Those who think the WI Department of Natural Resources vastly overestimated Wisconsin's deer herd have failed to stop an antler less-only statewide hunt that begins Thursday. The Hunters Rights Coalition asked the Natural Resources Board to use its emergency rulemaking power the stop a four day season. Greg Kazmierski of Pewaukee says hunters may have over harvested does, based on the DNR's estimates of up to 1.7 million deer statewide.
A DNR official admits the figure was high, but Wisconsin still has more deer than it can comfortably manage. Christine Thomas, who heads the DNR's policy board, said she considered the request to suspend the doe-only season. But she says it's not warranted, based on the agency's biological data. Thomas says we're not on the brink of a population collapse and it's not necessary to turn back hunters who've already made plans for the season.
Meanwhile the agency is investigating six federally protected grey wolves that died in Wisconsin late last month. The DNR was first alerted the day before the gun deer season, when a radio signal on a wolf's collar indicated the animal had not moved in some time. The wolf established a territory in Ashland County after being collared in upper Michigan three years ago. The other dead wolves were in Vilas, Rusk, Monroe, Adams, and Juneau counties.
The DNR said at least some of the wolves were shot, and they're all undergoing necropsies. Three were males and the rest were females. Wildlife expert Adrian Wydeven says some hunters mistake wolves for coyotes. But if they were shot in the deer season, the coyote season would have ended in the north. And that means the shooters could be in for some big penalties. One wolf was killed in last year's gun deer hunting season after nine were killed at the same time in 2006.