Wisconsin’s so-called “deer czar” issued his report Tuesday morning. Last October the Walker Administration hired deer management expert Dr. Jim Kroll to take a look at the state’s deer management. Kroll brought in Clemson Wildlife Management Professor Dr. David Guyon and former Pennsylvania Game Commission deer manager Dr. Gary Alt to assist in the assessment.
The group was charged with assessing the accuracy of deer population estimates, the response to Chronic Wasting Disease, the impact of the wolf population on the deer herd and Wisconsin’s deer hunting policies.
Public input was gathered through town hall meetings, meetings with stakeholder groups, tribal commissions, DNR officials and other state agencies associated with natural resources.
The report divides deer management into three areas: population management, habitat and people management. It suggests eliminating the current system used to monitor deer populations and implement a population goal and a simplified plan to either increase, stabilize or decrease the population. The also call for a reduced number of deer management units.
The plan calls for a simplified antlerless program with harvest goals and quotas on a 3 to 5 year cycle. It maintains the current one-buck-per-deer gun license and one-buck-per-archery license with bonus-buck in CWD zones.
As far as the growing wolf population, the group calls for the establishment of a wolf management plan with a program to maintain or decrease the wolf population to reduce conflicts.
In the area of CWD management the report calls for a new sampling protocol with a focus on the spread of the disease. They stress the need for test results from hunter-killed deer to be delivered within “a few days”. It also calls for the DNR to work more closely with the Conservation Congress, Whitetails of Wisconsin, Whitetails Unlimited and others to help educate the public. They specifically call for the Conservation Congress to be more involved in local deer management.
The group calls for the implementation of a Deer Management Assistance Program to conduct an annual assessment of habitat and monitor the current condition and trend of the deer herd; the impacts of deer depredation on agricultural crops; forest regeneration and biodiversity; and deer/vehicle collisions. The effort would be headed by a Deer Management Assistance Coordinator.
The report noted that while public confidence in the DNR has eroded over the years, it commends the agency’s staff for their hard work and cooperation in the effort.
The report is available here: