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Wisconsin board raises deer population goals 21%

From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board has approved revisions to proposed overwinter population goals for white-tailed deer, raising the management benchmark to a statewide target of nearly 800,000, which is a 21 percent increase over current levels. The modified rule will be returned to the legislature for review by Senate and Assembly natural resources committees.

During its March 16 meeting, the board approved increases in population targets in 43 of Wisconsin’s 131 deer management units http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/hunt/deer/dmu.htm .

The new goals were developed at the request of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee after testimony on hunter dissatisfaction with the number of deer seen and harvested during the 2009 gun deer season.

The legislative committee did not accept a previous proposal to raise population targets in 13 deer management units.

“Population goals serve as the foundation for managing the deer herd and determining deer hunting season structures,” said Keith Warnke, big game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

Goals are reviewed every three years and are developed with input from the public. The current review process added input of a select advisory group representing hunting and conservation organizations, woodland owners, forest managers and agriculture.

The department works to maintain healthy, sustainable wildlife populations for now and for future generations by balancing social, economic and ecosystem objectives.

State law directs the department to maintain a herd in balance with its habitat and at a population compatible with a variety of factors including a management unit’s capacity to support deer, browsing impacts, animal disease risks, vehicle-deer collisions, hunter access to land in the unit, tribal agreements, ability to keep populations at goal, crop damage and hunter satisfaction.

Members of the Natural Resources Board heard that the proposed modifications are shifting the balance prescribed in state law in favor of hunter success in harvesting and seeing deer.

For more information, contact Keith Warnke at (608) 264-6023.

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