City seeks input on deer plan
Public meeting set for March 21
By Angie Landsverk
A plan to manage the city of Waupaca’s urban deer population will be the subject of a Tuesday, March 21, public informational meeting.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m., in the council chambers at City Hall.
Last month, the common council voted to seek input from the public before it takes action on the seven recommendations of the city’s Deer Management Ad Hoc Committee.
The following recommendations were made:
• Develop a management program to control the herd size and locations, based on its conclusion that there is a deer herd issue in the city.
• Note there are adequate laws and regulations in place related to the feeding of deer and the ability to bow hunt in the city during the regular archery season and so no new local ordinances or regulations are needed.
• Focus on the enforcement of the prohibition of feeding deer in the city.
• Develop a public education campaign to educate city residents about the impacts of an unrestrained deer herd and the prohibition against feeding deer.
• Pursue more study of the five diseases that may be transmitted from deer to humans.
• Implement a managed bow hunt program.
• Hold a public informational meeting or hearing to review the recommendations with the community and receive public comments before the common council takes final action on the recommendations.
Ald. Alan Kjelland chaired the ad hoc committee.
He said the council invites the public to “show up and be prepared to testify, if they’re interested and feel passionate about it. We ask they also address any issues not already brought up during the work of the ad hoc committee.”
Kjelland said damage from deer in yards and the number of incidents of Lyme Disease in the county are examples of subjects the committee previously discussed.
In fact, what he hears most from his constituents are complaints about the damage deer do in their yards.
Last August, several of them attended a common council meeting and expressed their concerns about the city’s deer population.
Mayor Brian Smith then appointed the ad hoc committee last fall and tasked it with determining if there was a problem with the size of the deer herd in the city.
The ad hoc committee developed a survey and asked respondents to answer the questions on a scale of one to five, with one being strongly agree and five being strongly disagree.
The city received a total of 384 responses to the survey, and 43.3 percent said they strongly agreed the deer herd in the city limits had grown.
Kjelland said information from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) shows Waupaca County has a density of 54 deer per square mile.
“That translates to over 400 deer in the city limits,” he said.
The ad hoc committee also looked at the number of car/deer collisions in the city.
There were 23 car/deer collisions in 2016, 44 in 2015, 34 in 2014, 33 in 2013, 22 in 210 and 12 in 2011.
More than half of them were on U.S. Highway 10, Kjelland said.
The statistics include only the collisions on the city’s portion of the highway.
A high number of the collisions were also on Harrison Street, Appletree Lane and Royalton Street.
Those who responded to the city’s survey were asked if they had personally experienced such things as a car/deer collision or deer eating plants in their yards.
They were also asked if they, a family member or an acquaintance had contracted Lyme Disease or another tick-borne disease.
Kjelland said 50 people said they had contracted it or knew someone who had, although the survey did not ask for a particular time period.
Forty-nine percent of those who responded to the survey strongly agreed a managed bow hunt would be a humane approach to decrease the size of the herd.
Fifty-one percent strongly agreed with the idea of having a managed bow hunt in the city limits.
The ad hoc committee recommends modeling the city’s program after the Multi-Metro Deer Management Group.
The Marathon County group began its managed archery harvest program in 2006, using volunteer bow hunters.
“They’ve been doing it over 10 years, and it’s very successful,” Kjelland said. “The arrows are all marked and identified. They know when people are hunting and where they are hunting.”
He said the ad hoc committee recommends limiting the managed archery harvest to city parcels of 10 acres or more and seeking an agriculture permit from the DNR for a season of Aug. 1 to March 1.
“There are many parcels within the city that could possibly be used for hunting purposes,” Kjelland said.
The same rules and regulations of the regular bow season would apply to those participating in the managed archery harvest.
Like the Multi-Metro Deer Management Group, bow hunters would have to pass a proficiency test to participate and harvest two deer in order to stay in the program.
Kjelland said hunters cannot be in the program “to get a trophy buck.”
The ad hoc committee also recommends educating the public about Wisconsin Act 71, which went into effect in 2013 and 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 the city of 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 is required for those who also just want to practice shooting their bows.
During the Feb. 22 common council meeting, Police Chief Brian Hoelzel said 16 such permits were issued in 2015 and 26 in 2017.
In 2013 and 2014, a handful of those permits were issued, he said.
Hoelzel said more people seeking the permits have been saying they want to hunt in the city limits.
Kjelland said there has been no tracking as to the number of deer harvested in the city since Wisconsin Act 71 went into effect.
There is only anecdotal evidence, he said.