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Wisconsin Governor Cancels October Antlerless Deer Hunt in CWD Zone

Doe At Lake Fort Smith

South central Wisconsin won’t see any hunters out this year during what would normally be a four-day early antlerless deer hunting season in October. Governor Scott Walker’s decision to cancel the season in the state’s chronic wasting disease (CWD) management zone was announced in a press release on Friday.

An early hunting season outside the CWD zone was eliminated in 2011 following legislation signed by Gov. Walker. This year’s legislation eliminates the four-day hunting season in October altogether. A report issued in July 2012 by James Kroll, a university professor from Texas, recommended the removal of the CWD zone hunt even though the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Board supported the hunt to reduce deer numbers.

Kroll served as the state’s whitetail deer trustee and had just recently wrapped up a review of Wisconsin’s deer management program with co-authors Gary Alt of California and David Guynn of South Carolina. As part of the report, Kroll said, “we feel an early doe harvest (in October) has negative impacts on deer behavior, resulting in a subsequent reduced buck harvest during the gun season.”

The early four-day hunting season was established in 1996 and ran unhindered until legislation halted the four-day hunt outside the CWD zone in 2011. The legislation also eliminated the Earn-a-Buck program. According to the Journal Sentinel, the October deer hunt could continue only if an emergency rule was approved by the governor.

“On the heels of the Kroll report, legislators and hunters have made it clear they want Wisconsin to return to a more traditional season, which includes the nine-day November gun deer hunt,” Walker said in the release announcing the cancellation. “Eliminating the four-day October hunt in the CWD zone is one of the most simple and most effective ways we can show hunters that we are listening.”

“Our analysis of the impact of this (October) hunt on the herd, and hunter attitudes in previous years, supports this recommendation,” Kroll said. “Previous harvests have not accomplished the desired goal.”

The regular gun season will continue as planned. It begins on November 17 and lasts nine days until November 25. Bow season runs from September 15 to November 15 and again from November 17 to January 6. Muzzleloader deer season is November 26 to December 5.

Image from Doug Wertman (doug_wertman) on the flickr Creative Commons

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