Hunters will have liberal hunting regulations this season
Rock County and Walworth counties are in the chronic wasting disease management zone, said Mike Foy, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.
The goal in the zone, which formerly was divided into two parts, is to reduce the deer population and contain the disease, said Greg Matthews, DNR spokesman. The change to combine the zones was made at the recommendation of a citizens group.
The generous hunting regulations include allowing rifles, a Christmastime gun season and an unlimited earn-a-buck program where hunters can kill a buck for every antlerless deer they shoot first.
“As long as we’re trying to control CWD, we’re going to have very liberal seasons in the foreseeable future,” he said. “There are basically more deer out there than there are people interested in hunting.”
The chronic wasting disease management zone includes all or parts of 16 counties in south-central Wisconsin.
Nearly 139,000 deer throughout the state have been tested for chronic wasting disease since 2002, with 990 testing positive, according to the DNR. All of the positive cases in southeast Wisconsin were near a separate outbreak in Illinois, where 189 deer have tested positive.
About 1.7 million whitetail deer roam the state, according to the DNR, and most areas of Wisconsin have more deer than management goals.
Last year, the deer population in Rock County and part of Walworth County after the hunting season was 90 per square mile of habitat, but the goal was 10, Foy said.
“We want to continue to try and reduce the deer herd,” Foy said. “Our deer herd is still way higher than it’s supposed to be.”
Officials believe the chronic wasting disease is a threat to the state’s deer population and the culture of deer hunting as a recreation and boon to the economy.
Managing the disease could take years, Foy said.
Hunting seasons in the chronic wasting disease zone, which includes all of Rock and Walworth Counties, include:
· Archery season, earn-a-buck, Sept. 13-Jan. 4.
· Youth hunt, Oct. 11-12.
· Early firearm season, antlerless only, Oct. 16-19.
· Firearm deer season, earn-a-buck, Nov. 22-30.
· Muzzleloader season, earn-a-buck, Dec. 1-10.
· Late firearm season, antlerless only, Dec. 11-14.
· Holiday firearm season, earn-a-buck, Dec. 24-Jan. 4.
Hunters will be required to submit samples from adult deer in the following areas of the chronic wasting disease management zone:
· Eastern Iowa and western Dane Counties, between Ridgeway and Mount Horeb, and stretching from Highway 18/151 north to the Wisconsin River.
· Between Lake Geneva, Lake Koshkonong, Beloit and Palmyra.
· Around Devil’s Lake State Park, from Highway 12 west to the Interstate.