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Deer totals expected late Monday

We should find out this afternoon (Monday) how many deer were shot in the nine-day gun season that ended Sunday.

Based on the opening weekend, the harvest is projected to be about 350,000. That's only one-fifth of Wisconsin's total deer herd of 1.7 million, leaving plenty of animals to eat up plants and farm crops or get hit by cars.

Randy Stark, Department of Natural Resources chief warden, says those problems are bad enough. But as more deer overrun the countryside, he says the generating of new forests could also be in jeopardy.

Nationally, the number of adult hunters dropped from 16 percent of the population in 1990 to just 11 percent two years ago.

In Wisconsin, the number of residents who hunt dropped about 750,000 in 1990 to less than 600,000 at the start of the new century.

Out-of-staters helped Wisconsin sell about 640,000 deer licenses this year. And they had fewer places where they could go.

Stark says 80 percent of all deer hunting is on private land and more individual landowners are barring hunters.

Also, more paper companies are selling their vast forests to investment firms, which often turn them into new housing developments, producing even fewer acres for hunters.