Annual conference welcomes waterfowl enthusiasts

Waterfowl conservation efforts in the upper Mississippi River Flyway, hunter use of state wildlife management areas and current waterfowl research are some of the topics planned for the Minnesota Waterfowl Symposium – a one-day conference for hunters, outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife professionals.
This event provides an opportunity for the public to speak with waterfowl experts from state and federal agencies and conservation organizations and takes place 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at the Minnesota National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington.
“Wildlife watchers, hunters and anyone interested in waterfowl and waterfowl habitat are all invited to attend,” said Ricky Lien, wetland habitat team supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We enjoy being able to have face-to-face conversations and listen to perspectives from hunters and others who care about waterfowl and wetlands.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Waterfowl Association and the DNR partner to present the event, now in its 21st year. Attendees will find information booths, a Junior Duck Stamp display, wild-game cooking demonstrations, and a gunsmith who can answer gun fitting and repair questions.

Presenters include:
* James Burnham, Minnesota DNR, hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation.
* David Fulton, Minnesota Cooperative Research Unit, Mississippi Flyway research.
* Kelsie LaSharr, University of Minnesota, hunter use of WMAs.
* Mary Stefanski and Vicki Sherry, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,  Minnesota Valley and Upper Mississippi River national wildlife refuges.  
* Jacob Straub, University of Wisconsin, migratory habitat with the Upper Mississippi River Valley.
* Mike Johnson, University of Minnesota, canvasback research in Canada.
* Bruce Davis, Minnesota DNR, mallard telemetry project.
* John Maile, Minnesota DNR, understanding hunting habitat.
* Gary Leaf, Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
* Question and answer session with Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.
At a banquet on Friday, April 13, the Minnesota Waterfowl Association will recognize significant contributors to the state’s waterfowl legacy. Space is limited for the banquet. To register, call the Minnesota Waterfowl Association at 952-767-0320 or visit mnwaterfowl.com.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Antlerless quota, permit levels highlight April meeting

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin County Deer Advisory Councils will release their preliminary antlerless deer quota, permit level and season structure recommendations for the 2018 deer hunting season next week.
An online public comment period will begin April 2, and run through April 12, to collect feedback on these preliminary recommendations.
To view your county's recommendations and provide feedback, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CDAC."
Antlerless quota recommendations and hunter success rates from previous hunts help determine the number of antlerless tags available for the 2018 deer hunting season, and help the Department of Natural Resources and councils work to reach deer population objectives within their county.
"The impact that CDACs are having on deer hunting in Wisconsin is impressive and growing," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. "The public has a real voice in local deer management, and the council members weigh their decisions heavily on public feedback. So, if you have an interest in helping to shape the deer season in your county, this is an important opportunity."
Wallenfang said that CDACs are considering a variety of factors like harvest data, population trends and winter severity when they discuss harvest objectives and tag levels for 2018.
After the public comment period has ended, each council will reconvene during the week of April 16-19, to evaluate public feedback and determine final recommendations for the 2018 deer seasons which will be adopted by the Natural Resources Board in May. All meetings are open to the public and provide the opportunity for attendees to address the council. Meeting details for each county can be found at dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CDAC."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Don’t wait to sign up for firearms safety hunter education class

Minnesota’s volunteer firearms safety instructors have scheduled classes throughout the state, and now’s the time for people who want to attend to make plans to do so, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979, must take a DNR safety training course and receive a certificate of completion before purchasing a license to hunt.
“Now is a great time to get your son or daughter registered for a hunter safety class,” said Jon Paurus, DNR education programs coordinator. “People who wait until closer to the hunting season risk missing out on the opportunity to enroll in a class, which could result in their kids being unable to hunt this fall.”
People who enroll early have more options, including taking the class in a classroom or online. Whether students take the classroom or online course, they must complete a field day during which they practice handling firearms and learn about hunter responsibility. Field day availability is limited and classes fill up fast (some already are full), so it’s important to plan ahead. If hunters plan on hunting in another state, they should check other state regulations to determine if a firearms safety certificate is required before participating in any hunts.
Visit the hunter education and safety classes webpage for a list of scheduled classes and education requirements for other states. For more information, call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Wisconsin DNR waives fall turkey drawing for permits

MADISON, WI - New this year, fall turkey hunters will no longer be required to apply or compete in a drawing for fall turkey harvest authorizations.
Instead, one fall turkey harvest authorization will be issued at no additional cost with the purchase of a fall turkey or conservation patron license. Customers will need to specify their zone of choice when purchasing their license.
In addition to the fall harvest authorization issued with the purchase of a license, bonus fall harvest authorizations will be sold over-the-counter on a first-come, first-served basis. Select turkey management zones will have a set number of bonus authorizations available for $10 apiece beginning in August. Bonus authorization levels are determined after looking at turkey harvest and population data, as well as hunter feedback and harvest authorization sales, within each zone.
Wisconsin has seen a decrease in the fall turkey harvest over the past decade. DNR surveys indicate the lower harvest is due to reduced hunter participation and effort, and not a reduction in the turkey population. In the fall, more people are hunting turkeys opportunistically while pursuing other species, rather than exclusively hunting for turkey.
The reduced harvest and hunter effort has led wildlife managers to believe a competitive drawing is no longer necessary for the fall season. The DNR will continue to monitor harvest and population data to ensure continued success of Wisconsin's wild turkey management program.
For more information on the fall turkey season and turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "turkey."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports inaugural Wisconsin elk hunt

