No sharp-tailed grouse permits issued for fall 2019

MADISON - In light of new scientific data and concerns over future viability of the sharp-tailed grouse population in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will not issue hunting permits for the fall 2019 hunting season.
Each year, the Sharp-tailed Grouse Advisory Committee, which consists of DNR wildlife biologists and partnering agencies and organizations, uses spring dancing-ground surveys to recommend permit levels for the sharp-tailed grouse hunting season. This decision comes as a result of a review of the spring 2019 survey data as well as from a new scientific population model. This model was developed in cooperation with UW-Madison and shows low probabilities of sharp-tailed grouse persistence over the next 50 years.
It is important to note that since no permits are available, no applications will be made available or accepted this year.
Although no permits will be issued this year, by state law, sharp-tailed grouse will retain their status as a game species. DNR staff are hopeful that the population will respond positively to ongoing, focused habitat management efforts.
In the meantime, those who are passionate about Wisconsin's strong and historic tradition of sharp-tailed grouse hunting should remain encouraged by significant partnerships that exist in the northwest part of the state to manage barrens habitats that sharp-tailed grouse and other species depend upon for survival.
For more information, please visit and search keywords "sharp-tailed grouse." Sharp-tailed grouse survey data can be found at keywords "wildlife reports."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Deadline approaching for furbearer trapping, hunting seasons

MADISON - Aug. 1, is an important application deadline for trappers and hunters who wish to pursue bobcat, fisher and river otter this fall.
Permit applications to pursue these species for the 2019-2020 season are available for purchase online at as well as in-person at Department of Natural Resources service centers and all license agents. Permit applications cost $3 ($6 for bobcat).
2019 fall season dates are as follows:
* Bobcat hunting and trapping:
Period 1: Oct. 19 to Dec. 25
Period 2: Dec. 26 to Jan. 31, 2020
* Fisher (trapping only): Oct. 19 to Jan. 5, 2020
* Otter (trapping only):
North Zone: Nov. 2 to Apr. 30, 2020
South Zones: Nov. 2 to Mar. 31, 2020
* Bobcat, Fisher and River Otter
The statewide harvest goal for bobcat is 1,050 bobcats, with 2,495 permits available for the 2019-2020 season. This marks the sixth year of statewide bobcat harvest.
The statewide fisher harvest goal for 2019-2020 is 900, and 4,550 permits are available. A statewide river otter harvest goal has been set at 2,000, with 13,880 permits available for trappers this season.
When applying for a permit, keep in mind that the fisher and otter zones have been consolidated and now match the bobcat zones. There is a Northern Zone and a Southern Zone split by Highway 64 for all three species.
Wait times for permits vary depending on the species and management zone. Search the DNR website,, for keyword "trapping" for details on trapping and preference points needed to draw a permit in 2018.
Drawings will take place in August, with permits issued in September. Applicants may check their online account in mid-September to see if they have been awarded a permit by visiting
In addition to a permit, a trapping license is required to trap bobcat, fisher and river otter. All first-time trappers who are trapping alone are required to complete a trapper education course before buying a trapping license. Trapper education classes are posted at A trapper education course is not required to hunt bobcat.

Youth and mentored trapping
Starting in 2018, youth under the age of 16 may trap without a license while under the supervision of a licensed trapper. Youth trapping under supervision may apply for and purchase bobcat, fisher and otter permits.
Mentored trapping licenses are available to trappers 16 years or older who would like to trap under the supervision of a licensed trapper. The mentor must be 18 or older, and if the mentee is under 18, the mentor must either be the mentee's parent/guardian or approved by the mentee's parent/guardian. Anyone possessing a Mentored Trapping License may not receive a fisher or otter harvest tag but may assist the mentor in trapping these species. Additional permit and license details can be found in the 2019 Wisconsin Trapping Regulations.
For more information on trapping and hunting furbearers in Wisconsin, visit and search keyword "trapping." For questions specific to the permit application process, contact the DNR Call Center at 888-WDNR-INFo (1-888-936-7463).

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Plans underway for 2019 Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener

Planning is underway for the ninth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, being held Oct. 11-12. This year’s event will be held in Austin, located in the southeastern part of the state. It is the first time Austin has hosted the event.
“Thank you to the city of Austin for graciously hosting the 2019 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener,” said Governor Tim Walz. “I can’t wait to continue this tradition in Southern Minnesota this year and spend some time enjoying our state’s natural beauty and recreational activities.”
Austin was selected through an application process that considered hunting land in the area, event facilities and community support. With the recent resurgence in the pheasant population in the Austin area, conservationists and hunters in Mower County are excited to showcase this hunting resource. Austin’s outdoors heritage includes the Cedar River State Water Trail, grasslands, state parks and nearby state recreational trails. Austin has 13 miles of paved bike trails within its city limits and also is proud of the over 500-acre Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, which consists of restored prairie grasslands, woodlands and a new interactive interpretive center.
“We’re very excited to host the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener,” said Sandy Forstner, chairman of the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener committee in Austin. “This will be a great way to showcase not only the many hunting opportunities available surrounding Austin, but also the wide range of tourism opportunities in the immediate area.”
In addition to pheasant hunting, the weekend event will include a public dedication of a new parcel of public land north of Austin 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 Governor Dayton in 2011. The event highlights the local hunting, recreational and tourism opportunities host communities have to offer visitors. This is the first Pheasant Hunting Opener for Gov. Walz as governor, however, he’s attended previous openers as an invited guest.
Explore Minnesotaand the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting local partners in planning the event.
Follow along for social media updates using the hashtags #MNGPHO2019 and #OnlyinMN.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Spring waterfowl survey results show good production

MADISON - Wisconsin's 2019 spring waterfowl population surveys indicate stable to increased numbers of the main species of breeding waterfowl as well as excellent wetland conditions, which should result in increased waterfowl production this year across most of the state.
This year, the DNR saw slightly fewer numbers of total birds than the 2018 estimates. However, there is essentially no change in the mallard and wood duck population estimates, and Department of Natural Resources staff observed increases in our blue-winged teal and Canada geese. Wisconsin continues to be at or above the long-term average for all but blue-winged teal, according state wildlife biologists.
"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," Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist, said. "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 stat."
The Wisconsin breeding duck population estimate of 413,662 represents essentially no change compared to 2018 and is in line with the long-term (46-year) average. Of the species-specific population estimates for the three top breeding ducks in Wisconsin, mallards and wood ducks showed no significant change, and blue-winged teal showed a 37% increase from 2018. It is important to recognize that this survey is designed to detect changes of 20% or more. Any changes less than 20% are not considered significant.
This survey, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continental duck survey and the 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 by searching the DNR website,, for keywords "waterfowl management."
In 2019, Wisconsin saw below-average temperatures in March and April with lakes in the northern part of the state still frozen at the end of April. This stalled migration in most of Wisconsin and breeding activity by mallards and Canada geese. There were average temperatures across most of the state in early and mid-May. Weather was an issue during the survey, with nearly a week lost due to poor flying conditions. These changing weather and migration factors make it difficult to schedule the breeding survey to effectively survey all species.
With above average precipitation in May following the survey, wetland conditions remained average to above average for brood rearing, and Wisconsin is expecting good duck production in 2019.
Wisconsin experienced a relatively wet and cold winter in 2018-19, which, combined with above-average precipitation in April and May, led to above-average wetland conditions throughout the state. Counts indicated wetter conditions in 2019 than in 2018 for all regions of the state with most areas well above the long-term averages. According to Finger, 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.
These breeding pair and habitat conditions are important to waterfowl hunters as roughly 70% of mallard harvest in Wisconsin is supported by locally hatched ducks. Although slightly lower this year, it is important to note that the average mallard population in the last few years has been fairly stable. This observation suggests that continuing DNR 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 slightly up compared to 2018
Wisconsin's 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 slightly up compared to 2018 at 171,407 birds. It's consistent with a stable-to-increasing population over the past 10-15 years. 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 at the Mississippi Flyway Council to analyze survey data and provide recommendations to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding waterfowl hunting regulations for the 2020 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 in spring 2019, and the Natural Resources Board approved DNR proposals for season structure at its April 9 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.
With earlier approval dates, 2019 migratory bird season regulations are currently available online and at many license vendors throughout Wisconsin.
There are several significant changes to the 2019 waterfowl hunting season structure.
The first of the 2019 migratory game bird seasons will open with the early 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. 28 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 2019 season structure include:
* Increase in length of the early teal season to nine days (previously seven days).
* A single statewide duck season opener for the North, South and Mississippi zones on Sept. 28.
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.
* Decrease in the pintail daily bag limit (from two to one) based on USFWS season framework.
* Increase in the black duck bag limit (from one to two) based on USFWS season framework.
As 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 the DNR website,, for keyword "waterfowl."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Sign up to participate in October deer hunt for disabled hunters

MADISON - Eligible disabled hunters hoping to participate in the 2019 gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities must contact a hunt sponsor to sign up before Sept. 1.
As of the June 1 sponsor application deadline, 62 sponsors have enrolled over 73,000 acres of land across 41 counties for this year's hunt, which takes place from Oct. 5-13. For a complete list of 2019 sponsors, please visit and search keywords "disabled deer hunt."
"We are very grateful to the sponsors that are willing to provide opportunities for hunters with special challenges in the field," says Matthew Gross, DNR assistant big game ecologist. "Giving hunters access to over 73,000 acres of land is instrumental in making this unique opportunity a success and continuing Wisconsin's deer hunting tradition."
Eligible hunters may sign up for one property per year and must possess a gun deer license.
Hunters or assistants must contact sponsors directly to sign up for a hunt. Hunters must provide their name, contact information, and DNR customer ID number. To be eligible, hunters must possess a valid Class A, C or D disabled permit or Class B permit that is issued for longer than one year, authorizing shooting from a stationary vehicle.
It is important for hunters to note that some properties can accommodate more hunters than others, so hunters are advised to contact potential sponsors as early as possible to determine if space is available.
For more information, interested hunters are encouraged to contact Gross by phone at 608-261-7588 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Apply now for Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener Women’s Mentored Hunt

Women who are new to the sport of pheasant hunting or interested in learning more about the sport of hunting are encouraged to apply for the mentored hunt, taking place during this fall’s Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Austin.
The application deadline is June 28.
Under the guidance of experienced women mentor hunters, successful applicants will learn the skills necessary to pheasant hunt during the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 11, and then take to the field on Saturday, Oct. 12. They will also have the opportunity to take part in the festivities of the weekend event, including a community banquet, hunter’s breakfast and wrap-up lunch.
Applicants are required to have a firearms safety certificate and if selected, purchase a small game hunting license and pheasant stamp. A lottery will be used to select from applicants.
For more information and to apply for the mentored hunt, please contact Kristi Coughlon, Women’s Mentored Pheasant Hunt coordinator, 218-407-2122, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Space for this hunt is limited.
Initiated in 2011, the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener highlights the many hunting, recreational, travel and local opportunities that host communities have to offer visitors.
Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting local partners in planning the event.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Wisconsin grouse survey results show increase in breeding grouse

MADISON - Roadside ruffed grouse surveys completed this spring show statewide drumming activity increased 41% between 2018 and 2019. This increase aligns with the generally predictable grouse population cycle.
The large increase in 2019 has made up for much of the unanticipated decline seen in 2018 drumming surveys and appears to put Wisconsin back on track for approaching the next cyclical high in the ruffed grouse population. For complete survey results, visit and search keywords "reports."
"Grouse are an important resource to Wisconsin's outdoor enthusiasts and economy," said Mark Witecha, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. "As we enter the brood rearing season, weather conditions over the coming weeks will be critical in determining what grouse enthusiasts see in the grouse woods this fall, but increased drumming activity is a good sign that there were more breeding grouse on the landscape this year."
Roadside surveys to monitor the number of breeding grouse have been conducted by staff from the DNR, U.S. Forest Service, tribal employees and numerous grouse enthusiasts and volunteers since 1964.
The central part of the state showed an increase of 35% in drumming activity, and the northern forest showed an increase of 48% in drumming activity. These two areas comprise the primary grouse range in Wisconsin. Decreases in drumming activity detected by the roadside survey occurred in the southwest part of the state (-17%) as well as the southeast (-50%), but these areas are not within the primary range for grouse. The drumming activity in southwestern and southeastern Wisconsin are at or near historic lows and likely would not significantly add to grouse abundance in the state.
"Ruffed grouse rely on dense, young forest cover resulting from disturbances such as fire and logging," said Witecha. "Beyond actively managing state-owned lands, the Wisconsin DNR is working to provide suitable grouse habitat through collaborative efforts such as the Wisconsin Young Forest Partnership and jointly-funded Forest Wildlife Specialist positions with Ruffed Grouse Society and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. These partnerships provide technical and financial assistance for delivering young forest management on private lands, benefiting ruffed grouse and other wildlife species by helping maintain healthy and diverse forest communities."
The DNR is currently working with partners to develop a ruffed grouse management plan. The draft plan will be released for public review later this summer, with associated public meetings to be held during the public comment period.
For more information regarding grouse hunting in Wisconsin, search keywords "ruffed grouse hunting."
To learn more about managing habitat for ruffed grouse and other wildlife species, search keywords "young forest."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR