Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gun deer season designed to speed herd recovery in north

MADISON – The state Department of Natural Resources is proposing a 2010 deer hunting framework with fewer areas targeted for herd control and a larger portion of the state under traditional “buck plus quota” regulations.
To grow the herd in northeast Wisconsin, the department is proposing issuing no bonus antlerless permits in 18 deer management units where populations are well below goal (compared to 13 last year). This year, for the first time, the department is proposing that archers be restricted from shooting an antlerless deer in these units also, consistent with gun hunters and with the support of bow-hunting groups.
The Natural Resources Board is scheduled to act on the proposal at its April 28 meeting in Green Bay.
The department is recommending a regular nine-day season for 66 deer management units. In four seasons (2007-2010) the number of regular units has grown from 22 to 66. Regular units are those where hunters are able to shoot a buck plus a carefully controlled number of antlerless deer with unit-specific permits. Some units would have no antlerless permits available to facilitate maximum deer population growth.
A total of 46 DMUs are proposed for herd control status, down by 10 units from the 2007 season.
Herd control units are those where the deer population is estimated to be more than 20 percent above the healthy population goal for that unit. In addition to being open to unlimited antlerless deer harvest during all deer hunting seasons herd control units will have an additional antlerless deer gun-hunting opportunity October 14-17. There is no limit to the number of antlerless deer permits hunters may purchase for herd control units. Antlerless permits for herd control units are $2 each. In buck-plus-quota units, bonus antlerless permits cost $12 when they are available.

In the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone in south central Wisconsin all 22 units would be earn-a-buck in 2010, a regulation that requires hunters to “earn” a buck permit by shooting an antlerless deer. The number of EAB units in the CWD Management Zone has remained constant at 22 as wildlife officials seek to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease among wild deer.
Final antlerless deer quotas and permit availability for regular units won’t be finalized until late spring. Biologists will continue to track winter and spring weather and fine tune permit levels. So far, winter effects appear to be mostly moderate with a few small areas experiencing severe conditions.

Analysis of the 2009 harvest figures is mostly complete. Deer registrations provided by hunters yield a rich and deep pool of information on hunting success rates, age and sex distribution in the herd and regional population trends. Using these data biologists estimate the 2009 prehunt population was 1.37 million and the post-hunt population, also called the overwinter population, at 990,000.

The estimated statewide post-hunt population of 990,000 is about 25 percent above the new overwinter population goal of 794,000. However, deer populations vary greatly around the state being near or below goal in northern Wisconsin and generally above goal in the farmland regions of the state. Higher overwinter population goals were recently adopted by the Natural Resources Board and approved by the legislature following extensive public involvement, listening and working sessions with hunters, private landowners and stakeholders from agriculture, forestry, university and government.

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

Source: Wisconsin DNR

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