Bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations available Aug. 13

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin bonus antlerless harvest authorizations (formerly known as tags) will be available for purchase starting Monday, Aug. 13, at 10 a.m., through the Go Wild website and license sales locations.
The fall deer hunt is just around the corner - visit dnr.wi.gov, keyword "deer" and prepare for another season in the woods.
Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations will be sold at a rate of one per person per day until sold out or until the 2018 deer hunting season ends. The cost is $12 each for Wisconsin residents, $20 each for non-residents and $5 each for youth ages 11 and under.
For a list of units with bonus antlerless harvest authorizations available for purchase, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "bonus availability." These and all other deer hunting licenses and harvest authorizations are available online through the Go Wild website, GoWild.WI.gov or at any of more than 1,000 Go Wild license sales locations.
To prepare for the sale, each day at 9:45 a.m., an online queuing system will be put in place to manage volume in the Go Wild system. At 10 a.m., all online users that are on the site will be randomly assigned a number and staged into a "virtual" line regardless of the actual time you entered into the system. There is no advantage for customers who enter the site before 9:45 a.m. Please note that customers entering the site after the randomization that occurs at 10 a.m., will be added to the end of "virtual" line in the order in which they arrive. All visitors to the site during this time period will experience the queuing system.
When you access the Go Wild site, follow the prompts until you reach your personalized dashboard. To purchase a bonus antlerless harvest authorization, click the "Buy Licenses" button from the dashboard to open the sales catalog - from there, you will find the Bonus Antlerless Harvest Authorization at the very top of the list. If you haven't had the chance to get your license in advance, Go Wild can help you purchase one after you select the Bonus Antlerless Harvest Authorization.
Hunters will need to know the deer management zone, unit, and determine whether they will hunt on public or private land in order to make their purchase.
The first three days of bonus sales are management zone-specific and will be available as follows:
* Aug. 13, 10 a.m. - Northern and Central Forest (Zone 1);
* Aug. 14, 10 a.m.- Central Farmland (Zone 2);
* Aug. 15, 10 a.m.- Southern Farmland (Zone 2); and
* Aug. 16, 10 a.m. - remaining bonus harvest authorizations (all zones).
As a reminder, Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations are now available for distribution. A Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorization is included with the purchase of each deer hunting license in units that offer them. Some units will offer more than one with each deer license.

GovDelivery

Those interested in receiving occasional email reminders can sign up to receive messages about season dates, license and harvest authorization types, and other information. Visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select a list of your choice.
For more information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Minnesota deer hunters have more opportunities this fall

Additional deer hunting opportunities are available this fall because numbers continue to rebound across Minnesota and now many areas have populations at or above goal levels, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“Deer populations have responded well to favorable winter weather and our generally conservative harvest levels in recent years,” said Erik Thorson, acting big game program leader for the DNR. “So we have been able to expand hunting opportunities once again in much of the state in order to reduce populations or stabilize growth.”
This year, there are more deer permit areas where hunters can use bonus permits to harvest more than one deer, and fewer areas where hunters need to apply in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer.
Mandatory testing for chronic wasting disease (CWD) continues this year: in the disease management zone (deer permit area 603) during all deer seasons; in most permit areas in southeastern Minnesota during the first two days of both the A (Nov. 3 and 4) and 3B (Nov. 17 and 18) firearm seasons; and in several deer permit areas in Crow Wing and Meeker county areas in north-central and central Minnesota during the first two days of the A firearms season.
Hunters could buy deer licenses and apply to the lottery for antlerless deer permits beginning Wednesday, Aug. 1. The deadline to apply for the antlerless permit lottery is Thursday, Sept. 6. Archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 15, and firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 3.
Every year harvest regulations are reviewed, taking a wide variety of information into consideration. Wildlife research scientists use the previous year’s harvest data, winter severity, aerial survey information where available and other information to estimate late winter deer abundance in each permit area. These estimates are compared to established population goals for each area, and along with observations from DNR area wildlife managers, hunters, farmers, foresters and others, form the basis for final season recommendations.
“As part of our new statewide White-tailed Deer Management Plan, we are scheduling local meetings across the state for citizens, including hunters, to come and discuss deer hunting regulations and management with area DNR wildlife managers,” Thorson said.
The regulations for each of Minnesota’s deer permit areas are set to manage populations toward goals established for each area. These goals are based on information from the DNR and local citizens through a periodic public goal-setting process.  
In just one of the state’s 130 permit areas, only bucks can be hunted. In 39 areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to harvest an antlerless deer (down from 48 areas last year). In 36 areas, hunters have the choice of harvesting a doe or a buck (down from 38 areas last year). Bonus permits allowing hunters to harvest more than one deer may be used in 54 permit areas (up from 43 areas last year) and for most special hunts. Four permit areas in southeastern Minnesota will also be open again for an early antlerless-only hunt in October.

Buying a license

Hunters who purchase a license by Sept. 6, are automatically entered into the lottery for an antlerless permit. Those who do not wish to harvest an antlerless deer are encouraged to purchase their license after the lottery deadline.
Hunters may apply using both their firearm and muzzleloader licenses. If a hunter is selected for both licenses, only one antlerless deer can be taken.
Deer hunting licenses, lottery applications and special hunt applications are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-646-6367 or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Lottery winners will be notified in October.

Permit area changes

Changes to permit area boundaries made last year remain in effect this year. In southeastern Minnesota, portions of permit areas 347 and 348 were merged to form permit area 603 when CWD was detected. In northeastern Minnesota’s moose range, all or some of permit areas 122, 127, 176, 178, 180 and 181 from 2016 were realigned to form permit areas 130, 131, 132 and 133.

Southeast Minnesota CWD sampling

Mandatory CWD testing of deer harvested within the disease management zone – deer permit area 603 – throughout all hunting seasons continues this year. Carcass movement restrictions remain in place until a test result is reported due to continued infection found in this area.
Sampling of hunter-harvested deer for CWD will be mandatory during the first two days of both the A (Nov. 3 and 4) and 3B (Nov. 17 and 18) firearm seasons this year in most permit areas in southeastern Minnesota. Those areas are 255 (Nov. 3 and 4 only), 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349 (Nov. 3-4 and Nov. 17-18). This expanded area is due to the discovery of CWD in nine farmed deer in Winona County, two wild deer in Forestville State Park and a wild deer in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin.

North-central and central Minnesota CWD sampling

Hunter-harvested deer from permit areas surrounding two CWD-positive deer farms in Crow Wing and Meeker counties will again be tested for CWD this fall during the first two days of the A firearms deer season (Nov. 3-4), but this mandatory testing will be in smaller, more focused areas. Those areas are:
* North-central (Crow Wing County area): Deer permit areas 242 and 247.
* Central (Meeker County area): Deer permit areas including portions of 277 and 283 east of state highway 4, the portion of 219 south of state highway 55, and the portion of 285 north of Minnesota Highway 7.
No positive deer were found during the 2017 deer season and wild deer in these areas are not known to have CWD. Because disease symptoms are slow to develop, DNR conducts sampling for 3 consecutive years. This is the second year for these areas and further testing will determine if the disease has spread to the wild.
Additional maps and CWD sampling stations can be found in the 2018 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations handbook. Complete CWD sampling, testing and disease management information is regularly updated on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd and details will be announced as they become available.

Carcass movement restrictions

Hunters harvesting deer outside the state are reminded they cannot bring whole carcasses of any member of the deer family into Minnesota. These animals include but are not limited to white-tailed deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer, elk, caribou and moose. More information is available at mndnr.gov/deerimports.  

More information

Hunters should review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before applying for the antlerless lottery.
“Hunters are particularly encouraged to explore the interactive deer permit mapping tool,” Thorson said. “It provides permit area boundary details, as well as access to Detail Reports that contain deer management history and hunting land information for individual deer permit areas.”
Regularly updated deer information, including the DNR’s deer permit mapping tool, can be found online at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Minnesota DNR’s first statewide deer plan eyes the positive

A new statewide deer plan released recently by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sets new goals and priorities, increases formal opportunities for citizens to influence deer decisions, and aims for a disease-free deer population.
The plan reflects a two-year planning effort that involved statewide meetings and hundreds of in-depth conversations with citizens and stakeholders. It includes input from a 19-member citizen advisory committee, dozens of public input meetings and open houses, more than 1,100 submitted comments and letters from tribal governments, hunting organizations and others.
“We’ve listened, and the plan reflects that,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “The document is largely about sharing a vision, clarifying expectations and improving two-way communication among hunters and other stakeholders for the benefit of deer management.”
The 50-plus page plan is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/deerplan.
Leslie McInenly, the DNR wildlife manager who coordinated the plan, said the document will help forge stronger and deeper relationships with stakeholders in the years ahead.
“The vision communicates our commitment to long-term, sustainable deer management, hunting and recreational opportunities and habitat conservation,” McInenly said. “We’ve placed a high priority on working with citizens to discuss how best to collectively work toward our shared goals.”

Goals of the plan
The plan’s eight broad goals cover topics ranging from research, to keeping Minnesota’s deer populations healthy to how the DNR and the public work together on deer management.
The DNR will also increase two-way communication with hunters, landowners and others by convening annual deer management discussions with interested citizens at the area wildlife office level and creating an ongoing statewide deer stakeholder input group.
Local meetings will provide hunters and others with a forum for sharing their observations, hearing the DNR’s management proposals and identifying opportunities to improve deer management.  
The plan supports Minnesota’s hunting heritage through efforts to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters while also minimizing deer damage to native plants, agricultural crops, forest regeneration or negative societal impacts such as deer-vehicle collisions and urban deer conflicts.
More frequent and regular deer hunter and public attitude surveys will help gauge satisfaction and identify areas needing improvement. And a suite of performance measures will track and communicate progress. One new measure is a harvest target that will be used as a secondary, statewide check on success in meeting population goals.
Responding to chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Minnesota’s wild deer herd will be a top priority for the agency in the near term. The plan provides direction to eliminate CWD in wild deer and minimize the risk of new introductions.
“The long-term health of Minnesota’s wild deer and the need to work aggressively to eliminate the disease if possible was a key concern raised by the advisory committee and members of the public during plan review,” McInenly said.
In addition to goals, the plan includes specific performance measures that will help the DNR and the public track progress over time. One performance measure is a statewide harvest target. The DNR will track annual harvests in relation to a general statewide harvest target of 200,000 deer per year. This number reflects the approximate statewide harvest when deer populations are generally within goal range in most permit areas.

Road to the plan
For more than a year, a 19-member citizen’s advisory group helped the DNR draft the deer plan. The group’s members had knowledge of deer management, interests related to deer and familiarity with different areas of the state.
“We’re incredibly grateful for the work of the advisory committee and the public’s involvement in developing this plan,” Landwehr said. “We know differences of opinion are inherent in deer management, but individuals who contributed to this plan worked very hard to understand different perspectives.”
As part of its new outreach effort, the DNR is encouraging the public to contact their local wildlife manager for additional information or to address any questions they may have about the deer plan. A list of area wildlife offices is available online at mndnr.gov/areas/wildlife.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


25 sharp-tailed grouse permits available in Unit 8

MADISON - Twenty-five sharp-tailed grouse harvest permits have been made available for Game Management Unit 8 in northwestern Wisconsin for the 2018 season, which runs from Oct. 20 to Nov. 11.
"We have a very dedicated group of sharp-tailed grouse hunters in Wisconsin," said Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "This limited season should provide those grouse enthusiasts with a chance to pursue the species while not impacting the long-term sustainability of the population."
Those interested in hunting sharp-tailed grouse in Unit 8 must submit an application. The application period is Aug. 1-31. Applications cost $3 and will be available at any licensing agent and online at GoWild.wi.gov.
Those who are unsuccessful in the drawing will receive a preference point. Preference points will increase the odds of drawing a permit during the next sharp-tailed grouse season. Preference points acquired in past sharp-tailed grouse season drawings are valid for the 2018 drawing.
Sharp-tailed grouse are found primarily in large blocks of barrens habitat on public lands in northwest Wisconsin. The barrens habitat is recognized internationally as a key conservation opportunity area. Sharptails are a popular game bird species also well-known for their dramatic breeding displays. The birds attract many visitors to the northwestern part of the state each year.
Wisconsin's Sharp-tailed Grouse Management Plan provides a framework to combine habitat development for barrens-dependent wildlife species with working forests. The goal is to expand the suitable habitat for sharp-tailed grouse and reconnect isolated populations where possible.
"Biologists will continue to assess the status of our sharp-tailed grouse population on an annual basis," said Witecha. "We would like to thank those who remain passionate about Wisconsin's sharp-tailed grouse population, and wish all hunters who successfully draw a permit a safe and happy hunt this fall."
For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "sharp-tailed grouse."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Spring turkey harvest sees 10 percent decline in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI - Preliminary totals show turkey hunters registered 38,885 birds during the 2018 spring turkey hunting season in Wisconsin, a 10 percent decrease from the spring 2017 season.
Weather this spring played a significant role in the decreased harvest numbers. With much of the state covered in snow at the beginning of the season, there was a steep decline in the number of turkeys registered during the Youth Hunt and Period A, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The remaining time periods had similar harvest to last year, with a slight decline in Period F when record high temperatures were recorded throughout the state.
"Unfortunately, turkey hunters experienced less-than-ideal conditions during the Youth Hunt and first period," said Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist for the DNR. "We saw declines in hunter participation in all zones early in the season, so it appears many were deterred by late winter weather that impacted the state."
A total of 138,544 harvest authorizations were awarded through the drawing and 74,237 were sold over the counter. Overall, there were 325 more harvest authorizations issued this season than in the 2017 spring season.
Zone 1 produced the highest overall turkey harvest at 11,235 birds, followed by Zones 2 and 3, where hunters registered 9,471 and 8,699 turkeys, respectively. Overall, the statewide success rate was 18.3 percent, compared to 20.4 percent in 2017.
The 2018 spring season started on April 14, with the Youth Hunt. The regular season ran from April 18 to May 29, with six separate time periods. Having separate time periods allows for maximum hunter opportunities, with a minimum amount of interference while ensuring that harvest does not lead to population declines. Biologists in Wisconsin closely monitor harvest, hunter interference rates, and hunter satisfaction along with other information to track turkey populations through time, to maintain a successful and enjoyable spring turkey hunt, and are always vigilant that harvests be sustainable.

2018 fall turkey hunting
Starting in 2018, the fall turkey drawing has been waived. A fall turkey harvest authorization will be issued with every fall turkey or conservation patron license purchase. Hunters will choose a zone at the time of purchase for which their harvest authorization will be valid. Bonus harvest authorizations, formerly known as leftover tags, will be available for purchase in select zones starting Aug. 18 at 10 a.m.
The fall 2018 wild turkey season for Zones 1-5 is Sept. 15 to Jan. 6, 2019. For Zones 6 and 7, the season is September 15- November 16.
The 2018 Fall Turkey and 2019 Spring Turkey regulations are included in the 2018 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations , available now online and at license vendors around the state.
Be sure to check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast featuring the department's upland wildlife ecologist Mark Witecha. The podcast covers everything from the history of wild turkeys in Wisconsin to current management and hunting opportunities. You can find this episode and much more on both iTunes (you can subscribe to the DNR channel to receive updates when new episodes are available) and YouTube.
For more information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "turkey."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Youth can hunt deer with adult mentors during special hunts

Youth can apply to hunt deer in select state parks and other refuge areas during 17 special deer hunts in October and November, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“These special hunts give youth and parents or adult mentors a fantastic opportunity to hunt together,” said James Burnham, DNR hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation coordinator. “They can be memorable and positive experiences for all involved.”
Youth can apply now through Friday, Aug. 17, to apply for the hunts. Of the 17 special hunts, 15 are firearms hunts for youth ages 12 to 15, and two are archery hunts for youth ages 12 to 17.
Participation in other deer hunting seasons remains an option for youth who take part in the special youth deer hunts, but any deer harvested counts against the youth’s season bag limit. An adult parent, guardian or mentor must accompany the youth at all times while hunting, but only the youth may hunt. Both youth and mentor must attend a mandatory pre-hunt orientation.
Details about the hunts, how to apply and other youth hunting information can be found at mndnr.gov/discover.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Spring waterfowl survey results show good breeding numbers

