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Wisconsin Hunters Bag Earn-A-Buck And Alternative

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April 16, 2009

Wisconsin Hunters Bag Earn-A-Buck And Alternative

By Dave Hurteau

From the KARE 11 News:

There's little support for a new strategy for trimming Wisconsin's deer herd.
Hunters attending the annual statewide conservation hearings voted overwhelmingly Monday night against creating an [special] antlerless season. . . .

The plan is an alternative to earn-a-buck, which requires hunters to shoot an antlerless deer to qualify to kill a buck in areas where there's too many deer.

The new idea failed 5,472 votes to 1,126, but it was advisory only. A separate question on whether to eliminate earn-a-buck passed 5,513 votes to 1,321.

 

Comments (19)

Top Rated
All Comments
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Here's a potential solution to the problem that is sure to spark some controversy -

Instead of creating complicated hunting regulations in an attempt to cull the deer herd, why not reintroduce natural predators like wolves?

Yellowstone has shown that populations will come back down to natural carrying capacity and biodiversity would increase measurably because over-grazing would end.

Hunters could then hunt how they want to and as a bonus we will have a healthy, sustainable ecosystem to hand down to our kids.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 24scottk wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Introducing additional wolves would be a horrible idea.
The whole idea of "herd management" is introducing an alternative you can control. The only way to control wolves when they're population explodes(and it will) is to have a harvest season. We all know that's not happening as they are protected. Additionally, we have no scientific way to calculate exactly what effect they have on the population. Does an adult eat 20 deer or 50 a year? I could go on, but the varaiables are out of control. The big bad wolf is a big bad idea...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

24scottk-
Unfortunately, you, like a lot of our hunting community have a very poor grasp of ecology.

"The whole idea of "herd management" is introducing an alternative you can control."

You're right for the wrong reasons. You're right in that hunting is an alternative to predation that was developed after we exterminated predator species. You are wrong in assuming that human hunting can replace the effects that predators have on an ecosystem.

go here for details:
http://www.fieldandstream.com/answers/other/which-idea-will-win-out-long...

"The only way to control wolves when they're population explodes(and it will) is to have a harvest season."

Your implication that the population of wolves would rapidly expand after reintroduction is entirely correct. This would be true of any exterminated species that was reintroduced to its natural environment. However, your implication that this population that this population would be above natural levels is entirely incorrect.

Deer can now exist in excess of natural levels because we have exterminated all the predators. This requires hunters to "control" or "manage" the deer population. This concept DOES NOT apply to wolves. Their population is naturally limited by their prey populations. If the wolf population grows too big, the deer population drops and wolves die of starvation. This is how nature works.

"we have no scientific way to calculate exactly what effect they have on the population. Does an adult eat 20 deer or 50 a year? I could go on, but the varaiables are out of control"

Again, there is a nugget of truth to your statement. We could not calculate the exact number of deer consumed per wolf per year, or any other parameter that specific. This is true of any high-order heavily coupled non-linear system. However, this fact is completely irrelevant.

Nature does not need us to calculate the exact results of returning an ecosystem to its natural way of doing business. Predator-prey relationships governed themselves drove evolution for about 4.5 billion years before we hunters showed up.

The end result would be deer and wolf populations exactly where nature intends them to be, and as an added bonus, the end of over-grazing will measurably increase biodiversity.

If we let nature return to its natural way of doing business everyone is more happy:
->We hunters can hunt how we want. (including wolves)
->Over-grazing is ended and biodiversity shoots up in the ecosystem.
->We have a natural, sustainable ecosystem to hand down to future generations.

its a win-win!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 1 week ago

I don't like the wolf idea because nobody wants to have a season on wolves. Once a population has been established it seems they have free reign. I also think it would be a nightmare for biologists to determine year by year what the predation rate was and then determine a proper season/limit on deer and wolves. I don't understand this affinity for the wolf.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Jim-

Exact predation rates are impossible to determine. However, studies can give a pretty good idea of the range these rates will fall in. This is how they handle predation by Bears, Mountain lions, etc..

Biologists run a series of studies to determine the ecosystem's "dynamic carrying capacity". This is essentially the number of individuals that they expect to survive the deepest part of winter. Again, this number can never be exactly known but studies and long term weather forecasting can give you a pretty good idea.

