Milwaukee – The Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with landowners who have granted access to their properties, soon will begin shooting deer outside normal shooting hours and at night with the aid of artificial light in selected areas of the chronic wasting disease management zones. DNR staff will also start trapping deer in early January in urban areas in these locations that include the eastern Disease Eradication Zone (DEZ) in southeastern Rock and southwestern Walworth counties, and in Kenosha and Racine counties within a 10-mile radius around Brighton.
Shooting deer after hours and with the aid of a light could begin by mid-to late-December, noted regional wildlife supervisor Jim McNelly. “There are also large residential areas that don’t lend themselves to shooting, so starting in January we will trap deer using large box traps,” he said.
“Overall, the DNR management strategy is aimed towards continuing to reduce deer populations coupled with providing additional animals for CWD testing,” McNelly added. Carcasses of deer killed by agency shooters and trappers that test negative for the disease and are suitable for human consumption will be provided to the food pantry program.
McNelly said the area around Brighton Township, north of Paddock Lake in northern Kenosha County, is part of the winter CWD management plan because this is an area where a deer harvested by a hunter in 2003 tested positive for CWD. “We are not sure if this was an isolated instance of one deer with CWD moving into Kenosha County from areas with CWD, or if other deer in Kenosha County and nearby Racine County have CWD,” said McNelly.
DNR shooters and trappers will collect more deer samples from this area where hunters have not provided enough samples to determine the extent of CWD here.
“Landowner and hunter cooperation and assistance remain the keys to reducing deer densities, testing adult deer and eradicating CWD. Department shooting is viewed as supplemental and complimentary to the regular season efforts of hunters in targeted locations,” noted Area Wildlife Biologist Doug Fendry, who will supervise the deer shooting and trapping program.
“However, there are landowners who support our disease eradication efforts and who either prefer or welcome our assistance in removing deer from their property. We believe that is an important and appropriate role for us in these targeted areas,” he added.
All government shooters will have completed advanced marksmanship courses and will shoot under very strict safety protocols. Prior to shooting deer, a detailed safety plan will be written for each targeted property.
“Trained agency deer shooters, coupled with a property safety plan, is a very effective method for reducing deer populations in a selected area,” said Fendry.
The DNR will also be shooting over bait with landowner permission in the eastern DEZ and the Brighton surveillance area. While the feeding of deer and the placement of bait is generally prohibited in the Eradication Zone, there are rules in place that allow the department to use or authorize the use of bait under certain circumstances.
The Department weighed the disease transmission risk of using bait against the benefit of removing additional deer from these targeted areas. “We concluded that the benefits of using bait in these targeted areas outweighed the risk,” said Fendry. “Our objective will be to remove as many deer as possible, as efficiently as possible, at bait sites.”
Baiting is used to attract deer to a specific location and establish reliable, consistent deer movement patterns. This can increase the efficiency of killing deer in targeted areas and has the benefit of ensuring deer are shot in safe locations, according to Fendry.
“Shooting deer at bait sites is very effective especially when there is snow on the ground and deer are food-stressed,” he pointed out.