Rhinelander looks to future after low deer harvest
RHINELANDER (WAOW)--City officials in Rhinelander now have to decide the future of the city's deer hunt program after hunters only harvested three deer last year.
In the first two years of the city's deer hunt 53 deer were harvested each year. In 2011, the number of harvests dropped to only three. An all time low. But city and DNR officials say there are several reasons for the decline in kills and say they are still optimistic for the future.
Jeremy Holtz, a wildlife biologist for the DNR, says a severe winter a couple years ago, along with two strong hunting seasons lowered the deer population to a manageable level.
"It started out really as an important tool to bring the deer population down and get it in check," Holtz said. "It's now more sustaining the population at a manageable level."
DNR officials say in 2010 the deer population was 20 percent below the established goal in the Rhinelander area, so the city and the DNR decided they didn't need to hold the hunt.
Last year, debate if the hunt was needed again, forced a delay, causing the hunt to start in December -months later than normal.
Despite the costs and low harvest, city leaders still hope to hold the hunt again next year.