You then take the size of the deer herd at the end of summer, subtract the dynamic carrying capacity, and that is the number of tags you hand out. The fact that not 100% of the tags will be filled gives you the factor of safety you need for those numbers being estimates.

Granted, this is an idealized example and in reality political and social concerns also weigh heavily on the process.

Also, in areas where predators have been exterminated, the "dynamic carrying capacity" is usually replaced with an idealized "target population" which attempts to make up for the lack of predators.

I'm not say that it is trivial, but I am saying that it is very doable.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

as for the "affinity for the wolf"-

This boils down to a simple affinity for passing down a healthy, sustainable environment to future generations.

1)
When predators are exterminated, hunters almost invariably are unable to take up all the slack. (look at the entire eastern half of the US). Nothing against us hunters, there just aren't enough of us. This leads to over inflated deer herds. These herds then over-graze, often preventing trees and other plants from growing to maturity. This then dramatically harms other species that use those plants for habitat and food. The net result is a measurable decrease in biodiversity.

2)
Also, hunters tend to take healthy, full grown bucks. Predators tend to take old, sick individuals and fawns. This results in a dramatically different kind of selective pressure that is key to the future genetic health of the deer herd.

Reintroduction of natural predators solve both of these problems.

I am eager to have a calm, intelligent conversation on the topic, so please let me know if I am not being clear about anything.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Ken,
You make a compelling but an assuming argument that everything must work out perfect in nature. We all know that it doesn't. Good years bad years. I don't know, I just hate seeing another predator allowed to thrive, especially one that is also a danger to man. And please don't side with the US Fish & Game. The rules they have in effect to positively determine a wolf kill or attack on a human is not just laughable but culpable.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Jim-

When you said:
"You make a compelling but an assuming argument that everything must work out perfect in nature. We all know that it doesn't."

What exactly did you mean?

Are you referring to how predator prey systems go through cycles with predator populations slightly lagging prey? Though we humans might not view this as "perfect" it is an important part of how ecosystems work and it certainly drives natural selection.

Or are you implying that nature needs us humans to regulate it? I would say that nature only needs us to intervene to the extent that we have already caused harm.

That being said, I am willing to change my mind if a compelling argument is laid out.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Theres enough wolves in the upper midwest as it is. They need to put a season on them besides the three S season thats already going on. The media has everyone wanting to shoot a big antlered buck so nobody wants to shoot a doe here and there to help bring the ratio back to where it should be.That and you're not gonna get a big buck in the big woods sitting in a shanty watching a food plot or a bait pile unless you're very lucky or in a high fence property anyhow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunterkid94 wrote 5 years 1 week ago

didnt we make missiles for a reason???? jk lol

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 5 years 1 week ago

ken the wolf idea is interesting but is not likely to be allowed. Hunting is business these days and no one, participants or managers, is likely to let ecology with its messy reliance on non-linear system dynamics affect profits.
The current management system is a thinly disguised supply and demand market oriented philosophy. It is not all bad but certainly is not firmly grounded in ecology. The words "hunter opportunity" are frequently used by the MN DNR. This is not all bad because I do believe that participation in outdoor sports is important part of safeguarding the traditions and pursuits we all enjoy.
The question then becomes how to change the perceptions that lead to the decisions to only target mature healthy members of the herd. There needs to be a way to help use the impact that hunters do have to help balance herd ratios. Earn a buck is one attempt to do that as are antlerless seasons. I do not advocate shooting sick deer for consumption but I do wish that more people would accept shooting does as a necessary part of a herd management system. Education about the importance of this concept should be part of hunter safety classes and frequently discussed in the pages of hunting mags like F&S.
A human created system will never replace predator prey cycles but in the abscence of the political will to put predators back in the ecosystem it may be the best way to at least bend our efforts in a postive direction.
Thank you as always for raising the bar and putting forth arguments based on rational thought and science.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 24scottk wrote 5 years 6 days ago

Ken,

Wow...I completely appreciate your scientific, objective views on why wolves would work, but you're still missing the point. Wolves will in fact ultimately decimate the whitetail population waaaaay beyond levels the habitat can sustain those deer and when that happens the 650,000 whitetail hunters in WI will want to burn down every DNR office in the state. Mother nature having her way with the wolf/whitetail relationship will never manage the herd as DNR/NRB intends. It would probably play out just as you've narrated, but it will never be the answer...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 6 days ago

24scottk,

I appreciate your calmness and rational thinking on the matter. Most people who share your opinion are not nearly as reasonable.

After reading your post, I think what we really have here, after all the science and politics is scraped off, is a philosophical question.

the question is this:

What is more important to our society?

1) Ensuring that us hunters do not encounter too much of a challenge when we peruse game.

-or-

2) Ensuring that we have a sustainable ecosystem to hand hand down to our kids. (because make no mistake, the current system is not sustainable over the long term)

In my opinion, it is no question at all, I do not measure my hunting experience in the number of bucks I easily encounter. On top of that, I would hold that nature is just as, if not more, holy than the holiest of artifacts in Jerusalem.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wiseguy wrote 5 years 5 days ago

i am a minnesotan and the wolves roam about the half the state and in many of the places they roam the dnr still has an intensive harvest in those areas that means you can take five deer this shows that even in areas where wolves inhabit the the deer are to high other areas are leveling off to where we should only should one to two deer and staying there. i say we they should the hunting is just fine in minnesota.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 5 years 5 days ago

I wonder why they could not allow for more deer to be taken...?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 24scottk wrote 5 years 5 days ago

The problem in Wisconsin with deer hunting is not philosophical. It stems almost entirely from a disagreement between sportsmen and what DNR's "science" says is a healthy, manageable herd. The fact of the matter is, there is overwhelming evidence that WI does not have a population/density problem in the vast majority of the state. Herein lies the animosity. DNR wants the over winter goal density to be at one deer per 47 acres. Simply ridiculous. And their basis for the argument is nine year old legislation using outdated science and data that claims the "optimum" whitetail population is 750,000. We have a long way to go and it's a much bigger problem than wolf introduction...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fowlwheelin wrote 5 years 21 hours ago

apparently people that are all for bringing in wolves to thin the deer herd dont realize the affect that would have for farmers with livestock. I dont think the wolves would have strict diet of venison. they probably would like a calf or foal for a kicker now and then. I guess the local farm and fleet would do good with selling fencing supplies after all the chasing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from terrence123 wrote 4 years 41 weeks ago

I LOVE your site. I feel at ease with the content and style. The portal entrance allowed me to enter a site full of healing colors, soothing words, and information presented in a safe and reassuring style. I recommend this site and the book to all those seeking peace and healing thoughts.
Terrence
reviews

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fawnBleat wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

i live in wisconsin and there is no where near as many deer as people say there are. If it were up to me I would do deer hunting just like turkey hunting kinda. You get one tag buck only and it must be at least have branched antlers or or be a 2X2 minimum.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

24scottk-
Unfortunately, you, like a lot of our hunting community have a very poor grasp of ecology.

"The whole idea of "herd management" is introducing an alternative you can control."

You're right for the wrong reasons. You're right in that hunting is an alternative to predation that was developed after we exterminated predator species. You are wrong in assuming that human hunting can replace the effects that predators have on an ecosystem.

go here for details:
http://www.fieldandstream.com/answers/other/which-idea-will-win-out-long...

"The only way to control wolves when they're population explodes(and it will) is to have a harvest season."

Your implication that the population of wolves would rapidly expand after reintroduction is entirely correct. This would be true of any exterminated species that was reintroduced to its natural environment. However, your implication that this population that this population would be above natural levels is entirely incorrect.

Deer can now exist in excess of natural levels because we have exterminated all the predators. This requires hunters to "control" or "manage" the deer population. This concept DOES NOT apply to wolves. Their population is naturally limited by their prey populations. If the wolf population grows too big, the deer population drops and wolves die of starvation. This is how nature works.

"we have no scientific way to calculate exactly what effect they have on the population. Does an adult eat 20 deer or 50 a year? I could go on, but the varaiables are out of control"

Again, there is a nugget of truth to your statement. We could not calculate the exact number of deer consumed per wolf per year, or any other parameter that specific. This is true of any high-order heavily coupled non-linear system. However, this fact is completely irrelevant.

Nature does not need us to calculate the exact results of returning an ecosystem to its natural way of doing business. Predator-prey relationships governed themselves drove evolution for about 4.5 billion years before we hunters showed up.

The end result would be deer and wolf populations exactly where nature intends them to be, and as an added bonus, the end of over-grazing will measurably increase biodiversity.

