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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published November 9, 2010

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Wisconsin's nine-day regular gun deer season opens Nov. 20

MADISON - Wisconsin's regular nine-day gun deer hunting season opens Saturday, Nov. 20 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 28. State wildlife officials say that while herd control has been the primary statewide focus over the last decade - and remains so in areas of the state this year -- herd growth is actually the primary objective throughout much of northeast Wisconsin for 2010.

Following a review of population goals that included extensive public input and legislative review, deer population goals were increased in 43 units this year. The end results are season structures and permit levels that will be aimed toward a more conservative antlerless harvest, according to Keith Warnke, deer and bear ecologist with the Department of Natural Resources.

As a result, this year nearly half of the state's deer management units are under a "regular" season structure, and 19 of those units - primarily in far northeastern Wisconsin - are under a buck-only season structure. In regular units hunters may only shoot an antlered deer with their regular license, unless they purchase an additional unit-specific antlerless permit if they are available for that unit.

Roughly the other half of DMUs remain under a herd-control structure because the population of those units is estimated to be 20 percent or more over established population goals. In herd control units, hunters may shoot an antlered deer with their deer hunting license and may shoot an antlerless deer with the free herd-control antlerless permit that comes with their license in any herd control unit.

There are 22 units in southern Wisconsin in the chronic wasting disease management zone that will again have unlimited earn-a-buck regulations intended to meet deer population goals and disease management objectives. In these units, a hunter must first shoot an antlerless deer during a 2010 open season such as the archery deer or October antlerless seasons or have an unused 2009-2010 buck harvest authorization sticker to shoot an antlered deer.

In 2009, more than 635,000 licensed hunters registered a statewide harvest of approximately 330,000 deer. This fell well short of Wisconsin's previous five-year annual harvest average of 492,000 deer. Several contributing factors resulted in a reduced harvest, but a reduced deer population and a reduction in antlerless harvest are thought to have played the biggest roles. A reduced annual harvest is also a sign that deer populations across the state are nearing management goals.

"The elimination of earn-a-buck outside of the CWD management zone last year also allowed all hunters to take bucks and pass on antlerless deer. Hunters who will be hunting in former earn-a-buck units may notice an increase in the number of antlerless deer and fewer mature bucks this year," Warnke said.

Regardless of statewide or DMU level deer populations and expectations, Warnke says that deer abundance on a single property or local level often does not reflect deer population trends on the larger scale. Pre-season scouting and discussions with local neighbors will give hunters a better expectation of the hunt in their local hunting area.

"Autumn is beautiful and fleeting. For hunters, this is the best time of year. For many, the preparations for hunting - setting up stands, scouting for promising trees, looking for deer sign, practicing marksmanship - are a big part of enjoying the season."

Regional Season Forecasts

Wisconsin DNR Regions
Wisconsin DNR Regions

Southeast Region

Deer populations in the Southeast Region remain relatively high compared to established population goals in all units except DMU 69, which is a regular unit. The remaining units are in Herd Control season frameworks, with units in the CWD Management Zone continuing under earn-a-buck regulations. While earn-a-buck regulations have been effective in reducing deer populations in the CWD units, there are still good deer numbers and harvest opportunities. Helicopter and fixed-wing deer surveys conducted in the CWD zone revealed significant, but unevenly distributed deer numbers. Scouting is more important than ever because of the lowered deer populations and uneven distribution

Good opportunities for deer hunting exist throughout the region but deer distribution varies greatly, depending on habitat and hunting pressure. Some of the bigger blocks of deer habitat are found on the Kettle Moraine State Forest and State Wildlife Areas. Hunting pressure is usually high on public lands. Scouting to find several hunting spots in advance of the hunting season will provide alternatives come opening day.- Dale Katsma, Acting Regional Wildlife Biologist

West Central Region

A majority of units in the West Central Region are near goals, with 10 units having a population high enough to require herd control. With the milder winter and the early spring, fawn production should be good. This past winter the overwinter goals were raised in 15 units allowing for a larger deer population in these units.

