Wisconsin schedules first managed elk hunt

MADISON, WI - Following more than 22 years of elk management and reintroduction efforts, 2018 will mark Wisconsin's first managed elk hunt in state history.
"This is an incredible conservation success story for Wisconsin," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Dan Meyer. "Thanks to the efforts of so many great organizations and individuals, the northern elk herd has continued to grow to the point where we can offer this very special and long-awaited hunting opportunity."
The area of the planned hunt is within the Clam Lake elk range of Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland and Price counties in far north-central Wisconsin.
Original restoration efforts occurred within this range with the release of 25 elk from Michigan in 1995. This northern herd is projected to reach a population level of over 200 animals this year, including a high proportion of bulls.
"It is important to note that the areas where Kentucky elk were released in Jackson County and the Flambeau River State Forest will not be included in this hunt," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. "This hunt concentrates on elk born here in Wisconsin over the past two decades - we do not wish to take Kentucky elk, many of which are cows and may not be harvested."
Ten tags will be made available for a bull-only hunt in Fall 2018. Four tags will be awarded to Wisconsin residents through a random drawing. One additional tag will be awarded to a Wisconsin resident through a raffle conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Consistent with federal court rulings, the elk harvest quota is being shared equitably with the six Wisconsin Chippewa tribes.
"We look forward to the opportunity for Chippewa members and state hunters to have a harvest season" said Chris McGeshick, Chairman of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community. "We continue to support this effort and look forward to seeing the herd grow, and sustaining future harvest opportunities for our state."
Interested hunters can apply, although only Wisconsin residents are eligible to purchase an elk tag. The application fee is $10 and applications will be available starting May 1 through the Go WILD system at GoWild.wi.gov.
Prior to receiving their carcass tag, all drawing winners will be required to complete an elk hunter education course prior to the start of the season, according to Wallenfang.
"Revenue from the elk tag application process will provide important funds to support elk habitat management, research and monitoring here in Wisconsin as the herd continues to grow," he said.
The elk harvest quota for 2018 was determined by the department's Elk Advisory Committee, which, in addition to DNR biologists and researchers, includes representation from the following:
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.
Jackson County Forest and Parks.
Wisconsin Conservation Congress.
U.S. Forest Service.
Wisconsin Bowhunters Association.
Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission.
UW-Stevens Point.
Ho-Chunk Nation.
"Our volunteers and members have been looking forward to this moment for a long time, and a hunt will show the success of the reintroduction effort to a lot of people," said Kurt Flack, Regional Director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which has invested over $1.6 million dollars on elk reintroduction and other conservation efforts in Wisconsin. "We are excited to play a role in the hunt and continue to raise money for Wisconsin elk management."
Flack said the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation elk tag raffle tickets are expected to be available for purchase by May. Those interested in purchasing raffle tickets may do so by going to RMEF.org/Wisconsin.
Wisconsin's inaugural elk hunting season will adhere to the following guidelines:
* The season will be open from Oct. 13 to Nov. 11, and Dec. 13-21.
* Only bull elk may be harvested.
* Areas where Kentucky elk were released between 2015-2017 will be off limits to hunting until the population increases to levels identified in the elk management plan.
* Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive a harvest tag; and
harvest tags may be transferred to a Wisconsin resident youth hunter 17 years or younger.
Translocation efforts will continue in 2019 through partnership with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The Wisconsin DNR has one year remaining in an agreement with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to bring additional elk to Wisconsin. July 2017 marked the third year of the partnership and additional elk are planned to be released in the Flambeau River State Forest in 2019.
For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, go to dnr.wi.govand search keyword "elk."
To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "elk in Wisconsin" and "wildlife projects" distribution lists.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Public hearings to get input for fall waterfowl hunting season structure

MADISON, WI - Public hearings regarding Wisconsin's proposed 2018 waterfowl season structure will be held March 12-15.
After public comments have been collected, final season structure will be set by the Natural Resources Board at its April 11 meeting in Madison.
"The 2018 waterfowl seasons will be based on the 2017 continental waterfowl population estimates which were at near record estimates since USFWS surveys began 62 years ago. With average to above average precipitation last fall and this winter in Wisconsin, we expect populations to remain high in 2018 and if we have favorable conditions this fall, hunters can expect good waterfowl hunting opportunities" said DNR migratory game bird ecologist Taylor Finger.
Public hearings will be held at the following locations starting at 7 p.m.:
* Monday March 12, 7 p.m., La Crosse - State Office Building, Rooms B-19 and B-20, 3550 Mormon Coulee Road.
* Tuesday March 13, 7 p.m., Rice Lake - AmeriVu Inn, 1710 South Main St.
* Wednesday March 14, 7 p.m., Appleton - Agricultural Services Center, Main conference room, 3369 West Brewster St..
* Thursday March 15, 7 p.m., Pewaukee - Wildwood Lodge, N14 W24121 Tower Place.
The DNR will accept public comments on the proposed waterfowl season structure at each public hearing. If you would like to provide input directly or are unable to attend a hearing, comments will be accepted through midnight Friday, March 16. Written comments can be sent to Trenton Rohrer, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707, via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 608-261-6458.
To view and provide input on the 2018 waterfowl season options online, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "waterfowl."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Record 12,970 permits awarded for 2018 black bear hunt

MADISON, WI - Notifications have been sent to 12,970 hunters who successfully drew a black bear permit for the 2018 hunting season.
All hunters who applied for a harvest permit can check their status online at GoWild.wi.gov. Successful applicants should have received a postcard in the mail.
"Bear hunting has become an extremely popular outdoor activity in Wisconsin," said Scott Walter, DNR large carnivore specialist. "For the 2018 season, we had over 124,000 individuals apply for either a harvest permit or preference point."
This year's harvest quota of 4,550 was approved by the Natural Resources Board at its January 2018 meeting. The quota was set with the intention of reducing the population in northwest Wisconsin and stabilizing the population in the rest of the state. While the 2018 quota is slightly lower than the 5,000 permits awarded in 2017, permit levels were corrected for recent trends in hunter success and thus increased compared to the number available in 2017.
The season structure for this year's bear hunt is:
* Zone C (dogs not permitted).
* Sept. 5 to Oct. 9 - With aid of bait and all other legal methods not using dogs; All other zones (use of dogs permitted).
* Sept. 5-11 - With aid of bait and other legal methods not using dogs.
* Sept. 12 to Oct. 2 - With aid of bait, dogs, and all other legal methods.
* Oct. 3-9 - With aid of dogs only (bait may be used to locate bear to hunt with the aid of dogs).
For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "bear."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Deadline nears for landowner DMAP property visits

MADISON, WI - Landowners with at least 160 acres, who are interested in receiving a site visit in 2018 from wildlife and forestry professionals through the Deer Management Assistance Program are reminded to submit an application before March 1.
The DMAP provides assistance to landowners and hunters to improve habitat for wildlife -cooperators benefit from sharing information and networking with other conservation-minded landowners and resource professionals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-Un-N7cBZY&t=3s
DNR foresters and biologists team up to visit properties larger than 160 acres and develop personalized management plans tailored to each property. Landowners who own less than 160 acres will receive technical assistance, informational resources and workshop invitations.
"The passion these folks have for taking an active role in improving their land is apparent on every site visit and it is great working together to create great habitat for future generations," said Curt Rollman, DNR deer biologist.
Landowners with less than 160 acres, who are interested in program enrollment and a site visit, are encouraged to explore forming a cooperative membership with their neighbors. Group cooperatives are a great way for landowners to network with others who share similar land management goals. Group cooperatives may help individual landowners achieve the minimum acreage requirements for level 2 or 3 benefits. Landowners may also share costs and equipment to conduct habitat management activities over a larger area.
"I really find it very exciting to think that likeminded individuals have an opportunity to influence wildlife populations on a landscape scale, and that these cooperatives take it upon themselves to do it, " said Matt Esser, DNR deer biologist.. "We all know deer and other wildlife do not understand the concept of property borders and by having multiple landowners within a co-op being collaborative, management wise, allows for some very measurable accomplishments. Working with members of a cooperative who are eager to learn more about managing their land allows me to create great relationships and help out with management recommendations on a larger amount of acreage - in the end, this is a positive for everyone involved."
One DMAP cooperator from Lincoln County commented, "Nothing in this world compares to following a forester and a biologist through your woods and having them explain the different things they pick out. It's amazing. DMAP can take your deer hunting and management to the next level."
Landowners interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to check out a Wild Wisconsin Off the Record podcast featuring two DMAP cooperators. For more podcasts and video segments regarding deer management in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "Wild Wisconsin" or visit the department's YouTube page.
Learn more about DMAP from DNR staff and program cooperators through this Off the Record podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m20Jap5FBK0&t=2664s
While applications are accepted throughout the year, landowners who wish to enroll 160 acres or more must apply by March 1 to be eligible for a site visit in 2018. For more information regarding DMAP, search keyword "DMAP."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR opens preliminary recommendations for antlerless quotas

