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White deer advocates rally support at conservation congress

Published On: Apr 09 2013 07:15:28 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 09 2013 08:04:51 AM CDT
BARABOO, Wis. -

More than 100 people packed into a University of Wisconsin-Baraboo Sauk County campus auditorium, voting on issues such as banning hunters from killing white deer in the area.

State Department of Natural Resources personnel said they wouldn't release the results of the vote until Wednesday, but said a similar number of conservationists and hunters spoke up.

The session was part of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress public meetings across the state, which the DNR touts as helping to shape state policy.

White deer advocates, who wore "Protect the White Deer" shirts at the event, said they expected the measure to pass the local vote. But the Conservation Congress method takes too long, they said.

"It shows support, but it's slow, and it may not be fast enough for us," said MaLenna Smith of Leland. "People know the deer are there, they know they can shoot them right now, so this is serious. We've got to get them protected."

If the resolution passes the Sauk County vote, it still faces scrutiny from DNR staff, the Natural Resources board, two statewide Conservation Congress votes, and ultimately requires legislative action.

Smith said, as an alternative, the group of white deer advocates are hoping state lawmakers are paying attention to the support in Sauk County.

They said they want lawmakers to act before the deer hunting season begins in November, because hunters could wipe out the rare creatures.

It's illegal to shoot white, or albino, deer except in chronic wasting disease zones, such as the one in Leland. There, a hunter killed one of the white deer in November.

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