Wisconsin NRB member Greg Kazmierski way off base in his description of the DNR’s Sex-Age-Kill formula
The DNR’s Sex-Age-Kill (SAK) formula for estimating deer abundance came under attack again at the Natural Resources Board (NRB) meeting in Madison on May 25.
When antlerless deer quotas came to the NRB for approval May 25, Greg Kazmierski, board member from Pewaukee (who was most critical of DNR deer management before he joined the NRB), told the board that he sat on the SAK audit in 2006.
“It said in essence that it (SAK) doesn’t work,” Kazmierski told the board.
What? Wait a minute.
The SAK formula was developed by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists and researchers in the 1960s.
In 2005 a panel of experts as asked to examine, or audit, the Wisconsin DNR’s SAK formula. That team of experts included: Josh Millspaugh, of the University of Missouri; Duane Diefenbach, of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Lonnie Hansen, of the Missouri Department of Conservation; Kent Kammermeyer, of the Georgia DNR, John Skalski, of the University of Washington; and Mark Boyce, of the University of Alberta. The team then gave the NRB its recommendations on SAK.
The concensus was that, “Wisconsin is probably doing the best job of any state in the Unites States in terms of its conscientious, statistically rigorous approach to managing white-tailed deer. There isn’t any place in the United States that does a better job than Wisconsin.”
Boyce added that Wisconsin exceeds all states in transparency and amount of information made available to the public.
The DNR big game ecologist wrote in 2009 that “SAK is a time-tested model that has been independently reviewed for reliability and precision several times. According to outside experts, the amount of data collected and the way SAK is used make Wisconsin's deer population estimate one of the best in the nation.”
Yet, some Wisconsin hunters were not convinced and they (and Kazmierski) stepped into the political arena to bend the ear of then-governor-to-be Scott Walker, who later appointed a deer czar, Dr. James Kroll.
The result is that where deer were for years “managed” (i.e. the harvest was established) by the DNR via college-educated wildlife biologists in conjunction with advice by the public through the Conservation Congress, deer are now “managed” by citizens.
It is the County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) that now set antlerless harvest quotas which basically are used to increase or decrease deer populations.
As I recall, the 2006 audit indicated that the DNR collected more information than was needed, and geographically small deer management units created problems, but those who studied the SAK verified that it was still one of the best programs in the country.
My head still swims with how one of the best deer management programs in the country can be trashed by politicians and some disgruntled hunters with incorrect and inaccurate statements that are not challenged by DNR personnel who know better.