DNR asks for hunters to record wildlife observations

MADISON - September hunting seasons usher in the 10th annual Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, a survey in which hunters can easily record their observations of deer and other wildlife while in the field.
Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey results help track abundance trends for Wisconsin's deer herd and other wildlife.
DNR staff ask archery and gun hunters to record all their hunting activity throughout the deer season, even if no wildlife sightings were made during a hunt. The observations provide the department with an index to abundance for many wildlife species.
Hunters can enter observations by desktop, mail, or as launched last year, by smartphone. For those now interested in submitting observations by smartphone, or who participated last year, a new version of the survey is available for download on the survey's webpage. For more information regarding this survey, visit dnr.wi.gov, and search keywords "deer hunter wildlife."
At the end of the survey, participants can choose to receive a personalized summary of all recorded wildlife from that season. The survey period ends January 2019.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Deer hunters encouraged to get deer tested for CWD

MADISON - Deer hunting seasons are about to begin with archery and crossbow this weekend, and Department of Natural Resources staff remind hunters who harvest deer to have adult deer tested for chronic wasting disease - this is particularly important in areas affected by CWD.
For more information regarding CWD in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CWD."
DNR staff continue to utilize disease surveillance objectives (disease assessment and disease detection) statewide, and will continue to sample deer within the Southern Farmland Zone and at select locations in other CWD-affected counties. Surveillance will also expand to all 19 counties of the department's west central district and parts of northern Wisconsin.
No targeted surveillance will occur in the 4-county surveillance area surrounding the Washburn County CWD positive area due to no additional positives being detected during six consecutive years of surveillance since 2011. However, hunters will still have opportunities to have their adult deer tested within the 4-county area.
Options for CWD sampling continue to include both in-person service as well as self-service options. Self-service kiosks are available 24/7 for hunters to drop off a deer head to be tested for CWD. Hunters can locate this option in the drop-down menu in the registration station database on our CWD webpages.
New for this deer season is the opportunity for local individuals or groups to "adopt-a-kiosk." The goal of the Adopt-a-Kiosk program is to enhance CWD sample numbers, ease, and options for hunters in the world of electronic registration. It also provides an opportunity for conservation groups or individuals to assist the department and it is due to these types of interests that this program originated.
Local DNR staff will work with the Adopt-a-Kiosk participants to identify kiosk location as well as discuss protocols and schedules. Overall feedback from hunters indicates an appreciation for kiosk available availability for CWD sample submission. Kiosks are a useful tool in areas without a current a cooperative sampling station.
Hunters are reminded to contact sampling stations in advance to verify hours of operation and that CWD surveillance efforts focus on testing adult deer, since older deer are more likely to have the disease. For more information regarding where to take your deer for sampling, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "CWD sampling" or contact local DNR wildlife management staff.
Hunters can search for CWD test results individually or view a summary. Hunters will need a customer ID or CWD sample barcode to search for individual results. The average turnaround time from when the deer is brought to a sampling station to when the results are available is typically two weeks or less. For information regarding CWD test results, search keywords "CWD results".
If test results come back positive for CWD, hunters should follow advice from the Center for Disease Control, Wisconsin Department of Health Services and World Health Organization to not consume venison from that deer.
The cooperation of hunters and private businesses has become increasingly vital to the success of our sampling process. Department staff would like to thank all those who continue to assist with CWD surveillance.
Hunters are also reminded to check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast to learn more about CWD in Wisconsin. The podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube. Season two of the Wild Wisconsin web series will also feature a segment highlighting CWD in Wisconsin.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Sept. 15 marks opening of archery, crossbow deer hunting seasons

MADISON - Excitement levels are high as hunters prepare for fall deer hunting seasons in Wisconsin.
Hunters will have their first opportunity to enjoy the outdoors during the 2018 archery and crossbow deer seasons, which run concurrently statewide from Sept. 15 to Jan. 6, 2019. The archery and crossbow season is extended to Jan. 31, 2019 in metro sub-units and some counties offering the antlerless-only holiday hunt.
"Deer numbers continue to look good across the state," said Kevin Wallenfang, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources deer and elk ecologist. "The central and southern farmland zones are expected to have excellent deer numbers in most areas. Portions of the forested zones experienced their first moderate winter after a string of mild winters. Although there was a heavy late winter snow storm in much of the north, a lush spring green-up and reports of good fawn production are showing the population is stable and increasing in many areas. All reports indicate a fun and exciting upcoming season."
In 2017, archery and crossbow hunters combined for one of the highest buck harvests in history. Deer hunters in Iron County will be the only county to see buck-only hunting this year. Throughout the remainder of the state, antlerless hunting opportunities are available using Farmland (Zone 2) and bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations. Visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword "DMU" to access an interactive map to find more information on county-specific seasons.
Archery and crossbow hunters have a continuous season framework that includes hunting during all gun deer seasons in November and December, plus the option to fill a gun deer harvest authorization using crossbow or archery equipment during open firearm seasons.
Hunting with a crossbow has provided an additional opportunity for many hunters throughout Wisconsin, and accounts for a higher rate of participation by women than any other deer hunting method. Those interested in using both a conventional bow and crossbow may do so by paying full price for one of the licenses and purchasing a $3 upgrade for the second license. Hunters will use the buck harvest authorization and antlerless harvest authorization(s) issued with their first license of choice.
Treestand safety is also a key part of the archery season - hunters should always wear a safety harness, use 3 points of contact when going into or out of the stand and use a haul line to bring your unloaded crossbow and bow into the stand. For more information regarding treestand safety, search keyword "treestand."

Changes for 2018
Please note that there have been changes to several Deer Management Zone (DMZ) and metro sub-unit boundaries this year. Hunters are reminded to check the management zone before purchasing bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations.
In addition, the rules for transporting deer carcasses harvested in Chronic Wasting Disease affected counties will change effective Oct. 1, 2018. Search keyword "CWD" on the DNR web page for the latest information on carcass transportation regulations, including a FAQ document. Hunters are encouraged to explore the many opportunities available to submit a sample for CWD testing.

Bonus Authorizations Still Available
Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations remain available in many counties. Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations may be filled with any weapon type during the appropriate season, but must be filled in the zone, county and land type (public or private) designated on each harvest authorization. Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations are available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of $12 each for residents, $20 each for non-residents, and $5 for youth hunters under age 12.
In 2018, additional Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations may be included with each deer hunting license, depending on the county of choice. Hunters who have not yet purchased a license for hunting deer will be prompted to select the county and land-type for the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorizations at the point of sale. Licenses may be purchased online at GoWild.WI.Gov or at any of the more than 1,000 Go Wild license sales locations.
Hunters who purchased their deer hunting licenses prior to June 1 may now select their Farmland (Zone 2) harvest authorizations. Hunters who have yet to determine a hunting location, may defer the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorization selection. When ready, hunters may:
* Make a harvest authorization selection online from their Go Wild account and print themselves.
* Request desired harvest authorization(s) at a local DNR Service Center.
* Or visit a license agent (this will require a $2 processing fee).

All harvested deer must be registered electronically by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered. GameReg is simple, fast and convenient for hunters. As conservationists, hunters understand the importance of harvest registration and what it means to deer management in Wisconsin. The system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions, beginning with the unique harvest authorization number and date of birth.
Hunters have three options to register their deer:
online at GameReg.WI.Gov (fastest and easiest option);
by phone at 1-844-426-3734 (1-844-GAME-REG); or
electronically at a participating in-person registration station (keyword "registration stations").
For more information regarding electronic registration, search keyword "GameReg."

Wild Wisconsin
Following a successful first season, Wild Wisconsin will be back for season two with tons of helpful content for hunters. The series will launch in early September, just in time for the archery opener.
Wild Wisconsin Season 2 - Learn How You Can Join the Hunt
In the meantime, be sure to check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast - topics covered include public land hunting tips, a deer season forecast, and much more. Search keywords "Wild Wisconsin" for more information - episodes are available on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube.
To receive email updates regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov 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 "white-tailed deer" distribution list (found within the "hunting" list).

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Minnesota pheasant index up 19 percent from last year

The 2018 Minnesota roadside survey for pheasants showed a 19 percent increase in the overall pheasant index from 2017.
While the index is similar to the 10-year average, it is still 52 percent below the long-term average.
“Given the April snowstorms and heavy rains across a good portion of the pheasant range this year, it was surprising to see increases in the pheasant indices across so many regions,” said Lindsey Messinger, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist who coordinated this year’s survey. “It appears hens may have delayed nesting and chicks were able to tolerate the rain in most areas.”
Weather and habitat are the two main factors that drive Minnesota’s pheasant population trends. Weather causes annual fluctuations in pheasant numbers. In the south-central region of the pheasant range, late-season snowstorms and heavy rain this past spring and summer have been tough for pheasants.
Habitat can help mitigate the impacts of weather and the availability of quality nesting habitat is more important for long-term pheasant population trends.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in particular play a large role in providing habitat for pheasants in Minnesota. The program, covered under the federal Farm Bill, pays farmers to remove environmentally-sensitive land from agricultural production and restore vegetation that will reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators.
Minnesota peaked in nesting habitat acres, particularly CRP acres, in 2007, but has declined since then. Minnesota added about 82,500 habitat acres in the past year, many of which were CRP acres. However, nearly 297,000 acres of CRP may be lost within the next two years due to contracts that are set to expire.

Roadside survey data
The DNR’s August roadside survey for pheasants showed a 19 percent increase in the overall pheasant index from 2017. This year’s statewide pheasant index was 45.5 birds per 100 miles of roads driven.
The pheasant index increased in all regions except the south-central region, which decreased by 36 percent from 2017. The highest pheasant counts were in the west-central, southwest and central regions where observers reported 48 to 65 birds per 100 miles driven. Hunters should find the best hunting opportunities in these regions.
Minnesota’s 2018 pheasant season is open Saturday, Oct. 13, through Monday, Jan. 1.
During the 2018 pheasant season, the daily bag limit is two roosters through November, and it increases to three roosters on Saturday, Dec. 1. The possession limit is six roosters (increasing to nine roosters on Dec. 1). Shooting hours are 9 a.m. to sunset. Additional details are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant.

Annual weather impacts on pheasants
Winters that linger can impact the start of the breeding season and success of early nests. Heavy rain, particularly at or just after hatching, can impact chick survival.
One indication of delayed nesting activity were the ages of broods that observers recorded during the roadside surveys. From brood ages, approximate hatch dates are calculated. The range-wide hatch date in 2018 was nearly a week later than in 2017, and a few days later than the long-term average. Hatch dates in the southwest of June 26 and south-central of June 23 were 20 and eight days later, respectively, than in 2017, and they were one to two weeks later than the 10-year and long-term averages.
Another key indicator of annual reproduction is the number of broods observed during roadside surveys. The 2018 statewide brood index increased 28 percent from last year. Regional brood indices increased in every region except the east-central region, where it remained similar to last year, and the south-central region, where it declined by 28 percent compared to last year.
“Unfortunately, heavy rains came during the period of peak hatch in the south-central region,” Messinger said. “And as our survey results indicate, brood survival was affected in this region.”

Survey information
Monitoring pheasant population trends is part of the DNR’s annual August roadside wildlife survey, which began in 1955. DNR wildlife managers and conservation officers in the farmland region of Minnesota conduct the survey during the first half of August. This year’s survey consisted of 171, 25-mile-long routes, with 151 routes located in the pheasant range.
Observers drive each route in early morning and record the number and species of wildlife they see. The data provide an index of relative abundance and are used to monitor annual changes and long-term population trends of pheasants, gray (Hungarian) partridge, eastern cottontail rabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits, mourning doves, and other wildlife.
The 2018 August Roadside Survey report and a map of pheasant hunting prospects are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant. Also recorded in this year’s survey:
* The gray partridge index remained similar to 2017 and was 50 percent below the 10-year average and 93 percent below the long-term average.
* The mourning dove index decreased 7 percent from 2017 and remained below the 10-year average and long-term averages.
* The cottontail rabbit index decreased 23 percent from 2017, but was 13 percent above the 10-year average and similar to the long-term average.
* The white-tailed jackrabbit index was similar to last year and remains historically low.
* The white-tailed deer index decreased 13 percent from 2017, but was still 19 percent above the 10-year average and 99 percent above the long-term average.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Waterfowl Day scheduled Saturday

Youth, ages 15 and younger, can go waterfowl hunting Saturday, Sept. 8, on Youth Waterfowl Day, when accompanied by an adult who is not hunting, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
During Youth Waterfowl Day, hunters ages 15 and younger may take regular season bag limits of ducks and five Canada geese statewide, when accompanied by an adult 18 or older who is not hunting. The accompanying adult does not need a license.
Hunters, ages 13 to 15, must have a firearms safety certificate or apprentice hunter validation in their possession. Ducks, Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens may be taken from a half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m.
Motorized decoys may not be used. All other migratory bird hunting regulations apply.
Anyone interested in additional hunting resources can contact James Burnham at 651-259-5191 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. More information on waterfowl hunting can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Deer lottery application deadline Sept. 6

Firearms and muzzleloader hunters who want to harvest antlerless deer in a deer permit area designated as lottery this hunting season are reminded they must purchase their license by Thursday, Sept. 6.
Hunters who purchase their license before this date are automatically entered into the lottery for the deer permit area or special hunt area they declare.
This season, antlerless deer permits are issued by lottery in 39 of Minnesota’s 130 deer permit areas. No application is needed to take antlerless deer in permit areas with hunter choice, managed or intensive designations.
Hunters who want to participate in special firearm or muzzleloader deer hunts also need to apply for permits that are issued through a lottery, and that application deadline is also Sept. 6.
More information about designations and regulations for deer permit areas, as well as details about special hunt opportunities, is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer and in the 2018 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Mandatory testing set during archery deer season

When archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 15, mandatory testing for chronic wasting disease and restrictions on moving deer carcasses will again be in place in southeastern Minnesota’s CWD management zone, deer permit area 603.
Hunters are encouraged to plan ahead and be aware of the testing that will be required.
Archery hunters in deer permit area 603 will be required to submit the head from all adult deer 1 year old or older so lymph nodes can be tested for CWD. Hunters cannot remove the carcass or carcass remains outside the CWD zone until a test result is reported as not detected. Hunters can check their test results online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck by entering their nine-digit MDNR number into the search box.
Carcass movement restrictions do allow hunters to immediately transport out of the zone quarters or other meat without the head or spinal column parts; boned-out or cut and wrapped meat; and antlers with a skull plate that is free of brain matter.
Complete details are available online at mndnr.gov/cwd/603.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR