Results of DMU process

retch sweeny
Posts: 565
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:05 am

Results of DMU process

Postby retch sweeny » Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:38 pm


The last time I updated you on goal setting was after I attended the deer committee meeting where 18 (of 131) units saw a goal change. 5 were goal reductions and 13 were increases. Now the Wildlife management team has had their chance at goal setting and have sent their recommendations to the Secretary for approval. That was on June 4th and we were asked not to make the numbers public until it went to the NRB. That time has now come and the changes are now public.

There are now 16 changes. 3 goal reductions and 13 increases that break down as follows. (all numbers are in deer per square mile of range totals)

Unit 3 goes from 16 to 15
Unit 6 goes from 12 to 15
Unit 14 goes from 14 to 18
Unit 49A goes from 25 to 20
Unit 57 goes from 22 to 25
Unit 59B goes from 15 to 20
Unit 59M goes from 10 to 15
Unit 60A goes from 20 to 25
Unit 60B goes from 20 to 25
Unit 60M goes from 10 to 15
Unit 64 goes from 20 to 25
Unit 64M goes from 10 to 15
Unit 68B goes from 30 to 25
Unit 77C goes from 15 to 20
Unit 77M goes from 10 to 15
Unit 80B goes from 20 to 25

I have attached a map since most folks don't know where all the units are in the state.

They now go to the NRB and then public hearings in July/August. Then it's back to the NRB in Sept to finalize. It then goes to the Legislature who has 120 days to review/comment/change. After that, the goals are set for a period of 3 years, starting in 2010.
The net result of these changes means a statewide increase in the overwinter population of 11,574 deer which raises the state wide over winter goal to roughly 749,000.

(Note* per DNR estimates, we have successfully over wintered in excess of 1 million deer in 10 of the last 14 years, including last year)
While this is a step in the right direction and certainly a result of an incredible amount of hunter involvement, it falls short of what many had hoped for in the 115 units that saw no change and is the exact opposite of what hunters wanted in the 3 units that saw a decrease.
For the complete text, I have provided link to the summary.

retch sweeny
Posts: 565
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:05 am

RE: Results of DMU process

Postby retch sweeny » Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:21 am

A very good question was asked on another forum so I thought I would bring that discussion here as well. Here is the question.
"So in the units marked for increases,does that mean we will see no t-zones and less bonus tags?"
Great question. That is all based on having accurate population estimates. The majority of the units that are recommended for an increase, saw a 5 deer per square mile of range change. All of these units have differing amounts of deer range and from the DMU master list I posted earlier, you can take that number of square miles and multiply it by 5 to figure out how many more deer will be tolerated over winter.
Lets look at DMU 80B. The DMU master table says there are 194 square miles of deer range and the recommendation is to raise the goal by 5.
The original goal was 15 deer x 194 = 2910 in that DMU
The new goal is 20 deer x 194 = 3880
5 extra deer x 194 = 970 extra deer over what was previously allowed.
That is all well and good but management prescriptions and quotas are based on how far the estimated population is from the goal. 80B has been an EAB unit and because of this, the Dept does not use SAK to estimate the population and instead uses what is called "pop 2" That is a violation of the law as the code mandates that the Dept.. use SAK but the Dept. (and the SAK audit team) realize that EAB makes SAK less than effective at estimating populations so they use pop 2. All I know about pop 2 is that it is a sort of accounting model. I have no idea what sort of confidence there is in pop 2's ability to produce accurate estimates but based on the hew and cry of those from the area and those that are closing their lands, it would appear that there is a noticeable difference between what the Dept. estimates the population to be and that of the hunters/landowners in that unit. But I digress.
The current estimated population for unit 80B is 38 deer per square mile of range. That makes unit 80B, 91% over goal. Increasing the goal 25 would make unit 80B, 52% over goal so in this case, there would be no change in management prescriptions since the Dept. estimates the unit to be far over goal and if EAB were not shelved for 2009, unit 80B would have most likely been EAB even WITH the goal increase.
The real question is......................... And it's a big one. Is the estimated population correct?? That is the heart of the matter. Those folks that are shutting down their lands are saying there is no way they are 91% over goal and their observations don't agree with the Departments estimates. That is why I have been saying all along that accurate estimates (fixing SAK) is paramount and deserves far more attention and effort than does an EAB alternative but you live with the cards your dealt. If the EAB alternative does not correct population estimates (and it won't) any alternatives aimed at reducing the herd will meet the same fate as EAB in the court of public opinion.
Sorry to be so long winded but this was a very good question.
P.S. As far as the hunters in that area and their concerns. At 91% over goal, they were faced with the Dept, enacting management prescriptions geared towards reducing the current population (that land owners said is already too low) by about half of what it is. They were told that they have almost twice as many deer as they should have and the hunters did what they thought was right, they protested and sought recourse through their local representatives. That was a reasonable action to take on their part.
I looked at the DNR data for the unit and can now better understand why hunters are angry over current policy. The goal should be set based on the social and biological carrying capacity of the unit. The social being the tolerance of people and should consider car/deer crashes as well as the positives associated with deer. The biological issues such as crop damage is one way to index the biological carrying capacity.
Here are the numbers and mind you, the DNR says there are almost twice as many deer in 80B then there should be and yet last year they successfully over wintered an estimated 38 deer per square mile of range. During this time of nearly double the goal population one would expect the indicators of the social and biological carrying capacity to show that the herd is too big yet here are the Dept's. numbers.
Looking back 6 years (to 2003)
Car kills have dropped 38% in Door and Kewaunee County
Crop damage shooting permits are down 50%
and the gun buck kill is down 23% for that 6 year span and 27% down from 2007.
All this took place at an estimated 38 deer per square mile of range and yet the goal was 15???????? That left hunters saying: "What the hell is the problem with 38 deer per square mile of range and to be truthful what is the problem with 13 deer per actual square mile of unit 80B since 66% of the unit is not considered deer range yet the deer live there???
That left them (and me) saying. 38 deer aint so bad, we seem to be able to tolerate that number of deer OR your estimate is crap and there really arent that many! As such, they got a 5 deer boost to 20 which means nothing since they have proven that they can over winter 38 and yet the DNR still thought that was nearly twice too many deer............ Twice too many for who???
Do we think the hunters of unit 80B will embrace whatever EAB replacement we dream up to reduce their population further?????? Do we think EAB is even needed in that unit? If so, based on what, the Population estimate? If not, then a replacement is not needed either. Lets fix the real problem.
The hunter/landowners in Maribel (and around the State) that went to Madison to oppose EAB and herd management policy for the reasons stated above were labled by a small minority as whiners, complainers, etc. If you look at the data, it's pretty easy to understand their objections.

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