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Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin mule deer’

mule deer in WI

One of the more interesting stories of the past week comes out of Polk County, Wisconsin. A bow-hunter killed a mule deer.

That may not sound so weird, but the thing is mule deer are a Western species. Wisconsin is home to white-tailed deer, which are the most common species of deer in the East and Midwest.

The bow-hunter who took the deer is named Randy Haines, and when he saw the nice little buck get within range he took it.

A relative of Haines took this photo of the mule deer from his tree stand before Haines managed to kill it:

Wisconsin mule deer

The tail gives it away. If you didn’t see the weird forked antlers, you’d still know that you were looking at mule deer by that scraggly tail with the black top.  And if that didn’t give it away, if you spook a mule deer it stots like an impala, while white-tailed deer are quick bounders.

What this deer is doing in Wisconsin is a good question. The nearest mule deer to Wisconsin are in the Dakotas. The mule deer had no tags on it that would indicate that it had been on a deer farm, but that seems like the most obvious answer. However, there is no proof that it is a deer farm escapee.

Because we have had such good public management of deer in the US, we know where each species belongs. This is unlike England, where only two species of deer are native and it’s not exactly clear where their historic ranges were. England’s deer were managed using the deer park system, which is not entirely different from the private deer farms that are being promoted in some parts of this country. In both systems, deer are confined to an acreage and managed as a private entity. Deer that aren’t even native to the region, such as fallow deer (the epitome of a park deer), are brought in. If private hunting ranches in Texas are bringing in axis deer, it would make sense that a private deer preserve in Wisconsin would be trying to stock mule deer.

But this raises important questions about private deer operations. The American model of wildlife conservation is based upon the wildlife being managed as a public trust. When we start allowing people to keep large preserves full of monstrous white-tails and exotic deer, we are undercutting what has worked with deer management here.

The specter of chronic wasting disease is always on the horizon with these private deer operations, and if it winds up hitting the publicly held deer herds, then it will be upon the taxpayer to fix the problem.

So yes, it’s really cool that someone did kill a mule deer in Wisconsin, but let’s hope it’s the last.

For the sake of the deer and deer hunting.

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