Deer population numbers, especially in the northwoods, have always been a contentious issue between sportsmen and the DNR. Since 1960, the DNR has been responsible for keeping tabs on the number of deer in the State’s herd. Their estimates, based on a formula that takes into account previous year’s kills, doe to fawn ratios, and doe to buck ratio will now be augmented by a citizen’s count. During the month’s of August and September the DNR is asking residents to count and record the number of deer that they see. Dubbed ‘Operation Deer Watch’ the results can be logged at the DNR’s Wisconsin Online Wildife Survey site.
According to the DNR:
Direct observations from the field provide important information for deer managers, especially in northern and central forest deer management units (DMU) where harsh winter weather can have a much greater impact on fawn production the following spring.
But this direct recording by residents has its skeptics. In an article in the August 30, 2010 Wausau Daily Herald:
Local hunters are concerned that if they participate in the count, they might inflate population estimates by “double counting,” Brian Habeck of Weston said. Habeck hunts in the same area near Rosholt as five other men.”So if we’re all reporting two deer, it becomes 12?” he said. “I know they use a formula, but it still seems out of whack to me.”
Still, using direct observation of deer counts along with other traditional methods of estimating the deer herd size should result in a more accurate size of the deer population in the state. The DNR believes that the more data they have for their estimates, the better.