Wisconsin hunters harvest 4,157 bears

MADISON, WI - Preliminary registration numbers show hunters harvested 4,157 bears during the 2017 Wisconsin bear hunting seasons.
Preliminary registration totals for the 2017 bear hunt are as follows:
Zone A: 1,069.
Zone B: 816.
Zone C: 1,009.
Zone D: 1,263.
"Although harvest declined slightly from 2016, this follows a pattern of annual variation that has developed in recent years, and reflects the goal to reduce bear numbers in certain areas of the state," said Jeff Pritzl, Department of Natural Resources acting large carnivore specialist. "The preliminary harvest of 4,157 is very close to the previous four alternate year harvests when hound hunters had the first week of the season. Crop and property damage reports, along with nuisance complaints have declined measurably this year, due in part to purposeful management of the population through hunting."
Summary tables and more information regarding bear hunting in Wisconsin can be found by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "bear."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Pheasant hunting great excuse to get outdoors

Minnesota pheasant hunters still have time to harvest roosters this December.
“We had a late corn harvest which affected the early pheasant season, but things are shaping up nicely for late-season hunting,” said Nicole Davros, farmland wildlife research supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Additionally, despite the lower overall count on our roadside surveys this year, our rooster index went up slightly. This means there are still birds to chase out there.”
Field conditions were wet enough that the corn harvest was significantly delayed this fall.
“Now that the crops are out of the fields, there are fewer places to hide and hunters should be seeing more roosters,” Davros said.
Despite warmer weather in late November, pheasants are already using both grassland cover and winter cover such as cattail sloughs and willow thickets, according to Scott Roemhildt, DNR Walk-in Access Program coordinator.
“Hunters who are willing to work these tougher-to-reach areas will have opportunities to harvest birds,” Roemhildt said. “The colder weather in our forecast will make wetlands more accessible to hunters as the water freezes up.”
Both Davros and Roemhildt agree that late-season pheasant hunting is a great excuse to get away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, regardless of whether any roosters are put in your bag.
“Pheasant hunting is a great way to stretch your legs and clear your mind when things get hectic,” Davros said.
Added Roemhildt: “It’s also a chance to introduce someone new to pheasant hunting as kids get time off from school and family comes to visit.”
On Dec. 1, the daily bag limit increased to three roosters with a possession limit of nine roosters.
Hunters need a small game license and a pheasant stamp to hunt pheasants in Minnesota. A small game license costs $22 for Minnesota residents age 18 to 64, and the pheasant stamp costs $7.50. Pheasant hunters 65 and older need to buy a small game license for $13.50 but are not required to buy a stamp. Hunters age 16 to 17 must buy a $5 small game license but do not need to buy a stamp, and hunters under 16 can hunt pheasants without a license or stamp.
Hunters can also purchase a Walk-In Access validation for $3 to gain additional public hunting opportunities on private land that is enrolled in the program. As of September, 25,335 acres of land across 241 sites in western and southern Minnesota have been enrolled in the program.
Minnesota’s 2017 pheasant season is open through Monday, Jan. 1. Shooting hours are 9 a.m. to sunset. Additional details on pheasant hunting are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant. Additional details on the Walk-In Access Program are available at mndnr.gov/walkin.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Applications open for spring wild turkey permits

The deadline for firearms wild turkey hunters to apply for early season spring hunting permits is Friday, Jan. 26, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The spring season, which runs from Wednesday, April 18, to Thursday, May 31, is divided into six time periods. Only people age 18 and older who want to hunt using a firearm during the first two time periods (A or B) need to apply for a spring turkey permit. Permits for the remaining time periods (C-F) can be purchased over-the-counter. Archery and youth turkey hunters can hunt the entire season without applying for the lottery.
Permits for the last four time periods and youth licenses are sold starting March 1. Surplus adult licenses from the first two time periods, if available, are sold starting around mid-March.
People applying for permit area 511, the Carlos Avery State Wildlife Management Area, are advised that the sanctuary portion of the WMA will be closed to turkey hunting except for the special hunt for hunters with disabilities.
For turkey hunting, a person may only use shotguns 20 gauge or larger, including muzzleloading shotguns. Only fine shot size No. 4 and smaller diameter may be used, and red dot scopes and range finders are legal. Visit mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey for more information about turkey hunting.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Test results show no new outbreaks of CWD

No chronic wasting disease was detected in more than 11,000 precautionary samples from deer that hunters harvested this fall in north-central, central and southeastern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“This is good news for Minnesota,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “The results lend confidence that the disease is not spread across the landscape.”
In all, 7,813 deer were tested in the north-central area, 2,529 in the central area and 1,149 in the southeastern area outside deer permit area 603, the CWD management zone. Researchers still are submitting samples from cooperating taxidermists so final results will be updated online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck as they become available.
Given no deer with CWD were found in north-central and central Minnesota, the DNR will narrow surveillance next fall to areas closer to the farms where CWD was detected. A fourth precautionary surveillance area will be added in fall 2018 in Winona County because CWD recently was detected in captive deer there.
Precautionary testing in north-central and central Minnesota became necessary after CWD was found in multiple captive deer on farms near Merrifield in Crow Wing County and Litchfield in Meeker County. It also was conducted in the deer permit areas directly adjacent to southeast Minnesota’s deer permit area 603, the only place in Minnesota where CWD is known to exist in wild deer.
Minnesota’s CWD response plan calls for testing of wild deer after the disease is detected in either domestic or wild deer. All results from three consecutive years of testing must report CWD as not detected before the DNR stops looking for the disease.
Three years of testing are necessary because CWD incubates in deer slowly. They can be exposed for as long as 18 months before laboratory tests of lymph node samples can detect the disease.
Proactive surveillance and precautionary testing for CWD is a proven strategy that allows the DNR to manage the disease by finding it early and reacting quickly and aggressively to control it. These actions, which were taken in 2005 to successfully combat bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota deer and in 2010 to eliminate a CWD infection in wild deer near Pine Island, provide the best opportunity to eliminate disease spread.
Precautionary testing is necessary to detect the disease early. Without early detection, there’s nothing to stop CWD from becoming established at a relatively high prevalence and across a large geographic area. At that point, there is no known way to control the disease.
“Overall, hunter cooperation and public support have been tremendous,” Cornicelli said. “While there are always challenges when you conduct this type of surveillance effort, it really couldn’t have been successful without the cooperation of hunters, taxidermists, landowners and the businesses that allowed us to operate check stations.”
Complete information about CWD and DNR efforts to keep Minnesota deer healthy are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Boundaries, rules set for late-season deer hunt in CWD zone

Boundaries for a special late-season deer hunt to help control chronic wasting disease in southeastern Minnesota’s Fillmore County have been expanded to include portions of three surrounding deer permit areas, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The expansion of boundaries for the nine-day hunt that lasts from Saturday, Jan. 6, to Sunday, Jan. 14, became necessary when CWD test results of harvested deer revealed two infected deer in Forestville State Park and a suspected infection north of the disease’s core area around Preston.
During the upcoming hunt, deer may be taken in an approximate 10-mile radius surrounding the new discoveries. That area includes all of deer permit area 603 as well as the portion of permit area 345 south of Interstate 90, the southern portion of permit area 347 and the northern portion of permit area 348. A map of the area and complete details are available on the DNR’s website at mndnr.gov/cwd.
“Hunters must plan ahead,” said Lou Cornicelli, the DNR’s wildlife research manager. “Private land makes up most of the area and hunters must have landowner permission. Public land in the area likely will be crowded. And hunting opportunities will be limited and available only by permit at Forestville State Park and Pin Oak Prairie Scientific and Natural Area.”
Within 24 hours of harvest, each deer must be taken to one of four stations where DNR staff will register the deer and collect lymph node tissue for CWD testing. All electronic registration will be turned off.
With the exception of fawns, deer cannot be moved from the hunt area without a test result that shows CWD was not detected. Prior to test results, hunters may properly quarter their deer and bone-out meat but the head, spinal column and all brain material must remain in the area until the animal’s test results show a not-detected status.
Designated dumpsters where hunters can dispose of carcasses and parts will be available in Preston and Forestville.
A refrigerated trailer will be available in Preston for temporary storage of the entire carcass if hunters choose to wait for the test result before processing their deer. After receiving a not-detected test result for the deer, the hunter can take the entire deer out of the area.
Since the mid-September start of the archery season 1,334 deer have been tested in permit area 603 and results have shown six confirmed and one suspect cases of CWD. Although the number of CWD-infected deer is down from the 11 positives found last season, three of the new positives were found outside the core area.
“We were glad to see the prevalence go down, but we’re unsure if we have a disease expansion or if males recently moved into a new area,” Cornicelli said. “Test results of deer taken during this special hunt will help us determine what the new disease management zone boundary will look like in 2018.”
Complete information about CWD and DNR efforts to keep Minnesota deer healthy are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

Special hunt rules
* Hunt dates are Jan. 6-14, 2018.
* Hunt is open to residents and nonresidents.
* There is no bag limit, the antler point restriction will be eliminated in this area and cross-tagging (party hunting) will be allowed.
* Hunters can use any unfilled 2017 license or purchase disease management tags for $2.50. You do not need a deer hunting license to purchase disease management tags, which are valid for deer of either sex.
* Legal firearms are shotguns, muzzleloader or crossbows using either a firearm or muzzleloader license. Archery equipment must be used if the person is hunting with an archery license. Centerfire rifles are not allowed.
* All deer must be registered in person at one of the stations below. Registration stations will be staffed 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily during the season: Chatfield – Magnum Sports, 20 Main St. S; Preston – Preston Forestry office, 912 Houston St.; Forestville State Park; Rushford – Pam’s Corner Convenience, at the intersection of Minnesota highways 16 and 43.
* Submission of a CWD sample is mandatory.
* All deer will be tagged and tested by DNR staff. Fawns will be allowed to leave the zone.
* Carcasses from adult deer must remain in the zone until a “not detected” test is reported. This test takes three to four business days so hunters should make appropriate arrangements prior to killing a deer.
Test results can be checked on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck or by calling the DNR Information Center at

Hunting at Forestville, Pin Oak Prairie, Cherry Grove Forestville State Park and Pin Oak Prairie SNA will both be open to limited deer hunting during the special hunt. To avoid overcrowding, permits for these areas will be issued on a first come, first served basis starting at noon on Monday, Dec. 18.
Forestville State Park will remain open to visitors during the special hunt.
Hunters must have a filled or unfilled 2017 firearm or muzzleloader license to obtain a permit.
There is no group application for these hunts. Permits can be obtained online or wherever DNR licenses are sold. There is no fee for these permits.
The same hunt rules as described for permit area 603 apply to these areas. Successful hunters can use any unfilled tag, or purchase disease management permits for $2.50.
Specific hunt numbers, dates and available permits are:
* 801: Forestville State Park, Jan. 6-9, 2018, 130 permits.
* 802: Forestville State Park, Jan. 10-14, 2018,130 permits.
* 803: Pin Oak Prairie SNA, Jan. 6-9, 2018, five permits.
* 804: Pin Oak Prairie SNA, Jan. 10- 14, 2018, five permits.
The Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA, which adjoins the Cherry Grove Wildlife Management Area, also is open to deer hunting and no special permit is required.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, to date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, the CDC advises people not to eat meat from animals known to have CWD. Go to www.cdc.gov for more information.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Black bear, turkey permit deadlines near

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin wild turkey and black bear hunters are reminded to submit their applications before midnight on Dec. 10.
Applications for permit drawings can be purchased through Go Wild or at authorized license agents.

Black bear
Harvest numbers from the 2017 black bear season are not yet finalized, but preliminary estimates show that hunters harvested more than 4,150 bears. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff and the Bear Advisory Committee are currently in the process of determining 2018 harvest quotas.
Bear hunters are reminded that due to the high interest in this hunt, hunters must apply for several years before receiving a permit through the drawing process for most bear management zones. In order for bear permit applicants to retain their accumulated preference points, they must apply at least once during any period of three consecutive years or all previously accumulated preference points will be lost.
If a bear management zone is selected at the time of purchase and the hunter is selected in the February drawing, their preference points will be reset to zero, even if they do not purchase the harvest permit. It is the applicant's responsibility to be aware of drawing status - applicants selected in the drawing will be notified by mail shortly after the drawing, and may purchase their 2018 Class A bear license beginning in March 2018. Applicants may also check their status online through their Go Wild customer account.
The season structure for the 2018 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:
* Sept. 5-11 - with the aid of bait and other legal methods not using dogs
* Sept. 12 to Oct. 2 - with all legal methods, including bait and dogs; and
* Oct. 3-9 - aid of dogs only (Bait may be used to locate bear to hunt with the aid of dogs).
For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "bear."

Spring 2018 turkey season
Dec. 10 is also the deadline to apply for a spring turkey harvest authorization (previously referred to as a tag or permit). These are issued through a preference-based drawing system where Wisconsin residents have preference over non-residents and landowners have preference over non-landowners.
For more information on the turkey preference drawing, see the

Turkey Frequently Asked Questions.
Applicants may choose up to two time period and zone combinations that they would like to hunt. As a third choice, applicants may also choose one zone in which they will accept a harvest authorization for any time period. This third choice can be the same zone as the first and/or second choice. The second and third choices are optional, but applicants are encouraged to provide second and third choices to maximize their likelihood of success in the drawing.
The harvest authorization drawing will take place in late December. Successful applicants will receive a post card by late January. Applicants can also check their status online through Go Wild.
Successful applicants may purchase their required 2018 Spring Turkey License ($15 for Wisconsin residents and $60 for non-residents) and 2018 Wild Turkey Stamp ($5.25) in early March. Each harvest authorization will be printed at the time of purchase. All hunters are required to possess a valid spring turkey license and wild turkey stamp when they acquire their spring turkey harvest authorization.
Unsuccessful applicants will receive a preference point that will increase their chances of drawing a harvest authorization the following spring season. All leftover harvest authorizations for 2018 spring turkey season will be available for purchase in late March ($10 for residents, $15 for non-residents), plus the cost of the Spring Turkey License and Wild Turkey Stamp.
The 2018 spring turkey season will begin April 14 with the annual Spring Youth Turkey Hunt. The regular turkey season will begin the following Wednesday, April 18, and will consist of six separate seven-day time periods, with the final period closing May 29.
The Spring turkey season is:
* Spring Turkey Youth Hunt - April 14-15
* Period A - April 18-24
* Period B - April 25-May 1
* Period C - May 2-8
* Period D - May 9-15
* Period E - May 16-22
* Period F - May 23-29
Turkey hunters are reminded that Wisconsin's state park turkey management zones were eliminated Sept. 1, 2014. However, state parks remain open for hunting for a portion of the spring turkey season. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "hunting state parks."
Harvested turkeys must be registered by 5 p.m. on the day following harvest. Hunters can register their turkey using the GameReg system, either online at or by phone at 1-844-GAMEREG (1-844-426-3734.)

Youth turkey hunt
The annual Spring Turkey Youth Hunt will be held on April 14-15 for hunters ages 15 and younger.
Youth hunters 12-15 years must have a Hunter Education Certificate of Accomplishment, unless hunting under the Mentored Hunting Program. Youth under 12 years of age must participate in the Mentored Hunting Program during the two-day, youth hunt, even if they have successfully completed a hunter safety education course.
A spring turkey license, stamp and valid harvest authorization are required to participate in the youth hunt. All other existing turkey hunting rules and regulations apply.
Interested youth hunt participants should apply for a spring turkey harvest authorization before the Dec. 10 deadline. A permit for any time period can be used during the two-day youth hunt, but hunters are limited to the zone listed on their hunting authorization.
Applications for turkey hunts for hunters with disabilities are due Dec. 10
Hunters with disabilities who wish to turkey hunt next spring on private land are reminded of an additional opportunity to hunt using a separate application and authorization form.
Applications to conduct a Spring Wild Turkey Hunt for People with Disabilities on private land must be submitted using DNR Forms 2300-271 and 2300-271A. Forms must be submitted before Dec. 10 to a local DNR wildlife biologist or department office for the county where the hunt will take place. Please note that any applicant who applies for a disabled turkey hunt on private lands using the above forms may not apply for a permit through the regular spring turkey drawing.
For more information regarding bear and turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "bear" or "turkey."
Those interested in receiving email updates can sign up for the DNR's GovDelivery service. Visit dnr.wi.gov, and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page to "Subscribe to DNR Updates."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin's sees slight increase in buck harvest

MADISON, WI - Another Wisconsin nine-day, gun-deer season is in the books, and preliminary registration numbers show a slight increase in the statewide buck harvest.
Similar to 2016, northern counties again showed the most significant increases in both buck and antlerless harvest.
"No matter how you look at it - whether from a social or economic standpoint - deer hunting is huge for Wisconsin," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Dan Meyer. "Nearly 600,000 hunters headed into the woods for the nine-day hunt, and there are additional opportunities to harvest a deer through January, so our hunters can continue to enjoy this tradition."
Wisconsin's nine-day, gun-deer season continued to show hunting as a safe recreational activity, as the season ended with seven hunting incidents and no hunting-related fatalities. None of these incidents involved mentored youth hunters.
Preliminary registration figures indicate a total of 98,364 hunters were successful in their pursuit of an antlered deer during the nine-day season. Overall, preliminary registration figures show that 195,738 deer were harvested during the nine-day, gun-deer hunt, compared to 197,262 in 2016.
For the second straight year, the largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone (12.7 percent increase from 2016) after three consecutive mild winters and limited antlerless tags.
"Except for opening day in some areas, we had pretty good hunting conditions throughout the season," said DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. "Some magnificent bucks were taken, it was a safe hunt, and overall most hunters that I have talked to were pleased to see more deer than in recent years, especially in the northern forest counties."
"Combined with the early archery and crossbow seasons, total buck harvest is ahead of 2016, and there's a lot of deer hunting yet to occur this year. When all deer hunting seasons are complete in January, we will look at the total harvest and start making plans for 2018," Wallenfang added.
The nine-day hunt also provided successful hunters with 97,374 antlerless deer, down roughly two percent from 2016. However, those numbers will climb as hunters enjoy the statewide muzzleloader hunt, statewide four-day antlerless only hunt and nine-day antlerless only Holiday Hunt in select farmland counties. Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless tags during each of these hunts, but those tags must be used in the zone, county and land type designated on the tag.
For the nine-day, gun-deer hunt, the 2017 regional harvest breakdown by region (with percent change from 2016) included:
* Northern Forest Zone: 26,437 (12.7 percent increase) antlered and 15,220 (70 percent increase) antlerless.
* Central Forest Zone: 4,914 (3.2 percent decrease) antlered and 2,738 (7.5 percent decrease) antlerless.
* Central Farmland Zone: 48,324 (1.2 percent decrease) antlered and 58,126 (7.4 percent decrease) antlerless.
* Southern Farmland Zone: 18,689 (9.3 percent decrease) antlered and 21,290 (13.4 percent decrease) antlerless.
* Total: 98,364 (.4 percent increase) antlered and 97,374 (1.9 percent decrease) antlerless.
Hunters are required to register harvested deer before 5 p.m., the day after harvest at gamereg.wi.gov or by calling 1-844-426-3734. Any hunter who failed to follow mandatory registration rules should do so now, despite having missed the deadline. For more information regarding preliminary registration search keywords "weekly totals."
In 2017, 588,387 gun-deer licenses were sold through the end of the nine-day, gun-deer season, less than a 2 percent drop over last year. In total, 821,876 gun, archery and crossbow licenses (not including upgrades) have been sold through the end of the nine-day, gun-deer season, slightly more than 1 percent drop compared to 2016. Deer hunting license and tag sales will continue throughout remaining deer hunting seasons.
Conservation wardens reported seven non-fatal hunting incidents in seven counties during the gun-deer season. Incidents occurred in Brown, Shawano, Washburn, Clark, Forest, Waukesha and Ozaukee counties. None of the seven incidents involved mentored youth hunters.
Hunting in Wisconsin is safe which is demonstrated by our continued downward trend in hunting incidents. Four of the last five deer seasons were fatality-free and nine out of the last 10 deer season ended with single-digit incident totals.
Chief conservation warden Todd Schaller credits the declining number of hunting incidents to sportsmen and sportswomen who know and use firearm safety principles -- and the thousands of volunteer hunter education instructors who host hunter safety courses statewide.
"Conservation wardens saw hunters following the firearm safety message of TABK - and took time to educate those who were not," Schaller said. "Hunters, and families of hunters, were out enjoying a treasured Wisconsin tradition."
As the 2017 hunting season offers additional opportunities, Schaller says it is important to stay safety-minded to continue Wisconsin's strong safety record.
Hunters are reminded of additional opportunities to hunt deer in Wisconsin.
Hunters are reminded of additional opportunities to hunt deer in Wisconsin. This year's muzzleloader season is currently open through Dec. 6, and the archery season is open through Jan. 7, 2018. A four-day, antlerless-only hunt is scheduled Dec. 7-10, while the holiday hunt will be offered in select counties from Dec. 24-Jan. 1, 2018. Any legal firearm, crossbow or archery equipment may be used during these hunts.
The gun-deer season in metro sub-units will remain open through Dec. 7, while archery and crossbow hunting in these sub-units is open through Jan. 31.
For more information regarding which hunts may be offered in each county, check out the interactive deer map at keyword "DMU."
In addition, since hunters embraced the variety of ways they can submit CWD samples during the regular season, hunters are reminded that CWD sample opportunities continue to be available throughout the remaining seasons. Individuals interested in providing important information on the health of the herd and having their deer sampled should visit the WDNR website and search keywords "CWD Sampling."
The cooperation of hunters and private businesses has become increasingly vital to the success of our sampling process.
GameReg internet registration system and call-in phone option worked well overall, while hunters continue to visit walk-in stations that offer these services. Positive feedback was received throughout the season as hunters enjoyed the convenience and flexibility of GameReg - 62 percent of registrations were completed online and 36 percent were completed via telephone.
With GameReg, the accuracy of deer harvest numbers is directly related to the level of hunter compliance. If hunters forgot to register their deer, they still have time to use GameReg and help ensure each deer harvest is counted. For more information, search keywords "GameReg."
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey will remain active until all deer seasons have ended, and wildlife managers ask that hunters submit a report of what they observe during their time in the field. This information will provide valuable data used to improve population estimates for Wisconsin's deer herd and other species. For additional information, search keywords "deer hunter wildlife."
While the nine-day hunt has ended, hunters are reminded to connect with DNR staff on social media through the department's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. DNR staff look forward to photos from the field each year. Also, be sure to check out Wild Wisconsin - an all new web and podcast series focused on all things deer hunting. So far, over 200,000 viewers have used the series to help prepare for deer season.
Hunters who harvested their first deer this season are also reminded to fill out a first deer certificate and commemorate a successful hunt. A printable certificate will be sent to the email address provided.
For more information regarding deer hunting

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR