What are the opinions of Bowhunters in WI in regards to deer, deer hunting and herd management? As we wrap up the informatin gathering portion of the DMU review board and tabulating all the survey data, I put together a summary of the responces of those that took the survey that identified themselves as Bowhunters. Those inputs were seprated from those that said they were gun deer hunters.
3,581 respondents that identified themselves as Bowhunters took the survey. For questions were an option was given to "Skip" the question (not respond), there was a consistent pattern of about 180 respondents that exercised that option meaning questions that offered the option to "Skip" saw about 3,400 responses. The last statewide Bowhunter mail-in survey conducted by DNR netted 4,329 responses. That survey took place in 2005
As expected and as seen in similar surveys, 98% of respondents are WI residents and 98% were male. Age demographics showed the average respondent was 44 years old. Landowners and non landowners were evenly split at 50% of respondents. Of respondents that said they own land, 93% stated that deer hunting was the primary or secondary purpose for owning the land. Of those that registered an opinion, 99.9% view deer on the landscape as a positive thing (only 1 respondent stated that they viewed deer as a nuisance that they could do without).
46.9% of respondents stated that there was not enough public land in their county, 33% said that there was enough and the remainder did not have an opinion. 75.4% of respondents that offered an opinion stated that their 2008 deer season was Poor to Fair, the remainder selected the options of "Good", "Very good", Excellent" or "Perfect".
When asked how many total deer they would harvest in a single season (provided they had tags) the average response was 3. Considering that 203,675 archery deer tags were sold in 2008, Bowhunters would have been willing to harvest 611,025 deer last year if given the opportunity. Last year Bowhunters harvested 99,300 total deer. It should be known that the single largest archery deer harvest in any one year (the 2007 season) was 116,010 deer meaning that Bowhunters are willing to harvest far more deer than they are currently able to.
When asked how many antlerless deer they would harvest in a single year, the average was 2.1. Again this means that Bowhunters would be willing to harvest far more antlerless deer than they have been (even with EAB) In 2008, 203,675 Bowhunters would have been willing to harvest 427,700 antlerless deer if allowed. By contrast Bowhunters harvested only 64,622 antlerless deer last year showing a big disparity between what they were able to harvest VS what they would be willing to harvest. This leads me to believe that the limiter for antlerless harvest by Bowhunters is either the deer population or the available tags and that even without EAB, Bowhunters are willing to harvest a lot of antlerless deer.
This may explain why when asked what their opinion was in regards the need to increase or decrease deer numbers from their current levels, 82.6% of Bowhunters responded that they were in favor of an increase with the biggest majority wanting an increase of 25% or more. When asked how the deer population in their DMU compared to populations from 5 years ago, 92% said there are fewer deer now than then. Because of this, the following responses were understandable. 66.6% disagree that DNR shares their values in regards to deer management. 78% disagree with the DNR in regards to deer goals, 75% disagree with the statement that DNR understands what deer hunters want.
When asked if their opinion of the DNR would improve or lower based on certain actions taken by the Dept, these were the results:
1. Collect hunter observation data to adjust population estimates. 86% of those that had an opinion said that this would IMPROVE their opinion of the Dept.
2. Collect landowner observation data to adjust population estimates. 80% of those that had an opinion said that this would IMPROVE their opinion of the Dept.
3. Start managing deer populations towards higher goals. 75% of those that had an opinion said that this would IMPROVE their opinion of the Dept.
4. Continue to manage the herd to current population goals. 70% of those that had an opinion said that this would LOWER their opinion of the Dept.
48.3% agreed when asked to what extent they agree with the statement that landowners have a larger influence on deer management and populations than the DNR and when asked how much if any responsibility they felt for personally managing the deer herd, 71% stated that they took a personal responsibility. 71% stated that wolves were responsible for a noticeable reduction in the number of deer in their area.
When asked to give a letter grade to the DNR for their managing of the deer herd in the area they were most familiar with, 80% of respondents that had an opinion, gave a grade of C thru F. The single most selected response was F (29%).
I have just begun reading a new study out of the [font="times new roman"]College of Natural Resources University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point [/font] titled:
"Deer managers and deer hunters, irreconcilable differences, a report of DNR credibility".[font="times new roman"] Funding the project was provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources using Pittman-Robertson money.[/font]
[font="times new roman"] [/font]
[font="times new roman"]The DMU survey seems to exactly parallel the UW project even though the UW project was done prior to the 2008 deer season. While the UW project data was gathered in 2007, the preface and executive summary for the Dept. was written in Feb. of this year and acknowledges the Current DMU process and the hunter hearing in Madison and the current level of hunter outrage meaning it captures the current sentiments of WI deer hunters. I will share this study when a web link is made available.[/font]