Wisconsin deer hunters can expect a number of drastic changes next season, including a reduction of management units by half, more reliance on hunter input, and the elimination of traditional check stations.
“It’s such an exciting time in deer management in this state,” Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said. “We will not waste this opportunity.”
The absence of check stations is likely to have the biggest impact on hunters. According to the Associated Press, wildlife officials voted to end in-person checks on Wednesday after a four-hour discussion on the matter. The decision to eliminate the check stations came about in an effort to improve hunting in the state, which means decreasing costs. Instead of transporting deer to a physical check station, hunters are now directed to register their harvests remotely by phone or online. The move is expected to save the state as much as $182,000 a year, along with valuable processing time. As a bonus to hunters, officials said remote registration is also more convenient.
However, small businesses are worried that the removal of check stations could mean a drop in customers. Jeremy Brenner, who owns Brenner’s Generations Lanes in Eldorado, says that he fears a lackluster deer season now that hunters will no longer be bringing deer in to be checked at his business.
“For most people deer hunting isn’t about getting a deer,” Brenner said, “it’s about the memories and the good times they had at deer camp with their kids and their hunting friends. They grab a soda and a pizza and sit around and talk about the day.”
Others believe that by no longer requiring hunters to register in person, some will attempt to abuse the system. Brenner himself said it would be easy to harvest a deer and simply not report it.
Despite these concerns, wildlife officials said the decision has been a long time in coming. Wisconsin turkey and geese hunters already register their harvests using the new methods, which DNR employees reported are easier and faster to process than traditional paper forms.