Legislators are moving to end an unpopular deer hunting program. The DNR has used Earn-a-Buck as a population management tool in selected deer management zones. It requires hunters shoot an antlerless deer before harvesting a buck. There was no earn-a-buck last years outside Chronic Wasting Disease zones, and there will be none this year, so state Senator Jim Holperlin (D-Eagle River) doesn’t see the need. “This is kind of legislative piling on,” Holperin said. “But because Earn-a-Buck is so unpopular and because this does a popular thing which again the DNR board has already voted to do, I voted for it.” The state Senate’s Natural Resources committee on Wednesday approved the measure which would prohibit the DNR from imposing management tools like Earn-a-Buck. Holperin called it “a stupid bill” prior to casting his vote in support of the measure, while Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) cast the lone vote in opposition.
Senator Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) is the bill’s author. “Based on my experience with the DNR and their lack of listening in the past, I do not trust that Earn-a-Buck will go away for more than this temporary fix that they’re doing for this year,” Moulton said. Ending the unpopular program may be a hit with hunters, but George Meyer with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federations suggests the state’s agricultural sector will be somewhat less pleased. “Farmers want DNR to have the management tools to keep the deer herd in check so it doesn’t cause too much damage on their farms,” said Meyer. “They’re willing to suffer some of it, but it was only ten years ago that farmers were screaming for things like Earn-a-Buck, and people have very short memories in this building.” But Moulton contends the DNR can manage the herd without Earn-a-Buck. “I feel that the DNR has plenty of other tools, and I would refer to the year 2000, when with free antlerless tags we killed more deer than we ever have in the state,” he said.