In the last two weeks, each county deer advisory committee (CDAC) met to discuss deer management units (DMUs) and deer population objectives for their respective counties. There were some stipulations given to the CDACs on dividing a county into different DMUs. One of those stipulations was that each new DMU would need to be at least 200 square miles. Another stipulation was any divisions would need to be done along previous DMU boundaries. The decisions made in this month's meetings would be recommendations only, and are but the first step in a process to make any changes.
Last week's meetings were the first step in the process to recommend changes to the DMU boundaries as well as recommend population objectives for the new DMUs. Those recommendations will now go out for public comment in September. After receiving and reviewing any and all public comments, the CDACs will reconvene in October to discuss those comments and make any changes to those recommendations based on comments received. Those final recommendations will be sent to the Natural Resources Board (NRB) for approval. If the recommendations are approved, they would go into effect for the 2018 deer hunting season. If the recommendations are not approved, the CDAC also needed to create a deer population objective for the entire county.
Oneida County CDAC
The Oneida County meeting was held at James Williams Middle School in Rhinelander last Tuesday night. Only a meager crowd was in attendance to give opinions on whether to split the county into more than one DMU and how that should be done, if so. The discussion began with three former DMUs, 31, 37 and 38, which all lied within Oneida County. Public comment received at the meeting pointed to the Willow Flowage region as an area which should be managed differently than the rest of the county. Some felt there were more predators in that portion of the county and the deer herd there had not rebounded and was, in fact, still much lower than an acceptable level. In other areas of the county, however, such as areas in and around Stella, where there is more farmland, the deer herd was faring much better.
The committee briefly discussed a recommendation dividing the county into three DMUs, along the former boundaries of 31, 37 and 38. Because there is some farmland in both 37 and 38, it was decided to recommend only splitting the county into two DMUs. The Oneida County CDAC voted to recommend splitting the county along Highway 51, with different management objectives on the western part of the county then in the eastern portion. While it was agreed that an area near Monico suffered from lower numbers of deer, that portion of the county could not be split into a separate DMU because of the stipulation of only splitting the county along former DMU lines.
When it came time to set population objectives, the CDAC had the option of three objectives: increase, decrease or maintain the deer herd at its current level. In the area to the west of Highway 51, the CDAC would recommend an "increase" objective. In the remainder of the county, the objective would be to "maintain" the deer herd numbers as they currently are. The tools and quotas by which the CDAC would look to accomplish those objectives would be decided in the spring, with those recommendations sent along at that time.
If for some reason the NRB voted down the recommendation, it was decided the objective for the entire county would be to "maintain" the deer population at or around its current numbers.
The next meeting of the Oneida County CDAC will be held on Monday, Oct. 2. The CDAC is looking into moving the meeting to the Woodruff Town Hall. More information on the meeting place will be available once the location is confirmed.
Vilas County CDAC
The committee in Vilas County also chose to split the county along former DMU boundaries. The first DMU they chose to restructure, if approved, will include prior DMUs 34, 29B and 31 within the county lines. The second will be units 35 and 39, and the third will be units 36 and 38. In the DMU including 34, 29B and 31, the objective the committee chose was to increase the deer population. In the second unit, which would be old DMU 35 and 39, the objective would be to maintain the herd. The objective for the third DMU, previously 36 and 38 within the county, would be to maintain the deer herd, according to DNR wildlife biologist Michele Woodford. Vilas County CDAC chair Ron Waller said, if the splitting of the county into the three chosen DMUs was not approved, the committee chose a "maintain" objective for the deer herd for the entire county. The next meeting for the Vilas County CDAC is tentatively set for Oct. 12 in Conover. Once each county's meeting is confirmed, the date and time will be found on the DNR website on the CDAC page.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.