White-tailed deer fawn
“Each and every animal on earth has as much right to be here as you and me.” ~ Anthony Douglas Williams
I have lived in the country north of Portage, on 72 mostly wooded, posted acres, since 2003. This year was the first that a shy buck appeared regularly at dusk with two does. I rarely see bucks at all unless they are fawns. He was the most timid of the three.
My tenants had taken a canoe in late summer down Neenah Creek. They described how magical it was to see a large buck sleeping peacefully on my property beside the creek. They said he was resting in the midst of six deer stands located on my boundary or just across the creek. My neighbors on all sides are hunters.
Neighbors can kill the deer that live on my property by luring them to feedlots, but I have no equal right to tag my deer friends to allow them to live. This is obviously undemocratic and unfair. For every deer a citizen kills forever, other citizens should have the equal right to tag a deer to live forever.
During this nine-day deer kill, a hunter illegally killed a rare white buck in Sauk County. Bryan Walsh, who had watched the deer grow up, said, “When I heard about it was a sickening feeling like your horse died or a family pet. … You can go out and shoot this monarch and pay a $303 fine and it is over and done with, but a $303 fine doesn’t bring the enjoyment 100 people had from seeing that white deer all the time.”
I have not seen my resident buck since the four-month deer kill season began in September, although the does still show up. I grieve with them.
In blatant violation of their own mantra, “Leave the Wild, Wild,” the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources applies an agricultural model to deer: Kill the bucks for their trophy heads and leave the does to produce fawns for the next kill. Animals are “harvested” just like crops. The agricultural model does not tolerate wolves or natural predation. Neither the DNR nor hunters respect the natural world as a holistic system of vital, sensitive and necessary relationships.
We have turned the world into our militarized slaughterhouse.
A friend visiting from Minnesota commented, “The hunters want wolves killed because they think they kill ‘their deer.’ I bet more deer are killed by cars than by wolves.”
She is right.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, “In 1978 and 1979, deer crashes accounted for only 5.1% and 4.7% of all crashes, respectively.”
“Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation says the number of people injured or killed in crashes with deer has been rising since the late 1970s. The Badger State logged nearly 20,000 (reported) collisions with deer during 2015, accounting for more than 16% of all vehicle accidents,” Bankrate notes.
State Farm insurance reports that the national average cost per claim for 2015-2016 was $3,995.08.” State Farm insurance reports that the national average cost per claim for 2015-2016 was $3,995.08.
That is nearly $80 million that Wisconsin citizens pay in higher insurance rates to cover deer/car collisions. In 2015, the DNR collected nearly $30 million in deer kill license fees. The citizens of Wisconsin pay almost 2.7 times as much for destruction to their cars as the DNR takes in in revenue. Add in doctor, hospital and funeral costs.
A search for “How many deer do wolves kill annually?” produced a hunting website, with tips on tracking bucks and “shot placement.” This site states: “The data on the subject might be a bit disappointing to whitetail hunters looking to blame low deer population numbers on wolves.
“A few hunters continue to kill wolves, believing that such actions will help the deer herd. It is important to place in perspective the impact of wolves feeding on deer. Each wolf kills about 18 deer per year….This appears as a fairly low (number) when compared to over 40,000 deer hit by cars each year, and about 450,000 deer shot annually by hunters.
“So next time you are in your stand and see a wolf, try to enjoy the view and watch a predator at work.”
According to my research, after three years of hunts and the resulting uptick in poaching, Wisconsin has few wolves left. But if 500 wolves survive in Wisconsin, their annual deer predation is about 9,000 — less than half the number killed by cars.
Next time you hit a deer, if you survive, remember that deer probably would not be there if not for biased DNR policy, farming deer for hunters — and you are paying plenty for it.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (608-264-5338) has joined Sen. Ron Johnson (608-310-2270) in petitioning for wolves to be de-listed from the Endangered Species List. Our wolves are extremely endangered, especially when the supposedly progressive Baldwin joins the Republican majority’s chorus for destruction.
Help white deer on the protectthewhitedeer.com website.]
This column was originally puablished in the Madison CapTimes on December 4, 2016