Contact(s): Michael Watt - (608) 221-6376 or Joanne Haas – (608) 267-0798
EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This new release has been updated from a previously issued news release.
MADISON - With the upcoming nine-day gun season approaching fast, wildlife researchers are looking for assistance from Wisconsin hunters who may harvest any of the more than 240 white-tailed deer marked with radio-collars and approximately 200 deer marked with ear tags.
The researchers say hunters' help may play a role in how Wisconsin's white-tailed deer herd is managed for generations to come. That's a big impact for help that may take each hunter who harvests a marked deer only a few minutes to provide. With the start of the early archery season a few weeks ago, we have now entered an important phase of the project that involves collecting harvest data from marked deer.
"These deer were marked in 2011 and 2012 as part of a study to better understand how long deer live and how they die," said Michael Watt, Natural Resource Research Scientist. "Hunters are free to harvest these marked deer. And if they do, we would like some basic information that shouldn't take more than a minute to provide."
The requested information about marked deer include:
Hunters are being asked to call Watt at (608) 221-6376 to report this information.
Watt and his colleagues marked the deer in the northern counties of Rusk, Sawyer and Price, and the east central counties of Shawano, Waupaca and Outagamie as part of the buck mortality study and fawn predation study sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Safari Club International (SCI), Wildlife Restoration Funding, Union Sportsmen's Alliance, Whitetails Unlimited, Applied Population Laboratory, Menn Law Firm, and private donations from Wisconsin citizens.
"I want to stress that hunters should treat these deer like any other deer you might see. These deer may be harvested, but the information that hunters provide is important to the research and the future of our deer herd," said Watt.
While the DNR uses a deer population modeling system built upon sound science and data, Watt says challenges remain.
"The distribution and numbers of predators has changed in the last 20 years and we hope this study can shed some light on how these changes are affecting our deer herd," Watt says. "Not only is this a wildlife issue, it is an economic issue - Wisconsin's tourism relies upon its healthy and abundant natural resources. Deer hunting is part of that tourism industry. Our deer hunters have expressed concerns about the impact that predation may be having on deer population growth and recruitment rates across the state - the department is listening to their concerns and trying to better understand predation impacts with our ongoing collaborative research."
And this is where the hunters come in, Watt says.
"The only way we will be successful in our deer herd management is through hunters' participation," Watt says. "And the research partners who make it possible for us to increase our ability to gather this key information."