Buffalo County effort lauded

The recommendation for an antlerless deer season in Buffalo County this year has raised a lot of hackles. It seems maintenance of a large deer population has gone beyond the tradition of the family deer camp, for deer hunting has become big business statewide and any attempts to regulate the population in a scientific manner create ripple effects that often squelch logical management of the population.

We humans have altered Wisconsin’s environment to make it more deer-friendly by creating more of an edge environment in what was formerly forest-prairie land, together with agricultural production that further increases the deer population. Add to this the often joked about demand of hunters for “30-point” bucks and the fact that we have extirpated their natural enemies, and we have an environment in which the deer population has exploded. Top it off with climate change and warmer winters and does dropping twins each spring, and what does that do to level off or reduce a population that cannot be naturally sustained?

Those who are interested in this crisis — and it is a crisis — should read the essay “Deer as Both a Cause and Reflection of Ecological Change” in “The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin’s Changing Lands, Waters and Wildlife.” The authors consider the benefits and detriments of an artificially managed deer population and conclude, in part, that the present day, excessively large number of deer in the state are creating irreversible changes in plant communities and wildlife habitat. They are destroying natural plants and environs hospitable to other mammals and birds, reducing their populations and opening up the landscape to invasive species.

We humans are infamous for not seeing beyond the tips of our noses. Deer management suffers because of this.

The proposal in Buffalo County is a good start, but only that.

William Thiel

Eau Claire