Aerial survey targets Green Bay's urban deer population

Deer tracks in the Village of Allouez.
Deer tracks in the Village of Allouez.

ASHWAUBENON - A population shift to report.

Typically, you see them in the fields, near the woods, and on the roads.

But more and more deer are moving to urban areas, including Green Bay.

Three area suburbs have joined forces to count the deer population from the air.

A small helicopter headed out Friday morning, skimming the tree tops of Ashwaubenon, Allouez, and De Pere, looking for deer.

"When they approach in the helicopter, they normally stand up and move around, and they become easy to see. You can spot them from the air. We're generally at a low level of 150-200 feet," said Andy Ladron, Wildlife Management Services.

The crew targeted mainly wooded areas.

"There's a lot of them out there apparently too. What a lot of residents have been saying, and of course there have been quite a few deer kills early fall," said Lee Van Den Elzen, Ashwaubenon Public Works Department.

"You see all their tracks down there," said Jake Mellen, Ashwaubenon.

Jake Mellen has many photos of big deer in his backyard.

"We've seen packs of over 20 deer go through at one time. It's non-stop. They come through at all times during the day," said Mellen.

Urban deer have become a concern. The Department of Natural Resources recommends a target limit of 25 deer per mile. Ashwaubenon surveyed seven square miles, and counted 134 deer. That's below the standard, but it's useful information.

"Some areas very populated with those. A lot more than we anticipated," said Van Den Elzen.

The suburbs are looking at options, which may include some form of a hunt.

"It can be anything from trap and removing. It can be a controlled hunt. It can be a hired sharpshooter type program. But those are questions that have to be asked based on each area within the community," said Marty Kosobucki, De Pere Parks Recreation and Forestry director.

Park leaders say they hope to have recommendations in place by the fall hunting season.

Jake Mellon says he will be ready.

"There's an 11-pointer, an 8-pointer, a bunch of other ones. I'd like to maybe take the bow back there and get a shot at a couple of them," said Mellen.

The crew counted 134 deer in Ashwaubenon, 62 in Allouez, and 119 in De Pere.