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Changes to deer season need to be transparent

Changes to deer season need to be transparent Changes to deer season need to be transparent

The Natural Resources Board has put the final touches on the deer season, but didn’t manage to do so without a bit of controversy.

For starters, they amended the recommendation of 11 counties for antlerless tags without any prior conversations with those counties’ County Deer Advisory Councils (CDACs). Not even all of the NRB members had knowledge of vice-chairman Greg Kazmierski’s planned proposal. I say all, because he found 15 seconds or so to send an email to a few — just not all. This correctly drew fire from the DNR secretary for violating open meeting standards for state meetings.

I may find myself agreeing with the broad overview of Kazmierski’s reasons for the changes, but beware, dear reader, of taking that too far. Science and his proposal don’t have a whole heck of a lot to do with each other – but politics usually does. Kazmierski was the driving force on the NRB trying to curtail or even end the crossbow season a couple months ago, you faithful readers may recall. Science was portrayed as the driving force there, but in reality, it was the political behest of special interest groups he represents. The elephant has been pointed out.

However, he is correct in saying that, until we restore the integrity of deer populations on public lands, there will always be serious issues with the deer hunt. But there is a right way and a wrong way, and the ends doesn’t always justify the means. All of the NRB members and some of the DNR officials should have at least been informed ahead of time.

It would take the smoke out of the room.

The archery deer season will start as planned and run up to the gun deer Season.

The nine-day will be followed by the muzzleloader as usual.

There will be a holiday hunt in 32 mostly southern counties, from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2021, which will extend the archery hunt in 26 counties.

Eau Claire, Portage, Shawano, and Waupaca counties are the closest to us that will have a holiday hunt. Florence County will be buck only.

The changes with the antlerless tags are in northern counties and have to do with changing the mix of private versus public tags. First, they reduced the percentage of total antlerless tags allocated to public grounds and moved them into private land tags. Then, they reduced the quota of antlerless tags. Taylor County was left alone, along with nine other northern counties, as Kazmierski agreed with those counties’ CDAC recommendations.

Clark County will have 700 bonus antlerless tags issued for the Forest Zone’s public lands and 1,700 for private. On the Farmland Zone in Clark County, 50 tags will be issued public lands and 2,050 for private land. Marathon County will have 2,000 private land bonus tags and zero public tags. Taylor County sits entirely in the Northern Forest zone and will have 8,350 private antlerless tags issued and 1,000 public tags. The authorization tags go on sale by the zone they are in, starting Aug. 17 for Forest Zones (Northern and Central), Aug. 18 for Central Farmland Zone and Aug. 19 for Southern Farmland Zone. On Aug. 20, all zones will be available. Harvest authorizations can be purchased until sold out or the season ends.

I took a drive through a fair amount of public land in Clark County last weekend and saw one deer. I thought it was dead, floating in a reservoir, until, in typical Clark County fashion, it sprang to life and took off running for its life from any vehicle that approached. Think that might be affecting the recovery of deer on public lands a bit? I felt bad for the deer that it felt it necessary to run from its moment of relief from the heat.

There was plenty of debate at this meeting. One NRB member said he had been contacted by CDAC members from northern counties who believed there aren’t enough deer in the public forest. Several said they were not in favor of overruling the local work by CDAC’s. But they seemed to feel that if they see a problem and they could possibly reverse it, they have a responsibility to do so.

This year, on this deal, I’ll give them all a one-year bye and see what the results are. Next year at least all the NRB members should see the proposal ahead of time and the same with CDAC personnel. Citizens may simply be contacting the NRB members instead of CDAC members because they don’t understand the process — which is why we covered CDAC earlier this year.