The upcoming start of deer hunting season in Wisconsin means the Department of Natural Resources is once again asking state residents to help do a head count of deer. As part of the agency’s annual Operation Deer Watch, hunters and non-hunters can help survey the deer population. The DNR is sending out 14,000 invitations to hunters who took part in the deer hunt last year to get keep track of the deer they see, but the public is also invited to help.
DNR surveys coordinator Brian Dhuey says the program is there to help the DNR track deer birth rates. “This is a great way for people who are hunters and non-hunters alike to participate in deer management in the state. And all they have to do is report the number types of numbers of deer they see in their normal day to day activities.”
The crucial count, according to Dhuey, is the ratio of fawns to does. “And it helps mark the amount of reproduction had in an area for that year.” Dhuey says the DNR wants to know how hard the rough winter hit the deer herd before permits are issued. “Usually after a hard winter, we do see a reduction in fawn production. And we just want know how much of a reduction that was, and it all depends on how the winter went and the available food on the landscape.”
Survey participants simply need to note the number of deer they see, and then enter them into a simple online tally sheet. That data will then be collated with other observations by the DNR to track how many deer are expected this year.