special committee formed by the Natural Resources Board to develop effective alternatives to earn-a-buck discussed dozens of ideas and season structures,” said DNR Secretary Matt Frank. “They ended up recommending a 16-day gun hunt with either an early or a traditional start date. At public hearings we heard sentiment overwhelmingly against an early start date so we are recommending a traditional opening date to the board at this time.

“This was one of the most heavily attended public hearing schedules in recent history. On behalf of the department, I want to thank all the organizations and individuals that participated in the public review process over the past few months. Public involvement in this decision process is invaluable.”

The complete proposal is available on the Natural Resources Board meeting adenda for December page of the DNR Web site. The special committee’s report [PDF] is also available on the Natural Resources Board Web pages.

If approved, the 16-day season would be an alternative to the use of earn-a-buck in areas outside the chronic wasting disease management zone beginning with the 2010 season. The season would open on the Saturday before the Thanksgiving holiday. Numerous Wisconsin hunting and conservation organizations have registered preference for the Saturday before Thanksgiving opener.

Other key features of the proposal include: extending the archery season through all gun seasons and extending archery season until the end of January in herd control units; addition of a four-day October antlerless only statewide muzzleloader hunt; a four-day October antlerless only gun hunt in herd control units; a four-day youth hunt that coincides with the October antlerless hunt; a seven-day statewide December muzzleloader hunt; a four-day December antlerless only gun hunt and a 10-day buck plus quota holiday hunt in farmland and central forest deer management units.

“An understandable reaction to creating additional hunting seasons is a concern that deer herds will be over harvested,” said Keith Warnke, DNR big game ecologist. “The safeguard against this is the existing quota system. Under this system the harvest of female deer is limited by permit to maintain populations at healthy, sustainable levels.”

The proposal calls for a unit by unit review of the effectiveness of any new season structure. In units that are more than 20 percent over goal and the expected harvest under a third year of any new season structure is unlikely to bring the herd to within 20 percent of goal, additional harvest measures will be considered.

More than 1,600 people attended the series of 11 public hearings held across the state in October and November. An additional 6,500 people used the web-based comment form or submitted email or mailed comments. Department social researchers also mailed a randomized survey to 1,000 hunters to gauge opinion. The response rate to the survey was a very respectable 71 percent.

Legislative review of any NRB action should be completed by March 2010 with any changes taking effect in time for deer season setting in April 2010

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - (608) 264-6023 or Bob Manwell - (608) 264-9248

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