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Author Topic: Reaffirmation of a shrinking deer herd  (Read 5393 times)

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Offline Rancid Crabtree

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Reaffirmation of a shrinking deer herd
« on: September 25, 2009, 05:10:50 PM »
Part of the recommendations from the legislature after the Madison hearing on EAB was for the Dept. to utilize more car kill data as an indicator of population trends. When the gun buck harvest rates are high, so are the car kill numbers and so is the population as a whole. We all know that the gun buck harvest last year was the lowest since 1983. The WI car deer crash data by County came out today for 2009 (the fiscal year runs from June to July so 09 ended on June 30th) and low and behold, We hit deer in 2009 at about the same rate as we did back in 1983 (26 years ago) In fact, there has only been one year since 1983 that we hit fewer deer in WI and that was within only a few hundred of  this year's total.
   
Statewide, the car deer crashes dropped another 11.2% from last year's drop. Since EAB kicked in 2004, the car deer crashes have dropped steadily.

2004: ......... 48,316

2005: ......... 41,687

2006: ......... 36,900

2007: .......... 35,685

2008: ......... 31,951

2009: ..........28,374

Since 2004, the gun buck harvest has dropped 22%. The car deer crashes in that same period have dropped  41%.

I looked at 2 of the counties that historically had some of the highest numbers in the state for car deer crashes over the years. Waupaca  and Shawano County (62B) which was slated to be EAB again this year (before the EAB hearing)  The Dept's estimates 62B is still 120% over goal at 55 deer per square mile of range. Here are the car kill numbers for Waupaca County.

2004: ....... 2,333

2005: ........1,701

2006: ........1,943

2007: .......1,335

2008: .......1,027

2009: .......905

Car kills have dropped 61% in that time and yet the Dept. says that in unit 62B, if half of the deer in that unit were killed today, they would still be 20% over goal.  For Shawano County (the other half of 62B), the car deer crash results are the same.

2004: ......... 2,150

2009: ........... 970 ........  a  55% reduction.

Here are the gun harvest numbers for 62B

2004: 2,554 bucks ..........4,894 antlerless

2008: 2,003 bucks .........4,139 antlerless

That's a 22% reduction in buck harvest and with unlimited antlerless tags and EAB, a 15% reduction in antlerless harvest.

Nobody wants more car deer crashes but we do want accurate population estimates so that season structures can be set accordingly. My guess is that the residents of Waupaca County are shocked that they are 120% over goal with the deer numbers of today. Those residents include farmers of which there are only 2 enrolled in the crop damage program in Waupaca County while Shawano County only has 1 farmer enrolled. Clearly the population in 62B is way down, there is very little ag damage, a huge drop off in car kills and harvest and yet their 120% over goal. This is why hunters from Waupaca County went to Madison in April.  I spoke with some of them. They said "Enough already with this EAB!" We don't have the deer the DNR thinks we do. STOP ALREADY!

To those that love EAB because of the older bucks EAB is credited for. That was never the reason for EAB and is not reason to continue with EAB. Let's get a better handle on the population estimate, the over winter goals increased, revise what is considered Deer range and then, let's talk about the need to reduce the deer herd.  Not before.
Any day in the woods is a good day.

Offline Rancid Crabtree

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Re: Reaffirmation of a shrinking deer herd
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2009, 02:13:24 PM »
I was asked by via PM about the deer we hit with cars vs how much more we drive today vs years past. That is why when I testified in Madison, I made a point of using an indicator. I used car deer crashes per Vehicle mile traveled.  I have attached 3 slides from the presentation that will make the point more clear. These slides have NOT been updated with this new data but the point is clear. All of my data goes back to 1993 (15 years) Slide 1 shows the car deer crashes in WI per 100 million Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) Look at the years 1995 and 2000. The years, we killed the most bucks with a gun were also the years we killed the most with cars. When there are a lot of deer, both are a good indicator of that.



Slide 2 shoes the VMT traveled (From the DOT) Look again at the years 1995 and 2000. We are driving far more today that we did in those years when we hit record numbers of deer. Remember, we hit deer last year at a rate from 1983. Look at slide 2 again. Even though I don't have the year 1983 on the graph, you can see the trend. I will tell you that we are driving almost twice the miles in 2009 that we were in 1983 yet we are hitting deer at the 1983 rate. That is why I used car deer crash per VMT rather than just the raw number with nothing to compare it to.



The last slide includes data from State Farm insurance and is telling of the trend in the WI deer herd. Clearly the deer population is at it's lowest level in many years yet the Dept. was of the opinion that we have a growing deer population. That is what prompted the DNR to put out it's initial season structure map in March showing 25 EAB units and the many herd control units we would be facing for this fall. After the Madison hearing, that map was scraped and EAB shelved. That map and EAB were shelved not because of some new data the Dept. realized but rather, because of the outrage of hunters and hunting groups that went to Madison.



At that hearing the "EAB Watch Map" was mentioned. That was the map the Dept released to show that the population was out of control and to warn hunters that if they did not harvest enough deer in 2008 that they would could expect expanded EAB in 2009. I have attached that map as well.



When we went to Madison, we DID NOT ask for an alternate way to kill more deer. We did not seek a replacement to EAB under a different name. The point was to show that the Dept. did not have a handle on the true deer population which was fore warned by the SAK audit team. Hunters and the legislature asked the NRB and DNR to take specific action. They were asked to

1. Implement some, and eventually all, of the modifications to the SAK model recommended by a 2006 audit of the program to improve SAK

2.  Incorporate, or give greater weight, to the following factors: predation; car kills; fawn mortality; winter severity

3. Authorize one or more outside organizations to use a methodology of their choosing to conduct independent deer herd counts in up to 5 DMUs in order to compare the accuracy of SAK to alternate methods.

4. Incorporate, or give greater weight, to the following factors: predation; car kills; fawn mortality; winter severity

5. Raise the over winter goals

6. Revise and re-establish what is considered deer range.

All that was ignored and instead we got an EAB alternative committee and we are now facing an early gun season opener. Is it any wonder that there is a growing level of frustration among hunters and hunting groups?

It is imperative that hunters turn out at the OCT. EAB hearings to send a message to the NRB and DNR to tell them that this has gone too far. The problem is that at this point, the DNR and NRB are not receptive to anything except two options:

1. The early gun opener alternative from the DNR proposal

2. The return of EAB

We need to rally hunters and tell them that simply showing up and saying no to either option will not work. We need to send a message instructing them on suggesting a third option and that would be the option recently released by either the Conservation Congress or the plan that went to the NRB via a press release from WBH, WWF, QDM and the HRC. Both of those options DO NOT include an early gun opener but have a reasonable approach to correcting this situation that nobody asked for. I don't see that we have any other option at this stage. At the very least, hunters need to let the NRB and DNR know that tags are part of the answer. The Dept. should issue herd control tags for a minimum of 2 years in a unit prior to a DMU becoming a herd control unit.

The Dept. lists two types of DMU's and they are "Regular" units and "Herd Control" units. Herd control units have an Oct. T-zone hunt and (in the past) had EAB. If the Dept. is concerned that the herd is growing faster or is larger than goal, issue the $2 herd control tags before enacting herd control season structure. Right now there is no "Stepping stone" and a DMU is either "Regular" or "herd control". Issuing the $2 tags in a regular unit that the Dept deems growing or too far over goal can keep a DMU from becoming a herd control unit (Oct. T-zone or other actions) and is a reasonable approach to keeping units at goal without extra seasons.

We need to get every hunter we can to attend these meetings. It's up to us to prevent this plan from taking hold.

Any day in the woods is a good day.

Offline Rancid Crabtree

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Re: Reaffirmation of a shrinking deer herd
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2009, 07:40:59 PM »
More data that speaks for itself. Our herd is being managed towards a great decline.




http://www.statefarm.com/_pdf/deer_map_increase.pdf
Any day in the woods is a good day.

 

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