Applications open for prairie chicken hunt lottery

Hunters can apply through Friday, Aug. 17, to be chosen for one of 125 permits for the 2018 Minnesota prairie chicken hunting season, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The nine-day prairie chicken season begins Saturday, Sept. 29, and is open only to Minnesota residents.
“Prairie chicken numbers are influenced by the amount of grassland habitat within the range and provide a limited, but unique, hunting opportunity in northwestern Minnesota,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR acting wildlife populations program manager.
Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $23. Apply at any DNR license agent, the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, online at, or by telephone at 888-665-4236. An additional fee is charged for orders placed online or by phone.
The hunt is in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between St. Hilaire in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied. The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter. Based on hunter surveys, the DNR estimates that 97 hunters harvested 86 prairie chickens during the 2017 hunt. Results of spring booming ground surveys will be available later this summer.
Licensed prairie chicken hunters will be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens, but prairie chicken hunters who want to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse. Sharptails and prairie chickens look similar and sharp-tailed grouse hunting is normally closed in this area of the state to protect prairie chickens that might be taken accidentally.
Applications are available wherever Minnesota hunting and fishing licenses are sold and application procedures and a permit area map are available at

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse counts down

Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were down 29 percent statewide this year compared to last year, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Natural Resources.
“Surveys indicate the peak occurred last year,” said Charlotte Roy, DNR grouse project leader. “Grouse populations tend to rise and fall on a decade-long cycle and counts this year are pointing to the peak lasting only one year this cycle. This has occurred before, but it’s always nice when the cycle stays high a little longer.”
Drumming is a low sound produced by males as they beat their wings rapidly and in increasing frequency to signal the location of their territory. Drumming displays also attract females that are ready to begin nesting.
Ruffed grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions.
Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population. The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer.
“If production of young birds is low during the summer months, hunters may see fewer birds than expected based on counts of drumming males in the spring,” Roy said. “Conversely, when production of young is high, hunters may see more birds in the fall.”
For the past 69 years, DNR biologists have monitored ruffed grouse populations. This year, DNR staff and cooperators from 16 organizations surveyed 122 routes across the state.
The 2018 survey results for ruffed grouse were 1.5 drums per stop statewide. The averages during 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 were 0.9, 1.1, 1.1, 1.3 and 2.1 respectively. Counts vary from about 0.6 drums per stop during years of low grouse abundance to about 2.0 during years of high abundance.
Results this year follow an increase from 2016 to 2017. In the northeast survey region, which is the core of Minnesota’s grouse range, counts were 1.7 drums per stop. In the northwest, there were 1.0 drums per stop. In the central hardwoods, 0.9 drums per stop, and and in the southeast, 0.9 drums per stop.  

Sharp-tailed grouse counts down, too
To count sharp-tailed grouse, observers look for males displaying on traditional mating areas, which are called leks or dancing grounds.
Comparisons of the same leks counted in both years indicate that counts per lek were down compared to last year in the northwest and statewide. Declines in the east-central region were not significant, likely because fewer leks were counted compared to last year, and loss of small leks does not reduce the index.
This year’s statewide average of 9.3 sharp-tailed grouse per lek was similar to the long-term average since 1980. The 2009 average of 13.6 was as high as during any year since 1980. During the last 25 years, the sharp-tailed grouse index has been as low as seven birds counted per dancing ground.
The DNR’s 2018 grouse survey report and grouse hunting information can be found at

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

4 lucky Wisconsin residents to participate in first elk hunt

MADISON – Following a 30-day application period and a great deal of anticipation, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff conducted the random drawing for four lucky residents who will participate in the first managed elk hunting season in state history.
“This is an historic time for the department and I would like to sincerely thank all those who applied for an elk license,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. “It was a privilege to call all the winners and personally congratulate them. Each one recognizes that this will be a unique and exciting experience.”
Over 38,000 Wisconsin residents entered the drawing for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Four hunters were selected to receive a license for Wisconsin’s inaugural elk hunt.
In addition to license fees, over $13,000 was contributed through donations to benefit elk management in Wisconsin.
An additional license will be awarded through a raffle conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The raffle winner will be drawn Aug. 11, and tickets can be purchased at All Wisconsin residents may enter the raffle, including hunters that applied in the state drawing. Raffle tickets may be purchased for $10 each - the same cost as the state application fee.
Proceeds from elk license applications and the RMEF drawing are earmarked for elk management in Wisconsin.
“Offering this hunt has taken Wisconsin’s elk management program to a whole new level,” said Wallenfang. “There has been high interest and excitement since we announced the hunt, and it has brought a level of awareness to a lot of people who didn’t even know that we have elk in our state. It’s an important opportunity to inform and build advocacy for our elk reintroduction effort, while providing a limited, but exciting, recreational opportunity. We anticipate more tags in the future as the herds grow.”
The 2018 hunting season is scheduled only in the Clam Lake elk range in parts of Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland and Price counties in far north-central Wisconsin where the original restoration effort was initiated with 25 elk from Michigan in 1995. The herd is projected to comfortably surpass 200 animals this year.
Prior to purchasing an elk hunting license, all winners will be required to attend a Wisconsin elk hunter orientation offered prior to the hunt. The class will cover a hunting area overview, field sampling and health testing, regulations and more.
“The hunt will occur after the rut and the area is dense forest with openings, so it won’t be easy,” said Wallenfang. “But we estimate about 70 adult bulls in the Clam Lake herd, so it will be a hunt to remember for those lucky winners.”
For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, go to and search keyword “elk.” To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, visit and 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

Natural Resources Board approves deer harvest quotas, season structure

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved the 2018 antlerless deer quotas, harvest authorization levels and deer hunting season framework at its May 23, meeting in Madison.
The 2018 deer season framework represents the efforts of the County Deer Advisory Councils to move the deer herd in each county toward a three-year population objective of increasing, maintaining or decreasing the herd. This is the councils' fourth year developing deer management recommendations that consider both scientific herd metrics and public feedback. This year, the public submitted over 7,000 comment forms online during the April 2-12, public comment period in addition to input provided directly at council meetings.
"Department staff would like to thank the CDACs for their continued involvement and commitment to playing an important role in deer management. That said, the main influencer on quota levels, particularly in the north, were late April storms," said Kevin Wallenfang, Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist. "We've seen an increase in population estimates and harvest figures for the past few years, which we expected to continue this year. However, all of the northern counties reduced antlerless quotas to take into account the impacts of the late winter."
Wallenfang says that in the farmland regions of the state, councils continue to use a variety of tagging and season options to address higher deer number. Hunters will again have the opportunity to harvest multiple deer and enjoy extended hunting opportunities.
Iron County is the only deer management unit that will be restricted to buck harvest only in 2018. The antlerless quota for the rest of Wisconsin will be 233,690 antlerless deer (compared to 276,515 in 2017).
A total of 44,000 public-access land bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations (formerly known as deer tags) will be offered for public-access lands (compared to 31,945 in 2017), while 181,200 will be offered for private lands (compared to 168,210 in 2017). Bonus antlerless harvest authorization sales will occur as follows (sales begin each day at 10 a.m.):
* Monday, Aug. 13 - Northern and Central Forest zones.
* Tuesday, Aug. 14 - Central Farmland Zone.
* Wednesday, Aug. 15 - Southern Farmland Zone.
* Thursday, Aug. 16 - All remaining bonus harvest authorizations can be purchased until sold out or the season ends.
In addition, Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations are available through for both public and private land with the purchase of every deer hunting license. The number of authorizations offered will depend on the county deer management unit, which must be selected at the time of issuance.
A Holiday Hunt will be held within 19 counties, offering an additional antlerless-only opportunity for firearm hunters from Dec. 24, to Jan. 1, 2019. As a reminder, archery and crossbow hunters in these counties are also restricted to antlerless harvest during the time of this hunt.
New in 2018, 12 counties holding a Holiday Hunt have extended the archery and crossbow season to Jan. 31, 2019. The extended archery and crossbow season will be open to both buck and antlerless deer harvest.
To help hunters prepare for the 2018 deer season, multiple resources will be posted on the department's deer hunting web page. Hunters are encouraged to check this page frequently leading up to the season. The following documents are available at, keyword "deer".

