LETTER: Is the DNR finally listening?To the Telegram: After four years of disappointing deer numbers in northern Wisconsin, sportsman wonder what it’s going to take to convince the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that deer populations are too low.
To the Telegram:
After four years of disappointing deer numbers in northern Wisconsin, sportsman wonder what it’s going to take to convince the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that deer populations are too low. The 2011 preliminary results in Douglas County indicate a 17 percent decline in buck harvest and 23 percent overall harvest decline.
For the past four years, the DNR has put out numbers comparing the kill to the previous year. This minimizes the actual drop in the harvest. If we compare the Douglas County buck harvest from 2011 to 2007, the real decline has been about 45 percent. The 18 northern counties had a buck harvest decrease of 12 percent this year, and suffered herd declines similar to Douglas County.
Wolves emigrated to Wisconsin from Minnesota in the 1970s. The initial management goal of 80-100 was raised to 250-300, and in 1991, there were estimates of 11 packs with 50 wolves.
In 2011, estimates were over 200 packs and 875-1000 animals. Wolves kill about 11 fawns and eight adult whitetails per wolf per year. One thousand wolves would kill about 19,000 deer per year. The 2011 preliminary deer harvest figures from Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Florence, Forest and Iron counties combined was 23,566. In addition, black bears kill about 10 percent of all fawns born. A University of Wisconsin study two years ago showed the DNR had underestimated the bear population by 200 percent.
The above are facts; the following is in my opinion.
I believe the legal practice of baiting allows a larger number of deer to be seen and killed. With so many hunters utilizing this practice, I believe a larger percentage of the base line deer population is being harvested. If baiting allows for greater hunting success, this, along with the predation of wolves, bears and overaggressive antlerless harvests could easily contribute to the mess we have now.
Here’s what I believe maintaining the current deer population levels will result in:
• Loss of older hunters.
• Reduced recruitment of young hunters.
• Greatly reduced economic impact on area businesses.
• Reduced wildlife funding from loss of license fees and hunting equipment excise taxes.
For our wildlife management experts to continue to deny the northern deer herd is in trouble leads me to conclude they are either completely and grossly incompetent, or they have intentionally deceived the citizens of northern Wisconsin.
If you are concerned about the status of the whitetail herd, make sure you attend the March DNR hearings to voice your opinions. When Fred Strand said “there are probably fewer deer out there than we thought there were” in a Dec. 2 Superior Telegram article, it could be taken as a sign they are finally beginning to understand our concerns.