Wisconsin DNR would say Santa has 10.71 reindeer


Mar 11, 2001
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Last updated on Fri Dec 14 23:59:20 CST 2001

Johnsrud's reindeer count pokes fun at DNR.

By CHRIS HARDIE, LaCrosse Tribune

If the Department of Natural Resources counted Santa's reindeer, its tally would be 10.71, says state Rep. DuWayne Johnsrud.

Johnsrud, R-Eastman and chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, poked fun at the DNR and himself Friday, using a news release and reindeer to illustrate the controversy over counting Wisconsin's whitetail deer population.

Although most children will tell you Santa's sleigh is pulled by nine reindeer (including Rudolph), the DNR's estimate would be higher, Johnsrud said.

"We had a little fun," he said. "It's a little tongue-in-cheek at the DNR and ourselves."

DNR and wildlife officials estimated this year's state whitetail population entering the hunting season at 1.65 million and again authorized additional hunts in Zone-T areas where antlerless deer are killed

But with deer registration down at a much higher percentage than the estimated size of the deer herd, many hunters feel the DNR has overestimated the herd size. During the traditional nine-day gun season 291,563 deer were killed, a 33 percent decrease from last year. The deer herd was estimated at 8 percent lower than last year.

Here's a portion of Johnsrud's news release:

"Have you actually seen any of these extra reindeer," Johnsrud asked one official during a special investigative hearing.

"No," replied the biologist. "I've never actually seen a reindeer in Wisconsin but, based on the excessive amount of roof damage caused during the last Christmas season, we think the population is up to 19 percent."

"How can it be that we now have 10.71 reindeer?" Johnsrud questioned.

"These are just estimates Mr. Chairman and, no, we are not aware of the names of these new reindeer."

Johnsrud said while the news release is fun, he is concerned that the DNR has spent more than $1 million to count the herd and establish special hunts many hunters don't feel are warranted.

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