DNR urges waterfowl hunters to avoid spreading aquatic invasive species

With the Minnesota hunting season underway, it is important for waterfowl hunters to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Invasive species such as purple loosestrife, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and faucet snails can be transported in waterfowl hunters' boats, decoys or blind material and other equipment without the proper precautions.
"Hunters should take a few minutes to clean plants and mud, and drain water from duck boats, decoys, decoy lines, waders and push poles," said Eric Katzenmeyer, DNR invasive species specialist. "It's the key to avoiding the spread of aquatic invasive species in waterfowl habitat."
Invasive species can damage habitat for waterfowl, fish and other wildlife, and can even cause waterfowl die-offs. For example, faucet snails can carry parasites that kill ducks.
The DNR recommends the following to help slow the spread of aquatic invasive species:
* Use elliptical, bulb-shaped or strap decoy anchors.
* Drain water and remove all plants and animals from boats and equipment.
* Remove all plants and animals from anchor lines and blind materials.
* Check compartments or storage in boats or kayaks that aren’t in use the rest of the year.
Also, waterfowl hunters who want to use cattails or other plants for camouflage, must cut them above the water line if they want to move them from lake to lake. They should not cut or move the seed-heads of emergent non-native Phragmites, a restricted noxious weed in Minnesota also known as common reed.
To kill or remove invasive species seeds or young zebra mussels that are difficult to see, the DNR recommends that boaters use a high-pressure spray or a hot water rinse before launching into another water body (120 degrees F for at least two minutes or 140 degrees F for at least 10 seconds). Air drying can also be effective, but may require more time due to cooler weather.
The DNR has a short video that shows the various methods for preventing the spread of invasive species while hunting waterfowl.
Waterfowl hunters aren’t the only ones who should be vigilant about the spread of invasive species. Trappers also should clean their equipment before moving it to another body of water.
“Trappers of muskrats and other furbearers should also keep the ‘Clean in-Clean out’ mantra in mind,” said DNR invasive species specialist Tim Plude. “All traps, lines, boots and waders should be cleaned after each use to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.”
More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Adopt-a-Kiosk, Adopt-a-Dumpster CWD programs open statewide

MADISON, Wis. – No one cares more about Wisconsin deer than Wisconsin hunters, which is why for the past two years, individuals and organizations around the state have partnered with the Department of Natural Resources to place more chronic wasting disease (CWD) self-service kiosks and carcass disposal dumpsters for hunters to help monitor and slow the spread of CWD.
This year, the Adopt-a-Kiosk (AAK) and Adopt-a-Dumpster (AAD) programs are looking for more volunteers to help continue to grow these programs, bringing convenient CWD testing and proper carcass disposal options to even more hunters in Wisconsin.
“We know hunters want to participate in providing CWD sampling and proper carcass disposal options because the original idea for these two programs came from hunters themselves,” said Amanda Kamps, DNR wildlife health conservation specialist. “The AAK and AAD programs give more hunters convenient opportunities to participate in CWD management around the state.”
Proper disposal of deer carcass waste is a major factor in containing the spread of CWD. The DNR is committed to providing safe, convenient disposal options to hunters, especially in areas where options are limited or unavailable.
CWD is a contagious neurological disease of deer, elk moose and reindeer that is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. These prions cause brain degeneration in infected animals and lead to extreme weight loss, abnormal behavior and loss of bodily functions. This always fatal disease was first found in Wisconsin in 2002 through testing of hunter-harvested deer in November 2001.
CWD can be spread among deer by both direct contact between animals and indirectly through exposure to environments contaminated with CWD prions, the protein that causes the disease. Exposure to an area where a CWD-positive carcass has decomposed could be enough to cause infection in deer. Because of this risk, it is vital that deer carcasses are disposed of in a way to reduce this infection risk.
Participants in both programs are responsible for all costs associated with the adoption of dumpsters and kiosks as a donation (with the exception for those enrolled in cost-sharing for dumpsters are responsible for their share), and for following program guidelines. Volunteers will receive DNR recognition and a certificate of appreciation at the end of the season. For the second year, a cost-sharing option is available to those wishing to participate in the Adopt-a-Dumpster program.
Visit the DNR website to learn how you or your organization can get involved with Adopt-a-Kiosk or Adopt-a-Dumpster this year.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin DNR debuts new hunting regulations pamphlet

MADISON, Wis. – Hunters checking out the regulations before heading into the field might notice something a little different this year.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has combined its hunting regulations into one convenient document.
The new regulations are printed on larger paper, with color photographs and graphics, along with simplified language for all huntable species in Wisconsin.
“We think these condensed regulations will make things simpler for hunters,” said Scott Karel, DNR regulation policy specialist.  “Rather than needing to track down multiple hunting regulations pamphlets for different hunting activities, all have been condensed down to one, reducing the number of lines of text and saving money at the same time.”
The regulations are available at many license agents throughout the state. They’re also posted on the DNR website in English, Spanish and Hmong.
The DNR plans to continue producing separate trapping regulations pamphlets.
More information on hunting, including regulations and season dates, is available on the DNR website. For more updates throughout the fall hunting seasons, follow the DNR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR offers robust statewide CWD testing form for hunters

MADISON, Wis. – In cooperation with local businesses, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff will collect deer heads for chronic wasting disease testing during the 2020 archery, crossbow and gun hunting seasons. The health of the deer herd relies on commitment from hunters.
Managing CWD begins with knowing where the disease exists on the landscape, and having this knowledge is only possible with a robust sample size, thanks to deer hunters around the state. Hunters should make plans to visit a sampling station to have their deer submitted for testing.
“Hunters who haven’t had their deer tested before might be concerned about the time involved or just not know what to expect when having their deer tested,” said Amanda Kamps, DNR wildlife health conservation specialist. “We offer a variety of ways for hunters to participate, letting them choose the route that’s most convenient for them.”
New this year, hunters have a digital option for entering their CWD testing information when visiting one of the hundreds of self-service and in-person sampling stations around the state. Successful hunters will find a unique link to the online form in their harvest registration confirmation email or in their Go Wild harvest history.
Testing for CWD is available to hunters statewide. This year, hunters in northwestern and northeastern Wisconsin are strongly encouraged to participate in the department’s effort to map where CWD occurs throughout the state.
“This fall in particular, CWD testing by hunters in northwestern and northeastern Wisconsin will be crucial in our effort to understand where CWD occurs in our state,” said Kamps. “Every last sample counts, so if you’re hunting in one of these counties, make sure to visit us online to find the most convenient sampling location near you.”
The counties with heightened focus in northwestern Wisconsin are: Ashland, Bayfield, Barron, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Rusk, Sawyer and Taylor.
The counties with heightened focus in northeastern Wisconsin are: Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Forest, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Sheboygan, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago.
Recent CWD positive cases in the Chippewa Valley area have spurred the need for increased sampling from deer harvested in Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin and Trempealeau counties. Hunters who harvest deer in Marathon, Lincoln and Oneida counties are also encouraged to have their deer tested to monitor for CWD around recent positives there.
Find a map of where samples are most needed on the DNR website.

CWD Sampling Locations
Hunters have several options available to have their deer sampled for CWD, and all locations can be found on the DNR website. In addition to a network of 24/7 self-service sampling stations (also called kiosks) around the state, many meat processors and businesses offer in-person sampling assistance.
Hunters should contact staffed sampling stations in advance to verify hours of operation. For an interactive map with sampling locations available in your area, visit the DNR website. There is also a searchable database available as an alternative to the map view.
A sample consists of the deer head with 3-5 inches of neck attached. Hunters will also need to have their harvest authorization number, harvest location and contact information when submitting a sample. New this year, hunters may submit this information online rather than using a paper form. Hunters can find this new digital form in their registration confirmation email and in their harvest history in Go Wild.
To make special arrangements for large bucks, please call your nearby DNR wildlife biologist.

Deer Carcass Disposal
Hunters are encouraged to dispose of deer carcass waste in a licensed landfill that accepts this waste or in a dumpster designated for deer carcass waste. If a municipality allows deer disposal curbside or at a transfer station, the carcass should be double bagged. If these options are not available and the deer was harvested on private land, burying the deer carcass waste or returning it to the location of the harvest are the next best options. It is illegal to dispose of deer carcass waste on any public lands.
Hunters can find a map with the CWD sampling locations and deer carcass disposal locations on the DNR website as well as in the Hunt Wild app.

Baiting And Feeding
Hunters are reminded that baiting and feeding is prohibited in some counties. Check the DNR's baiting and feeding webpage frequently for updates. No counties in the state will be removed from the ban during the 2020 deer hunting seasons.

Prevent The Spread Of CWD
Voluntarily following recommended practices can reduce and prevent the spread of CWD. Those include proper carcass transportation, handling and disposal, reporting sick deer, following baiting and feeding regulations and cleaning and decontaminating equipment. Hunters may also follow urine-based scent recommendations.

Sick Deer Reports
DNR staff members are interested in reports of sick deer. To report a sick deer, contact local wildlife staff or call DNR Customer Service at 1-888-936-7463.
More information on CWD is available on the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Fall waterfowl hunting season openers just around the corner

MADISON, Wis. – Duck hunters in the Northern Zone will begin another fall duck hunt on Saturday, Sept. 26. Southern and Mississippi River Zones open Saturday, Oct. 3.
Due to health concerns related to COVID-19, no waterfowl breeding surveys were conducted this spring. However, feedback from the public and Department of Natural Resources staff indicated excellent duck production throughout the entire state. Additionally, statewide precipitation was at or above average throughout the summer, improving waterfowl hunting conditions for the fall in many areas.
“Even with promising breeding indications, local conditions and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall,” said Taylor Finger, DNR Migratory Game Bird Ecologist. “Because parts of the state have experienced wet conditions leading up to the duck season and some areas of the state remain dry, scouting this fall will be particularly important to identify the areas that are holding birds.”
The Northern Zone duck season will run Sept. 26 to Nov. 24. The Southern and Mississippi River Zone seasons have a five-day split, running Oct. 3-11 and Oct. 17 to Dec. 6. Opening day shooting hours will begin one-half hour before sunrise.
Waterfowl hunters should note that the goose season in the southern portion of the Exterior zone will also be closed during the five-day split from Oct. 12-16. Also, hunters should note that goose season in the Mississippi River Subzone opens Oct. 3 and is closed Oct. 12-16.
The daily bag limit statewide is six ducks, including no more than: four mallards, of which two may be a hen (new for 2020); two black duck; two canvasbacks; three wood ducks; one pintail; and two redheads.
Per U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations, there has been a change in the daily scaup bag limit for 2020. The daily scaup bag limits by zone are:
* North: 1 scaup/day – Sept. 26-Oct. 10 and 2 scaup/day Oct. 11-Nov. 24.
* South: 1 scaup/day – Oct. 3-Oct. 11, Oct. 17-Oct. 22 and 2 scaup/day Oct. 23-Dec. 6.
* Mississippi River: 1 scaup/day – Oct. 3-Oct. 11, Oct. 17-Oct. 22 and 2 scaup/day Oct. 23-Dec. 6.
Five mergansers may be harvested daily, of which no more than two may be hooded mergansers. Fifteen coots may be harvested daily.
Licenses and stamps required for duck hunting include a Wisconsin small game license (included in the Conservation Patron and Sports packaged licenses), a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp and a federal migratory bird stamp. The federal duck stamp costs $25 and can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at DNR license vendors for an additional $3 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license, but the stamp itself will arrive several weeks later in the mail.
Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program, which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their harvest. HIP registration is free and can be done at the time hunters purchase their licenses. It can also be added later if a hunter decides they’d like to pursue migratory game birds.
State licenses and stamps, permits and HIP registration are all available through Go Wild. For more information regarding waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website.