MADISON, WI - County Deer Advisory Councils will begin spring meetings in mid-March to start the antlerless harvest quota and permit-setting process for the 2018 deer seasons.
Various deer season structure options for each county will also be discussed by councils.
All Council meetings are open to the public, including opportunity to provide feedback, as each council develops their preliminary recommendations for the deer seasons. A meeting schedule is available on the CDAC web page at dnr.wi.gov, search keyword "CDAC."
Besides attending the CDAC meetings, the public has the opportunity to review and comment on preliminary recommendations through an online survey on the CDAC Web page from April 2-12.
Online feedback will be considered along with deer season data provided by Department of Natural Resources biologists, foresters and law enforcement when the CDACs develop their final recommendations.
Final recommendations will be presented to the DNR following the April meetings, and then advance to the Natural Resources Board for approval in May, after which time they will be in effect for the 2018 deer season.
Additional information pertaining to CDAC population objective recommendations, agendas and membership is available on the CDAC page of the DNR website or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Hunters asked to consider teaching new hunters of all ages

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Learn to Hunt coordinator says the early winter weeks of February and March are ideal times to plan spring turkey Learn to Hunt events for youths, adults and families interested in nature and eating healthy.
Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator, says those planning their own spring hunt outings can be among the most effective mentors for those interested in learning about safe and effective hunting, and its role in conservation and harvesting healthy foods.
"Setting aside time to teach the next generation of hunters is of utmost importance for the future of our wildlife conservation programs and unique hunting culture in Wisconsin." Warnke said.
Warnke says it is common to organize Learn to Hunt events for youth - but another group often is overlooked. Adults and families who have a strong appreciation for Wisconsin's resources, its wild spaces and eating healthy.
"We know that young adults and families living in urban and suburban areas really value sources of local, sustainably-raised protein," Warnke said. "Hunting wild game is a very meaningful way to have a personal connection with your food."
Spring turkey seasons offer an excellent opportunity for novice hunters of all ages to harvest their first animal. A conservation success story, wild turkeys abound in the state and their population continues to grow, in part because of well-managed hunting seasons.
"Whether you grill up your turkey the day of the hunt or save it for Thanksgiving," Warnke said, "there's nothing like a healthful, savory meal of wild turkey, and the memory of a spring morning in Wisconsin, with turkeys gobbling at dawn."
For more information on all your Learn to Hunt needs, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "LTH."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Southeast Minnesota landowner deer permits available through mid-March

Landowner deer permits in portions of southeastern Minnesota’s chronic wasting disease management zone become effective this week as the Department of Natural Resources works with eligible landowners to reduce the possibility of disease spread.
“We’re targeting our efforts this year and contacting eligible landowners via letter with the details they need to participate,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “With their help, we want to lower deer densities in core chronic wasting disease locations and remove potentially infected deer.”
Only landowners within two miles of any CWD-infected deer discovered in 2016 or 2017 are eligible to receive a shooting permit, which will be effective from mid-February to mid-March. Only landowners or their authorized designees can take deer. There is no public hunting opportunity.
The DNR will sample all deer taken, including fawns. Participating landowners are required to submit heads for testing at designated collection boxes located in the disease management zone.
To encourage participation, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association will conduct a drawing for a muzzleloader. A person will be entered in the drawing each time they take a deer and submit the head for sampling.
If any deer taken during the landowner shooting phase tests positive for CWD, the landowner or designee will be contacted and results posted on the DNR’s CWD website at mndnr.gov/cwd.
The special late-season hunt in southeastern Minnesota revealed no new instances of CWD. Late season participation and harvest was down from 2017. Participants harvested 374 deer, down from the 2017 late hunt harvest of 900.
The total number of CWD positive wild deer sampled in this disease management area remains at 17, with six new positives identified in the fall of 2017.
A map of the disease management zone and additional information about the DNR’s efforts to keep Minnesota’s wild deer healthy are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd. Because disease information can change rapidly, people are encouraged to regularly check back for updates.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR