Wisconsin DNR announces proposed 2011 deer hunting season structure

Wisconsin 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 CWD 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 Board for review on April 26-27 include:

In 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 4 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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