If we let nature return to its natural way of doing business everyone is more happy:
->We hunters can hunt how we want. (including wolves)
->Over-grazing is ended and biodiversity shoots up in the ecosystem.
->We have a natural, sustainable ecosystem to hand down to future generations.

its a win-win!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Jim-

Exact predation rates are impossible to determine. However, studies can give a pretty good idea of the range these rates will fall in. This is how they handle predation by Bears, Mountain lions, etc..

Biologists run a series of studies to determine the ecosystem's "dynamic carrying capacity". This is essentially the number of individuals that they expect to survive the deepest part of winter. Again, this number can never be exactly known but studies and long term weather forecasting can give you a pretty good idea.

You then take the size of the deer herd at the end of summer, subtract the dynamic carrying capacity, and that is the number of tags you hand out. The fact that not 100% of the tags will be filled gives you the factor of safety you need for those numbers being estimates.

Granted, this is an idealized example and in reality political and social concerns also weigh heavily on the process.

Also, in areas where predators have been exterminated, the "dynamic carrying capacity" is usually replaced with an idealized "target population" which attempts to make up for the lack of predators.

I'm not say that it is trivial, but I am saying that it is very doable.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

as for the "affinity for the wolf"-

This boils down to a simple affinity for passing down a healthy, sustainable environment to future generations.

1)
When predators are exterminated, hunters almost invariably are unable to take up all the slack. (look at the entire eastern half of the US). Nothing against us hunters, there just aren't enough of us. This leads to over inflated deer herds. These herds then over-graze, often preventing trees and other plants from growing to maturity. This then dramatically harms other species that use those plants for habitat and food. The net result is a measurable decrease in biodiversity.

2)
Also, hunters tend to take healthy, full grown bucks. Predators tend to take old, sick individuals and fawns. This results in a dramatically different kind of selective pressure that is key to the future genetic health of the deer herd.

Reintroduction of natural predators solve both of these problems.

I am eager to have a calm, intelligent conversation on the topic, so please let me know if I am not being clear about anything.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 5 years 1 week ago

ken the wolf idea is interesting but is not likely to be allowed. Hunting is business these days and no one, participants or managers, is likely to let ecology with its messy reliance on non-linear system dynamics affect profits.
The current management system is a thinly disguised supply and demand market oriented philosophy. It is not all bad but certainly is not firmly grounded in ecology. The words "hunter opportunity" are frequently used by the MN DNR. This is not all bad because I do believe that participation in outdoor sports is important part of safeguarding the traditions and pursuits we all enjoy.
The question then becomes how to change the perceptions that lead to the decisions to only target mature healthy members of the herd. There needs to be a way to help use the impact that hunters do have to help balance herd ratios. Earn a buck is one attempt to do that as are antlerless seasons. I do not advocate shooting sick deer for consumption but I do wish that more people would accept shooting does as a necessary part of a herd management system. Education about the importance of this concept should be part of hunter safety classes and frequently discussed in the pages of hunting mags like F&S.
A human created system will never replace predator prey cycles but in the abscence of the political will to put predators back in the ecosystem it may be the best way to at least bend our efforts in a postive direction.
Thank you as always for raising the bar and putting forth arguments based on rational thought and science.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Here's a potential solution to the problem that is sure to spark some controversy -

Instead of creating complicated hunting regulations in an attempt to cull the deer herd, why not reintroduce natural predators like wolves?

Yellowstone has shown that populations will come back down to natural carrying capacity and biodiversity would increase measurably because over-grazing would end.

Hunters could then hunt how they want to and as a bonus we will have a healthy, sustainable ecosystem to hand down to our kids.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 24scottk wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Introducing additional wolves would be a horrible idea.
The whole idea of "herd management" is introducing an alternative you can control. The only way to control wolves when they're population explodes(and it will) is to have a harvest season. We all know that's not happening as they are protected. Additionally, we have no scientific way to calculate exactly what effect they have on the population. Does an adult eat 20 deer or 50 a year? I could go on, but the varaiables are out of control. The big bad wolf is a big bad idea...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 1 week ago

I don't like the wolf idea because nobody wants to have a season on wolves. Once a population has been established it seems they have free reign. I also think it would be a nightmare for biologists to determine year by year what the predation rate was and then determine a proper season/limit on deer and wolves. I don't understand this affinity for the wolf.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Ken,
You make a compelling but an assuming argument that everything must work out perfect in nature. We all know that it doesn't. Good years bad years. I don't know, I just hate seeing another predator allowed to thrive, especially one that is also a danger to man. And please don't side with the US Fish & Game. The rules they have in effect to positively determine a wolf kill or attack on a human is not just laughable but culpable.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Jim-

When you said:
"You make a compelling but an assuming argument that everything must work out perfect in nature. We all know that it doesn't."