MISSOULA, MT - The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation congratulates the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on its decision to institute Wisconsin’s first-ever managed elk hunt later this year.
“This is the culmination of more than two decades of elk-related conservation work,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “RMEF has been involved with reintroduction efforts in Wisconsin dating back to 1995 and continues to put funds on the ground to benefit the state’s elk herds and elk habitat.”
The DNR will provide 10 bull-only tags for the fall of 2018 within the Clam Lake elk range in north-central Wisconsin. The state’s southern elk range in Jackson County will not be a part of the hunt.
One of the tags will go to a resident via a RMEF raffle designed to generate revenue for elk habitat management, research and monitoring. It is expected to be available for purchase in May.
“This hunt is not only a tribute to the DNR and many other partners but also to our statewide membership including our RMEF volunteers who have worked so hard for so long to raise funds to enhance Wisconsin elk country,” added Henning.
RMEF has two dozen chapters and more than 9,700 members in Wisconsin.
Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 455 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wisconsin with a combined value of more than $8.6 million. Of that total, more than $1.6 million went specifically toward elk reintroduction and other conservation work.
RMEF is standing by to assist with further Wisconsin elk restoration efforts expected in 2019.

SOURCE: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation


Bonus spring turkey harvest authorizations go on sale March 19

MADISON, WI - Bonus turkey harvest authorizations (previously known as leftover permits) will go on sale the week of March 19, with each zone having a designated sales date.
Bonus harvest authorizations can be purchased online through GoWild.Wi.Govand at all license agents. Sales start at 10 a.m. and run until midnight each day.
The following zones have available bonus harvest authorizations, and scheduled sales dates are as follows:
* Zone 1 - Monday, March 19.
* Zone 2 - Tuesday, March 20.
* Zone 3 - Wednesday, March 21.
* Zone 4 - Thursday, March 22.
* Zones 5 and 7 (no harvest authorizations available in Zone 6) - Friday, March 23 (due to the low number of harvest authorizations available, sales for these zones have been combined into one day).
Bonus harvest authorizations cost $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents. Each will have equal opportunity for purchase.
All spring turkey hunters are required to purchase a spring turkey license and 2018 Wild Turkey Stamp, unless they are a 2018 Conservation Patron License holder. Bonus harvest authorization purchases will not affect preference point status for future spring drawings.
During the sale of the spring bonus harvest authorizations, the system will use an online queue to assign random numbers at 10 a.m. to customers who enter the site between 9:45 and 10 a.m. There is no advantage to entering the site prior to 9:45 a.m. Customers who enter after 10 a.m. will be added to the line in order of arrival.
Once you log in to your personalized dashboard on GoWild.Wi.Gov, click the 'Buy License' button to open the catalog. From there, you will find "Spring Turkey Bonus Harvest Authorization" at the top of the list.
Bonus turkey harvest authorizations can be purchased at a rate of one per day until the zone and time period is sold out, or the season closes. If the harvest authorizations for a zone sell out during the designated day, online users will be sent directly to the Go Wild home page for the remainder of that day.
DNR customer service staff recommends that turkey hunters who are interested in purchasing a Conservation Patron license do so before March 19, to make the bonus harvest authorization process as quick and easy as possible. In 2017, several enhancements were made to the GoWild.Wi.Gov site to allow license purchases with fewer "clicks" and speed the rate at which customers are able to transact business.
There are 106,078 spring turkey bonus harvest authorizations for sale in six of the seven turkey management zones. Hunters are encouraged to check the turkey zone map and the department's spring turkey bonus harvest authorization availability to see if harvest authorizations are available for the time period and turkey zone in which they want to hunt.
After zone-specific sales, all remaining turkey harvest authorizations will be made available for purchase Saturday, March 24, at 10 a.m.
The 2018 spring turkey season runs from April 18, through May 29, with six seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday. A total of seven zones will be open for hunting. For more information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "turkey."
"Turkey production was up last year and we are anticipating another great spring turkey season in Wisconsin" said Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. "I encourage turkey hunters to look at the regulations ahead of the season, and I wish everyone a safe and happy hunt!"
Spring turkey hunting regulations can be found within the 2017 Small Game Hunting Regulations, 2017 Fall Turkey Regulations, and 2018 Spring Turkey Regulations.
Public lands are the perfect place to pursue turkeys this spring.
Youth hunters under the age of 16 may hunt during the youth turkey hunt on April 14 and 15.
Hunters under the age of 12 and youth hunters without hunter safety can participate in the youth turkey hunt under Mentored Hunting Program. Youth hunters must be accompanied by qualified adult and follow the youth turkey hunting and mentored hunting program rules. Spring turkey youth hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, stamp and harvest authorization. A harvest authorization for any time period can be used during the youth hunt weekend, but youth hunters must hunt within the turkey management zone indicated on their harvest authorization.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


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