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Wisconsin DNR Secretary Stepp excited about revamped deer hunt rules

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - State DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp screamed "Yes," just seconds after the Natural Resources Board revamped Wisconsin's deer hunting rules.  

After four hours of discussion Wednesday, the board unanimously approved a host of suggestions made by Texas researcher James Kroll in 2011.  

Stepp called it a tremendous opportunity that Wisconsin cannot afford to waste.  

The most controversial change is the elimination of in-person deer registrations at places like bars and gas stations. Starting in 2015, they'll all be reported on line or by phone.  

Taverns said the change would hurt their business, and some lamented a loss of hunter camaraderie. But other hunters said it ends the inconvenience of driving for miles to register their animals -- and Stepp said eliminating the paper system would make the harvest tallies much more efficient.  

The board also approved Kroll's ideas to reduce the number of deer management units -- use simple goals to increase or decrease the herd instead of setting numerical targets -- and form county committees to recommend local population goals.  

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation director George Meyer asked why Kroll's proposals are being considered at all. He said hunters were satisfied when the governor and Legislature ended the requirement to shoot a doe before taking a trophy buck.  

Board members disagreed, saying northern Wisconsin hunters shot 15 percent fewer deer last year. Stepp said the current DNR policies, "ain't working."

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)