The Wisconsin DNR board’s 13 county-wide prohibition on antlerless deer kills is designed to regrow a depleted population.
Eleven of the thirteen counties named in the decision border the northern-most edge of Wisconsin. The whitetail population in the northern part of the state is judged to be below desired levels. The decision to prohibit antlerless kills in those areas will hopefully solidify the doe population and allow population numbers to quickly grow.
The DNR indicates that “the rest of Wisconsin will have a quota of 224,735 antlerless deer.”
Bonus deer hunting permits will also be issued which, in addition to free farmland zone tags, will include 18,450 tags valid on public access lands and 125,375 valid on private lands. Farmland Zone areas cover essentially the lower two-thirds of the state, while the northern third of the state is considered the Northern Forest Zone (there is also a smaller Central Forest Zone in the state).
The bonus anterless tags will become available in August.
The quotas and three-year plan adopted by the DNR is being heralded as “a new era of Wisconsin deer management” and is the first year in which County Deer Advisory Councils played a major role in presenting quota and permit recommendations.
What this means is that deer management units will now “primarily follow county boundaries, with each larger unit divided into public and private land-types to address differences in deer distribution and help provide for an increase in deer numbers on public hunting lands.”
The new partnership between the DNR and County Deer Advisory Councils follows Wisconsin “deer czar” Dr. James Kroll’s recommendation that the DNR form the councils in order to improve deer management in the state.
NBC15 reported that “the DNR complied and asked the councils to recommend whether to increase, maintain or decrease their local herds over the next three years. Most councils recommended increasing or maintaining.”
Interestingly, “councils in nine counties threatened by chronic wasting disease recommended growing or maintaining their herds despite scientists’ advice that thinning the herd is the best way to slow the disease’s spread.”
The new management plan appears to be receiving favorable reviews from Wisconsin deer hunters. Responses to the plan on an online state deer hunting forum include, “For once, something that makes sense” and “Looks like hunters’ voices are being heard!”