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Final deer-hunt numbers disappoint

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  State wildlife officials say a disappointing deer hunt is blamed on cold weather, and a struggling deer herd in northern Wisconsin. D-N-R game managers gave the Natural Resources Board an overview yesterday of the recent nine-day gun season.

The statewide deer harvest was down 7-percent to around 226,000. Fifteen-percent fewer bucks were killed, and the popular northern region had a 15-percent drop in its total harvest -- the most of any place in the Badger State.

Wildlife management director Tom Hauge said frigid temperatures hampered the season's opening weekend, when almost half the total deer are shot. Also, the long winter from a year ago took a toll on the herd in the north, with fewer fawns and a weaker development of antlers on the bucks. The D-N-R had warned hunters that does were trying to recover in the north, and the state sold 37,000 fewer permits for that area. Officials said they were happy with their efforts to retain hunters. The D-N-R had predicted fewer hunters between 2010-and-'15 -- but the total numbers have held steady over the past two years at around 630,000plus. The numbers of female hunters grew 5-percent this year, and 25-percent since 2007.

Yesterday's board meeting had to be moved to another building in Madison, after a pipe burst in the D-N-R headquarters. That caused flooding on seven floors.