Thursday, December 17, 2009

WISCONSIN OPINION: I'm Sorry the Natural World Does Not Yield to Your Wishes

Another great column from Pat Durkin

Judging by their press releases on November's deer season, be prepared to pat the hands of state Sen. Russ Decker, D-Weston, and Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, if you ever sit by them on an airplane bounced by turbulence.

If gentle reassurance doesn't stop their shrieking, suggest the flight attendant slap them.

Decker's hysterical demand on Dec. 3 to fire the state's top deer managers and Gundy's panicky call Dec. 4 to cancel December's four-day antlerless gun season show these lawmakers can't control their emotions.

"It is absolutely imperative the (Natural Resources) Board takes swift action to protect Wisconsin's deer heard (sic) from further harm that may take generations to recover from," Gundy declared.

The Board ignored him, and the low-impact season was held as scheduled. And what about Gundy's nonsense that deer might need "generations" to recover? Even if he meant deer generations, not human generations, he needs schooling in deer biology.

Researchers at Michigan's George Reserve twice showed deer herds capable of 50 percent annual growth. Starting with six whitetails in 1928, the reserve's herd boomed to 222 in seven years. And in 1975, after reducing the herd to 10 deer, most of which were fawns, researchers reported the herd at 212 after six breeding seasons.

But Gundy's outburst was nothing compared to that of Decker, majority leader of our Senate. Does that "D" in "D-Weston" after Decker's name stand for Democrat or Demagogue?

Granted, the DNR should stick to its harvest data and let others suggest wet, warm conditions and uncut corn helped lower the kill. By discussing factors beyond its control, the DNR sounds like it's making excuses.

Likewise, Decker shouldn't use his personal experience in Lincoln County to make statewide generalizations about hunting conditions.

"The swamps were pretty dry where our crew was hunting," he claimed. "We don't let a little water stop us from going after deer."

Bravo, sir! Give yourself another attaboy!

For the record, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported 41 percent of the state's corn remained uncut because of wet soils as of Nov. 23 (the Monday of deer season). The five-year average is 19 percent uncut. That's a lot of extra hiding room.

The NASS also reported average temperatures were 7 to 11 degrees above normal during deer season, with average daily highs of 46 to 48 degrees. Research shows deer activity basically ceases in late autumn when temperatures hit 45 degrees.

But Decker went beyond weather with his pandering. He pleased barbershop biologists with this gem:

"The DNR has mismanaged the deer herd and a new team needs to be brought in that can do the job."

Unfortunately for Sen. Decker, the candidate pool appears thin. The Minnesota DNR reported a statewide kill of about 200,000 deer, the state's lowest figure in about 10 years. The agency also reported standing corn in 80 percent of Minnesota's fields.

Meanwhile, the Michigan DNR reported the deer kill fell 20 to 30 percent in the Upper Peninsula, 15 to 25 percent in the northern Lower Peninsula, and 5 to 10 percent in southern Michigan. Agency biologists said the main reasons for the slump were "unseasonably hot weather" during hunting season and harsh winter a year ago.

In addition, Michigan's corn harvest was 35 percent by Nov. 16, the second day of its 16-day season. "In an average year, it's 80 percent, " said Brent Rudolph, Michigan DNR deer program leader. "It's likely some deer never left the standing corn."

How about Illinois? Even though Illinois lacks northern forests and severe winters, its gun-hunters failed to kill 100,000 deer for the first time since 1999. The reasons cited? Warm weather and a 33 percent harvest of its corn crop.

Despite these declines in herd sizes and harvest figures across the Great Lakes, the bigger question remains: Why is anyone surprised?

The Wisconsin DNR issued a reminder before the season — Nov. 10, to be exact — that this year's deer kill would be lower than in 2008.

In addition, the mission of wildlife agencies isn't to match previous kills or produce records annually. Their task is to manage the herd to publicly approved biological and sociological goals. For much of the past three decades, that meant reducing herds.

That the Wisconsin DNR might finally be succeeding is hardly a firing offense. The same can't be said of Sen. Decker's childish tantrum.

Source: Green Bay Gazette

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

INDIANA NEWS: State Park Hunting Totals

Deer hunts last month in 17 state parks resulted in 1,334 deer being harvested, a decrease of 134 deer from last year.

The controlled hunts occurred Nov. 16 and 17 and Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Chain O'Lakes, Charlestown, Harmonie, Lincoln, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Prophetstown, Shades, Shakamak, Spring Mill, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, Versailles, Whitewater Memorial, Fort Harrison and Clifty Falls.

Hunters killed 42 deer in Turkey Run State Park near Marshall, 28 in Shakamak State Park near Jasonville and 60 in Shades State Park near Waveland.

Officials first opened state parks to deer hunters in 1993, harvesting 392 deer. The hunts were halted in 1994 and resumed in 1995. Turkey Run State Park has been involved in the hunts since 1999, but now deer numbers may be at a point where the park is taken off as a hunting site for a year, Mycroft said.

“Turkey Run in 2009 had 11 deer [harvested] per square mile. Last year it was 20 deer per square mile. Turkey Run is probably in a position where the deer are having much less impact [on vegetation] than they did five years ago. That park started at 39 deer per square mile [in 1999],” Mycroft said.

“We will take a closer look to make sure of this so we do not lose any ground. Turkey Run is somewhat odd as it does not have a smooth trend [in reduction of deer],” Mycroft said, adding that corn still standing in nearby property could be influencing this year’s deer numbers at that park.

The breakdown by parks shows 93 deer killed at Chain O’Lakes, 133 at Charlestown, 26 at Clifty Falls, 43 at Fort Harrison, 111 at Harmonie, 43 at Lincoln, 29 at Ouabache, 40 at Pokagon, 186 at Potato Creek, 80 at Prophetstown, 60 at Shades, 28 at Shakamak, 16 at Spring Mill, 119 at Tippecanoe, 42 at Turkey Run, 202 at Versailles and 83 at Whitewater.

Source: Terre Haute News