MADISON - Wisconsin's 2018 spring waterfowl population surveys indicate stable to increased numbers of breeding waterfowl pairs as well as relatively good wetland conditions, which should result in increased waterfowl production this year across most of the state.
"Overall, we saw fewer numbers of birds than the 2017 estimates. However, we did see an increase in the mallard population estimates and stable estimates for wood ducks and Canada geese," said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist. "We continue to be at or above the long-term average for all but blue-winged teal."
This survey information, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continental duck survey and Ontario Canada goose survey provides information regarding yearly waterfowl breeding conditions and is used to determine the fall season structure for Wisconsin. The full survey report can be found at dnr.wi.gov, keywords "waterfowl surveys."
In 2018, Wisconsin experienced record low temperatures in April, with lakes in northern Wisconsin still frozen on May 5. This stalled migration in most of Wisconsin and breeding activity by mallards and Canada geese. Average and above-average temperatures across most of the state followed in early and mid-May, respectively.
"Weather was less of an issue during the survey compared to last year with only one day of flights being canceled," said Finger. "These changing weather and migration factors make it difficult to schedule the breeding survey to effectively survey all species."
With near average precipitation in May following the survey, wetland conditions remained average to above-average for brood rearing, and Wisconsin is expected to provide good duck production in 2018.
A relatively mild winter in 2017-18 in most parts of the state, combined with average precipitation in April and May, led to average conditions throughout Wisconsin. Counts indicated dryer conditions than in 2017 in all regions of the state, but most areas were still above the long-term averages. Finger said considerable rainfall in May following the survey has helped Wisconsin remain at average or above average wetland conditions for the year during the important brood-rearing period.
The Wisconsin breeding duck population estimate of 439,397 represents a decrease of 8 percent compared to 2017, and is right at the long-term (45-year) average. Of the species-specific population estimates for the three top breeding ducks in Wisconsin, (mallard, blue-winged teal and wood duck) mallards, showed the largest increase from 2017.
"Each duck species population estimate normally varies from year to year, so I urge hunters and other conservationists to interpret this information over several years and in the continental context," said Finger. "For example, the blue-winged teal breeding population in Wisconsin is lower than historic levels, but continental estimates the last few years have reached all-time highs, and two-thirds of Wisconsin regular duck season blue-winged teal harvest comes from out of state."
These breeding pair and habitat conditions are important to waterfowl hunters as roughly 70 percent of mallard harvest in Wisconsin is supported by locally hatched ducks. Although higher this year, it is important to note that the average mallard population in the last few years has been lower than the previous decade. This observation suggests that continued efforts aimed at controlling mallard harvest impacts and support for grassland nesting habitat conservation are important to the future of Wisconsin's local mallard population.

Canada goose population estimates similar to 2017
Wisconsin Canada goose harvest is supported by Canada geese breeding in northern Ontario, as well as those breeding locally in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin breeding estimate for Canada geese is similar to 2017 at 157,950 birds and consistent with a stable population of roughly 145,000, which is the 10-year average. Continental breeding waterfowl population estimates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey are expected to arrive in July.
In August, Wisconsin will join Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan as the Mississippi Flyway Council to analyze survey data and provide recommendations to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding waterfowl hunting regulations for 2019 seasons. These recommendations will help determine the framework under which states and provinces set waterfowl hunting seasons.
Under new federal framework, Wisconsin conducted its annual waterfowl season hearings this spring, and the Natural Resources Board approved department proposals for season structure at its April 10 meeting.
"Since this new federal framework is using data based on the prior year's breeding survey estimates, we can now propose and approve the waterfowl season several months before we have in the past," said Finger.
Earlier approval dates lead to early availability for regulations
With earlier approval dates, 2018 migratory bird season regulations are currently available online and at many license vendors throughout Wisconsin.
As a reminder there were several significant changes to the 2018 waterfowl hunting season structure. The first of the 2018 migratory game bird seasons will open with the early Canada goose, mourning dove and early teal seasons starting on Sept. 1. Regular waterfowl hunting seasons will include a 60-day duck season which will start with a statewide opener on Sept. 29, and 92-day regular goose season which will have two splits to allow hunting during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
Highlights from the 2018 season structure include:
* North duck zone will open one week later than in previous years, resulting in a single statewide opener for the North, South and Mississippi zones on Sept. 29.
* Elimination of the Horicon Canada goose Management Zone (resulting in a single statewide regular goose zone).
Increase in the daily Canada goose bag limit to three birds per day.
A second split in the South Canada goose zone resulting in a goose season that is open during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
* Increase in the pintail daily bag limit (from one to two) based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service season framework.
A reminder to Canada goose hunters, registration of Canada geese and in-field validation of the Canada goose hunting permit is no longer required.
For more information regarding migratory birds in Wisconsin, search keyword "waterfowl."
Anyone interested in learning more about Wisconsin's migratory game birds is encouraged to check out a Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast featuring migratory game bird staff. This podcast is available on YouTube, iTunes, and through the social media page of the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR