By Rob Schuette, Fort McCoy Public AffairsMarch 12, 2010
FORT McCOY, Wis. -- Hunters at Fort McCoy are helping the installation's wildlife program to manage the deer population and maintain a quality hunting experience by responding to a newly developed e-mail survey.
David Beckmann, Fort McCoy wildlife biologist, said survey results help the wildlife program track deer population trends and identify possible areas of improvement in various aspects of the hunt.
The e-mail survey was developed for the 2009 Spring Turkey Season and, subsequently, was used for the 2009 Gun-Deer Season, Beckmann said.
Beckmann said Fort McCoy hunting season applicants have been asked to provide their e-mail address in the past with the intent to use it as another communications tool. "We are now putting this information to use as part of our wildlife and hunting program management strategies and plan to expand its use in the future to disseminate other forms of information."
"During past Gun-Deer seasons we collected information, such as daily hunter participation and number of deer seen, at the check-in points on opening weekend," Beckmann said. "With the suspension of hunter check-in requirements in 2008, we no longer had access to some of that data. The new e-mail survey fills in these gaps and also gives us the opportunity to gather additional information that would not have been collected in the past."
The change to Wisconsin's Automated License Issuance System (ALIS), which allows hunters to purchase their permits off post, also changed the way hunters receive information about the hunts, such as where to obtain regulations, he said.
In addition to the introduction of ALIS, the wildlife program worked with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security - Range Division and the Fort McCoy Network Enterprise Center to improve the GAME LINE (608-388-4263), which provides a recorded message to tell hunters what areas are closed to hunting, etc. Beckmann said the system now can handle multiple callers at the same time, allowing them to get information in a timely manner.
"The e-mail survey gave us information about how well the new systems worked and what customers thought of the changes," Beckmann said. "It was easy to fill out the form and return it to us by hitting a submit button or printing the form and mailing or hand delivering it to us."
The e-mail survey also helps the wildlife program staff assess deer population levels and hunter density. Beckmann said hunters could indicate which days they hunted and the number of deer they saw.
This data is used to evaluate hunter density and distribution to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable hunting experience, he said. Survey data also is used in calculating current deer population levels and monitoring population trends. "Our management goals are to maintain a healthy deer herd at levels that will not degrade their natural food sources, threaten critical habitats for other species, or cause damage to training lands and adjacent agricultural lands all while still providing a quality hunting experience. Information from the surveys helps us to meet all of these areas."
Out of about 1,040 surveys e-mailed, 258 hunters responded. Many respondents also provided additional comments beyond answering the questions, he said. The suggestions were evaluated to see if implementation was possible.
"Each year we do the survey, we expect to improve it and hope to increase our response rate," Beckmann said.
For more information about hunting at Fort McCoy, call the Permit Sales Office, building 2168, at 608-388-3337.