City seeks input on deer
Surveys posted online, in mail
By Angie Landsverk
City of Waupaca residents will be asked to provide their opinions about the city’s urban deer population and the idea of having a managed archery harvest.
A survey about this will be available on the city’s website by the end of the week, City Administrator Henry Veleker said.
The online survey will be one of two versions available for city residents.
A paper survey will be included with the water bills residents receive the end of this month.
Veleker said people may take the survey online or fill out the paper survey and return it to City Hall.
The survey will be for city residents only.
Residents may visit www.cityofwaupaca.org to access the survey.
The decision to draft such a survey took place when the city’s Deer Management Ad Hoc Committee met on Dec. 5, its second meeting since being appointed by Mayor Brian Smith in early November.
He appointed the study committee after residents attended a council meeting and expressed concerns about the deer population in the city.
The mayor said the city has had more complaints about deer this year than ever before.
The committee’s next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, in the council chambers.
It hopes to receive a number of responses to the survey by then.
When the committee met on Dec. 5, it spent a portion of the meeting discussing the Multi-Metro Deer Management Group.
The Marathon County group includes the communities of Wisconsin Rapids, Grand Rapids, Biron and Port Edwards.
It formed in 2004 due to complaints about the over-abundance of deer in the communities and the number of car/deer accidents.
A questionnaire in late 2005 assessed the situation from the public’s point of view.
A managed archery harvest program began a year later, using volunteer bow hunters.
The group uses a proficiency shoot to select hunters who demonstrate accuracy.
Archers sign releases to protect landowners from any liability.
The group works with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, so it may be issued agriculture tags, allowing it to harvest deer before, during and after regular deer harvest seasons.
In the last 10 years, the group harvested a total of 759 deer.
The group donates the venison to area families.
To date, it donated a total of 30,360 pounds of meat to more than 115 families.
Members of Waupaca’s ad hoc committee discussed this kind of approach to manage the city’s urban deer population.
“I feel it is a pretty good template we could manage, if we got the property owners to jump on board,” said Susan Reniewicki.
She recommended the city develop a simple survey for city residents to let them know the city is looking at such a program and to gauge support for it.
Feedback is necessary before deciding how to approach landowners interested in participating, she said.
Steve Johnson said he sees between six and eight deer standing in his front yard on South Main Street every night.
He believes a survey will show how others feel and whether they think there is a problem.
If the idea of a managed archery harvest moves forward, committee members agree the meat should be donated, if property owners do not want it.
Conservation Warden Jon Kaiser said the DNR will do whatever it can to help the city, including helping to organize a managed archery harvest, if the city decides to go that direction.
The committee reached one consensus when it met last week.
It agreed to not consider any gun activity in the city limits to deal with the urban deer issue.
The committee favors a concentrated archery effort, including bows and crossbows.
There are already state regulations in place allowing people to hunt with bows and crossbows in city limits during the regular bow season.
Wisconsin Act 71 became effective in 2013.
Hunting is not allowed within 100 yards of a private building, unless the owner gives the hunter permission.
Hunters must shoot their arrows toward the ground.
A $10 permit must be obtained from the Waupaca Police Department in order to shoot a bow or crossbow in the city.
“Getting a permit is one thing,” Johnson said.
It allows people to hunt in their yards, but they need permission from their neighbors to also go in their yards if they need to track a deer, he said.
That is among the issues the city would need to address if it decides to have a managed archery harvest.
The city also has an ordinance that prohibits the feeding of deer.
Kaiser said the feeding of deer is probably one of the reasons why there are deer in the area.
Committee Chairman Alan Kjelland, who is a member of the common council, reminded the committee why it formed.
There is a perception of an urban deer problem in the city limits, he said.
“It is our job to bring something to the council for action,” Kjelland said. “We can make the recommendation, but council has to make that decision.”