The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) will host a special virtual meeting this Thursday, July 30, at 7 a.m. to reconsider board action from June 24 relating to antlerless deer harvest quotas, antlerless permit levels on public and private land, and other deer hunting season framework for 2020.

Action taken at the meeting could affect the antlerless deer hunt in 11 northern counties, including Vilas and Oneida, this fall. 

Specifically, the NRB will possibly look at adjusting the antlerless quota declarations which were set at zero in Marinette and Oconto County, as well as the approval of a holiday hunt in 32 other Wisconsin counties.

They also will reconsider the motion approved that reduced antlerless harvest quotas and/or public land permits for Douglas County with a 60% private, 40% public allocation of permits.

In that same motion in June, the NRB allocated all antlerless tags in Bayfield County at an 80% private, 20% public permit allocation to minimize overharvest on public land.

Meanwhile, Vilas County saw a 50% reduction in the proposed antlerless quota (from 400 to 200) at the June NRB meeting, with a 60% private, 40% public allocation of permits.

Oneida, Florence, Lang­lade, Lincoln, Sawyer and Burnett counties saw a 50% reduction in public land antlerless permits at the meeting. For Oneida County, that was a reduction from 1,000 to 500 antlerless permits on public land.

If approved for reconsideration, the NRB will be able to make adjustments to the season framework and antlerless harvest quotas.

Although the public will not be allowed to attend the meeting in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting will be live­streamed.

A possible reversal of the directive came after public outcry stemming from the decision of the NRB that went against the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) recommendation, specifically on the reduction in antlerless quotas, and a decision that would have allowed a holiday hunt from Dec. 4, 2020, through Jan. 1, 2021, in Grant and Marquette counties.

County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) members in both of those counties opposed holding a holiday hunt, but the DNR recommended holding the late hunt to reduce deer populations.

Ultimately the board sided with the CDACs.

Currently, the 2020 holiday hunts will be held in 32 other counties, and if reversed could also be held in Grant and Marquette counties.

NRB member Greg Kaz­mier­ski at the June meeting made the motion to reduce the antlerless deer quotas and permits in the 11 northern counties.

According to reports cited by Kazmierski, CDACs were split on their opinion between those with forestry interests who want fewer deer and the public who want to see more deer, especially on public land.

With the DNR now able to separate antlerless permits for public land and private land, he said the DNR has the ability to reduce frustration of hunters when they hunt public land and see few deer, while encouraging landowners to increase antlerless harvest on private land.

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