Big Changes Happening on August 7, 2019.

COUNTDOWN: DAYS HRS MINS SECS

Opinions count in management of deer, other wildlife

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants your opinions to help them manage deer, bears, fish and other wildlife, but your chance to be heard will expire soon.

There are three opportunities to share your views. They include:

• The joint DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress spring hearings held Monday in all 72 counties will allow online balloting this year for the first time. As reported in last week’s column, the online survey, administered through SurveyMonkey, will go live at 7 p.m. Monday and remain open for exactly three days, closing at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Those voting on Conservation Congress local delegates must cast their ballots in person. Shawano County’s hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Shawano Community Middle School, 1050 S. Union St., Shawano.

A total of 88 questions concerning the management of wildlife, fish and proposals by citizens through the grassroots Conservation Congress process will be on the ballot. You can view all the questions at the DNR website by searching under “spring hearings.”

• County Deer Advisory Councils statewide have also analyzed their herd information and made their recommendations, with the public comment period open now through Wednesday.

During the March 12 meeting of the Shawano County Deer Advisory Council, member Nick Hovda, representing forestry interests, noted the county’s deer population is about 72 deer per square mile — over double the 30 deer per square mile recommended by state biologists for a healthy herd.

The board voted 6-1 (John Stezenski opposed) to double the number of free antlerless permits this season to six per gun and archery license. The antlerless quota in the county is 9,900, and bonus antlerless harvest authorizations (licenses) are 1,000 for public land, 3,900 on private land (in past years, many of these bonus licenses for private land remain unsold by the end of season).

The Shawano County DAC also recommended an antlerless only holiday hunt Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 (6-1 vote with Katie Ann Grunewald opposing) and extension of the archery/crossbow season to Jan. 31 (5-2 vote with Jamie Patton and Grunewald opposing).

They will meet again April 17 at SCMS to make their final decisions, which may or may not be approved by the state Natural Resources Board.

Waupaca County’s Deer Advisory Council recommended March 18 to provide three antlerless deer licenses per gun and archery license (the same as last year), no holiday hunt (3-2 vote) and no extended archery season (the state requires councils to approve a Holiday Hunt in order to extend the archery season).

The recommended antlerless deer quota for the county was 7,000 and the bonus licenses were 300 for public land and 5,000 for private land. Waupaca County’s DAC will meet again April 15 in Manawa to vote on its final recommendations after the public comment period.

Oconto, Outagamie, Portage and Winnebago counties also approved the Holiday Hunt and extended archery season.

Although you may contact your county’s DAC to voice your opinions, you may also do so online. For more details, visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/CDAClearn.html.

• The proposed 2019-2029 Bear Management Plan is now available for viewing and comment. Your opinions on the plan will be accepted through midnight April 14 at this email: DNRBearPlanComments@wisconsin.gov.

The plan was developed by the Wisconsin DNR Bear Advisory Committee, including members of DNR staff and 11 stakeholder groups, and aimed at managing the increasing and expanding bear population and bear-human conflicts. The plan can be read here: dnr.wi.gov/topic/Hunt/documents/BearPlanFinalDraft.pdf.

With an estimated statewide population of about 30,000 bears, bear hunting continues to grow in popularity. There are about 10 times more applicants than permits each year (about 11,600 permits annually), so it can take a hunter up to 12 years to accumulate enough preference points to get a permit. About 4,400 bears are harvested per year.

The changes would include three new management zones so that the entire state would now be included in one of the zones, and the addition of hound hunting in Zone C, which includes portions of Shawano County.

I will be following this process and already have gathered some comments from area hunters and guides. Watch for an upcoming piece on this.