Wisconsin DNR Paid Over $1 Million for Wildlife Damage to Crops and Livestock in 2020 | News

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources received claims for more than three times the amount of damage caused by deer compared to wolves in 2020, according to a review of DNR records by The Badger Project.

In a state with more than 1.8 million deer and just over 1,000 wolves, that claims ratio has remained relatively stable over the past 10 years, according to the DNR.

Damage claims from all animals except wolves totaled more than $1.2 million in 2020, according to MNR records. Most of the claims are requests from farmers for reimbursement of crop damage.

The DNR paid out about $850,000 of the $1.2 million in 2020, either because claims were denied, fell below the $500 deductible, or because compensation is capped at $10,000 per firm and per year.

The majority of claims, over $760,000, have been awarded to deer. Geese caused the second highest amount of damage with around $230,000 in claims, while bears were blamed for around $200,000 in damage.

Seven animal species are covered by DNR’s Wisconsin Damage and Claims Reduction Program – deer, bear, turkey, goose, elk, sandhill cranes and cougars. But no claims have been submitted for cranes or cougars since at least 2010.

In a separate program for wolves, the DNR said it paid about $200,000 in canine damage in 2020.

Claims for wolves, elk and geese have increased slightly in recent years, while claims for deer and bears have declined.

Scott Hygnstrom, a wildlife professor at UW-Stevens Point, said prevention strategies have reduced deer damage in Wisconsin.

“Reduction strategies work pretty well — if we can put an ounce of prevention to save a pound of cure, that’s a pretty good move in my book,” Hygnstrom said. “I always see this as an integrated approach – herd management is where we start, but on top of that we have fencing, habitat modification, scare products and insect repellent, among other options.”

Hygnstrom was the first coordinator of the WDACP from 1983 to 1985.

Claims under the DNR program cover damage to a wide variety of crops, including commercial seedlings, crops that have been harvested but not removed, orchards, beehives, livestock, and cultivated crops or grasses. for use by a game bird sanctuary, the DNR’s director of communications said. Sarah Hoe.

The DNR does not reimburse car accidents with wildlife. Deer cause thousands of accidents each year in Wisconsin, according to the DNR, resulting in millions in damage.

The gray wolf remains a flashpoint in Wisconsin, and naysayers complain about the pack predator’s federally protected status on the endangered species list, especially when killing or injuring livestock. The state’s wolf population has been slowly increasing in the state in recent years, according to DNR estimates. But the damage assessed by deer is often far greater than wolves – deer damage claims totaled $760,000 in 2020, more than triple the nearly $200,000 paid for wolf damage this year -the.

While wolf damage has increased along with the population since the wolf damage reduction program began in 1985, payments have remained relatively stable since 2010, at around $150,000 to $200,000 per year. year, according to DNR documents.

Damage caused by wolves is mostly to livestock — calves are the most common, with nearly $83,000 in damages paid to farms for 94 missing or dead calves in 2020, according to the DNR. These 94 calves are equivalent to approximately 0.01% of all Wisconsin calves.

“There’s an old phrase, ‘it depends on which beef is gored’, which makes a lot of sense here,” Hygnstrom said. “If you’re a beef producer with wolves in the immediate vicinity who take calves every year, that can still be a big problem.”

Wisconsin is also the only state to compensate hunters for dogs killed or injured by wolves, with $72,500 paid out to hunters in 2020 for dead dogs and an additional $5,000 for veterinary costs.

“The majority of these dogs are bear dogs, because bear dogs learn to (hunt) bears in July around the same time wolves remove pups from dens and establish rendezvous sites. you,” Hygnstrom said. “If a dog crosses one of these sites, it will be violently attacked.”

Wildlife damaged more than 3,600 acres of land in 2020, according to the DNR. This equates to about 0.02% of Wisconsin’s farmland.

Non-wolf wildlife claims submitted and compensation paid increased slightly from 2019, but overall were down from the high point in 2013, when more than $2.1 million in claims have been submitted and over $1.3 million paid.

Annual claims for damage caused by deer have dropped by nearly $1 million during that time, despite the deer population continuing to grow, according to DNR counts.

“Often the level of damage follows the density of deer in the state, and although the population has increased over the past 10 years, it is about 1.5 million deer,” Hygnstrom said. “If we can manage our deer densities to appropriate and acceptable levels, then everyone wins.”

Payments for wildlife damage are funded using revenue from hunting license sales, Hoye said. A supplement is added to each hunting license to pay for the program.

Compensation to farmers can be direct payment for lost crops or crop protection strategies, according to MNR records. Trapping and temporary fencing are two common crop protection practices employed by MNR, while hunting permits are also issued to cull problem animals.

The largest cull in 2020 was 99 geese by a farm in Dodge County, according to DNR documents The Badger Project received in a records request. The second largest cull came from a farm in Trempealeau County which killed 44 deer. A total of five farms harvested more than 25 deer each, according to MNR records.

“There will always be farms that have perfect deer habitat right next to their land.” said Hygnström. “Often the best solution is simply for farmers to deal with the problem proactively, both to get rid of offending deer and to appease farmers by assuring them that they have a tool to solve their problem. “

Deer harvested with shooting permits must be prepared in the field before being handed over to the DNR for processing, Hygnstrom said. These deer are then donated to local pantries.

The Badger Project is a nonpartisan journalism nonprofit organization supported by the citizens of Wisconsin.

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