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MADISON – Department of Natural Resources wildlife management officials will propose a 2011 deer season structure that promises a return to a more traditional hunting framework by eliminating the October antlerless hunt and allowing the first deer to be either sex in the Chronic Wasting Disease management zone.

“We hope hunters will see we’ve been listening to their concerns and that we are taking steps toward the kind of deer season they want to see in Wisconsin,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

“We need the cooperation of our partners, the landowners and the hunters to help manage this deer herd. That is why we’ve decided to implement herd control tools more acceptable to hunters in 2011,” she said.

Specific 2011 deer season framework recommendations that will be presented to the state Natural Resources Board for review on April 26-27 include:

•In Deer Management Units where deer populations are below goals, limiting or eliminating antlerless harvest.

•In 95 units outside the CWD zone where deer populations are substantially above goals, unlimited $2 antlerless tags but no October firearm season.

 

•In the CWD disease management zone, hunters’ first deer can be either sex, with earn-a-buck requirements kicking in after that. CWD management zone buck stickers earned in 2010 will be honored in 2011 and hunters can obtain up to four free CWD antlerless tags per day. These tags can only be used in the CWD zone. There will be October and Holiday hunts in the CWD zone.

Last year, 18 below-population-goal deer management units in northern Wisconsin were designated as “zero quota” units meaning that neither gun deer hunters nor archery deer hunters could shoot an antlerless deer. The herd has rebounded in a number of these units, but in eight where the population continues below goal (Units 3, 7, 29B, 34, 35, 39, 44, and 45), DNR will recommend continued “zero antlerless quotas.”

Over the past year in response to hunter reports of seeing fewer deer on the landscape, DNR has held meetings with hunters and solicited deer sighting feedback through its website and other means.

“National experts say we have one of the best population estimate systems in the nation – but no system is perfect. We are taking efforts to make our population estimates better and to figure out how the uneven distribution of deer on public versus private land is impacting those numbers.

“We want to work with hunters. We want to come to agreement on numbers and goals and harvest antlerless deer where needed. Accordingly, we’ve initiated deer research in northwest and east-central Wisconsin to answer hunter questions about predators and buck harvest rates to further improve our system,” said Stepp.

Deer hunting is a strong tradition in the state and an important economic driver. Deer hunting in Wisconsin creates more than $1 billion of economic activity annually, and supports 16,000 jobs. Wisconsin has one of the top three deer harvests per square mile of any state in the country, one of the highest buck harvests per square mile, and the highest number of trophy bucks registered with Boone and Crockett (gun) and Pope and Young (archery).

Each year, wildlife managers use data from the past years’ hunt – from hunter deer registration stubs, fawn production observations, winter stress reports and more to estimate the size of the deer herd by management unit. The number of deer by unit is compared to deer population goals, and a season structure aimed at keeping deer in line with goals and habitat carrying capacity is recommended to the state Natural Resources Board.

 

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