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home : opinions : opinions September 30, 2014


3/25/2014 1:33:00 PM
Solving the deer problem
Ron Weber, Weyerhaeuser

Over the past few years it had become very apparent that there needed to be some drastic changes made in the management of deer in Wisconsin. The DNR had tried to do the job, but it was clear that the task had become too much for them to handle. The answer was determined by our esteemed Governor and his legislative cronies to be turning the management of the deer herd over to a more knowledgeable group. Dr. Deer, James Kroll, was brought in from Texas to set things right as far as the future of whitetail deer in Wisconsin. To really do this right, they should develop a catchy slogan to get people excited. My first suggestion would be something like, "Where's the deer?", a takeoff on that famous Wendy's ad of the early 1980's. That seems too retro though for today's world. Besides, I wouldn't want to steal someone else's idea, especially one that endeared that sweet little old lady to so many people. Then it hit me. Why not combine the common post deer season lament of many deer hunters, "There are no deer left." with the Bush education plan entitled "No child left behind." Viola! We have our slogan, "No deer left behind." Now I know some of you, especially you devout Republicans, are crying foul and that I am stealing George W.'s idea. I thought about that, but what are the odds that it was really his idea. I mean it took old George almost two years to figure out how to work the White House microwave, so I doubt that he came up with any original ideas on a national education policy.
The management team's first task will be to restore confidence in the hunting public. To do this they will need to make sure that everyone sees lots of deer, and almost always gets a deer or two. In order to ensure this they will have to address the causes of non-hunting mortality which are: predation, starvation, disease, and collisions with vehicles. Let's take a look at how they could handle each of these problem areas.
To address the predation problem, the management team would call for the immediate eradication of all bobcats, coyotes, bears, wolves, cougars, bigfoots(or is that bigfeet), and any other animal that could harm a deer at anytime during its life. I realize this will not be popular with the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Assoc., but as hunters we need to stand united in this effort if it is to succeed.
The second item to be tackled will be the starvation issue. To solve this, the management team will form a task force of citizens who are baiters and feeders from all corners of the state. They will be given the charge of making sure that no deer goes to bed at night with an empty tummy, or more precisely rumen. These people will really need to know their way around a corn pile. They must be able to calculate required gallons per deer, gallons per pile, piles per forty acres, and that critical time to switch to apples and pumpkins. In short, everything which makes that hunting technique such a challenge. A statewide coordinated effort by these dedicated people should end starvation amongst deer as we know it, or at least pretend to.
At first, the answer to the disease problem may seem hopeless, but there could be a very easy solution. Though the politicians on the management team don't like listening to scientists much, they may have to trust them on this one. Vaccinations could be found for most if not all of the common deer diseases. Ah, but how do we administer the vaccinations? If the drugs could be put into pellet form, it could easily be mixed in with the corn, the answer to the starvation problem. Of course you will have problems with a few deer which eat more than their share of corn and the drugs mixed in with it. This will lead to some losses as these deer will no doubt die from an overdose, but these will have to be viewed as acceptable losses. We have to keep in focus what is best for the whole herd and much more importantly, what is best for the hunters. Besides, these few gluttonous deer have no doubt made it a nightmare for the feed team to do their job as it will throw off all of their corn per deer calculations.
The final problem to solve will no doubt be the most difficult and labor intensive. How to save those 20,000 or more deer that are killed each year on our roads? The answer to that question will require a Herculean effort, but we are Americans and we can do anything we put our minds to. We will need to install a ten foot high fence along ALL roadways in Wisconsin. Now I know you skeptics are thinking, "Ron, are you crazy. That is impossible." Impossible cannot be in our vocabulary. I mean, we've put a man on the moon, surely we can build a fence. With this in place, it will only take a few years before we start to reap the fruits of our efforts. Soon we will all be seeing more deer than we ever thought possible, just like on all of those deer shooting shows on the Outdoor channel. We will have created what others have only dreamed of, a deer hunter's nirvana. Who could ask for anything more?
The point I want to make with the above scenario is that people have gone off the deep end when it comes to deer and deer management in Wisconsin. We have lost all sense of perspective with this issue. I have come to the conclusion that most people have very short memories. Deer populations ebb and flow, rising and falling in response to wide variety of factors, most importantly quality of habitat. That is the way it was, is and always will be. Look at the history of deer hunting in Wisconsin over the last one hundred years. Many times sportsmen cried "catastrophe", but the catastrophe never came. Nor will it this time.
To have our resource managers' every move second guessed and criticized by politicians, various hunting organizations, and hunters in general is pathetic. Management decisions have become political fodder when we have a staff of excellent wildlife biologists who have dedicated their lives to their work, but find that when it comes to deer, their expertise is not appreciated. That is beyond a shame. It is an embarrassment that it is happening in the state of Wisconsin, a state always considered at the forefront of conservation thinking and ethics.
It is sad what this sport has become and is doing to peoples' perspectives. Hunters have always enjoyed the challenge of the hunt. Now I guess they don't really want a challenge without the assurance of success. The thing I ponder is, as this "catastrophe" fades and is replaced by better days, as always happens, what will we have learned? If history is any guide, not much.

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