DNR board approves new rules that will reshape Wisconsin deer hunting

2014-01-23T09:00:00Z DNR board approves new rules that will reshape Wisconsin deer huntingThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 23, 2014 9:00 am  • 

Wisconsin wildlife officials agreed Wednesday to eliminate in-person deer check stations by next year, doing away with a cornerstone of hunting tradition to save money and process data faster.

The provision was part of a sweeping rules package implementing Texas researcher James Kroll's recommendations on how to improve hunting in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker's administration hired Kroll in 2011 to review the Department of Natural Resources' deer policies; agency officials have been working to meld his suggestions into their regulations for months.

The DNR's board approved the package on a unanimous voice vote after nearly four hours of discussion. Board members said the new rules will give hunters a stronger voice in local herd management.

"Yes!" DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said seconds after the vote. "It's such an exciting time in deer management in this state. We will not waste this opportunity."#top-story

The rules call for a host of changes, including reducing the number of deer management units from 134 to 72 based on county boundaries, simplifying population goals into broad statements such as "increase or decrease the herd," creating cheaper antlerless tags for landowners who agree to share data from kills with the DNR, and creating county committees that will recommend local population goals to the agency by next year. Perhaps the biggest on-the-ground shift is eliminating in-person registration.

Deer hunters have been hauling carcasses to hundreds of bars and convenience stores across the state to be counted for decades, showing off the carcasses to other hunters, buying snacks and beer and swapping stories. The DNR has relied on in-person registration as a means of gathering detailed information on kill totals, deer sex, age and health, and collecting tissue samples for chronic wasting disease tests.

Kroll argued remote registration would expedite kill tallies. The rules eliminate all check stations in favor of a mix of phone and online registration by 2015. DNR officials say such a move could save the agency as much as $182,000 a year.

Opponents have warned remote registration will lead to underreporting, the loss of face-to-face interaction and less data for the DNR as well as hurt bars, taverns and convenience stores' bottom lines.

"Our establishments serve as community gathering places, where sportsmen come together to share the successes and failures of the day's hunt," Wisconsin Tavern League Executive Director Pete Madland said in a statement to the board Wednesday. "Eliminating this revenue stream from these small businesses would be another financial hardship for them to bear."

Supporters, though, say remote registration will be far more convenient for hunters, especially when they're dozens of miles from the nearest check-in station.

"If you make it easier for people to register more people will register there deer without wasting gas, time (greener) for everyone," hunter Kyle Olinski wrote in a Dec. 24 email to the board. "'taking the fun out of deer hunting because they can't show off there deer at the registration station' What??? How about a picture on your cellphone and send it out to your friends and the world. Please pass this it makes sense."

Eric Lobner, a DNR wildlife supervisor coordinating the rules package, told the board Wisconsin was one of only three Midwestern and Eastern states that still register deer on paper, and that Wisconsin turkey and geese hunters already register their kills by phone. DNR officials have said, too, that they're pondering other ways of collecting deer data, including requiring random in-person registrations, requiring hunters to send in deer jaws or taking tissue samples from deer hunters to deliver to meat processors.

Stepp called the paper system "extraordinarily burdensome." She said she understands the tradition of in-person registration and the economic impact, but suggested taverns and stores could still pull in hunters with biggest buck contests and other promotions.

George Meyer, a former DNR secretary who now serves as executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, questioned why the agency is considering any of Kroll's recommendations. He said hunters generally have been satisfied since the Legislature eliminated earn-a-buck, a DNR herd control plan that required hunters to kill an antlerless deer before taking a buck.

Board members disagreed with his claim, pointing out hunters in northern Wisconsin killed 15 percent fewer deer this year than last. Stepp said current DNR policy "ain't working."

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(28) Comments

  1. thattreeguy
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    thattreeguy - January 05, 2015 7:22 pm
    I attend the DNR meetings as a hunter.So far i can say Kroll has Really messed things up, at least here in the northern region. We are at a pathetic low for enjoying the hunt. I myself have never left the state to hunt. But now I'm planning on leaving this state to hunt.WHY after all these years should it have to come to this.

    I will only List TEN i can prove many more with real statistics.

