Action taken to eliminate
extra hunt in CWD zone
In a move that pleased many deer hunters in the state, Gov. Scott Walker last week suspended an annual October gun deer hunt in the southwest part of the state where Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been an issue in the wild deer herd.
Wildlife managers had thought the extra hunting period would be a good way to try to eliminate more deer from that area and thus reduce the incidence of CWD - a fatal neurological disease in deer and elk - back when it was discovered.
Walker issued the decision on Aug. 24, saying that it shows the hunting community that state government is listening to their concerns. The decision reflects one of the concerns outlined in a recent report to Walker from appointed "deer czar" Dr. James Kroll of Texas.
"On the heels of the Kroll report, legislators and hunters have made it clear they want Wisconsin to return to a more traditional season, which includes the nine-day November gun deer hunt," Walker said.
"Eliminating the four-day October hunt in the CWD zone is one of the most simple and most effective ways we can show hunters that we are listening," the governor added.
The first such four-day hunt in Wisconsin was held in 1996. Walker's decision last week follows up on legislation he signed last year eliminating the four-day October gun hunt outside the CWD management zone.
At that time he also did away with the unpopular "Earn-a-Buck" regulation, which was designed to force hunters to kill an antlerless deer in order to take a shot at a trophy buck.
Kroll's report was presented to the governor and the Department of Natural Resources in June. Following that, the DNR has begun working on implementation strategies.
In a statement released with Walker's decision, Kroll said he felt this was a positive first step by the Wisconsin DNR to "move deer management in a positive direction, and demonstrate their commitment to listening to the hunters and landowners of Wisconsin.
"Our analysis of the impact of this hunt on the herd and hunter attitudes in previous years supports this recommendation, as previous harvests have not accomplished the desired goal," Kroll added.
In his report Kroll had concluded that an early doe harvest has negative impacts on deer behavior resulting in subsequent reduced buck harvest during the gun season.
United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, a sporting advocacy group applauded the move. "This was the best news I could have gotten," said Scott Maves, a board member for the group.
"I live and hunt in the CWD area and was pleased that the voice of hunters in the CWD area was heard," he added.
Kroll's report had concluded that eliminating the early hunt in the CWD zone would be a positive step in rebuilding relationships with the deer hunting community.
"We have now taken the first step toward implementation of the deer trustee's plan to bring Wisconsin's proud deer hunting traditions back and put the fun back in hunting," said Andy Panztlaff, vice president of the USW. "We look forward to working with the DNR and the governor's office to bring the rest of the recommendations into effect as quickly as possible."
The move to eliminate the four-day CWD zone early hunt also drew praise from Wisconsin Conservation Congress chair Rob Bohmann.
"The decision to cancel the October hunt in the CWD zone is a sign the governor is listening," said Bohmann of Racine.
The Congress has gone on record repeatedly as being opposed to the early CWD management zone hunt. Most recently the group's Big Game committee, which met Aug. 18, recommended that the October hunt be discontinued.
The group's executive committee followed up by making the proposal the official position of the Congress at its Aug. 21 meeting.
"We believe any benefits of this hunt are outweighed by the negative impact of the numerous extended seasons that have undermined the traditional season structure," Bohmann said.
The Kroll report, Bohmann noted, had concluded that previous October hunts have not accomplished what they were designed to do.
Even with the elimination of that October CWD zone hunt, Bohmann noted there remain ample opportunities to harvest white-tailed deer.
In addition to the traditional nine-day gun deer hunt, Nov. 17-25, gun hunters within the CWD management zone can take advantage of the statewide 10-day muzzleloader hunt, Nov. 26-Dec. 5, a four-day statewide antlerless hunt, Dec. 6-9, and the CWD holiday hunt, Dec. 24-Jan. 6, 2013.
In addition, the statewide archery deer hunt runs from Sept. 15-Nov. 15 and from Nov. 17, 2012 - Jan. 6, 2013.
Earlier this year, Walker enlisted the help of Kroll, a nationally noted deer management expert, and asked him to conduct an independent, objective and science-based review of Wisconsin's deer management practices.
Kroll enlisted the help of Dr. David Guynn, a wildlife management professor at Clemson University in South Carolina, and Dr. Gary Alt, a former Pennsylvania Game Commission deer manager.
The tab for the deer recommendations was $150,000.