MADISON – Approval of the 2016 deer hunting season framework and antlerless deer quotas and approval of the purchase of a 7,090-acre easement in Douglas County as part of the Forest Legacy Program are among the items the state Natural Resources Board will address when it meets May 25 in Madison.
Back to back mild winters combined with planned reductions in antlerless harvest are helping with herd growth in portions of our Northern and Central Forest Zones, and Farmland Zone deer herds have also increased, according to Tom Hauge, director of the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Wildlife Management.
“As a result, we anticipate that Wisconsin’s deer hunters will likely see and harvest more deer in 2016,” Hauge said.
County Deer Advisory Councils are recommending larger antlerless harvest quotas and permit levels compared to the past few years, as well as some antlerless-only gun hunting opportunities during the Holiday Hunt in certain counties. This is the second year that the newly established CDACs played a major advisory role on antlerless deer harvest quotas and permit levels to achieve their county’s three-year deer population objectives that the board approved in February 2015.
The proposals include:
- Buck-Only hunting in 10 counties, all within the Northern and Central Forest zones. The decrease in buck-only counties compared to the last two years (19 in 2014 and 12 in 2015) is a sign that CDACs are seeing herds rebound in the “fringe” counties of the Northern Forest where there is a strong agricultural component;
- Antlerless deer quotas were set through a process beginning in March with CDAC meetings in every county to formulate preliminary harvest quota and permit recommendations, and to consider various season and permitting options. Subsequently, the department provided an online public feedback questionnaire on the proposed quota and permit levels. The public’s feedback was then shared with and considered by council members before they made final recommendations at April meetings in each county.
- Holiday Hunts will be held in 13 counties this year. This hunt will add additional antlerless deer to the overall harvest in counties where the CDACs and department feel it is needed, and provide a special opportunity for family to hunt together during the holidays.
- In 2016, the opening sales of bonus antlerless permits will again be staggered across several days to avoid any potential computer-overload glitches in the online or telephone ordering system. Sales will begin on Monday, August 15 at 10 a.m. for bonus permits in the Forest Zones. The Central Farmland Zone will follow on the August 16, and the Southern Farmland on the August 17.
The board is also being asked to approve the purchase of the 7,090-acre Forest Legacy Easement for $3,545,000 from the Lyme Timber Company. This is the third phase of the Brule-St. Croix Legacy Forest and fills in gaps within the previous conservation initiative. The acquisition of this easement will ensure this large block of northern forest will continue to provide for sustainable timber management and harvest, and continue to provide wildlife habitat and public outdoor recreation opportunities in the region.
Much of the easement area is classified as pine barrens, a unique community that supports a high number of species, including sharp tailed grouse, the Kirtland’s warbler, and many species found on the state list of Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Approximately 1,924 acres of the easement property are also located within the Brule River State Forest acquisition boundary. This represents about 6.5 percent of the total remaining acquisition boundary within the state forest.
Lyme Solon Springs Forest Company, or any future owner, will remain responsible for land management within the terms of the easement.
On Tuesday, May 24, 2016, the Natural Resources Board will have an informal meeting with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress Executive Council at approximately 6:30 p.m. at Babes Restaurant, 5614 Schroeder Road, Madison
The regular business meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 25, in Room G09, State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 South Webster St., Madison.
The public must pre-register with Laurie Ross, board liaison, to testify at the board meeting.
Registration information is available on the agenda on the DNR website.
The deadline to register to testify or submit written comments for this business meeting is 11 a.m. on Friday, May 20, 2016. More information is available on the DNR website.
Board meetings are webcast live. People can watch the meeting over the Internet by going to the NRB agenda page of the DNR website and clicking on webcasts in the Related Links column on the right. Then click on this month’s meeting. After each meeting, the webcast will be permanently available on demand.