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR invites public to serve on council to help boost hunter, angler numbers

Efforts to increase the number of hunters and anglers in Minnesota will gain new focus with advice from a 15-member council that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is establishing to zero in on hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation.
“Getting more people out in the water, in woods and fields is a significant challenge and worthwhile goal for all Minnesotans,” said James Burnham, DNR hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) coordinator. “The outcome may decide the success of conservation efforts valued by Minnesotans whether or not they hunt and fish. But we need the public’s help and guidance to move the needle.”
Citizens can nominate themselves through Friday, June 22, to serve on the 10 open seats of the council, for two-year terms, with meetings scheduled every three months.
The council will work with and advise the DNR on R3 efforts, programs and potential partnerships that will benefit the recruitment of new hunters and anglers, the retention of current outdoor enthusiasts, and the reactivation of individuals who have not been active recently in hunting or fishing.  
This council will build on previous work from an R3 summit convened by the DNR in 2016 with a variety of interested groups. Out of the summit came a recommendation for creating a council made up of Minnesota residents to help shape R3 efforts across the state.  
The DNR has invited groups to nominate members to help lead the council, including the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Women Hunting and Fishing in all Seasons, Trout Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.  
“We welcome anybody to apply who’s interested in helping reverse a projected national decline in hunting and fishing and the corresponding shortfall that will follow in how we manage natural resources,” Burnham said.
Applications and more information on R3 in Minnesota can be found at
Any questions about this process, or the role of the R3 council, can be directed to James Burnham at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 651-259-5191.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

2018 Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener set

Planning is underway for the eighth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener schedule Oct. 12-13.
This year’s event will be held in Luverne, located in the southwest corner of the state. It is the first time Luverne has hosted the event.
“I thank the people of Luverne for graciously offering to host the 2018 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “The Pheasant Opener has become a special Minnesota tradition, made possible by our tremendous host communities. I look forward to another fantastic opener in Luverne this year.”
Luverne was selected through an application process that considered hunting land in the area, event facilities and community support. The greater Rock County area has a rich outdoors heritage that includes Blue Mounds State Park and Touch the Sky Prairie.
“We’re very excited to host the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Opener,” said Rick Peterson, chairman of the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener committee in Luverne. “This will be a great way to showcase the many hunting and unique tourism opportunities available in Rock County.”
In addition to pheasant hunting, the weekend event includes a public dedication of Rooster Ridge Wildlife Management Area west of Luverne, and a Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener Community Banquet. Information and updates will be available at
The Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener was initiated by Gov. Dayton in 2011. The event highlights the local hunting, recreational, and tourism opportunities host communities have to offer visitors.
Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting local partners in planning the event.
Follow along for social media updates using the hashtags #MNGPHO2018 and #OnlyinMN.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

New fisher, otter management zones in effect for trapping season

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin trappers will observe a change to the number and configuration of fisher and river otter management zones for the 2018-19 season.
New, simplified zones are now identical for fisher, otter and bobcat.
Previously, Wisconsin was divided into six fisher zones and three otter zones. The number of fisher zones made population data collection and analysis challenging, and two of the six zones were without management goals or population models. For otter, the central and southern zone seasons and permit levels were similar enough for the zones to be merged into one, while the northern zone remains unchanged.
For both fisher and otter, the previous management zones have now been consolidated into a northern and southern zone divided by Highway 64. The two-zone framework will improve population models in each zone and provide a consistent zone boundary.
The new zones are not anticipated to impact the number of fisher and otter permits available to the public, nor the wait time required to receive a permit. Rather, the two-zone framework will allow trappers the flexibility to trap these species across a larger area than under the previous framework, which restricted trappers to smaller zones. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Furbearer Advisory Committee will determine quotas and permit levels for each new fisher and otter management zone at the end of May.
When applying for a fisher or otter permit, trappers will now select either the northern or southern zone. Permit applications are due on Aug. 1 each year, and may be submitted through
For more information on trapping, visit and search keyword "trap."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR