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November 9, 2010

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

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 09, 2010

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