Those units that are near or below population goals have a regular deer season framework. Some of these units have a very limited number of antlerless tags available, so remember to purchase your antlerless tags early. In the remaining West Central Region units, deer populations remain higher than populations goals, so these units will follow the Herd Control framework.

Many of the units in the West Central Region are highly productive farmland units where the deer herd can bounce back quickly, so hunters should plan to harvest an antlerless deer or two while they are buck hunting this fall to keep the unit at a more manageable and healthier level. - Greg Dahl, Wisconsin Rapids Area Wildlife Biologist

Northern Region

This past winter was a good one from the white-tailed deer perspective. Overall, it was classified as a "mild winter" in the region. There were a fair amount of cold days, but the really deep snowfalls were lacking. However, there was some severe winter in parts of the north and quota recommendations were lowered in these units due to winter.

The region also had a very mild and early spring. This allowed for an early green-up, which is absolutely critical for deer coming off the winter. We started to see fawns early this year. These fawns are really getting a head-start to get ready for the next winter. This will help with over winter survival and future production. This will give a real boost in DMUs where we are rebuilding the herd. It also gives us caution to make sure the herd does not exceed the natural carrying capacity of the land in many other DMUs in the north. This is why there is a real mix of season structures and antlerless deer quotas in northern Wisconsin for the 2010 deer season.

There are 15 DMUs in the region where the gun antlerless deer quota is zero, meaning these units are buck-only units. There are 24 DMUs that have a range of antlerless permits available and there are seven units that will be in the Herd Control Season structure.- Mike Zeckmeister, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Northeast Region

Deer populations in the 16-county Northeast Region continue to be the tale of two differing habitats. The northern forest deer herd has not yet shown indications of improved productivity, while the farmland herds remain above goals despite long-running liberal harvest regulations for antlerless deer. Most of the region south of State Highway 64 and DMU 51A to the north remain in Herd Control status. Summer deer surveys in August and September will be watched for signs of improved fawn numbers in the north due to the milder past winter.

The six Northern Forest DMUs in the region remain below population goals and four of them will have a buck-only season framework for both archers and gun hunters in 2010 to give them the greatest chance for herd growth. As forests grow older, deer productivity declines. Hunters should assess their traditional hunting spots with an eye toward general forest age and consider positioning themselves near younger forests if they have not found satisfactory experiences in recent years.

With the absence of earn-a-buck requirements during the 2009 season in northeast farmland units; antlerless harvests dropped dramatically and deer herds grew slightly in most units. Fawn productivity is anticipated to be strong this year, and although some hunters will remain understandably conservative with antlerless harvest in pockets of low deer numbers, farmland unit hunters generally need to be comfortable harvesting antlerless deer in order to avoid another spike in the herd that will require more aggressive harvest regulations in the future. - Jeff Pritzl, Regional Wildlife Biologist

South Central Region

Deer populations are doing well in the South Central Region and hunters should have a great 2010, with one caveat. Hunters should be prepared to scout their hunting areas before the season, and also be prepared to move to areas where deer are found. While all the deer management units in the region are above deer populations goals, deer are very unequally distributed in the region.

The liberal earn-a-buck deer seasons are resulting in heavy hunting pressure in some areas and thus there are few deer in those areas. Other areas are hunted a little lighter and have good deer numbers. And in some areas there is little hunting pressure and there are very high deer numbers. In most of the SCR, the sex-age kill (SAK) population model is not used to determine deer numbers. Instead biologists use helicopters and planes to physically count deer.

One glaring observation is how unequally distributed deer are in the region. The helicopter surveys are conducted in one-square mile blocks. In some blocks, fewer than 10 deer are seen, while just a few miles away there may be 60 deer in a block. The deer season framework is based on managing deer at a certain density, recognizing deer numbers are high in some areas and low in others.

With the exception of northern Dodge and western Grant counties, all of the region's DMUs will continue to fall under the CWD season framework, which has not changed since 2008. Reducing deer densities is the primary objective to limit spread of this always fatal brain disease in deer, and EAB along with extended gun season opportunities to increasing antlerless harvest are still in effect.

Hunters will again be able to get their deer tested for CWD at both DNR and private registration stations throughout the CWD management zone. Increased testing will take place in Jefferson, southern Dodge, and in southwestern Sauk and eastern Richland counties to improve monitoring of the disease. Testing locations will be posted on the DNR web and press releases will be issued prior to the hunting seasons alerting hunters as to where they can get their deer tested. For more information specific to CWD and its management, see the Chronic Wasting Disease section of this publication - Doug Fendry, Eastern Area Supervisor and Don Bates, CWD Operations Supervisor

More information

Deer Hunting in Wisconsin

Deer Hunting Regulations [PDF 2.29MB]

Index to recent deer season news

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - (608) 264-6023 or Jason Fleener - (608) 261-7589

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A message to hunters from DNR Secretary Matt Frank

MADISON - As Wisconsin deer hunters make final preparations for the 2010 gun deer hunt, Department of Natural Resources Secretary, Matt Frank wishes all hunters good luck and good hunting:

"The annual deer hunt is an incredible tradition that links generations and families and friends. We can be proud that Wisconsin is known across the country as a premier deer hunting destination. On the eve of this year's hunt, I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable hunt."

Be sure to tune in Nov.11 at 8 p.m. to the 2010 Deer Show on Milwaukee Public Television station MPTV 10.1 and the Wisconsin Channel of Wisconsin Public Television across the state. A directory of stations can be found on the Wisconsin Public Television website [www.wpt.org/wisconsinchannel] (exit DNR). Hosted by public television's Dan Small and sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources, the goal of the hour-long broadcast is to review what every hunter needs to know and share some tips that might be new even for the most skilled deer hunters. Viewers will also hear from several veteran hunters "sitting 'round the campfire" sharing stories and thoughts about memorable hunts, memorable moments in their hunting careers and why they hunt.

For hunters looking for information on the 2010 deer season outlook for the state as a whole and region by region the DNR's Bureau of Wildlife has published a 2010 Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast, which contains outlooks for deer and many other popular game species along with commentary and analysis by wildlife biologists from around the state.

"A big part of a tradition like the Wisconsin deer hunt is helping newcomers to enjoy it. If you haven't already, I encourage you to introduce a new hunter to the sport. Our mentored hunting program is a great way to introduce anyone, but especially kids, to hunting. Today's new hunters keep the tradition alive for future generations."

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Hunting is safer - as long as you don't shoot yourself

Hunter safety administrator statistics tell the story

MADISON - Wisconsin statistics show hunting is safe and getting safer, but the rate of unintentional self-inflicted injuries is on the rise.

Hunter Education Administrator Tim Lawhern has witnessed both subtle and significant changes in his 22-year Department of Natural Resources career. And changes have been both good and annoying.

"We have had great success in educating hunters to be safe - and with that comes success in the hunt," Lawhern said

When Lawhern was named head of the hunter education program in 1994, there were 60 hunting incidents for all seasons combined - 55 injuries and 5 fatalities. The incident rate was 7.6 when compared with incidents per 100,000 hunters. In 1966, the year before hunter education programs began in the state, the incident rate for all hunting seasons was 43.5. Last year, there were 18 hunting incidents - 17 injuries and one fatality - translating into an incident rate of 4.19.

For the gun-deer hunting season, the incident rate in 2009 was 1.26 for 8 incidents.

"These statistics show us that our Hunter Education Program is working. And it shows us our volunteer instructors are doing a good job training hunters to be safe, knowledgeable and responsible," Lawhern said.

The flip side of the equation is the number of hunters shooting themselves.

"It used to be self-inflicted injuries amounted to roughly 20 to 25 percent of the total number of hunting incidents," Lawhern said. "Today that number is 40 to 50 percent each year."

Lawhern says it is not uncommon for a hunter to say the gun went off on its own.

"In nearly all of these cases, the gun has not been the problem. It has been handler error," Lawhern said. "If the hunter takes care to do two things, these types of incidents will decline.

"One is to never point a loaded gun in your direction or in the direction of anyone else. It must be appointed in a safe direction," Lawhern said. "And, do not put your finger in that the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot at your target.

"Just doing those two things would wipe out self-inflicted injuries and cut by half the total number of hunting incidents," he said. "Most of the self-inflicted injuries are just smart hunters momentarily turning stupid. So stay smart and safe this hunting season."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Lawhern - (608) 266-1317.

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Deer hunters asked to submit deer, wildlife observations through online survey

MADISON - Hunting camp clocks are ticking away the hours to the opening of the 2010 gun deer season and with many deer hunters already in the woods bow hunting or scouting for the gun deer season, it's a perfect time to send in deer observations to the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey .

The online survey was started in 2009 following examples from other states and with suggestions from hunters that the hours they spend in the woods and the wildlife they observe are valuable for identifying trends in wildlife abundance and distribution. There is also a place to submit trail-cam photos of less common species that may travel through an area, setting off trail cameras.

The survey asks deer hunters to report their hunting activity and share their observations of deer, raccoon, skunk, porcupine, red and gray fox, turkey, ruffed grouse, coyote, bear, otter, fisher, bobcat, house cat, badger, wolf, opossum, elk or any other wildlife seen where they hunt.

New this year is the ability of hunters to get a summary of their hunting activity and observations at the end of the survey period. All they have to do is provide their email address when they log their hunting activity and the DNR will send them a summary at the end of the survey period.

"Wisconsin hunters can help out by reporting their deer hunting activity, even if no deer or other wildlife were seen during their hunting trip," said Jason Fleener, DNR assistant big game ecologist. "The greater the number of reported hunting trips, the clearer picture we'll have of deer sighting rates and relative abundance of deer and other wildlife. Hunters can access the survey by clicking on the "Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey" button on the DNR's website at dnr.wi.gov."

Through Nov. 8 2010, 700 hunters had filed reports covering 2,237 hunting trips across all of Wisconsin's 72 counties. Statewide, they averaged seeing one deer for every 2.6 hours in the woods during this early part of the deer hunting seasons. During the first 8 weeks of the 2009 deer season hunters were reporting 2.9 hours per deer sighting.

More detailed preliminary results from 2010 are available on the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey web page, final results from the 2009 season can be found their as well. Periodically during the deer season the department will publish up-to-date deer observation numbers giving hunters a good snapshot of what they and others are seeing in their hunting area.

"Deer hunters told us they wanted to share their observations, to tell us what they're seeing or not seeing in the woods, and we're very interested in hearing from them," said Fleener. "The real value of this effort grows as the numbers of reports add up year-after-year indicating trends in wildlife abundance and movement."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fleener - (608) 261-7589

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Hunters reminded to submit nominations for ethical hunter award

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- With the traditional gun deer hunt fast approaching, and bow hunters already out in force, conservation wardens are asking folks to keep the 14th annual Wisconsin Ethical Hunter Award in mind.

Nominations will be open through Dec. 15 this year. The award presents an opportunity to acknowledge the admirable qualities hunters bring to the field each autumn. Typically, the award celebrates selfless behavior, whether that means helping a stranger in trouble or making private lands available to new or disadvantaged hunters. If something a hunter does impresses you, please consider a nomination.

The following are requirements to be eligible to receive the Ethical Hunter award:

Written nominations should be sent to Warden Supervisor Steve Dewald at the Department of Natural Resources, 3550 Mormon Coulee Road, La Crosse, WI 54601 before Dec. 15, 2010, a deadline that is earlier than previous years.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Dewald - (715) 785-9970

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Fawns per doe ratio up an estimated 5.5 percent from 2009

MADISON -- Summer deer observations in Wisconsin show the rate of fawn production increased in 2010, rising above the 10-year average for the first time since 2007, report biologists with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Observations are reported by DNR staff, other cooperators who work in the field and, for the first time in 2010, by citizen volunteers using a new online reporting tool. More than 4,100 deer observations came through the Operation Deer Watch survey which allowed interested individuals to submit survey reports online.

This is a robust level of participation, said Keith Warnke, big game ecologist for the state Department of Natural Resources. There are interesting parallels between citizen observations and those of field staff, he said, but the real value of the new input won't be realized for several years.

"We really want to thank people for their participation in this survey and their interest in deer management," Warnke said. "The value of the data set will increases with each year as long as we continue to get strong participation. The key is building a baseline for future evaluations."

While fawn production is up moderately from last year on a statewide basis, there are significant regional variations. Both staff and volunteer observers saw the highest fawn-to-doe ratio in a group of deer management units (15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 22A, 23, 60M and 60B) in the west central and northwest Wisconsin counties of Washburn, Polk, Burnett, Barron, St. Croix and Dunn.

Both sets of observations put the lowest fawn-to-doe ratio in north central Wisconsin, the "snow belt" units in the Ashland, Iron and Sawyer counties region - (DMUs 6, 7, 13, 14, 28, 29A and 29B) - where fawn production remains below the long-term average.

The highest fawn-to-doe ratios typically occur in farmland regions where food is more plentiful and winters less severe than in the aging forests of northern and north central Wisconsin.

Fawn-doe ratios, along with registration and aging data, are part of the Sex-Age-Kill (SAK) calculations used to determine deer population levels in deer management units across the state.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - (608) 264-6023

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Deer research projects seek to shed light on predator impact on deer herd

MADISON -- Progress continues on new deer research projects designed to answer questions important to hunters and managers of Wisconsin's white-tailed deer herd.

"Many hunters are concerned with our deer population model accuracy and the impacts of predators," said Keith Warnke, big game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. "In response to those concerns the department is investing a record amount of its resources into this research."

While an audit by international wildlife experts found the department's deer population modeling system to be sound and one of the best in the country, Warnke said challenges remain that have led to the new research projects.

Buck survival and predators

Two projects set to get underway this winter will look at the causes of death in bucks and fawns including the roles of predators, weather and hunters.

Hunter harvest is the largest cause of death for bucks. Biologists refer to the portion of bucks killed by hunters each year as the buck recovery rate (BRR). Over the course of five years deer will be captured, tagged and monitored to determine their cause of death whether it is due to hunters or natural causes such as wolves, bears, coyotes, bobcats, weather and accidents. The Buck Recovery Rate is a key component of accurate deer population estimates.

Predators

"The distribution and abundance of predators on Wisconsin's landscape has changed over time," says Warnke. "From the time a doe is impregnated to the time the fall hunting season begins, a number of fawns are lost every year to various causes before and after birth including weather, food availability and nutrition, disease, predation and accidents."

This study will measure the role of predation on recruitment which is the number of deer added to the population each year by fawns surviving into the fall. Researchers will gather data on doe pregnancy rates and litter sizes and fawn survival and causes of mortality from birth to the hunting season.

"We will also attempt to identify the specific predators of fawns, mainly wolves, bears, bobcats, and coyotes, and measure the impact predation has on recruitment," Warnke said. Little is known, Warnke acknowledged, about the impact of coyote and bobcat predation on deer in Wisconsin. Similar research is underway in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and the two states are sharing results.

Partners needed to get the job done

Researchers, with the help of volunteers, will place deer traps in Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Price, Shawano, Waupaca and Outagamie counties at the close of the deer hunting seasons.

Captured deer will be fitted with radio collars and ear tags. In the spring, fawns born to monitored does also will be fitted with radio-telemetry collars.

In addition to the DNR scientists, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Wildlife Ecology, UW Applied Population Laboratory, and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point are involved along with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Safari Club International, Union Sportsmen's Alliance, and Whitetails Unlimited.

These groups will be looking for help from the state's deer hunters. Warnke said this is an opportunity for hunters to assist biologists in gathering information on deer numbers in the state.

"We are encouraging all hunters and anyone else who is interested to volunteer to help on these projects," said Warnke.

Hunters can check the White-tailed Deer Research Projects page of the DNR website and follow the 'Sign up today link' to complete the volunteer form. Or they can contact a local wildlife biologist.

DNR wildlife officials are committed to continually improving the quality of the state's deer management program. "Hunters play a critical role in this process," Warnke said, "and as the agency moves forward with its ambitious research programs, hunter involvement will be more important than ever."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - (608) 264-6023

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Ten tips to recycle more on America Recycles Day

MADISON -- Recycling has become a daily habit for many people in Wisconsin and for good reason—recycling works. For every can, bottle and newspaper we recycle, we are saving resources, reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and creating jobs.

Recycling reduces the need for new materials and reduces emissions associated with mining and manufacturing. In 2008, the most recent year data is available, Wisconsin households recycled more than 735,000 tons of material. This amount reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide--the same amount that would be produced by 475,000 passenger cars.

But state Department of Natural Resources officials says Wisconsinites can still improve their recycling. Based on a 2009 study of materials landfilled in Wisconsin, state residents throw away more than $50 million in everyday recyclables like cardboard, paper, cans and bottles.

On Nov. 15, Wisconsin residents can celebrate all that recycling does by participating in America Recycles Day. The annual event encourages Americans to waste less, recycle more and purchase recycled products.

In honor of the day, here are 10 ways people can boost the amount of materials they and their family recycle:

  1. Compost food and yard debris. Suggestions on how to construct and maintain your own bin are on the DNR website.
  2. Remember to reuse. If you have clothing, furniture or other household items you no longer use, consider donating them to a local nonprofit or resale store.
  3. Take time to reacquaint yourself with your community's recycling program. Many communities have expanded the number of materials they collect and simplified the process for you to recycle. See [www.recyclemorewisconsin.org] (exit DNR) for a list of recyclables in your community.
  4. Recycle your electronics. E-Cycle Wisconsin, a new program run through the DNR, is making it easier to recycle electronics like TVs, computers, computer accessories.
  5. In addition to standard recyclables, find out what other products your recycling program accepts. Many communities have programs to recycle prescription pills, electronics, and other household hazardous wastes.
  6. In places you visit frequently—grocery store, workplace, gas station and others—ask whether they accept recycling. If not, ask them to put out a recycling bin for customer and employee use.
  7. Recycle construction and demolition debris. Several businesses across the state recycle or reuse shingles, construction lumber, lighting fixtures, drywall, concrete, glass and other construction materials.
  8. Talk to your kids about ways they can recycle at home and at school. Ideas on simple activities to teach kids about recycling can be found on the Wee Recyclers page of the DNR's EEK! Environmental Education for Kids website.
  9. Find businesses in your community that accept materials your local recycling program may not. The Wisconsin Recycling Markets Directory (exit DNR) allows you to search by material to find recyclers in your community.
  10. Be a thoughtful shopper. Look for products labeled with a high recycled content or that use "post-consumer" recycled materials, or buy products with minimal packaging or packaging that is easily recyclable.

Recycling is easy, and it makes a difference. More information on America Recycles Day, including a listing of events, is available on the americarecyclesday.org website. The Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin is providing a list of America Recycles Day links and resources. See the AROW website [www.arow-online.org/resources.html] (exit DNR) for more information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kathleen Kiefaber (608) 267-2463

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 09, 2010




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