    1. Krolls plan is not working. unless destroying Wisconsins deer seasons it the objective.
    2. DNR officials on record here stated faulty data over the past 3 years was the biggest culprit.
    3. reducing the management zones don't work. Breaking it to mere counties wont work. Since we are going to online registration EACH county should be broken up into as many sub categories as possible , such as range,township, public private, urban AG etc.. to get a far more accurate picture of the areas that are being over or under harvested. a slight inconvenience to the hunter registering on line but an invaluable tool to be accurate. a simple one time software setup. For the officials who think it too complicated.
    4. Online registration will hurt local economy. YES. But now anyone can become a registration station. simply state register your deer here. provide online or phone registration for them. you can still have buck pools that way. and not so computer literate hunters can get help.. its not perfect but a way to get them into the stores. where we live there is poor phone signal at best. so hunting cabins would love to have a place to register.
    5.DNR accountability. Every year i go to the surrounding registration stations and compare numbers to date each year. Once we go to the online registration the public will not have access to this information. a Valuable tool will be gone. to see for ourselves where the herd is.Numbers don't lie.Our government, well you know.
    6. Just poor management..Between me and my hunting buddy we have over 60 trail cameras out each year. we have a better idea of whats out there than the DNR. 365 days a year we are in the woods if we can, scouting, canoeing, wading whatever it takes to find the deer.If i got a spare moment I'm out there. We knew we were in trouble 3 years ago. But the DNR relied on faulty data. next year i don't think ill buy a license in this state. first time ever in 40 years on hunting Wisconsin ONLY.
    7.Deception. I keep in contact with the DNR throughout the year. I have every warden and forester on my phone."not that you could ever get them to answer" I called in a poacher this year and when the warden showed up, i asked him so hows the herd this year up down? he responded it's right where we expect it. a political answer. meaning nothing. "really" if you don't know don't say.
    8. False hope. We have heard them all DNR officials going on record stating the reason the deer harvest was down was, too hot too cold, packers were playing, gas too high, fog, too much snow , no snow, corn on fields , corn off fields, I've heard them all .the list goes on and on and on. Please tell me the perfect day to hunt so i don't waste my time. DNR just tell the the truth WE screwed UP we have no IDEA. its ok to screw up we are human.
    9. Deer Car Collisions can be reduced by controlling numbers. WRONG. you would think this to be true but no. this year the deer herd harvest was the lowest on record in 32 years.
    I came across a car kill deer and called the sheriff to claim it.He arrived and we got to talking about the deer herd. i stated you must like this no deer car collisions to have to document. his response. nope we have had just as many as always. WOW how can that be. well when there are sufficient deer in a wooded area they will breed there they don't have to venture far. When hot does are spread too thin bucks will travel farther outside their range to find does to breed. Hello CRASH .in 2010 14 die in deer collisions. but in 2007 the deer was at the highest population, HUH why?.The NTSCA reports 6000+ less fatalities between 1995 and 2013 this includes all collisions Bicycle to semi, drunk whatever across the nation.Deer are not even mentioned. BUT WITH LESS DEER TO GO AROUND COMES DESPERATION. TRESSPASSERS ,POACHERS AND ROAD HUNTERS rose. People become desperate to fill their tags. I can prove this with just the reports i had to make this year wich can be seen on the documented SHERIFFS dispatch reports.
    10. youth season:
    yes I believe we should get the youths interested in hunting. BUT it don't work either. ALL great ideas but no data backing it.Most youth hunters we talk to dont care what they shoot just so long as they are done quick. before it gets cold. They dont mind Killing but not really hunting. There is a difference. I am a hunter and have been my whole life. I started off as a 12 year old boy and it was bucks only forever. it made you a safer conscious hunter, you had to look for horns. I dont think i shot a buck for 4 years. DID it ruin me. No it made me a better hunter. stop babying the video game kids. my belief antlerless first year after getting hunters safety only. then you are like everyone else.Quit babying them for gods sake
  2. damandoed
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    damandoed - July 08, 2014 7:22 am
    As long as I am on a roll here is something Every Hunter should read. It goes to show you how stupid Wisconsin DNR really is ! http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/maps.html These maps are backwards , There are counties with very little deer and yet they are going to be the most hunted ? Does not make much sense !
  3. damandoed
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    damandoed - July 08, 2014 7:17 am
    How is a person from Texas where most of the land is wide open spaces with Huge acres being owned going to come into a state that has an enormous amount of private land with 100 acres or less be able to even comprehend how to manage the deer heed here ? So we no longer need to come in person to register our deer any more ? To me that sends a clear message to even law abiding hunters to shoot as many deer as they want where ever they want.They can even cross the units boundaries to both shoot and then register by phone ? Who is to say they even killed any deer just to increase the deer kill ratio so next year we kill them all off and then they go into extinction ! I agree with most here and that it is going to Kill all that local money from Taverns who relies on that money to stay in business. I thought walker was trying to bring business into the state not curtail it ? Sounds to me Wisconsin will be taught a very good lessen. Do Not let any one person have all the power otherwise they will regret it !
  4. damandoed
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    damandoed - July 08, 2014 6:59 am
    I am not sure where you are from but Most everyone I know Knows that the DNR of Wisconsin has been telling Lies for yrs on the Deer Herd.
  5. batteryinme
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    batteryinme - February 25, 2014 5:31 pm
    So...in reality......"Dr." Kroll has now paid for his NEW State position by saving the State $182,000 (we have paid him $300,000 so far for his amazing fixes)? Perhaps our Governor can pay for his salary by eliminating Kathy Stepp's position? 182 K in savings....wowsers? Ms. Stepp argues about the 'paper work' hassles her staff have dealt with.....I get that. How about printing a QR code on the tags to be read by a smart phone.....automatically registering a kill. NO paperwork.....AND you could CHOOSE to have this done at a station that WANTS to have this service. I am just a dumb old biology teacher.......seems there would have been a rational fix to this "paperwork" thing and the "burden" that it puts on hunters to drive past a gas station/bar by offering both options to increase the data grab by the biologists. But, again, there is no middle ground in Wisconsin.
  6. bowhunter1990
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    bowhunter1990 - February 01, 2014 11:40 pm
  7. bowhunter1990
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    bowhunter1990 - February 01, 2014 11:37 pm
    If he didn't care why did he bring Dr. Deer in? The deer population is way down and Dr. Deer is gonna fix it watch and see!!!!
  8. bowhunter1990
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    bowhunter1990 - February 01, 2014 11:35 pm
    Dr. Deer knows the deer numbers are down, you wait and see the changes that will be coming in the next few year. Mark my words you will see a 80% decrease in the doe tags handed out. Then they will follow Iowa and give us all one doe tag and we can fill it with gun or bow. Then when we fill it we will get a 3rd buck tag. I honestly believe Dr. Deer knows what he is doing.

  9. bowhunter1990
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    bowhunter1990 - February 01, 2014 11:25 pm
    imbobim Do you honestly believe that people don't do that know?? Law breakers are gonna be law breakers. What is the difference? They are saving money and making it more convenient for us law abiding hunters. Why should i have to drive 15 or 20 miles to a place to register a deer. You wait and see the DNR will be setting up road blocks and checking every hunter that travels through there. Why is such a bad idea? Look and Missouri Iowa they do this is it bad for them?
  10. Grott
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    Grott - January 29, 2014 12:41 pm
    Of course they are just using this as an excuse to bash our Gov again.

    I am pleased I don't have to drive all over northern WI looking for a place to register my deer any longer, what a ridiculous system that was. If you are a crooked hunter, you never had to register your deer anyway, this is not going to change that. People that break the law, will continue to break the law, regardless of the law. This change does not create new law-breakers, it makes it easier for the rest of us to fulfill our responsibility. Grow up and try not to be so partisan with everything you read. Maybe you don't realize it, but your team is not always on the right side either.
  11. pete
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    pete - January 28, 2014 10:01 am
    @badgerhawk80 - a couple of things

    1. Any idea what it costs for an out of state tag in Iowa?
    2. Your current state of residence (Iowa) along with every liberals dream (MN) have gone to online/phone registration
    3. Is this really about registering deer or is it more about your dislike for Gov Walker?
  12. pete
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    pete - January 27, 2014 11:09 pm
    this is a great day. Hopefully backtags are next. I love the concern that deer hunters won't be able to find there way to the bar w/out a deer to register.

  13. BadgerHawk80
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    BadgerHawk80 - January 27, 2014 12:14 pm
    Scott Walker does not care about Wisconsin. Its not in his best interest. Its not worth his time and your don't have enough money. On to bigger and better.
  14. BadgerHawk80
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    BadgerHawk80 - January 27, 2014 12:13 pm
    I would completely discount what that "guy at the end of the bar", knows about the area he hunts and the wildlife he sees daily on that land. The DNR asks for feedback but doesn't listen. The deer numbers are down and the hunter numbers are down yet its the word of specialists and special interest groups that the management listens too.
  15. BadgerHawk80
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    BadgerHawk80 - January 27, 2014 12:09 pm
    I'm 37 years old. I started hunting with my dad when 7 and did the gun hunt the first year i could. I have hunted every year until this last season when I couldn't afford to pay the out of state price. I moved to Iowa two years ago but the out of state price was to much this year. I understand an increased rate for non-residents but I've had and always will have a place to hunt but the deer numbers are down and its costs me around $300 for a few days that I may or may not see something to shoot. $300 buys a lot of beef, chicken, pork, etc. $175 dollars for a deer or two is a lot.

    That's my rant about my experience. This idea by the WDNR is just flat stupid. It saves them money but hurts the Wisconsin economy. I agree with responders. Hunters don't just register their deer, the buy food, snacks and something to drink before they leave. All that gone to save $182k?

