GREEN BAY - Annual DNR Conservation Congress meetings were held in all 72 Wisconsin counties Monday night.
For the first time, the spring meetings included an update on the deer herd. The updates were typically held in a separate March meeting.
About a hundred hunters showed up at NWTC for the Brown County meeting, many expecting to hear about a diminished deer herd.
“The population would have to be down I would think,” said Ted Zabel of Sobieski. “They had a pretty tough winter.”
“Sounds like it might be down a little bit, but we'll have to wait and see,” said Ben Englebert of Green Bay.
The DNR says the winter's impact actually wasn't as bad as many people would think.
“The deer herd in Brown County is prolific,” said David Halfmann, wildlife biologist for the DNR. “It's in pretty good shape.”
The DNR is classifying the Brown County winter as moderate.
“There may be some losses to starvation, but all in all it's a robust, healthy population here in Brown County and they should be coming through the winter pretty well,” said Halfmann.
While hearing about the herd is a highlight of the conservation congress meetings, wildlife officials also laid out new rules and regulations.
“I think they just want to be informed, they want to see what direction the DNR is taking in the future, what direction the conservation congress is taking here,” said Satush Gruszynski, the chairman of the Brown County Conservation Congress.
Changes this year include recommendations from the 2011 Deer Trustee Report. The biggest change is the DNR will no longer have 130 deer management units. Deer will instead be grouped by county.
“The report pointed out that a simplification of deer management units was desired by a big portion of the public so that's one step in the right direction,” said Halfmann.
“I'm hoping we do more of a scientific approach to the deer hunting, that we don't just look at it from an emotional standpoint,” said Zabel.
While the meeting provided hunters with an update, the DNR says it also allows them to gather public input to use going forward.