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Wisconsin kicks off Operation Deer Watch August 1

From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- Beginning August 1, Wisconsin citizens can join an online reporting system to help track state's deer population and be part of the effort to manage white-tailed deer in the state.

Dubbed Operation Deer Watch, residents are asked to record and report all deer they see between Aug 1 and Sept 30 on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov.  and click on the Operation Deer Watch at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/harvest/summerdeer.htm.

"All deer seen including bucks, does and fawns should be reported during this two month period," said Jason Fleener, assistant DNR deer specialist. "The observations will be entered into a database and will be used to determine doe to fawn ratios, which are a part of the population estimation equation."

Summer deer observations have always been part of the population estimation process. The number of deer seen and the number of fawns seen with each doe are indicators of annual production in deer herds. In addition to deer seen, observers are asked to note date and location. Only deer seen between sunrise and sunset are to be counted.

In previous years, the observation period lasted three months and only state and federal biologists, foresters, law enforcement and other government staff participated.

"One of the recommendations from experts who reviewed our deer population estimation model was to increase the number of observers and to shorten the summer deer observation period to two months from three," Fleener said.  "We hope to capitalize on the intense public interest in Wisconsin's whitetail deer population. It's a great chance for the public to help keep an eye on the herd and add more observations to our database."

Operation Deer Watch is way deer enthusiasts can help monitor the herd. In 2009, the department launched a hunter observation website that asked hunters to record observations from their trips in the woods. Valuable information on species distribution, as well as, data the number of hunting days, hunting hours and environmental conditions they experienced was gathered. Nearly 20,000 hunting trips were logged into the online database. In addition, similar new data questions were added to the deer registration form that successful hunters complete and this provided over 320,000 observations.

"We expect the value of these citizen-based monitoring efforts will grow each year. We'll be able to look at year after year changes that provide insights to our deer populations across Wisconsin," Fleener added.

For more information contact Bob Manwell at (608) 264-9248, Jason Fleener at (608) 261-7589 or Jessica Rees at (608) 221-6360.

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