We seem to all have answers to our deer problem, much of which, are opinion, argumentitive and negative. So I thought, what would I do if I was the head of the DNR(taking all concerns into consideration). We know a person from the Big Game Commission logs on every once in awhile. Maybe Big Brother is reading our post and some positive feedback will help. So to start it off, here's what I would do.
My first action would be to set new deer zones, making these zones larger. Biologist asked this to be done in order to eliminate some of the errors in the SAK model. Obviously, there is a concern on the deer population and density, so for 2 years, I would use another way of estimating the herd along with SAK. I would average numbers for each zone with the two models. Since we would not have an accurate number the first year, regulations would be set as followed.
Baiting would be banned statewide. Food plots would be acceptible but managed. You would only be allowed only a certain percentage of food plot to acreage (i.e. 1 acre per 40 acres). Crop land would be included as a food plot BUT not limited to the regulated number. So you could have 100 acres and 50 of them corn and your fine, you just can't plant a food plot. By doing this, the deer will go back to their natural movements and not hitting bait piles at night.
Eliminate the EAB and T-zone for 2 years. This will help the accuracy of the estimation models. Based on past herd estimations of some counties, doe tags would be by draw or back to the party system. Once harvested, the doe tag would cost $20 at registration. Counties with previous high estimations of deer, doe tags would be issued at quotas but tag cost would be $20. Once the quota was filled, no more tags would be available. Bow hunting tags would see a price increase to $30, either sex and gun tags($35) would be buck only. Use of the gun tag would be valid for muzzy season but either sex. Non resident landowner tags will be the same as resident. Non resident tags would see an increase of $50 or up to $300 per tag.
In the CWD zones, the same regulations(above) would apply but every deer must be tested. Use of extra cost of tags would cover the test/results. We need to know if CWD is still a concern.
Ag tags would still be available BUT each farmer requesting them must file a complaint with the DNR which would result in an inspection by the DNR. In order to qualify, the deer damage must be greater than amount of damage done by other species. I.e. if turkey damage 1% of crop, farmer will be awarded Ag tags above 1% deer damage. In other words, he will not be compensated or given any tags for damage done of a natural average occurance. Just like water, drought, and other crop loss: he can look for the other avenues of subsidizing. Farmers who apply and granted Ag tags may only fill one tag after he or she has filled their primary(gun) tags. Only one tag per immediate family. The remaining tags must be filled by a non related hunters. The DNR will issue the remaining tags, by drawing, to hunters that apply. Cost of this drawing would be $20 per tag, in which $10 would be given back to the farmer.
Additional bear tags will be issued over the next 5 years until the population would be down to reasonable numbers. Preference points will still be used.
Turkey season would include either sex for both fall and spring hunts until numbers are manageable.
Wolf population would be selectively reduced to 400 considering numbers double in spring/summer. If the Fed has a problem with the killing of these animals, we will offer to let them come in and remove the animals to transport out of WI. We'll shoot off all the Clam Lake elk to use as bait for these wolves, so they can drug and remove them safely. Just kidding, Wack, need a little humor here. You'll be allowed to have one elk transported in by the RMEF, release in your back yard and harvested at your leisure.
And probably the biggest change would be to change the way the DNR board is selected. No longer will it be an appointed position by the Govenor, he/she will be an elected official. This official will carry a term of 4 years and be chosen by the general election. His/her board members will be nominated by the DNR staff and approved by the Conservation Congress.
After these two years are up, I believe we'll have a better idea of the deer density in all area of WI. We'll use deer collisons, crop damage and deer kill to set new standards of deer density limits. Some areas may only allow 2-3 deer to survive per 40 acres while some have the food and habitat to hold 4-5. I would toss out any mention of deer density and wild flower/tree habitat. We all know that properly managing your hardwoods is by selective harvest of trees. So if the treehuggers want more flowers, plant them. I've never seen a deer eat flowers.
So there's my idea. I believe it would give hunters a better opportunity to manage their land and harvest what they want. Allow for a better estimation of deer. Gain more revenue for the State and weed out the "weekend warrior" shooting too many deer becasue tags are free. If a certain area does get out of hand with deer numbers, different regulations like EAB or T-zone maybe implimented if hunters elect to not manage the land properly.