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Van Deelen: wolf and deer hunting seasons intertwined, complicated – Audio

Tim Van Deelen, Associate Professor
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
trvandeelen@wisc.edu
(608) 265-3280

2:58 – Total Time

0:17 – What’s a successful deer hunt
0:53 – How wolf and deer hunts are tied together
2:14 – Summing up the wolf hunt
2:46 – Lead out

TRANSCRIPT

Wrapping up the Wisconsin gun deer season and the new wolf hunt. We’re visiting today with Tim Van Deelen, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Sevie Kenyon: Tim, can you give us a sense of what makes a successful hunt for the state?

Tim Van Deelen: Success of the hunt seems to be driven by the hunter perception of success. They look at how they’ve done personally and the people that they know that are also hunting. So if the word kind of gets out locally that it was a poor hunt, that they weren’t seeing the deer, you get kind of a confirmation bias. If everybody seems to be shooting deer and you’re seeing deer at the check stations and everybody seems to be successful, then the confirmation bias works in the other direction and sort of snowballs. So, I don’t know that it really is about numbers but it’s about comparing your experience to what some of the statewide records are.

Sevie Kenyon: How is the deer hunt and the wolf hunt tied together?

Tim Van Deelen: Wolves, of course, are predators and their primary prey is Wisconsin is whitetail deer. So, it’s completely intuitive to believe that if you’ve got an increasing wolf population then they’re having some impact on the deer population. I tend to think it’s more complicated than that. More wolves, especially when you have some recent seasons that were disappointing, hunters put two and two together, if you will, and they begin thinking about the fact that maybe having wolves on the landscape are causing the deer population to become depressed. In the north, it’s almost conventional wisdom now that wolves are depressing the deer population and certainly, at a local scale, there are hunters who’s hunting has probably deteriorated because they just happen to be unlucky enough to hunt in an area where wolves are very active. Deer hunters are experiencing something, that’s real, but being able to tie that to a decline in deer numbers is a little more difficult. There’s an ecological theory out there that suggests that having the large predator back in the ecosystem changes the behavior of the prey, makes them more wary and less visible. So what the hunters are experiencing, what they’re perceiving as fewer deer out there, is the fact that you’ve got deer that are more wary and less visible.

Sevie Kenyon: Tim, can you perhaps typify the first wolf hunt in many years?

Tim Van Deelen: It’s hard to say. I think it’s been more successful then the managers have recognized. Of course, we’ve had a lawsuit, which said that hunters are not able to use hounds to chase the wolves and the claim was that they really needed hounds to be able to harvest wolves. Well, we’re almost at 100 wolves harvested, that which suggests that you really don’t need the hounds to be able to harvest wolves. It turns out, I think, that harvesting wolves is easier than what we expected.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting today with Tim Van Deelen, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.