Deer Count Way Down In Wisconsin- Is The Wolf The Reason?
Deer season 2009 is underway in Wisconsin and at least were I hunt you don't need a DNR report to tell that numbers of deer spotted and harvested are way down. What's to blame? Is it the Wisconsin Timber Wolves or is there more to the story?
Based on hours of conversation with neighboring land owners, registration attendants, venison processing folks and other hunters it appears clear that the deer population in Wisconsin is way down. I hunt the woods and hills of Juneau County Wisconsin about 15 miles or so from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. If you follow much Wisconsin outdoor news you are probably already aware that the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge was one of the sites that the grey wolf was re introduced into Wisconsin several years ago and today provides the southernmost habitat for the gray wolf in Wisconsin. I guess my land could be considered right next to ground zero for wolf population which leads to the natural conclusion that "The Wolves Are Eating All The Deer", but is that really the case?
One gentleman I met from Pittsville a frightful story of a pair of gray wolves circling his hunting party with in 45 yards as they gutted a freshly killed deer. Another story from the registration station told a fable of over 2 hours spent tracking a deer to find the hind quarter half eaten. So it must be the wolves that are to blame right?
Wrong- The wolves may reduce the population some but if you ask me it's the hunters and here is why:
Chart Provided By The Wisconsin DNR
According to the Wisconsin DNR, "Each wolf kills about 20 deer per year. Multiply this by the number of wolves found in Wisconsin in recent years (630), and approximately 13,000 deer may be consumed by wolves annually. This compares to over 40,000 deer hit by cars each year, and about 450,000 deer shot annually by hunters statewide. Within the northern and central forests where most wolves live, wolves kill similar numbers of deer as are killed by vehicles (about 13,000), and about 1/10 of those killed by hunters (127,000 in 2008). Wolves are a factor in the deer herd, but only one of many factors that affects the total number of deer on the landscape"
The real problem in my opinion is the generous numbers of permits being issued and the number of deer being taken by hunters. Just because the DNR may give you unlimited doe tags doesn't mean you have to take 10 does. For every doe you shoot that is 2 less deer that will be running under your stand next year. I'm all for taking a doe if you really need the meat but let's face it, most of us could survive the year without a deer in the freezer if we had to. Forget quality deer management, practice just plain deer management.
In the last few years Earn A Buck, unlimited doe tags and harsh winter kill have combine to form the perfect storm of deer kill and it's going to take a few years for the population to recover so do your part and let that doe walk this year. If you want to do even more take up coyote hunting and slow down on the roads!
If you’re lucky enough to see a wolf in the woods be thankful and enjoy one of the rarest of God’s creatures.
Looking for more information on Wolves in Wisconsin and How Wolves can effect deer hunting: