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.
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