JANESVILLE

People who want to offer input—or at least have a window—into the quota for deer tags in the 2018 Rock County deer hunt can attend an advisory council meeting next week.

The Rock County Deer Advisory Council plans to meet Wednesday to make recommendations on the quota for antlerless deer tags, the state Department of Natural Resources said in a news release.

During a work session at the Janesville DNR service center, the seven-person panel also will discuss permitting and the structure of the hunting season.

County deer advisory councils are a newer part of the DNR’s deer management rule-making process, said Jason Cotter, a DNR wildlife biologist in Rock and Green counties.

The councils collect grassroots recommendations from volunteer panel members who include hunters, farmers, landowners and county highway authorities who are familiar with the local deer population, Cotter said. The meetings allow the public to comment as well, he said.

The DNR used to set the quota using a structure that split the state into larger, multicounty “deer management zones.”

Cotter said council process has resulted in a relatively stable status quo in terms of the quotas set from year to year, Cotter said. DNR maps call for Rock County to “maintain” its current herd.

The agency’s deer metrics website estimates Rock County’s post-hunt deer population at about 7,000 this year. That’s down from 12,100 in 2007 but up from about 6,000 in 2016.

“If it appears to be reasonable what the quota can produce for the given (deer) population in a county, it will be approved, and it’ll go into effect the next deer season,” Cotter said.

Cotter said Rock County’s advisory council will review data on last year’s harvest along with short-term and long-term trends the DNR has identified. At the meeting, the panel will take public comment on managing the herd and suggestions for a tag quota.

Input from the session—one of two planned in Rock County this spring—then enters a public review period, and it’s vetted by the DNR’s Conservation Congress and Natural Resources Board before a quota is approved.

The Rock County council must submit a preliminary quota recommendation by March 23. That recommendation will get a final review April 18, Cotter said.

The council’s quota recommendation then will go before the Natural Resources Board on May 23, Cotter said.

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