What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby wack » Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:19 am

If I were in control of the DNR?
 First, the wolf issue. If I can't kill the wolves. I'm going to catch them and let them go in Washington DC. Not all of them, but our population will not be over 500 wolves here in Wisconsin. I would make a deal with the Feds that Wisconsin promises to protect the wolves at our 350-500 numbers and will work to improve to habitat and revive tho food chain in hopes of someday we will have a food chain that can support more wolves without significant damage to Wisconsin hunting. I would restart up the elk reintroduction program and get as many Elk in Wisconsin as I could and I would put together a new team of biologists to study the Bison at Sandhill Wildlife Area  http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/rec ... /bison.htm and study the idea of Bison reintroduction. I may even move the Bison further north, the goal would be to study the interactions of deer, elk, bison, bears and wolves and come up with a workable balance of each. The 700 square miles of the Clam Lake Area would be a great place to start.

 Public hunting grounds:
Every square inch of public hunting grounds is now off limits to cash crops. Property by property, one by one each should be evaluated for habitat restoration. Each property should be managed for quality wildlife. The goal is to turn our public bedding grounds into food sources. We want the deer to bed and breakfast on public or bed on private, eat on public to benefit both farmers and hunters. I want to get away from deer bedding on public land and eating on private and then having the deer herd slaughtered by ag tags. Where deer sleep isn't a problem, where they eat is. Throw the idea to the public and get local people and organizations involved in restoring these properties throughout the state. I want to see fruite trees, white oaks, a variety of trees, berries, winter forage and food plots. I want wildlife to look at it and think they're in heaven and want to stay there. With this effort, I would also take charge of all Agriculture tags. The current system doesn't work, scrap it and start over. I'd work with farmers and find a way that a farmer can profit from wildlife that is equal to, or greater than the agricultural losses.
 I would appeal to our new President to take the Teddy Roosevelt path to rebuilding our economy through restoring our wildlife and take somewhat of a South African approach to restoring habitat and wildlife species and a Canadian approach to making highways and roadways more wildlife friendly.
 I would put the entire UW system to work and get them involved in as much research as possible in every area of wildlife management.
Deer herd:
 First, I have to have accurate numbers to work with. Until I know how many deer in every unit, all hunts are off. Once we get that figured out, I'd treat northern WI. ans southern WI. in different ways. I'd certainly toss the 700,000 deer plan in the garbage but may keep 70,000 as my cut off point. No less than 700,000. Up north, with the wolves ready to explode in population, I'm sorry to say all hunts are off until further notice. Hunting may resume after the wolves are in check, the elk are in place. As we get an accurate head count of the deer, management goals will be to determine a healthy doe to buck ratio and increase the average age of mature bucks. I reserve the right to use T zones, herd management hunts and other methods for obtaining these goals. Again, can't do much with out accurate numbers so I'll assume the worst until proven otherwise.
 Bear hunting: We'll have to see where we are at after the 6000 extra tags issued for 2009. Depending on the deer numbers, wolf numbers and number of elk brought in, short term, we may have to reduce the number of bears again, but the long term goal is to maintain 13,000-15,000 bears, keep the waiting list down and grow the population in conjunction with the other wildlife in the food chain. In other words we're cashing in on the bears to help the deer and elk get started and how much depends on how many wolves, deer, and elk.
 As far as protecting our fish and water, keep doing what they're doing and get the UW to work on solving problems and Federal funding to get it done.One big problem the DNR has is getting scientific information and translating it to political terms and that would be my focus to make the DNR work better. When my biologists say we need elk, I want elk. When they say we need fewer wolves, I want fewer wolves and I want to profit from the over abundance. If they are endangered elsewhere, then take them, but get them in control now.
 I need to know more about the trees. Paper industry is shrinking, we have disease and insects attacking huge numbers of trees, the lumber market isn't doing so well. We need to study the future of our trees. Do we stay the course or change directions?  There's so much more to the DNR that to hit every topic from every angle. I've just mentioned the topics I feel pretty strongly about and keys I see to a better future.
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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby Washburn » Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:28 am

It's interesting (and expected in a forum such as this) that the vast majority of DNR discussion is focused on the wildlife side of things. The reality is that the DNR spends more dollars/time/focus on managing forests and parks and managing the environmental protection of the State's soil, water, and air than it does on wildlife.

I think the larger mission of the DNR is often overlooked by sportsmen which is ironic; without clean air, water, and soil there wouldn't be any wildlife to complain about.

"As the light grows dimmer and the trail begins to fade, my sweetest dreams are those of yesteryear, at deer camp."

