WISCONSIN (WKOW)-- Three Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to cancel a popular four day anterless deer hunt in northern Wisconsin. Many hunters north of Wausau say the deer herd has already been hit hard by harsh weather and predators.
One of the more popular hunting areas, the Northern most region, draws thousands of hunters from across the state, but many are worried about low numbers of deer in that area.
"I just think there needs to be a greater appreciation for the different ecology that we have here in far northern Wisconsin. In the far north we certainly have some great concern," Republican State Senator Tom Tiffany says.
Tiffany and other lawmakers in the northern region of the state have heard from several hunters who report dangerously low numbers.
Tiffany says many counties in his district report a double digit drop in the number of harvested deer. It's significantly higher than the statewide decline of 7% this season. That's why he and two fellow lawmakers are asking the DNR to cancel this year's 4-day antlerless deer hunt up north.
"We're going to see a lot of stress starting out right from the beginning of Winter here in 2013-2014 and so there is really great concern about the deer herd being able to over-winter," Tiffany says.
But DNR officials say the hunt can't be canceled. To do so requires a written proposal that needs to be approved by the governor and the natural resource board. After that a public comment period must take place. The entire process takes more than six months.
"We know that we lost deer in the north and we know that we had below average fawn recruitment this year," DNR Big Game Ecologist Kevin Wallenfang says. "We anticipated that deer numbers would be down in the north and we cut back permits significantly."
Wildlife experts say that limit on permits in the northern region should be enough to effectively manage the deer herd this year. Next year they're already making plans to eliminate the 4-day antlerless deer hunt.
The three lawmakers and their constituents argue that survival conditions for deer are much tougher up north with harsher weather and a growing number of natural predators like wolves and bobcats. They're asking DNR officials to focus more attention and resources on this region to protect the declining deer herd.
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