If anyone wants to see what happens when the Government and bureaucrats attempt to "help nature", just take a look at the deer management efforts undertaken by the Wisconsin DNR over the past 25-years. Around 1989, the Department estimated that there were more than 1.1-million deer in Wisconsin--and that was "too many". So ultra-aggressive hunting measures were put into place to increase the number of deer harvested every fall, thus "helping" control the population.
You may recall there was the "Earn a Buck" requirement--which forced hunters to shoot a doe or an antlerless deer before taking one with a trophy rack. And there was "Hunters Choice"--where you could shoot a doe or a buck at any time. And there were October "Zone T Hunts" held in areas where the DNR decided there were still too many deer. And then there were special hunts in December after the regular gun-deer season. There were even "CWD Hunts"--where unlimited numbers of deer could be shot in an effort to "control" the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.
So what has been the result of all this "deer management"? A wildly-imbalanced deer population, that sees the animals' numbers dwindling in the northern part of the state--where it used to be the highest--and still "too many deer" in the southern part of the state. Ask anyone who hunts and they will tell you it is pretty much useless to head north of Highway 64 anymore, because there are just no deer up there. After the state tried to "help Mother Nature" for all of those years by artificially increasing the deer kill, Mother Nature took her own "natural" steps to cull the herd--namely, severe winters with heavy snowfall and extreme cold--which limits the amount of food available to deer, causing a natural die off that had been part of the "circle of life" for tens of thousands of years.
And what makes the "Great Northern Deer Disaster" even worse, is that part of the state has wide swaths of National and State Forests that provide public access to hunters. Access that is not nearly as available in the southern part of the state, where deer are most commonly found on private property--damaging farm crops, running on our highways and wandering around our cities. That means fewer people can hunt where there actually are deer--and the greater probability of ending up with "tag soup" turns people off to hunting--so they stay home. The DNR admitted this week that license sales are down sharply this fall.
And that has an economic effect as well. Towns like Crivitz and Three Lakes and Tomahawk rely on the influx of the Orange Army every year to provide big bucks (of the cash variety) at shops, restaurants and bars for the week around Thanksgiving. Places like Waupaca and Wausau and Beaver Dam don't need that cash infusion nearly as much as the folks Up North. Besides, most guys would prefer the "deer camp experience" in the woods, than just driving a few miles into the country from their own homes every morning to hunt.
Will turning deer management over to "the people" as Wisconsin's Deer Czar recommended restore some balance? That will probably take another 25-years to determine. But in the meantime we'll just have to live with the results of the "experts"--and hope that a tradition can survive.