    I understand that Wisconsin had budget issues, and that someone needed to fix the situation but I hate to say it but electing Scott Walker to do it was a big mistake. Not only electing him but doing it twice? Whooops! So my last questions are: How much did that consultant from Texas cost and there wasn't anyone from Wisconsin boy who knows hunting in Wisconsin that could figure out the same thing? Your Scott sure seems to like outsourcing Wisconsin jobs. Do you think maybe this has to anything to do that the majority of his interests and ambitions lie outside the state of Wisconsin? I really dislike what he has done to a state I love and will always call home.
  16. essej
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    essej - January 25, 2014 7:51 am
    "more people will register " there" deer " .... how about a little attention to communication details?
  17. College Didn't Take
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    College Didn't Take - January 25, 2014 6:06 am
    There is no such thing. It's like global warming or fossils. Those things were things put into our heads to fool us. The world is 6,000 years old. Even Tonette could understand that.
  18. movinmikec
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    movinmikec - January 24, 2014 10:15 am
    It seems that people think if we did away with the DNR and wolves, it'd be a veritable wildlife utopia in WI. I think we forget how we arrived at the need for regulation in the first place. Left to their own devices, anglo hunters have caused the extinction, near-extinction, or extirpation of many game species. As for check-in stations, I know DNR employees who DREAD the time of year when they have to go deal with drunks poking them in the chest and giving them "what for" about DNR mismanagement . . . issuing slurs and threats . . . and generally having good ol' boy redneck backwoods fun at the expense of nervous wildlife techs.
  19. blueglue
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    blueglue - January 24, 2014 7:53 am
    So the DNR saved a whopping $185,000~! I have an idea you just took millions out of the pockets of those who look forward to making some extra $$s by having people come in to register their deer at their businesses... It usually means buying a candy bar, soda, beer, chips, gas as well as other items that help keep these mom and pop stores open not to mention the hit some restaurants will take.. One more step in closing down WI...Maybe some of the money could be saved by not buying brand new boats, dozers, atv's, ect and selling the old ones for peanuts on Wi Surplus Online..http://www.wisconsinsurplus.com/ For those of you who don't know or aren't aware of these auctions check out the completed DNR auctions.. That said, sure it won't bother me not to go to town to register a deer as I usually have to run to town every day anyway but all I see happening with this new ruling is the DNR passing the buck so they themselves aren't blamed for all the mismanagement and faulty deer counts any more.. I guess it will be interesting to see what happens....
  20. PatrickL
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    PatrickL - January 23, 2014 10:01 am
    This is going to lead to a severely reduced deer population. Why would you register any deer that you shoot? We have well trained individuals at the DNR. Why would we turn over decision making to untrained people at the county level. This sounds like a "scorched earth" policy. Shoot every deer you see and not worry about herd management. When fewer deer are left for harvest, we'll see more private hunt clubs. (Fenced land with a guaranteed kill for a set fee). That's the Republican sponsored deer hunting strategy for the future in Wisconsin.
  21. iponder
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    iponder - January 23, 2014 8:06 am
    I love how people bash the DNR for everything. The DNR is made up of dedicated public servants interested in managing and protecting the resources that belong to all of us. This policy was brought to us by Walker's Texas consultant Dr. Deer, politically appointed Stepped and the Natural Resources board. Texas Walker and Dr. Death need to get their noses out of issues they know nothing about. Can you imagine either of these guys ever participating in a Wisconsin deer camp that wasn't a photo op?
  22. Polkadot
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    Polkadot - January 23, 2014 7:57 am
    Touting a savings of $182,000? This is bizarre. Republicans have gone crazy with spending millions of dollars to make it more difficult for people to vote in person.
  23. rod44
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    rod44 - January 23, 2014 6:29 am
    What about sampling for cronic wasting disease? How will that be handled?
  24. alljack
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    alljack - January 22, 2014 6:32 pm
    I think they ought to forget about all those "wildlife management" professionals and scientists, and just ask the guy at the end of the bar what he thinks. Wait. That's what they did.
  25. bill jorgensen
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    bill jorgensen - January 22, 2014 5:58 pm
    I hunt. The Milwaukee Journal had a bigger article that went further in depth into what changes are coming. These changes are based on the "expert" that Scott Walker hired from out of state. His expert is from Texas. Big country, big ranches, wide open spaces. I am not sure how his expert could come in to Wisconsin and figure out our deer hunting problems in a matter of months. I get the feeling this is not going to work out.
  26. koala
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    koala - January 22, 2014 5:40 pm
    Really bad idea. The DNR board (political appointees all) should be as ashamed as they should have been when approving the wolf hunt rules. Should be, but aren't, which says everything.
  27. firefightn15
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    firefightn15 - January 22, 2014 5:28 pm
    Why register at all? You don't have to now if you'd rather not...your thoughts display your true character, very disappointing.
  28. imbobim
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    imbobim - January 22, 2014 4:49 pm
    Totally a real stupid idea... with this plan, I might be able to register my buddies deer I shot for him while he didn't even leave home.... or the anterless deer shot in zone 29A and registeres in 49A... who would tell? But then again... why register at all?

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