What exactly did you mean?

Are you referring to how predator prey systems go through cycles with predator populations slightly lagging prey? Though we humans might not view this as "perfect" it is an important part of how ecosystems work and it certainly drives natural selection.

Or are you implying that nature needs us humans to regulate it? I would say that nature only needs us to intervene to the extent that we have already caused harm.

That being said, I am willing to change my mind if a compelling argument is laid out.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunterkid94 wrote 5 years 1 week ago

didnt we make missiles for a reason???? jk lol

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 24scottk wrote 5 years 6 days ago

Ken,

Wow...I completely appreciate your scientific, objective views on why wolves would work, but you're still missing the point. Wolves will in fact ultimately decimate the whitetail population waaaaay beyond levels the habitat can sustain those deer and when that happens the 650,000 whitetail hunters in WI will want to burn down every DNR office in the state. Mother nature having her way with the wolf/whitetail relationship will never manage the herd as DNR/NRB intends. It would probably play out just as you've narrated, but it will never be the answer...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ken.mcloud wrote 5 years 6 days ago

24scottk,

I appreciate your calmness and rational thinking on the matter. Most people who share your opinion are not nearly as reasonable.

After reading your post, I think what we really have here, after all the science and politics is scraped off, is a philosophical question.

the question is this:

What is more important to our society?

1) Ensuring that us hunters do not encounter too much of a challenge when we peruse game.

-or-

2) Ensuring that we have a sustainable ecosystem to hand hand down to our kids. (because make no mistake, the current system is not sustainable over the long term)

In my opinion, it is no question at all, I do not measure my hunting experience in the number of bucks I easily encounter. On top of that, I would hold that nature is just as, if not more, holy than the holiest of artifacts in Jerusalem.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wiseguy wrote 5 years 5 days ago

i am a minnesotan and the wolves roam about the half the state and in many of the places they roam the dnr still has an intensive harvest in those areas that means you can take five deer this shows that even in areas where wolves inhabit the the deer are to high other areas are leveling off to where we should only should one to two deer and staying there. i say we they should the hunting is just fine in minnesota.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 5 years 5 days ago

I wonder why they could not allow for more deer to be taken...?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 24scottk wrote 5 years 5 days ago

The problem in Wisconsin with deer hunting is not philosophical. It stems almost entirely from a disagreement between sportsmen and what DNR's "science" says is a healthy, manageable herd. The fact of the matter is, there is overwhelming evidence that WI does not have a population/density problem in the vast majority of the state. Herein lies the animosity. DNR wants the over winter goal density to be at one deer per 47 acres. Simply ridiculous. And their basis for the argument is nine year old legislation using outdated science and data that claims the "optimum" whitetail population is 750,000. We have a long way to go and it's a much bigger problem than wolf introduction...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fowlwheelin wrote 5 years 21 hours ago

apparently people that are all for bringing in wolves to thin the deer herd dont realize the affect that would have for farmers with livestock. I dont think the wolves would have strict diet of venison. they probably would like a calf or foal for a kicker now and then. I guess the local farm and fleet would do good with selling fencing supplies after all the chasing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from terrence123 wrote 4 years 41 weeks ago

I LOVE your site. I feel at ease with the content and style. The portal entrance allowed me to enter a site full of healing colors, soothing words, and information presented in a safe and reassuring style. I recommend this site and the book to all those seeking peace and healing thoughts.
Terrence
reviews

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 5 years 1 week ago

Theres enough wolves in the upper midwest as it is. They need to put a season on them besides the three S season thats already going on. The media has everyone wanting to shoot a big antlered buck so nobody wants to shoot a doe here and there to help bring the ratio back to where it should be.That and you're not gonna get a big buck in the big woods sitting in a shanty watching a food plot or a bait pile unless you're very lucky or in a high fence property anyhow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fawnBleat wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

i live in wisconsin and there is no where near as many deer as people say there are. If it were up to me I would do deer hunting just like turkey hunting kinda. You get one tag buck only and it must be at least have branched antlers or or be a 2X2 minimum.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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