Regular Goose Season
With resident Canada goose numbers holding steady and average production of the Ontario breeders, hunters will have ample opportunity to enjoy another full 92 days of hunting in the Exterior Zone with a three-bird daily bag limit.
The regular Canada goose season structure is:
* Northern Zone: Sept. 16 to Dec. 16.
* Southern Zone: Sept. 16 to Oct. 11; Oct. 17 to Dec. 6; and Dec. 22 to Jan. 5, 2021.
* Mississippi River Subzone: Oct. 3-Oct. 11 and Oct. 17 to Jan. 5, 2021.
While afield, goose hunters must carry their Canada goose harvest permit. Early and regular season goose permits may be printed on regular white paper rather than green thermal paper. Acceptable methods of proof include a paper copy, department-approved PDF displayed on a mobile device, Wisconsin driver’s license or Go Wild Conservation Card. 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.
To learn more about the 2020 migratory bird season framework, visit the DNR webpage.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR, DHS issue Do Not Eat deer liver advisory

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources released a report today detailing findings of PFAS in the liver of deer harvested and analyzed from the JCI/Tyco Fire Technology Center in Marinette, Wis.
Following this announcement, the DNR and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) issued a Do Not Eat advisory for the liver from deer harvested within 5 miles of the JCI/Tyco Fire Technology Center (FTC). This includes areas of Marinette, Peshtigo and surrounding communities. The FTC is located at 2700 Industrial Parkway, Marinette.
Due to high interest from the community, the DNR conducted a study on PFAS levels in deer from the JCI/Tyco Fire Technology Center in Marinette. Twenty deer were harvested and tested for PFAS levels in muscle (venison), heart and liver tissues.
PFAS levels in muscle (venison) and heart tissue were either very low or not detected. For those who eat venison from deer harvested within the five-mile advisory area, the muscle (venison) and heart of white-tailed deer are not likely to result in significant PFAS exposure, according to the DNR’s findings. Therefore, the DNR and DHS have not issued a PFAS-based consumption advisory for muscles or hearts of deer from this location.
However, significant PFAS levels were found in deer liver tissues. The liver filters chemicals from the blood, and some chemicals, like PFAS, can accumulate in the liver over time. These findings suggest that eating liver from deer in this area is likely to result in significant PFAS exposure. The Wisconsin DHS and DNR recommend people not eat liver harvested from deer within the advisory area. Further investigation of PFAS in deer from other locations is under consideration.
“We want to be clear that people should feel comfortable eating venison from deer they’ve harvested near this area," said Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief. "We just advise they do not consume the liver.”
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals used in industrial processes and manufactured products. PFAS don’t break down easily and can remain for a long time in the environment where people can be exposed to them. PFAS can accumulate in the human body slowly over time through repeat exposure. High levels of PFAS in the body are harmful to human health, especially to the health of pregnant women.
Visit the DHS PFAS webpage for more information on the effects of PFAS on human health. More information on PFAS in the Marinette area and information on safe consumption of wild game are available on the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Elk Ridge yurt now open for Flambeau area hunters

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin hunters will find a new way to explore the outdoors this season with the opening of the Elk Ridge yurt, located in the Flambeau River State Forest in Sawyer County.
The Elk Ridge yurt is ADA-accessible and was paid for with sportsmen’s dollars through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (PR Act). The yurt is exclusively available to hunters from Sept. 8 through May 29 for the fall hunting and spring turkey seasons. The yurt is reservable year-round and may be used for hunting and non-hunting purposes from May 30 through Labor Day.
Through an excise tax on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, the PR Act provides essential funding for quality hunting experiences nationwide.
“In Wisconsin, we are lucky to receive funds to provide hunters with new and innovative access opportunities on our public lands. We are excited to launch the Flambeau River State Forest Elk Ridge yurt to provide a unique amenity for hunters this 2020 hunting season,” said Anne Reis-Boyle, DNR public lands specialist.
The Flambeau River State Forest spans 90,000 acres of public lands and offers a diversity of forests and habitats, hundreds of miles of roads and walking trails. The yurt offers nearby access to hunter walking trails and a carry-in canoe/kayak launch on the Flambeau River. The yurt can also be accessed directly from the Flambeau River as it is just upstream from Dix-Dox Landing. Amenities include bunk beds, one ADA-accessible bunk, a wood-burning stove, a bear-proof food storage box, an enclosed vault toilet, a fire pit and an outdoor game pole for processing.
The yurt can accommodate up to six people and must be reserved in advance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hunters are asked to continue social distancing from people outside their household. Dogs are not allowed in the yurt.
Visit the Wisconsin Going to Camp site to reserve the yurt this fall and beyond. For more information about this unique hunter camping experience, visit the Flambeau River State Forest webpage on the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR