Public comments sought for county deer objectives

Paul A. Smith
Journal Sentinel Media

Beginning This week the public will be able to comment on preliminary three-year deer population objectives across Wisconsin.

White-tailed deer move through a field in southeastern Wisconsin.

County Deer Advisory Councils met in August to recommend a general goal of increase, stabilize or decrease for their unit.

The CDAC in Waupaca County, annually one of the top deer harvest spots in Wisconsin, voted to decrease the deer herd. The representatives in Milwaukee County, which has relatively little deer habitat but high deer densities in areas, also opted for an objective of decrease.

The process is conducted every three years and helps set the direction of local deer management.

The CDACs were formed in 2014 following a recommendation of the 2012 Deer Trustees Report.

They are made up of residents of each county and represent various interests. A slot is offered for representatives of agriculture, forestry, hunting, Deer Management Assistance Program, transportation, local government and tourism.

At least three members must have purchased a deer hunting license in seven of the past 10 years.

A local delegate of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress leads the proceedings.

The CDACs are charged with gathering public opinion on deer populations and goals, antlerless quotas and herd management strategies; reviewing scientific metrics on deer herd trends, impacts to habitat and agriculture and human-deer interactions; and providing the department with recommendations on deer population objectives, antlerless quotas and herd management strategies.

The 2017 work by the CDACs is the second rotation of three-year population objectives.

To form the recommendations, the councils reviewed current county-specific data on fawn-to-doe ratios, deer harvests and deer population estimates as well as antler development, herd health, deer impacts on agriculture, forest health, economics, vehicular collisions and the deer hunter experience.

The public comment period on the preliminary deer population recommendations will run Sept. 11 to 22.

The councils will review the input and meet again in October to set the final deer population objectives.

All CDAC meetings are open to the public. Comments may be submitted in person at CDAC meetings or online.

CWD sampling: During the 2017 deer hunting season, the Department of Natural Resources will continue to sample deer in the Southern Farmland Zone for chronic wasting disease and at other select locations in the CWD-affected area.

Hunters are reminded that the surveillance plan identifies where the Wisconsin DNR will be attempting to collect samples from deer; however, if hunters anywhere in the state are interested in having their animals tested, they should contact their local wildlife biologist for the county in which they are located.

Testing is done at no cost to the hunters. 

Chronic wasting disease is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that is fatal to deer, elk and moose. It was first identified in 1967 as a clinical disease in captive mule deer in Colorado. It has since been found in captive cervid facilities and in wild deer and elk in more than 20 states. It was first detected in Wisconsin in 2002.

Last year 6,127 deer were tested for CWD in Wisconsin; 447 were positive.

There is no evidence CWD has caused illness in humans, but health experts recommend no meat be eaten from a CWD-positive animal.

The DNR has a map of testing stations and other CWD information on its website.