EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been revised to correct information on the percentage increase of the deer herd under the revised goas. The new goals would result in an 8 percent increase the in population over current goals.
MADISON – The state Natural Resources Board has approved revisions to proposed overwinter population goals for white-tailed deer, raising this management benchmark to a statewide target of nearly 800,000, which is a Correction -- 8 percent increase over current levels.
The board, meeting in Madison March 16, approved increases in population targets in 43 of Wisconsin’s 131 deer management units. The new goals were developed at the request of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee after the committee heard testimony on hunter dissatisfaction with the number of deer seen and harvested during the 2009 gun deer season. The legislative committee did not accept a previous proposal to raise population targets in 13 deer management units.
The modified rule will now be returned to the legislature for review by the Senate and Assembly natural resources committees.
“Population goals serve as the foundation for managing the deer herd and determining deer hunting season structures,” said Keith Warnke, big game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. “Goals are reviewed every three years and are developed with input from the public. This current review process had the added input of a select advisory group representing hunting and conservation organizations, woodland owners, forest managers and agriculture.”
The department works to maintain healthy, sustainable wildlife populations for now and for future generations by balancing social, economic and ecosystem objectives.
State law directs the department to maintain a herd in balance with its habitat and at a population compatible with a variety of factors including a management unit’s capacity to support deer, browsing impacts, animal disease risks, vehicle-deer collisions, hunter access to land in the unit, tribal agreements, ability to keep populations at goal, crop damage and hunter satisfaction
Members of the Natural Resources Board heard that the proposed modifications are shifting the balance prescribed in state law in favor of hunter success in harvesting and seeing deer.
“We understand there is hunter frustration out there,” said Warnke. “We also acknowledge that these increases have the potential for impacts on agriculture, forestry and road safety.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke – (608) 264-6023
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource