DNR cancels in-person public deer meetings

MADISON, Wis. - In light of COVID-19, the Department of Natural Resources will suspend in-person County Deer Advisory Council meetings planned for discussing this year's deer season antlerless permit recommendations and will instead use a call-in format. Meeting dates and times have not changed, and meetings remain open to the public.
Wisconsin's hunting legacy runs deep. Everyone has a say about the deer herd in Wisconsin and the DNR wants to hear from you. Between March 30 and April 9, each county will host a call-in meeting talking about harvest goals for 2020. Anyone interested in listening to their county's call can join the meeting by phone from the comfort of home.
The agenda for each county meeting will include the development of antlerless harvest goals and season framework recommendations for the 2020 deer season to achieve each county's deer population objective. Options under discussion include the antlerless deer harvest quota and various season framework options such as offering the holiday hunt or extended archery/crossbow seasons.
Presentations by DNR wildlife biologists normally given in-person at these meetings will be available on the DNR website by March 26. Meeting schedules and call-in numbers can also be found online on the DNR website. After meetings conclude, meeting summaries with preliminary recommendations will also be posted on the DNR website.
All council meetings are open to the public. Due to the facilitation limitations of call-in meetings, public comments will not be taken on the call. Instead, anyone wishing to provide feedback will be asked to do so using the online public input form available on the DNR website from April 16-29.
Each county in Wisconsin has a County Deer Advisory Council to provide input and recommendations to the department on deer management within their county. Councils work with local department staff to schedule meetings, provide community outreach and an opportunity for public input, review population data and deer impacts on forests and agriculture, develop three-year recommendations on county population objectives and create annual antlerless harvest quotas.
A second round of meetings will take place in May, during which council members will review public comment and make final recommendations for the 2020 deer season. No meetings will be held in person for as long as the public health emergency lasts. The decision to host May's meetings in-person or by phone will be made closer to the date.
The DNR will review final County Deer Advisory Council recommendations following the May meetings and provide recommendations to the Natural Resources Board for approval in June. Questions about this updated process can be sent via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR cancels all-approved Learn to Hunt events

Effective immediately, all Wisconsin Learn to Hunt classroom and hunt dates scheduled between March 16, and March 31, are canceled due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
There is an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 in group settings and in close-quarter situations.
Local Learn to Hunt coordinators should communicate the cancellation of their Learn to Hunt program to anybody involved including participants, mentors, volunteers and any conservation warden or biologist scheduled to attend.
The DNR understands the time and cost it takes for local organizations to lead a Learn to Hunt program and is very appreciative of their efforts to introduce new people to hunting in Wisconsin. That being said, the health of the public and doing everything we can to slow the transmission of COVID-19 is a priority.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Bonus spring turkey harvest authorizations go on sale March 16

MADISON, Wis. - Starting March 16, spring turkey bonus harvest authorizations go on sale for each of the seven spring turkey hunting zones.
Hunters are encouraged to check the Department of Natural Resources' turkey zone map and spring turkey bonus harvest authorization availability to see if harvest authorizations are available for the time period and turkey zone in which they want to hunt. There are 113,412 spring turkey bonus harvest authorizations for sale in all seven management zones.
Anyone visiting the site between 9:45-10 a.m. will be assigned a random number (there is no advantage to entering the site before 9:45 a.m.) Starting at 10 a.m., customers who enter the GoWild website will be added to the purchasing queue in the order of their arrival. Sales start at 10 a.m., and run until midnight each day.
The following zones have available bonus harvest authorizations, and their corresponding sales dates are:
Zone 1 - Monday, March 16.
Zone 2 - Tuesday, March 17.
Zone 3 - Wednesday, March 18.
Zone 4 - Thursday, March 19.
Zones 5, 6 and 7 - Friday, March 20.
Bonus harvest authorizations are $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents. Both groups will have equal opportunity for purchase. Bonus harvest authorizations can be purchased online through GoWild.Wi.Govand at all license agents.
All spring turkey hunters are required to purchase a spring turkey license and 2020 Wild Turkey Stamp unless they are a 2020 Conservation Patron License holder. Bonus harvest authorization purchases will not affect preference point status for future spring drawings.
Once you log into your personalized dashboard on GoWild.Wi.Gov, click the 'Buy License' button to open the catalog. From there, you will find "Spring Turkey Bonus Harvest Authorization" at the top of the list.
Bonus turkey harvest authorizations can be purchased at a rate of one per day until the zone and time period is sold out or until the season closes.
DNR customer service staff recommend that turkey hunters who are interested in purchasing a Conservation Patron license do so before March 16, to make the bonus harvest authorization process as quick and easy as possible.
After zone-specific sales, all remaining turkey harvest authorizations will be made available for purchase 10 a.m. Saturday, March 21.

Spring Turkey Periods Run For Seven Days
The 2020 spring turkey season is April 15-May 26, with six seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday. A total of seven zones will be open for hunting. For more information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website here.
"In 2019, we experienced overall favorable conditions during nesting and brood-rearing, and winter has been relatively mild, so we are anticipating another great spring turkey season in Wisconsin," said Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. "I encourage turkey hunters to look at the regulations ahead of the season, and I wish everyone a safe and happy hunt!"
Spring turkey hunting regulations can be found within the 2019 Small Game Hunting Regulations, 2019 Fall Turkey Regulations, and 2020 Spring Turkey Regulations.
Public lands are the perfect place to pursue turkeys this spring.

Youth Turkey Hunt Set April 11-12
Youth hunters under the age of 16 may hunt during the youth turkey hunt on April 11 and 12. Hunters under the age of 12 and youth hunters without hunter safety can participate in the youth turkey hunt under the Mentored Hunting Program.
Youth hunters must be accompanied by a qualified adult and follow the youth turkey hunting and mentored hunting program rules. Spring turkey youth hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, stamp and harvest authorization. A harvest authorization for any time period can be used during the youth hunt weekend, but youth hunters must hunt within the turkey management zone indicated on their harvest authorization.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Passionate about deer hunting? DNR wants to hear from you

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's hunting heritage runs deep. If you're passionate about deer hunting and management in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources invites hunters, farmers, foresters and anyone interested in deer management in Wisconsin to the upcoming first-round of County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) meetings across the state March 30, through April 6.
Every county in Wisconsin has a County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC). Councils give the people of Wisconsin greater input into local deer management. These meetings are important for shaping the 2020 deer hunting seasons and annual antlerless harvest quotas.
County Deer Advisory Councils also provide input and recommendations to the DNR on deer management within their county. Councils work with local DNR staff to:
* Schedule meetings.
* Provide community outreach and an opportunity for public input.
* Review population data and deer impacts on forests and agriculture.
* Develop three-year recommendations on county population objectives.
* Create annual antlerless harvest quotas.
Council members will review the 2019 deer season results and develop recommendations for the 2020 deer season to help each county reach its deer population objective of increasing, decreasing or maintaining the population. Options under discussion include the antlerless deer harvest quota and various season framework options such as offering the Holiday Hunt or extended archery/crossbow seasons.
A schedule of each county's meeting and their location can be found on the DNR website. Those interested can also look up their meeting time and location by county. Visit the CDAC webpage for more info.
Anyone wishing to provide feedback for their county, but unable to attend a council meeting, can review and comment on preliminary recommendations through an online survey. The survey will be available on the DNR website April 16-28.
The second-round of meetings will take place in May, during which council members will review public comment and make final recommendations for the 2020 deer season.
All council meetings are open to the public and include an opportunity to provide feedback as each council develops its preliminary recommendations. The DNR's staff will review County Deer Advisory Council recommendations following the May meetings and provide recommendations to the Natural Resources Board for approval in June. Following Natural Resources Board approval, final recommendations will be in effect for the 2020 deer seasons.
More information about CDAC population objective recommendations, agendas and membership is available here. Additional questions can also be sent via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Apply for 2020 elk hunt starting March 1

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will accept applications for the 2020 elk hunting tags March 1-May 31. This fall marks the third elk hunt in state history.
Once widespread across North America, elk were eliminated from Wisconsin in the 1880s. Thanks to the support of many partners and the backing of Wisconsinites, the herd is back.
Elk hunting season is open Oct. 17-Nov. 15, and Dec. 10-18. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive an elk tag.
"While we won't know exact tag numbers until the Natural Resources Board approves the quota in April, we don't see anything of concern regarding winter effects on the herd," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. "The northern elk population peaked at about 280 last year, and with over 100 breeding age cows in the herd, we're anticipating continued herd growth and are confident that a hunt will occur. How many tags that are offered will be determined this spring."

On The Hunt: Wisconsin Elk
The DNR is offering an earlier and longer application period to be consistent with other application dates and to be responsive to many hunters who missed last year's opportunity due to a shorter, 30-day application period.
In 2019, a harvest quota of 10 bulls was established within the original Clam Lake elk range. Five, once-in-a-lifetime bull elk tags were issued to state hunters along with an equal number allocated to the Ojibwa tribes following treaty rights. The full quota was filled, resulting in the total harvest of 10 bulls.
"It was known before the hunt started that there were a good number of older bulls in the herd, and several of those harvested were 8-10 years old," Wallenfang said. "Some of the bigger bulls that we know about are still out there!"
More than 60,000 Wisconsinites applied during the first two years of managed elk hunting, showing the appeal of pursuing yet another big game animal in Wisconsin to many hunters.
"It may seem like steep odds to draw a tag, but one person's chances are just as good as the next person," said Wallenfang. "All of last year's hunters, including our first woman elk hunter, were thrilled with their experience. Put your name in the hat, and you just might be the next lucky hunter out there in October."
Elk tag applications can be purchased by Wisconsin residents through the DNR Go Wild license system. Each potential hunter may apply once online at gowild.wi.gov or by visiting a license agent. The application fee is $10. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raffle tickets are also $10 each, and there is no limit on the number of raffle tickets an individual may purchase. An elk hunting tag for the winners of the drawing is $49.
For each application, $7 is earmarked for elk management and research in Wisconsin. During the first two hunting seasons, over $400,000 was generated and already is being used for elk habitat enhancement projects as well as for elk research and monitoring.
Hunters drawing a tag will be notified in early June. Prior to obtaining an elk hunting license, all winners are required to participate in a Wisconsin elk hunter education program offered in early September. The class will cover regulations, hunting techniques and more.
The 2020 hunting season is expected to occur only within the northern elk herd. While the state's central elk herd has grown steadily since reintroduction in 2015, no hunting is expected to occur in 2020.
"A number of potential elk hunters ask if they will be able to find a place to hunt if they draw a tag," Wallenfang said. "With approximately 70% of the elk range under public ownership and open to hunting, finding a place to hunt has not been a problem for elk hunters. Despite the relative remoteness of the area, there are campgrounds, hotels and restaurants, so everything you need is within easy reach."
Wisconsin's elk hunting season will adhere to the following guidelines:
* Season open from Oct. 17 to Nov. 15, and Dec. 10-18.
* Only bull elk may be harvested.
* Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive an elk tag.
* An elk tag may be transferred to a Wisconsin resident youth hunter 17 years old or younger or to an eligible Wisconsin resident disabled hunter.
For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, visit the DNR's elk webpage.
To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, 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 "elk in Wisconsin" and "wildlife projects" distribution lists.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Fall waterfowl hunting season public hearing schedule set

MADISON, Wis. - Public hearings for Wisconsin's proposed 2020 waterfowl season structure will be held March 9-12.
After public comments have been collected, the final season structure will be set by the Natural Resources Board at its April 9-10 meeting in Madison.
"The 2020 waterfowl seasons will be based on the 2019 continental waterfowl population estimates, which were at near-record estimates since U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) surveys began 64 years ago," said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory game bird ecologist. With above-average precipitation last fall and this winter in Wisconsin, we expect populations to remain high in 2020. If we have favorable conditions this fall, hunters can expect good waterfowl hunting opportunities."

Fall Waterfowl Hunting Season Public Hearing Schedule:
* Monday, March 9, 7 p.m., La Crosse - State Office Building, Rooms B-19 and B-20, 3550 Mormon Coulee Rd.
* Tuesday, March 10, 7 p.m., Rice Lake - AmeriVu Inn, 1710 South Main Street.
* Wednesday, March 11, 7 p.m., Appleton - Fox Valley Technical College, D.J. Bordini Center, Room BC141., 5 N. Systems Dr.
* Thursday, March 12, 7 p.m., Pewaukee - Wildwood Lodge, N14 W24121 Tower Place.
The DNR will accept public comments on the proposed waterfowl season structure at each public hearing. If you would like to provide input directly or are unable to attend a hearing, comments will be accepted through midnight Friday, March 13.
Written comments can be sent to Taylor Finger or Jeff Williams, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707, via email to Taylor Finger or Jeff Williams or by calling 608-266-8841 or 608-261-6458.
To view and provide input for the 2020 waterfowl season options online, visit the DNR website here.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Host a spring Learn to Hunt turkey event

MADISON, Wis. - February is an ideal time to plan your spring turkey Learn to Hunt program, with classes typically taking place in mid to late March.
Hunter Nikolai, assistant hunter recruitment specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources R3 program, says the turkey Learn to Hunt is more popular than other species covered in this longstanding education program dedicated to carrying on the state's hunting heritage. R3 stands for recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters, anglers, trappers and shooting sports participants.
"Since 1996 conservation groups, outdoor clubs and dedicated individuals have helped carry on Wisconsin's hunting heritage by hosting Learn to Hunts in their communities," Nikolai said. "It's a great way for these groups to recruit new members to their organizations while passing on their hunting expertise to the next generations-both youth and adults."
Participants are not required to have hunter safety certification, and the DNR may waive season dates, license fees and stamp fees for novice participants upon approval by the local wildlife biologist.
"We're always looking for new, motivated groups to start up a Learn to Hunt program. Whether your group has never hosted a Learn to Hunt or hasn't in recent years, we're here to help you get your feet on the ground," Nikolai said.
Nikolai says spring turkey season offers an excellent opportunity for novice hunters of all ages to harvest their first bird. A conservation success story, wild turkeys abound in the state and their population continues to grow, in part because of well-managed hunting seasons.
"And, they're excellent table fare," he said.
The spring season begins April 15, and runs in six periods through May 26.
Groups may request up to $25 for each novice participant through the Learn to Hunt Reimbursement program to help cover the costs of materials, rentals, meals and overnight accommodations.
For step-by-step instruction on how to host a Learn to Hunt or to find an upcoming Learn to Hunt near you, visit the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR