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County Deer Advisory Councils encourage public input on deer population management


Deer population management impacts everyone: homeowners, farmers, hunters, gardeners, foresters, and more.

With many County Deer Advisory Council meetings approaching, local deer populations are being reassessed.

“We're seeing here in this old forest good, good regrowth in the understory. That's what we're looking for.”

Fred Clark is a forest ecologist with Wisconsin Green Fire.

We’re standing on a narrow trail in the Echo Lakes State Natural Area, which is a part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

He says that when you walk into a forest and it looks like a park with open bare ground, that should worry you.

Clark explains that that’s because those conditions are not natural and indicate that deer populations are too high.

“There's too much browse going on in the deer, because of the deer. And when that happens, our forests are slowly dying,” he said.

It’s all a balancing act, he explains.

“What we need to do is have a balanced approach where we're actually managing deer populations that are at a level that still provides recreational opportunities for hunters, but actually keeps the deer at a level that our forest can sustain itself. If we're unable to do that, future generations are going to lose,” he said.

The public is able to share their perspectives on deer population management at local County Deer Advisory Council meetings.

Kurt Justice is the Chair of the Vilas County Deer Advisory Council.

“There's two sides to every story. We have people that want to see the deer population lowered. And we have, also, a lot of people who want to see it raised. It all depends on where you're standing,” he said.

He said that they had a better idea of deer populations when zones were set up by habitat, as opposed to by county.

“I think we had a better understanding of how to keep the deer herds at the levels we were looking for,” he said.

“We've been pushing for years to get our counties, get our units put back to where they used to be, which makes a lot more sense, based on habitat,” said Justice.

In March, Governor Evers vetoed a prohibition on antlerless deer hunting in northern Wisconsin in the hopes of raising the population.

Justice said that in some areas, leaving the deer and especially does alone would give them a chance to repopulate.

“But that wouldn't fix everything for everyone,” he said.

That's why he encourages everyone to come to the upcoming meeting on the 29th and share what you’ve seen.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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