City to vote on deer management plan
Bow hunting allowed, deer feeding discouraged
By Angie Landsverk
The proposed urban deer management plan is going before the Waupaca Common Council on Wednesday, April 5.
Among the recommendations in the proposal are a managed archery harvest program, a focus on enforcing the prohibition of feeding deer in the city and more education about the state law that allows bow hunting in the city during the regular archery season.
The April 5 meeting begins at 6 p.m., in the council chambers at City Hall.
The council typically meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month.
Since there is an election on Tuesday, April 4, the council is meeting on the next day instead.
Council meetings are open to the public.
A public hearing on the proposed plan took place on Tuesday, March 21.
Five city residents spoke in favor of the plan, including two people who served on the city’s Deer Management Ad Hoc Committee.
One resident spoke against the plan.
That resident was Diane Pomerenke, who described her address of 310 High Street as being “right in the middle of deer central.”
When Pomerenke bought her home, she knew deer were in the neighborhood.
She enjoys seeing them and said the hostas planted throughout her yard look beautiful “all the time.”
Pomerenke sprays a deer repellent frequently on her plants, beginning this time of the year.
“We have a city filled with green space. This is not going to be something that goes away because you hunt them once in a while,” she said.
Noting chipmunks and squirrels also damage plants in yards, she asked, “How far are we going to go?”
Pomerenke expressed a concern related to the state law already allowing people to bow hunt in the city during the regular archery season.
“I don’t know how long the rule’s been on the books,” she said. “I think it should be looked at.”
Under Wisconsin Act 71, which went into effect in 2013, people may hunt with bows and crossbows in the city limits during the regular bow season.
Wisconsin’s bow season begins in mid September and ends in January.
Hunters must follow all Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources rules.
In the city, 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 addition to having a hunting license, anyone wanting to discharge a bow in the city limits must obtain a $10 permit from the Waupaca Police Department.
The city has not tracked who obtains the permit for the purpose of hunting in the city during the regular archery season.
Pomerenke wondered who has hunted in the city and also whether there would be background checks on those participating in a managed archery harvest program.
Deer with arrows in them have shown up in Pomerenke’s yard, and she worries about the effect such a vision would have on children.
Susan Reniewicki lives on Lake Street and served on the ad hoc committee.
She said the committee’s proposal includes stringent vetting in order for a hunter to participate in the managed archery harvest program.
The committee recommends implementing a program similar to the Multi-Metro Deer Management Group program.
That Marathon County group began its managed archery harvest program in 2006.
It uses a proficiency test to select hunters who demonstrate accuracy.
The hunters are volunteers, and each one is assigned a number, as well as a particular area in which to hunt. The number assigned to each hunter is also marked on the hunter’s arrows.
In addition, each hunter must harvest two deer in order to stay in the program.
The venison is donated to area families.
The recommendations of Waupaca’s ad hoc committee include 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.
Reniewicki said if someone did not want hunting to take place on his property, it would not happen.
“I hope we go through with this,” she said of the proposed management plan.
The ad coc committee brought its recommendations forward after spending several months studying the topic.
Mayor Brian Smith appointed the ad hoc committee last fall after a handful of residents attended a council meeting and expressed concerns about the city’s deer population.
The mayor tasked the committee with determining whether there is a problem with the size of the deer herd in the city.
The committee concluded there is, after it developed a survey, looked at how many car/deer collisions took place in the city and researched how other communities handle their urban deer populations.
During the March 21 public hearing, Thomas Schwalenberg was among those speaking in favor of the committee’s recommendations.
It was not the first time the Larsen Street resident spoke about the issue.
A number of years ago, Schwalenberg asked the city to consider taking measures to address the deer herd in the city.
That was before Wisconsin Act 71 went into effect.
Schwalenberg loves to garden and said everything in his yard gets chewed up by deer, including the strawberries, raspberries, hostas and lilies planted by his wife, Ann.
Other cities allow archery in areas where problems exist, he said.
“I feel it’s only getting worse,” Schwalenberg said.
Susan Young also enjoys gardening at her home on Washington Street.
She has spent thousands of dollars on trees, shrubs and plants – some of which no longer exist.
“I like seeing the deer in town, but there needs to be some management,” Young said.
Terry Defour lives on Park Avenue and said he and his wife are both in favor of seeing not as many deer in their yard.
Barb Haen served on the city’s Deer Management Ad Hoc Committee and is also in favor of a managed archery harvest program.
In addition, she said it would be helpful to obtain data about how many deer are being harvested in the city under Wisconsin Act 71 and see that option become a better organized hunt.
Haen’s yard has also been affected.
She said nothing seems to work other than buying deer repellent.
That gets expensive, Haen said, as it needs to be reapplied just about every other day.