Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Bill Hogseth tags a buck during the 2018 gun-deer season at Mike’s Star Market on Eau Claire’s west side as part of the state’s chronic wasting disease detection program. The DNR operates a number of CWD sample sites, often at venison processing locations.

County deer advisory councils announced their initial proposals for 2019 antlerless deer quotas across Wisconsin at the state Department of Natural Resources’ annual spring fish and wildlife public hearings last week in each of the state 72 counties.

The proposals in Eau Claire County included one free permit with each license sold in the western farmland zone of Eau Claire County, a quota of 200 in forestland and continuing to offer no holiday hunt.

“In the farmland zone last year, we were within about 30 deer of our quota and in forestland, we were right at quota,” said Dave Zielke of the Eau Claire County Deer Advisory Council and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. “Very few counties are able to do that. We’re setting numbers that are very realistic and making it happen, and I think we still provide quality deer hunting in most areas of the county.”

Bill Hogseth, DNR wildlife biologist in Eau Claire County, said 322 deer were taken last year in the metro zone in Eau Claire County, and the CDAC is continuing to recommend making available three tags per hunter in the zone. Hogseth said 12,774 permits were issued in the zone.

“Even though we make so many tags available, not many deer are being taken,” Zielke said. “That comes down to land access. We’re still having people complain about strawberries and flowers getting eaten and they can’t raise anything.

“I don’t think the number of permits we have out really affects what is taken; that’s dictated by access.”

The Eau Claire metro zone sub-unit was the subject of one of the two citizen resolutions submitted for consideration at the Eau Claire County meeting. The resolution, submitted by Jake Eckardt of Eau Claire, called for narrowing of the zone. The zone was created by the CDAC, Zielke said, to account for future growth in the city.

“At least on the east side of that zone, hunting is not what it used to be,” Eckardt said. “We need to consider narrowing the zone or reducing the number of tags that are available.”

The Eau Claire County Deer Advisory Council will hold its next meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the DNR Service Center to make final quota recommendations.

“What we proposed is not set in stone,” Zielke said. “We need comments from landowners, people out in the field, somebody who’s got a stake in this, a hunter who’s been out there. We’re interested in that.”

Zielke also said testing for chronic wasting disease in Eau Claire County did not reach levels the council would have liked. Despite that, the county did return two additional positive CWD tests after the fall gun-deer season.

“We had more testing than we’ve had in the last five years, but we still need more,” he said. “We may need to look at adjusting how deer are registered. We have the ability to do some things that could allow us to get more deer sampled. In some areas, we may even be able to do mandatory testing.”

Richard Vojtik, a deer farmer from near Fairchild, submitted the other citizen resolution at the Eau Claire County meeting, calling for greater cooperation between deer farmers, who are regulated under the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the DNR on finding a solution for CWD.

“We’ve spent 50 years dealing with the disease, and 20 years here in Wisconsin, and it doesn’t seem like we’re putting the money in the right place to find a cure to the disease,” Vojtik said. “I think we all need to work together to find a solution.”

DNR spring hearings allowed individuals interested in natural resources management to have an opportunity to provide input and testimony to the DNR and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress on proposed rule changes and advisory questions relating to fish and wildlife management in Wisconsin.

Most questions focused on hunting, fishing or trapping seasons. Others dealt with environmental issues, including a Wisconsin Conservation Congress advisory question about creating wider setbacks from agricultural fields to streams.

Results will be available several days after the online voting closes and can be found on the DNR website.

Meeting results, public comments on the questions and DNR recommendations are used to advise the state Natural Resources Board.

For more information or to find the Spring Hearing questionnaire, visit tinyurl.com/9jtfu2h or to dnr.wi.gov and search with keywords “spring hearings.”