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Deer management meeting set for Oct. 21

Anyone with an interest in Douglas County’s deer herd should circle Oct. 21 on the calendar.

Al Horvath, chair of the newly formed Douglas County Deer Advisory Council, said that day may be the public’s best chance to have a meaningful impact on local deer management.

“This is what we’ve asked for,” Horvath said. “To have a beneficial impact, to do something that’s meaningful.”

The Douglas County DAC will meet on Oct. 21 to make a preliminary recommendation for the management of the county’s deer. The council can vote for the herd be increased, decreased or stabilized; and the recommendation, when finalized, will be used to direct deer management for the next three years.

The Oct. 21 meeting is scheduled to run from 6-8 p.m. at the Superior Public Library (1530 Tower Ave.).

Horvath said the council will gather public input and review deer population data at the meeting before voting.

“This and all following meetings will be constructive meetings,” Horvath said. Those who attend are encouraged to express their views, but discussions must remain civil.

By design, the council incorporates a wide variety of views.

Deer advisory councils were formed for each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties this summer to take a leading role in deer management. The groups are made up of representatives from specific stakeholder groups, including hunting, forestry and tourism.

The Douglas County DAC has a good mix of representatives.

Horvath is a member of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and has hunted in Wisconsin since he was 12 years old. He served as a member of the science and research action team that worked to implement the Deer Trustee Report.

 Tom Johnson, also a Conservation Congress member, serves as the council’s vice chair. He has heard skepticism about the new deer councils, but he thinks the plan has potential.

“The idea of having the stakeholders here is to get rid of the tunnel vision and see the big picture,” Johnson said.

Three other members round out the group. Brittany Berrens, from the Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce, will provide a tourism perspective; Tom Avis, a member of the Douglas County Fish & Game League, will represent hunting interests; and Mark Schroeder, Douglas County Forestry Department, will represent forestry interest. Christine Ostern, with the Douglas County Land and Water Conservation Department, is also listed as a council member, and Horvath said he is waiting for confirmation from one more.

The group held a kickoff meeting on Sept. 16 to introduce the idea of DACs to the public.

DNR wildlife biologist Greg Kessler attended the meeting but made a point of saying he and other DNR staff members were liaisons only.

“We are not voting members,” Kessler said.

The DNR will share data with the DAC and answer questions, but all decisions will be handled by the local council members.

“The whole idea is to give ownership to the local community and to the local counties,” Kessler said. “They (the council members) are a conduit for public input.”

For that reason, Horvath said, the Douglas County group voted to waive a requirement that forced participants sign up early to speak at the meetings. Horvath said anyone who takes the time to attend a meeting should and will be able to voice their opinion.

More information on the county deer advisory councils may be found on the DNR website (www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/cdac.html).

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