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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby DoeEyed » Wed Dec 24, 2008 2:38 pm

Central, do I dare ask what a ramming trail is? And can someone explain the significance of the size of the units? I'm a bit ignorant. Would'nt we get a more detailed analysis of the deer if the units were smaller?

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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby Fish » Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:11 am

DoeEyed,  the DNR hired 4 out of state biologist to study our SAK model.  Although, they said the model was as good as any and patted the DNR on the back(cause that were they got pd).  They stated a few reasons of concern which could throw off SAK by up to 60%.  Which it appears has happened.  One was the use of EAB and T-zones.  The second was the size of the units.  Our units are way too small to get accurate number which causes the model to estimate more deer than reality.  It's a good webcast and is on the DNR website,  I recommend everyone to watch.

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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby wack » Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:24 am

One of the first things I'd do is take wildlife crop damage agriculture tags away from the Dept. of Agriculture and I'd stop all cash crops from being grown and harvested on DNR public land. That land should be used to feed the wildlife not domestic animals and people.
  2 public hunting grounds in Winnebago county I know of were both planted with soy beans that were harvested in early Oct. One property was about 75% soy beans, 5% grass, 20% woods, surrounded by marsh and farm land. The other was about 80% soy beans with 1 edge  (20%) of grasslands with a creek running through. Surrounded by farm land with 1 corner touching the corner of another hunting ground that's about 90% CRP grass.
 What's been happening in the last 2 years I've been paying attention is early season the deer feed on the soy beans and bed on both private and public land in the woods, marsh and CRP grasses. The farmer harvests the beans before the corn that's grown on private land next door. This forces the deer from the public bean field to the private corn field. The farmer then claims deer damage, Dept. of Agriculture pays for the lost corn and probably beans too, and issues deer damage tags.  They wonder why they get so much deer damage? With last winter's record snow fall and this winter starting out with record snow fall, the deer on both of these public hunting grounds have 0 food and can not support any wildlife. Let me re phrase that. There are no deer on these 2 public hunting grounds. They've been hunted out and starved out.
 It seems to me that one of the biggest reasons for the 700,000 deer goal is the conflict between agriculture and wildlife. A simple approach to the crop damage problem is to fix the habitat and year round food supply for wildlife. In the case of these two grounds, simply leaving the beans unharvested would have significantly reduced the neighboring crop damage and allowed more wildlife to survive the harsh winter and winter to come.
 Other ideas to help the farmers and wildlife, instead of paying year after year for crop damage, how about a 1 time investment for fences? We can keep terrorists out of the country, we should have the smarts to keep deer out of a field. Planting a strip of good deer food along fence lines where normally is left to just weeds. As A hunter, I'd be happy to help the DNR or any farmer with reducing crop damage and improving the wildlife for better hunting. To tell the truth, right now we should be piling food in these bare dirt, snow covered fields, what wildlife is left, is facing starvation as we speak. Record deep snow, a second sub zero blast on the way, and we're only in the beginning of January and at 42 I don't remember a winter with as much snow, cold and wind as we've had for this past late bow season. I'd be considering a deer herd wildlife state of emergency here soon.
 The Dept. of Ag is like big brother looking out for our farmers. I'm OK with that except for the fact of how they are dealing with this problem. Wildlife management should be run by the DNR and they need to work together better to protect hunting and our farmers. Farmers should be able to profit from maintaining wildlife and encouraged to prevent crop damage.
 As stated in an earlier post, this is just 1 subject I'd tackle and make changes. For the most part, the DNR biologists know what they are doing. Or should I say, know what they want to do. Somewhere between the biologists and the law makers things get all screwed up. If I were in charge, northern Wisconsin would become one of the best big game area's in north America rivaling the likes of Yellowstone park and smokey mountains. We may not have mountains and hot springs, but we do not lack in beauty and could easily have the wildlife and habitat with out the smell of rotten eggs or the earth quakes. lol
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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby Goose » Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:43 am

Wack, I'm impressed not once did you mention wolves!!!Image ImageImageImage

Genesis 27:3 Take your bow and quiver full of arrows out into the open country, and hunt some wild game.....

