Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Conservation Congress to challenge state’s deer count


Madison Conservation Congress leaders insist the DNR must do a
better job of formulating statewide deer estimates and they intend
to let legislators know that during a series of four “deer
hearings” set to begin Jan. 11.

“We never have gone along with the DNR’s deer estimates,” said
Steve Oestreicher of Harshaw, Conservation Congress chairman.
“Animals harvested? We have no problem with that. Registration
numbers don’t lie. But to say there are still too many deer out
there? I don’t believe that.”

The Conservation Congress may have a few more issues to lay on
the table during the Assembly’s four deer hearings, but Oestreicher
said he would know more about those issues after Friday, Jan. 4.
The Conservation Congress executive council meets that night at the
Stevens Point Best Western at 7 p.m.

“We will formalize congress viewpoints at the Jan. 4 meeting,
but I know that I will suggest (to legislators) that the DNR’s SAK
formula and process should be audited,” Oestreicher said.

He will also likely ask the legislators to have the DNR conduct
another winter helicopter survey of deer.

“We asked the DNR to do that last year and they did survey Unit
54A, which covers parts of five counties mostly in Juneau and Adams
counties. I would ask that they fly units 31, 37 or 38 this winter
any one of those three,” he said.

Those units cover most of Oneida County and had Zone T hunts the
past two years. Oneida County led the state in Zone T harvest this
year. Oestreicher said those units have been hunted heavily and no
longer have the deer estimated by the DNR.

Congress executive council member David Ladd will attend the
first hearing in Onalaska on Jan. 11; Oestreicher will be at the
Rhinelander hearing on Jan. 18.

The four Assembly deer hearings will be chaired by Rep. Scott
Gunderson (R-Town of Norway), who is a member of the Assembly
Natural Resources Committee. Gunderson owns a sporting goods store
and tackle shop near Waterford. He hunts and his shop is a deer
registration station.

Rep. DuWayne Johnsrud (R-Eastman) decided to create a
sub-committee to study the 2001 deer season following a Dec. 5
hearing by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. He put
Gunderson in charge of the sub-committee.

“I want to take this sub-committee to different parts of the
state so we can hear from as many citizens as possible on a broad
range of deer issues, including the current season structure and
the DNR herd size estimates,” Gunderson said. “The past few weeks
in the Legislature we have been hearing from a lot of concerned
hunters on the low number of deer harvested during the 2001 gun
season and the possibility that our deer numbers may be wrong. It
is very important for the sub-committee to gather as much
information as possible before we make our recommendations.”

Gunderson’s sub-committee will have to hold hearings and develop
its suggestions in time to make the DNR’s 2002 deer season
framework process. Preliminary antlerless deer quotas, which, in
part, help determine Zone T units, are usually made in April and
finalized in May. That work is done so hunters have time to make
decisions before applying for hunter’s choice or bonus permits by
the July 20 deadline.

“I am looking forward to working with the the hunting community,
non-hunters, and the DNR on evaluating our herd management
practices, and improving and evolving them for future hunting
seasons,” Gunderson said.

The public is encouraged to attend either of the first two
public hearings. Also, additional hearings are planned for other
areas of the state including one in southeastern Wisconsin later in
the winter.

“I expect a good turnout,” Oestreicher said. “It’s my
understanding that deer hunters in the La Crosse area aren’t
pleased, I’m sure the same is true in Oneida and Vilas counties.
I’ve been down and talked to Scott (Gunderson) about these hearings
and I get the impression it would mostly be about believability of
the DNR’s deer estimates. I just hope this isn’t a backdoor attempt
at getting a 16-day deer season.”

Committee members are Rep. Dan Meyer (R-Eagle River), Rep.
Barbara Gronemus (D-Whitehall), Rep. Judy Krawczyk (R-Green Bay)
and Rep. John Steinbrink (D-Pleasant Prairie).

The dates of these two hearings were incorrectly listed in the
Dec. 21 issue on page 2. We apologize for any confusion or
inconvenience the error may have caused.

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