Survey shows stable deer population in Brookfield

Jan. 17, 2014

Since 2001, the city has contracted with sharp shooters to cull the local deer population.

This year's survey, conducted Dec. 19 and Dec. 23, shows the efforts are succeeding in holding the deer population steady in Brookfield, with a count of 353 deer in the city. Last year there were 358.

When the program started, the city had more than 500 deer, said Bill Kolstad, director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. The first years of the program were intended to reduce the population, whereas now the program is in maintenance mode. The population has hovered near 350 for several years.

In order to hold steady a deer population that naturally expands, the city hires sharp shooters from a private company, Wildlife Management Services, Kolstad said. They operate mostly on city-owned environmental corridors and occasionally on private property with the owners' permission.

Kolstad said the city generally sets a goal to kill about one-third of the population in order to keep up with the expansion.

Over last winter and spring, the sharpshooters got about 130 deer, amounting to a population reduction in the city of five deer. This year they'll be going for between 110 and 130 deer, to continue to hold the population steady.

The city budgets between $25,000 and $30,000 annually for the program, with the state Department of Natural Resources generally assisting with a $5,000 grant.

The city's goal is to maintain fewer than 30 to 50 deer per square mile of "habitat area." Various management zones in the city have different amounts of land classified as habitat area, and the city targets areas where the number of deer exceed this goal.

Last year, the targeted sections included:

· woodland areas north of Bluemound Road between Brookfield Road and Pilgrim Parkway.

· wetlands by Wirth Park.

· natural area northwest of Calhoun Road and the railroad tracks.

· woodland area northeast of North Avenue and Pilgrim Road near Underwood Creek and Mound Zion Park.

· quarry area southeast of Lilly and Burleigh roads.

· woodland area north of North Avenue between Brookfield Road and Indian Trail.

The deer reduction program was adopted by the city when a task force of city staff, experts and residents recommended it in June, 2001, after several meetings and public forums. As was also recommended by the task force, the city installed more road signs warning of deer and provided information on how to deter deer with unpalatable plants and repellents.

The population counts, done by Wildlife Management Services, also covered Elm Grove, which had 46 deer, and the town of Brookfield, which had 54, primarily in the Poplar Creek and Black Forest area. Last year, Elm Grove had 21 and the town had 27.

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