Deer hunters in Douglas County will have few chances to shoot antlerless deer this autumn under a preliminary proposal by the county's Deer Hunting Advisory Committee.
The committee held a public forum Wednesday night in Superior at which many hunters say they were disappointed with the low number of deer in the county and that they want to have a very conservative season in 2019 to help rebuild the herd.
In 2018 the DNR issued 1,900 general antlerless permits for hunters on private and public land. Those so-called quota permits would not be offered this year under the preliminary proposal which comes back for review at an April 17 meeting at the Superior library.
"Essentially, for most adult hunters, Douglas County would be bucks only in 2019,'' said Greg Kessler, DNR wildlife manager for the area.
Some antlerless deer would still be fair game. Youth hunters will be able to shoot antlerless deer during archery, muzzleloader and regular gun seasons as will disabled hunters, veterans and some tribal hunters. There also will be antlerless permits issued in the Superior metro zone.
Overall about 1,346 antlerless deer (does and fawns) were shot in 2018 in the county. That will probably drop to less than half that this year, Kessler said.
The Douglas County committee's recommendation went against Kessler's suggestion that hunters could safely harvest about 1,200 antlerless deer in 2019 and still see the population grow some. Kessler said allowing some antlerless permits helps keep some hunters interested in the sport, as the number of hunters drops off, and allows hunters on private property to thin deer numbers where needed.
But some hunters, like Erik Finstad of Wascott, said a late winter storm in 2018 and a high-snow winter this year have doubled-up on deer and reduced the number of fawns being produced.
"We're hurting right now,'' Finstand said. "We're a long way from a healthy herd in the county." Kessler and others said they were surprised when hunters shot only 2,976 bucks in the county in 2018, down from an expected 3,908. He said the April 2018 snowstorm, which didn't register much on the traditional winter severity index chart, apparently caused more deer to perish than originally believed.
Each county committee's recommendations will be open to public comment from April 1-10 with a final meeting set for April 17. Final recommendations will be sent to the state Natural Resources Board for approval in May. For more information go to dnr.wi.gov and search for CDAC.
County deer advisory committees held across the state provide local input to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on issues such as how many antlerless deer permits should be issued in the county. They are intended to provide more public input on deer management and give stakeholders a greater responsibility in managing local deer numbers. Councils review and discuss the previous year's hunting season results and long-term harvest trends, accept public comments and develop preliminary antlerless quota, permit and season structure recommendations.
U of M dives into chronic wasting disease fight
The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota last week launched its Chronic Wasting Disease Response, Research and Policy Program to battle the wildlife disease crisis and research the potential for animal-to-human transmission.
CWD has been found in several wild deer in southeastern Minnesota, and in recent weeks a wild deer north of Brainerd, in addition to several farmed deer in the state.
CWD is a prion disease that affects deer, elk, reindeer and moose. Although CWD has not yet been found in humans, numerous health agencies advise people to not eat meat from any CWD-positive animals.
"We believe it is possible that human cases of CWD associated with the consumption of CWD-contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead," said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. "There is an immediate and critical need for national leadership on addressing CWD, and the CWD Program establishes the University of Minnesota as both the national and international center for CWD response, research, education and policy."
The U's new CWD Program will focus on:
• Providing coordinated and proactive national leadership with government agencies and others that identifies and defines priority policy, prevention, research on CWD in animals and its potential for animal-to-human and human-to-human transmission.
• Educating the public - particularly hunters, the medical and public health communities, wildlife scientists and managers, public policymakers and elected officials - about the potential risk of human CWD infection.
• Promoting extensive, reliable and rapid CWD prion detection tests for killed cervids before the deer are processed or consumed.
• Conducting primary prevention research on limiting the potential transmission of the CWD prion to humans and between animal species.
The University Task Force on CWD, led by Associate Vice President for Research Michael Oakes, will address the full range of diagnostic, clinical and public-health challenges associated with CWD, connecting with potential external partners and leveraging the considerable relevant strengths across its campuses and colleges in biology, wildlife ecology, veterinary medicine and zoonotic disease, public health, and medicine, as well as expertise in public policy and economics.
Minnesota deer meetings start this week
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife managers across the state are hosting open house meetings for the public to ask their deer questions and learn more about deer management and local deer populations and goals.
The meetings are set for:
March 26 at the Tower Area DNR office, 650 Highway 169., 5-7 p.m.
March 26 at the Aitkin DNR Office, 1200 Minnesota Ave., 5-6:30 p.m.
March 28 at the Cloquet DNR Office, 1604 Highway 33 South, 6-8 p.m.
March 28 at the International Falls DNR office, 392 E. Highway 11, 5-6:30 p.m.
April 2 at the Grand Rapids regional DNR office, 1201 E. Highway 2, from 5-6:30.
April 3 at the Two Harbors DNR office, 1568 Highway 2, 4-6 p.m.
Last year, the first time such public input sessions were held, they were very sparsely attended. But it's expected more people will show up this year now that there is more word out about the effort, after a winter of deep snow and some deer mortality, and after a winter of increased chronic wasting disease in the state.
The meetings do not include formal presentations; people can arrive at any time. Other locations and more information are available on the DNR deer plan webpage at mndnr.gov/deerplan.