Committee reviews deer survey results
By Angie Landsverk
The city of Waupaca’s Deer Management Ad Hoc Committee is closer to making a recommendation to the common council about how to handle the city’s deer population.
When the committee meets at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, a draft plan for a managed archery harvest will be reviewed.
The committee is then expected to make a recommendation to the council.
Ald. Alan Kjelland, chair of the ad hoc committee, wants a recommendation to go before the common council on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
The Feb. 13 ad hoc committee meeting, open to the public, will be in the council chambers, at City Hall.
The committee’s Jan. 23 meeting centered on a discussion with Dan Hobbs, who manages 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 managed archery harvest program began in 2006, using volunteer bow hunters.
The group uses a proficiency shoot to select hunters who demonstrate accuracy, and the venison is donated to area families.
A local bow club administers the proficiency shoot, Hobbs told the committee.
“Every two years, we open it up,” he said. “We require that every hunter harvests two deer to stay in the program.”
They must harvest does, although if hunters have buck tags and it is the hunting season, they may harvest bucks, Hobbs said.
In 2016, 17 hunters participated in the program, and the group harvested 55 deer, he said.
The number of deer harvested last year compares to the 130 deer the group harvested in the first year of its program.
“That’s a lot of deer. That’s in four communities,” he said.
Hobbs serves as a liaison between the hunters and municipalities. He gets permission for people to hunt on properties and also seeks grants to cover program costs.
All involved in the program are volunteers, and each hunter may be reimbursed up to $18 in costs per harvested deer, he said.
An agricultural permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources allows the managed archery harvest in that area to begin on Aug. 1 and run through March.
Each hunter is assigned a number. The number is marked on their arrows.
The hunters also receive a vehicle identification card to place in their cars when they are hunting.
Hobbs said hunters are assigned to particular areas.
“Right now, we’re almost in a maintenance mode,” he said. “It’s a long-term thing. You can’t do one year and let it go.”
Hobbs said if a program is set up right and has the right properties and hunters, it will be successful.
During its Jan. 23 meeting, the committee also reviewed the responses to a survey about Waupaca’s urban deer population.
The city received a total of 384 responses. That number includes 202 responses to the written survey and 182 to the online survey.
The committee extended the survey to Jan. 23 to seek additional responses and plans to continue reviewing the results prior to its next meeting.
The city used a Google Form to collect the online survey submissions, and it was optional for respondents to provide their names, addresses and contact information, according to Joshua Werner, the city’s IT/communications specialist.
While the survey stated it was only for city residents, he said there was no automatic mechanism to filter out non-city residents.
Werner said it was also possible for people to take either survey multiple times.
Those were questions brought up during the committee’s meeting, as members compared the results of the survey up until Jan. 9 with the results on Jan. 23.
The results up until Jan. 9 included 127 responses to the online survey and 143 returned written surveys for a total of 270 responses.
Of those 270 responses, 47.4 percent said they strongly agree the deer herd within the city limits has grown over the past years, creating safety, nuisance and health-related problems needing to be addressed by city government.
A total of 23.7 percent of respondents said they strongly disagreed with that statement.
The rest of responses fell in between those two sentiments.
When asked if they believe a managed bow hunt is a humane approach to decreasing the deer herd and the potential problems the increased deer population may cause, 51.8 percent said they strongly agreed with that statement and 17 percent said they strong disagreed.
The other responses fell in between that.
When asked if they would support a managed bow hunt in the city limits if the program was designed to ensure the safety of the hunters, as well as those in adjacent areas, 53.7 percent said they strongly agreed and 24.4 percent said they strongly disagreed.
The remaining responses again fell somewhere in between those feelings.
During its Jan. 9 meeting, the committee decided to extend the survey by two weeks and publicized that.
The final survey results show 43.3 percent said they strongly agree the deer herd in the city limits has grown and 27.3 percent disagree with that.
The rest of the responses fell in between those feelings.
In regard to whether they believe a managed bow hunt would be a humane approach to decreasing the herd, 49 percent said they strongly agreed with the statement, 16 percent said they strong disagreed and about 34 percent fell in between that.
When asked if they would support a managed bow hunt in the city limits, about 51 percent said they strongly agreed with the idea, 27 percent said they strongly disagreed with it and the remaining 20 percent fell in between.
During last week’s meeting, Police Chief Brian Hoelzel reminded the committee about Wisconsin Act 71 and how a number of people are already hunting in the city during the regular bow season under that act.
Wisconsin Act 71, which went into effect in 2013, allows people to hunt with bows and crossbows in city limits during the regular bow season.
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.
In Waupaca, a $10 permit must be obtained from the Waupaca Police Department in order to discharge a bow in the city limits.
The permit is good for two years, and those who do not live in the city may also obtain that permit if they have permission to hunt on the property of a city resident during the regular bow season.
Hoelzel said that when he has been at the front desk, those who bought the $10 permit all indicated they wanted to bow hunt in the city.
Wisconsin’s bow hunting season begins in mid September and ends in January.
“When a person buys a license for Waupaca County bow hunting, they automatically get three doe tags and one buck tag,” Hoelzel said. “So, if a person were to be hunting in the city of Waupaca and has a bow tag, they have the opportunity to shoot three does and one buck.”
All DNR rules must be followed, he said.
Ald. Chuck Whitman is a also a member of the ad hoc committee and said as the word is getting out about Wisconsin Act 71, more people are becoming aware they may bow hunt in the city during the regular bow season.
“I notice there are less (deer) running around town than other winters,” he said. “I think the word is getting out that you can harvest them in the city. There are less deer in our neighborhood than there were earlier.”
He also said some people continue to feed deer.
The city has an ordinance that prohibits the feeding of deer. The fine for doing so is $250.