Dean Hall/lakeland times
Concerns about the amount of fawns that will survive this past severe winter was a major factor in the Oneida CDACís decision to drop itís preliminary antlerless deer quota for the 2019 season.
4/27/2019 7:30:00 AM Oneida CDAC sets antlerless quota at 1,175 Council to recommend offering 3,350 antlerless tags to achieve quota
Jacob Friede Of The Lakeland Times
After gathering public input, from both an online survey and their meeting on April 17, the Oneida County Deer Advisory Council decided to alter their preliminary recommendations to the Natural Resources Board for deer management in the county for the 2019 deer season.
As a result, last Wednesday, as a final recommendation, the council set an antlerless deer quota of 1,175 deer for the 2019 season. To achieve that quota they will recommend that 1,350 antlerless quota tags be issued for public land. With a 35-percent success rate, which is the long-term average success rate for antlerless tags in the county, that should lead to a harvest of 475 deer. For private land, the council will recommend 2,000 quota tags be issued to harvest 700 deer.
These numbers dropped significantly from the Oneida CDAC's preliminary recommendations in March. At that time the council was recommending that 4,500 antlerless tags be issued, split evenly between private and public land, to achieve a harvest quota of 1,500 antlerless deer.
Based on 243 surveys that were returned to the council, the overwhelming majority of respondents thought that those preliminary quota and tag numbers were too high.
Sixty-one percent of respondents thought a 1,500 antlerless deer quota was too high; 27 percent thought that was right on, and 11 percent thought that was too low.
Concerning the preliminary private land tag recommendations, 61 percent of respondents thought 2,250 were too many to be issued; 28 percent thought that number was right on the mark, and 9 percent thought it was too low.
For public land tags, 67 percent of those surveyed thought 2,250 was too many, 22 percent thought that was about right, and 10 percent thought that was too low.
Even though the council eventually dropped the numbers, Jeremy Holtz, wildlife biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Oneida County, and a liaison to the council, thought the new quota of 1,175 antlerless deer to be achieved with 3,350 tags should help the council meet its objective of maintaining the herd's population. The Oneida CDAC is currently on year two of that goal.
"With the quota that they recommended it will definitely allow us to continue to maintain the population," Holtz said. "All things considered they are taking a cautious and responsible approach and I can certainly understand where they're coming from with that. The only question right now is what kind of fawn crop we're going to have. That's the question. How did we do with the winter and how many does are going to be able to bring off and raise fawns?"
The majority of respondents to the public input survey hunted in Oneida County with a gun for an average of 28.85 years and spent their time split evenly between public and private land.
Beyond the survey, a full house of over 60 members of the public attended the CDAC meeting, and according to council chairman Ed Choinski, they were well engaged.
"It all starts with public participation," Choinski said. "I felt it went very well. The public participated. They had they're chance. They did participate. The council listened to the public. They really did. Everybody was allowed to speak who wanted to speak."
The severe winter, Choinski said, especially it's impact on fawn survival, was a concern to the council and to many who spoke. Through March, the Winter Severity Index (WSI) in Rhinelander was at 82. The WSI accrues points for every day from December through April that is below zero degrees and has 18 or more inches of snow on the ground.
A WSI score of 80 or more is considered severe and, especially with an early April snowfall that added even more points, the council agreed with the majority of the public attendees that this past winter would hit the deer herd hard, and they, in turn, dropped their preliminary numbers.
CDACs were created so county residents, from hunters to land owners to stake holders, had a say in deer management based on boots-on-the-ground intelligence. And while not everyone was in agreement about dropping the preliminary recommendation numbers, everyone's view was taken into consideration. The high attendance at the meeting signaled to Choinski that, more than anything, what the public wanted was to be listed to. Even if the council voted a different way.
"That worked out better than I thought it would and the council listened," Choinski said. "It's working. It's finally working. People are finally engaged. They're not leaving there thinking they're never going to listen so why bother going to these meetings. They left there going 'I'm coming back next year.' It's good for Oneida County."
The final recommendations will go in front of the Natural Resources Board for approval for the 2019 deer season, and the board, almost always, follows CDAC advice.
For more information on CDACs and to view the results of the public input survey visit the Wisconsin DNR website at dnr.wi.gov and keyword search "CDAC."
Jacob Friede may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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