Report: Wisconsin DNR should drop deer goals

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker’s deer trustee says Wisconsin wildlife officials should quit establishing local population goals, let landowners hold site-specific hunts on their property and establish better connections with the public.

Walker’s administration hired Texas researcher James Kroll to evaluate the Department of Natural Resources’ deer management. The administration released Kroll’s final report on Tuesday.

The study found the DNR’s population estimates aren’t precise enough for individual management zones, site-specific hunts would give the state valuable biological information on kills and better DNR outreach would help restore the agency’s credibility with hunters.

Click here to read the report.

“This is their last chance to hit the reset button. If they don’t, I promise you things are going to deteriorate worse than they are now,” said Kroll.


He concluded the report by taking hunters to task too, saying they want a deer herd so large the landscape can’t support it.

“We need to start somewhere to change the system,” said Roger Wendling, the owner of Monsoor’s Sport Shop in La Crosse.

Wendling says it will take some time for hunters to digest all the recommendations in the report, but so far, he likes what he sees.

“It certainly can’t hurt to give it a try and see how it does,” he said.

DNR officials declined News 8’s request for an interview but the agency did release a statement.

“We see this as an opportunity. We are not afraid to face recommendations and critiques that are contained in the report and adjust accordingly,” read a portion of the statement released by Kurt Thiede, the DNR’s division administrator of lands.

The study came out of a campaign promise made by Governor Scott Walker to respond to hunters’ complaints about bad hunts. He says he’ll work closely with DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to make sure the recommendations are acted upon.