DNR secretary says final deer management reports will be studied for future planning

Jul. 20, 2013


APPLETON — The state Department of Natural Resources will soon sift through recommendations for changes to its deer management program, but it will be some time before hunters see the effects.

The teams compiling recommendations based on the governor-appointed deer trustee’s 2012 study will submit their final reports to the DNR today , Secretary Cathy Stepp said in a Thursday interview with Post-Crescent Media’s editorial board.

“Then we have to go back and package all the different comments and recommendations that came out of those committees. We’ll have a lot of work to do internally to kind of hash through a lot of that,” Stepp said. “And then of course, we have to take the package to the natural resources board, we’ll have to be engaging the tribes on discussions as well on what things they feel good about, too.”

Special report on Wisconsin's deer herd: More 'On Target?' headlines | Search deer hunting statistics | Review deer management over the past 10 years

Stepp has stayed out of the process up to this point.

“We’ve got a process to go yet, so it’s not like you’re going to see immediate happenings under the deer stands this fall. But yet moving forward, I really feel like we’re in the right direction,” Stepp said. “So we’ll see what comes out. I have no idea. I haven’t inserted myself in any way.”

The following is an edited transcript of Stepp’s interview with Post-Crescent Media’s editorial board:

What's the best practice for wolf management in the state?

Well, we think what we’re doing is the best practice or we wouldn’t be forwarding it. So we’ve been very conservative; we’ve had our first hunt last season as you know. We reached our quotas pretty early as far as being able to close the season earlier than what we thought it would take to actually get the job done.

Now we’ve gone through the spring and early summer, we’ve reevaluated estimates on population and we really didn’t see any change. And so I think that that’s a good thing ultimately because it means that we weren’t overzealous in the numbers that we set to harvest. That also means that we should look at perhaps being a little more ambitious in trying to manage the population — drop it by about 10 or 30 percent, I think, is what our biologists have come up with as an estimate with the current quota numbers. So 275 is what we set the quota at this time. Again we have to be really balanced in our approach. It’s a very sensitive, emotional subject to so many people.

What's your view on the Gogebic Taconite protest situation and what's appropriate for each side?

My first concern when I saw the video of what happened out at the site was safety for our employees, for DNR. We’ve got staff that are going up to the region. We make sure we’ve got wardens accompanying our staff because of this. We want to make sure we’re ensuring the safety of our employees to the best of our ability.

As far as what the company is doing on their own for security, ultimately that’s their decision and I really don’t weigh in on that at all. But I understand the concern that they have for their employees based on what I saw in the video.

Minnesota was in the news recently for finding dangerous chemicals in its lakes. Does Wisconsin need to check its waters for these chemicals?

There’s studies going on in different states about that and what we do with any kind of study is we learn from each other as states. I think one of the most important things that we’ve learned is that we don’t all have to be doing the same kinds of things, that we can kind of learn from studies in different states.

We’re not doing that kind of particular study in Wisconsin and it’s not to say that we wouldn’t be in the future, but again we’re certainly watching with great interest what’s going on in Minnesota.

Holly Meyer: 920-993-1000, ext. 426, or hmeyer@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @HollyAMeyer

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