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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby wack » Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:25 pm

I think if I were the head of the DNR today, I'd ask for a transfer to a southern state. It's so darn cold Gov. Doyle was caught with his hands in his own pockets today! Don't worry though, he promises to have them back in Obama's pocket's first thing Monday morning. LOL

Seriously, I don't think being the head of DNR is going to help as long as Doyle is in office. If I don't have to drive, back the tailgate up to a fire and put a little Southern Comfort in my hot chocolate would you please? My Mountain Dew is froze solid.
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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby mtnman » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:53 am

I agree with you there Wack....
Doyle was a terrible Attorney General...anti gun...and he is the same as Govenor.
He really deserves to be on the east coast where he would be more appreciated. After all, he came into office with a major surplus, and spent everything and then some to appease the teachers union. By executive order, he took all the gas tax that was supposed to go into the transportation trust fund that pays for road construction. Now he is begging like a carpet bagger for the government (us )to give him more money to spend on infastructure and schools...we know where that is going....

Nothing will change until he and others in government that have sold us out are out of office. Just hope that all those who vote are this angry when that happens
(Florence Co., WI)

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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby dmcianfa » Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:59 am


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.
Not a bad idea, run two models and compare.  They will not match though I will tell you that!  Then what?

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.  I agree with the ban on baiting.  Personal opinion is all and concentrated feed "stations" can and will promote spread of disease, that sir is a fact.  I feel that if you can't figure out what nature is offering to the deer and be able use that as your "bait" then you don't belong in the woods anyway as your are just looking for the "easy fix", just my opinion, don't take it as gospel.  However, I do not agree with your limit to food plots.  This is still widely accepted, even by biologists, as natural food sourcing and shouldn't be penalized when there isn't evidence to support its impact.  There is absolutely no indisputeable or incriminating evidence that food plots contribute to the spreading of disease, i.e... CWD.  Anyone that thinks otherwise I encourage to do some research to find studies that say so, because they just aren't out there and are inconclusive at best.

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.  Interesting cost estimates, but where are you pulling these numbers from and out of what hat?  C'mon, price increases to $300 for non-resident.  Are you trying to keep people out of the state.  For that price one can go to Canada to get their buck and you will not generate enough revenue to help offset operations costs within the conservation programs as volume will drop at an accelerated rate and substantially.  I agree with some amount of increases, don't get me wrong, but these numbers are very unacceptable to the particular consumer group you are targeting.  Be careful at hikes this high for license fees, as your targets are mostly lower to middle middle class citizens.  They make up a majority of these license sales, specifically 67%.

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.  EVERY DEER!!!!  Non attainable goal, in my opinion.  Time, labor, materials to test, even your price increases would not cover these costs.  Lab results do not come cheap my friend.  The focus here needs to be put on prevention and prediction, not measuring, which is only a method to monitor the problem, not fixing it at its root cause.  Put those dollars to use for studies on the biological prevention and subsequent strategic planning for management is a better way to allocate the money for preserving the herd for future seasons.

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.  These tags cannot be issued after gun season, that is too late.  Your plan is not all that bad here, but I have farmed for years and trust me the damage to your crops are already in effect well before gun season starts.  Not to mention harvesting takes place on a majority of Wisconsin crops before the end of November as well.  This idea is heavily flawed.  Keep in mind the farmer here and not just the hunter.  As a figure of government you must keep both in mind and not jeopardize the greatest growth state product in Wisconsin.

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.  I tend to agree with you on this issue.  I believe bear estimates are not accurate at all.

Turkey season would include either sex for both fall and spring hunts until numbers are manageable.  I'm not even going to touch this one as this would be a grave mistake and everyone here should know why!  This is only a last resort type action that must be taken as a result of a population that is beyond out of control, which the turkey is not. 

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.   States must adhere to Federal Law, simply put.  However, I agree, the wolf population is ever increasing at an exponential rate and is wreaking havoc in some parts of the state.  Key word bieng "some" parts.  Michigan is also in a cunudrum over this issue as the wolf is making its mark all over the Upper Penninsula, along with this is a reduction of the herd in well established wolf communities.  I don't have enough information on this issue to make a decision one way or the other.  If the herd is at a level that is actually too much, then wolf introduction may actually benefit the habitat over all.  However, if herd levels are already decimated over the past couple years as a result of harsh winter climates and the kill offs thereby, then wolves may actually have a negative impact.  Tough subject and I don't know enough or have the data to support.

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.  A great and superb idea.  I like every bit of this and would support it wholeheartidly.

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.  Deer do eat flowers, but negotiating the balance is crucial and as we cannot just let plant species cease to exist because of the narrow minded-ness of hunters or for selfish reasons on our part in our quest for venison.  Focus on the big picture as there is a direct relationship between herbivores and plant species that supply them with the necessary support.  How would you feel if the tree huggers said the exact opposite and lawmakers were leaning towards them in establishing principles for the state.  I believe attitudes would be different, don't you?  Selective cutting benefits both and I'm glad you mentioned it as it may be a viable solution for forest habitats as you mentioned. 

