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While winter has been cold and increasingly snowy, Wisconsin's white-tail deer are doing ok. So much so, a DNR biologist says feeding deer is unnecessary and can be harmful. It also is illegal to feed in many parts of the state, including Oneida, Vilas and Forest counties.

Wildlife health specialist Tim Marien says the public wants to help deer but feeding deer isn't the best approach.

The state is offering a program for hunters and others to help improve wildlife populations on private and public land.

Called the  Deer Management Assistance Program, or DMAP, program coordinator Bob Nack says while many hunters focus on deer, the program is good for all kinds of wildlife....

A public comment period opens today as the DNR is seeking input on county deer population objectives. In September, County Deer Advisory Councils are providing preliminary recommendations on how many deer they would like to see in each county for the next three years.

DNR Section Chief Bob Nack says the CDAC process is key to setting deer population goals....

In many counties in the north, feeding deer is illegal due to the suspected presence of Chronic Wasting Disease. A DNR wildlife health specialist says long term habitat improvements would curtail the need to do more artificial deer feeding even in the CWD affected areas.

Tim Marien says you need to improve habitat in the summer to help deer survive the winter....

"...planting trees and oak stands, aspen in the summer months and maintaining it can have a bigger impact on deer survival during these late winter months of January, February and March...."

The DNR's  Bureau of Law Enforcement is seeking the public's help involving the illegal shooting of three deer in the town of Woodruff early Wednesday morning.

Conservation Warden Tim Ebert gives details...

Beginning this week, when you see Bambi in your neighborhood, you can help the DNR keep track of how many deer Wisconsin has within its borders.

This week begins the DNR's "Operation Deer Watch", a citizen-science survey collecting information on deer. DNR research scientist Jessica Rees Lohr says the effort is easy for the public to get involved....

"'s an annual survey we've been conducting since 2010. A way for Wisconsin citizens, not just deer hunters to participate in recording the number of deer they see going about their daily activities...."

NRB Approves Deer Seasons: Northwoods Mostly Bucks Only

May 25, 2016

More deer will be open to hunters in northern Wisconsin this fall, under a plan approved unanimously Wednesday by the state Natural Resources Board, but the majority of bucks only counties are in the Northwoods. Ten counties will be off limits to female antlerless deer, down from 19 last fall. The so-called "buck only" zones were established in places where there were not enough females to maintain adequate deer herds.

The D-N-R's Bob Nack says the herd in the north is now growing after rough winters reduced their numbers in recent years.

The mild winter has had a positive effect on most species of animals in the Northwoods. That assessment from a DNR wildlife biologist.

Sam Jonas works out of Mercer for Iron and Ashland counties....

"....this winter has been pretty mild so far. We've had a recent cold snap, but overall I'd say this winter has been really mild on Wisconsin's wildlife, particularly deer....."

The DNR is hosting a deer management assistance program Saturday at the Conover town hall.

Big Game Section Chief Bob Nack says the meeting is for individuals who are already managing private land for wildlife or those who might be interested...

"...landowners participating in the Deer Management Assistance Program, or DMAP. It's a benefit to them and attend and get some information on managing their property for deer and other wildlife from a variety of professionals giving presentations...."

Michele Woodford / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

County deer advisory councils will have more flexibility this year, if a permanent rule for changes to the state’s deer management plan goes forward.

Changes thanks to the Deer Trustee Report took effect last season temporarily, and the state Natural Resources Board must act to make them permanent.  

DNR Wildlife Regulation Policy specialist Scott Loomans says continuation of the plan will expand options for County Deer Advisory Councils. 

Northern Wisconsin Harvests Twenty Percent Fewer Bucks

Dec 3, 2014
Michele Woodford / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Harvest totals from the gun-deer season in northern Wisconsin were down even more than the state average.

Statewide, hunters shot 9 percent fewer bucks than last year, but up north the harvest was 21 percent lower. 

Though there were some challenging weather conditions during this year’s nine-day gun season, DNR Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Holtz says the major factor has been last winter’s extreme cold and snow. 

Buck Harvest Down For Northern Region and Statewide

Nov 24, 2014
Michele Woodford / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Hunters registered more than ten thousand bucks in the northern district during opening weekend.  That’s down by about 12 percent compared to last year according to the DNR’s preliminary figures.

DNR Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Holtz says part of the decline is likely due to last winter’s taking a toll on the herd. 

Tribes Celebrate Night Hunting Rule Reversal

Oct 11, 2014
Oregon Department of Transportation

Wisconsin’s Chippewa say they’re confident that an appeals court ruling last week will open the door to safe and responsible night hunting in ceded territory. 

The Wisconsin DNR hasn’t allowed deer hunting at night outside of reservation boundaries, and a federal judge has twice upheld the restriction out of concern for public safety.  But last week an appeals court in Chicago ruled the opposite and sent the case back to U.S. District Court, saying the state hasn’t provided proof that night hunting is dangerous. 

DNR Plans 900-Acre Deer Study in Vilas County

Mar 18, 2014
Rennett Stowe

DNR officials are planning a long term study to look at how deer density and forest composition affect each other.  

The study would divide 900 acres in Vilas County into several fenced areas, containing different numbers of deer and amounts of available forage. 

Some areas will contain no deer at all.  Low density enclosures will contain 3 deer over 120 acres.  Moderate densities will be 90 acres and contain four deer.  High density ones will include 5 deer in an 80 acre parcel.

Derek Bakken

In his continuing series, "Wildlife Matters", DNR biologist Jeremy Holtz says sometimes good intentions don't always end up with the best results.

Next time, Jeremy will be talking about turkeys surviving our long, cold winter.