Department of Natural Resources officials received input from over 700 people at a series of deer hunter forums held around the state in March and through more than 13,000 responses to an online survey on deer management issues. The collected public feedback was used in developing the 2013 deer hunting seasons that will be recommended to the Natural Resources Board, May 22, in Madison.

“We’ve put a high priority on hearing the public’s perspective on deer management issues. Thanks go out to all who participated in one of the 34 meetings held statewide or online,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist.

Preliminary results indicate the majority of on-line feedback came from the north, with 38 percent representing the northern forest deer management region. Another 23 percent represented southern farmland, 17 percent represented eastern farmland, 17 percent western farmland, and 8 percent central forest. The majority of on-line respondents were hunters, with most hunting deer during both the gun and archery seasons.

“More than fifteen times the people took advantage of the on-line forum versus meeting in-person,” said Wallenfang. “While we can’t use the on-line format as a vote, it is helpful in gauging public sentiment and it’s great that those who wanted to participate without driving a great distance took advantage of this option.”

Compared to 2012 survey results, hunters indicated that they saw more deer and were more satisfied with last fall’s hunt. “Most people base the success of their hunt not necessarily on shooting a deer, but simply by how many they see,” says Wallenfang. “When they see more deer than the year before, they are usually happier. The harvest increased again last year, so the idea that a few more people rank their hunt a bit higher isn’t surprising.”

Results of both the local forums and on-line survey indicate strong public support for reduced permit numbers in the north for the 2013 deer season and the Department is listening to this feedback.

“Conservative quotas are being recommended to allow herd growth in much of the north,” said Wallenfang. “The majority of hunters indicated that they want at least a small number of antlerless permits issued in all but four units, and we are hoping to do so. Last winter’s impacts on the herd, plus a late gun season opener in 2013 will play a big part in determining the success of this fall’s hunt.”

Results for the entire survey can be found on the DNR web site, dnr.wi.gov, and search keywords “deer hunter forum.”

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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