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. 
I'm not trying to upset you and pick at your ideas, as I clearly may have done here, maybe by mistake.  Only offer constructive feedback and criticism to further this discussion because I believe you have posed an excellent "put yourself in his shoes" thread that is both interesting, insightful, and reflects the opinions of hunters and their views accurately. 
"I enjoy and become completely immersed in the challenge and the increased opportunity to become for a time a part of nature. Deer hunting is a classical exercise in freedom. It�s a return to fundamentals that I distinctly feel are basic and right"-F.B.

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RE: What would you do if you were the head of the DNR?

Postby Fish » Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:39 am

dmcianfa, excellant response and absolutely no offense taken.  Your objections were clear and precise.  Please feel free to contact me thru:
http://wihuntersunited.org.  You would be a valuable asset to our group.
My basis of this thread was to get hunter's thinking.  People want to get everything but what will they give up?  Policymakers have to play the give and take game.  Yes, the DNR has to listen to hunters but also everyone else.  It's no easy task.  This was a preamble to WHU and the hope of the start to the group.  It kind of worked.
For what it's worth, I'll give the reasoning of each of your objections.  No scientific or financial data was really used to support it but the general idea is what I was trying to get across.
1.  I know the data will be different.  My point is we need to get these estimation models more accurate.  SAK and fur bearing models have been flawed by EAB, T-zone, fawn data and small hunting zones.  Look at the bear and wolf estimates.
2. I'm not for or against baiting or food plots.  This was more of a give/take part of the plan.  It was based on the problems with deer nocturnal movement, congregation of deer in one area and getting the deer back into their regular movements.  Even with less deer, more deer would be seen with natural movement.  And their is always one person, one "uping" the next guy.  One guy plants 1 acre, the next plants 3, etc... Nothing against foodplots but things being planted are not all natural to the point of special mixes, etc..
3. Raising cost of tags is just more give/take.  I needed to appease the other people with higher revenue.  Having a higher cost on doe tags just eliminates "shooters" out there from shooting doe for fun and dumping them off at food pantries.
4. CWD testing.  My personal belief is CWD has always been in WI.  It is probably in every county.  I believe it's a natural disease to deer.  I think its obsurd to continue to have CWD zones, elimination zones, etc.. and do very little to no testing.  People in low ranks of the DNR feel the same way.  If it's a concern and we continue to have these zones, we should at least take more of a sample to see if it's still out there.  By just saying it is, just doesn't do it for me.
5. Tags would be available throughout the year.  I've walked through many acres of corn each year, I see some damage but nothing more than other species.  Sometimes it sounds like deer clear out entire fields, like locust, leaving it barron.  To give out 20 tags, for a 5x5 area here and there, doesn't seem right.  I've seen farmers profit from these tags which really is out of the scope.  But the real reason for this was to open up land for the WI hunter and still give the farmer a monetary amount for his loss.  Many farmers are not hunters.  If they lose on kernal of corn to deer, it effecting there profits.  To these individuals, deer are a nuisance and to have none would be fine with them.  But will these same farmers let hunters hunt thier land.  Many will not.  I'm not going to get into hunters and lack of respect of land issue because of some bad apples.  I'm not going to talk about liability since hold harmless agreements are available and absolute liability doesn't exist just because of landownership.  But I would like to see how many Ag tags would be requested if a policy like this was enacted.  My guess would be that you would see a drastic decline for Ag tags.
6. Bear are bear. We agree and I don't like the taste of bear.  lol
7.  Wolf issue resolved.  Fed gave back the power to the States and according to the top wolf biaologist I spoke with, they want and will reduce the amount of wolves.
8. agree on elected officails
9.  How long have we had deer in WI?  Just now, our plants and flowers are under attack from deer?  While we are at it, why don't outlaw ATV, hiking, road salt, etc...  But the point I was making is that this is just another smoke screen used to give another reason to endorse a policy.  But I do agree about tree harvest.  Too much recreational land is used and left to grow without selective harvest.  We did it to our land, it eventually hurt out deer numbers. 
Oh, I forgot the turkey thing.  I was wrong but there are too many of them and not enough hunters(in my area).  Damn good eating though.  But they cause considerable amount of crop damage of which deer are being blamed.
Regardless of what policy a person will ever make, you will never please everyone.  But a good discussion is always worth while.  Maybe with this discussion, some people will look at things in a different light.  Understand certain points of view and stand up against other views.


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