MADISON, Wis. – In light of scientific data and concerns over population viability, there will be no sharp-tailed grouse hunting season in Wisconsin this fall. With no permits available, no applications will be made available or accepted this year. Each year, the Sharp-tailed Grouse Advisory Committee uses spring mating survey data to recommend permit levels for the sharp-tailed grouse hunting season to the DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management leadership team. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, surveys were unable to be fully completed. Some data were gathered by partner groups, but the dataset for 2020 remains incomplete. The Sharp-tailed Grouse Advisory Committee consists of DNR wildlife biologists and representatives from interested conservation groups. Without a complete 2020 survey of the sharp-tailed grouse population, the committee made its recommendation based on the spring 2019 survey results, the limited 2020 data that were available and a scientific population model, which showed the potential for a marked decrease in sharp-tailed grouse numbers. Permits were not issued in 2019, though permits were issued in three of the last five years. Wisconsin has a strong, storied connection to sharp-tailed grouse hunting. Thanks to the passion and commitment of DNR's partners in conservation, work is ongoing to restore and manage the young forest and barrens habitats that sharp-tailed grouse depend upon for their survival. As a result of the increased barrens habitat management activities occurring in recent years in northwest Wisconsin, there is great optimism that the population will respond positively to these efforts and Wisconsin will experience an increase in sharp-tailed grouse population data in future years. More information on sharp sharp-tailed grouse hunting and management is available here." The Sharp-tailed grouse survey data can be found on the DNR website.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Hunters get more opportunities to harvest deer this year
Hunters can start planning ahead for the deer season with the release of the 2020 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping regulations handbook, now available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources deer hunting page at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer. “This season, hunters in general will see more chances to harvest deer,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “These opportunities are due to increases in deer populations in much of the state and as part of our response to chronic wasting disease in southern Minnesota.” Hunting licenses go on sale Saturday, Aug. 1, and are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-665-4236, or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. The popular youth deer hunting season continues and will happen statewide Oct. 15-18. During last year’s inaugural statewide youth season, nearly 5,700 young deer hunters harvested a deer, which represented a 77 percent increase from the previous season when it was limited to fewer areas. “Positive early hunting experiences go a long way toward starting or continuing a rewarding fall tradition,” Keller said. “We’re excited to be able to continue providing this great opportunity that helps adults introduce youth to all that deer hunting has to offer.”
Other deer season changes include: * The DNR has expanded the early antlerless deer season, Oct. 15-18, to include more deer permit areas in central and southeastern Minnesota. The season increases opportunities for hunters in areas where deer populations are above population goals, or where there is an increased risk of chronic wasting disease spreading. Permit areas open during the hunt are 213, 214, 215, 341, 342, 343, 344, 604, 605, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649 and 655. * Several deer permit area boundaries in north-central and northwestern Minnesota have changed due to input from the public and DNR staff during the deer population goal-setting process, or in response to CWD spread. Hunters should double check the boundaries of any permit areas where they plan to hunt.
CWD testing requirements There are significant changes to the regulations related to chronic wasting disease, as the DNR continues its aggressive management of CWD and also ensuring hunter and staff safety by implementing sampling changes that allow for social distancing and community mitigation measures. The DNR has created additional CWD testing areas due to the detection of CWD in both wild and captive deer in new areas last year. While sampling is voluntary this season, a move the DNR made to mitigate the risk of spreading coronavirus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the DNR highly encourages hunters in these sampling areas to participate in testing their harvested wild deer. The DNR remains confident that hunter cooperation will allow the agency to detect the disease. Since fall 2017, the DNR has required hunters to have their deer tested for CWD in certain areas of the state to monitor the disease and discover new areas where it may have spread. Rather than having staffed sampling stations as in the past, the DNR will set up a network of self-service stations where hunters can drop off samples. Full details will be available on the CWD webpage closer to the start of the season. On July 1, deer feeding and attractant bans were expanded to include the metro area. In addition, due to the spread of CWD, the antler point restrictions in southeastern Minnesota have been temporarily lifted and cross-tagging, also known as party hunting, will be allowed in southeastern Minnesota for antlered bucks. As in previous years, the DNR is enforcing carcass movement restrictions in disease management and control zones to limit the spread of disease. Additional regulation changes are detailed on the DNR’s deer hunting webpage at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR
Camp Ripley archery hunters can purchase permits in August
Hunters, who want to participate in the archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls, will be able to purchase permits without entering their names in a lottery. Hunt permits will go on sale starting at noon on Friday, Aug. 28. The dates for this year’s event at Camp Ripley are Oct. 15-16 and Oct. 31-Nov. 1. For 2020, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has changed the process and timeline to apply to the hunts due to the ongoing uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not having a lottery allows the hunt to be quickly canceled in the event such a decision would be necessary. In August, hunters will be able to find hunt rules and details about how to participate in the hunt on the DNR website. The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt in collaboration with Central Lakes College Natural Resources Department, and the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military training area.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR
Wisconsin DNR hunter safety classes resume July 13
MADISON, Wis. – In-person hunter and recreational vehicle education classes will resume July 13 under a set of guidelines and safety protocols released Friday by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills Section under Phase II of the Wisconsin State Government Bounce Back Plan. The in-person hunter and recreational vehicle education classes resuming July 13 are for courses with 50 people or less. Based on a review of enrollment data for DNR hunter safety courses over the past three years, less than 2% of the more than 2,200 courses provided exceeded 50 attendees. In March, the DNR temporarily suspended all in-person hunter education and recreational safety classes due to public health advisories relating to COVID-19. At the same time, the DNR also canceled, adjusted and postponed an array of other in-person public events, meetings, trainings and agency operations to protect public health. The suspension reflected the dedication to safety by the DNR and the program, and provided the time to establish classroom guidelines to keep students and instructors as safe as possible from COVID-19 exposures. The COVID-19 public health steps go beyond providing the educational safety courses for hunting, boating and off-highway vehicles, and will remain part of the safety class environment as classes start in July. The safety protocols are for the protection of students and instructors, and the communities where they live. The DNR will continue to prioritize the safety of the public, volunteer instructors, and department staff when determining protocols for resuming in-person recreational safety classes. “We wish we had a one-size-fits-all plan. That is not possible because each safety class – whether it is hunter education or about recreational vehicle use – is different by location and the instructor,” said Lt. Warden Jon King, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement administrator of the hunter education program. “However, the safety and the well-being of our students and our instructors remains priority Number One regardless of where the class takes place.”The DNR’s Recreational Safety and Outdoor Section will work collaboratively with volunteer instructors and partners to reopen DNR safety classes. The timeline is as follows: * Instructors may start to enroll classes into GoWild on Sunday, June 28. *Classes may start Monday, July 13.
SAFETY CLASS PARTICIPANTS CAN EXPECT THESE CHANGES: * Social distancing of 6 feet between participants. * Maximum of 50 participants in any one class. * Attendees strongly recommended to wear face covering. * Sanitizing of class equipment. * Availability and use of hand sanitizer. * Outdoor class instruction where possible. Wisconsin hunter education started in 1967 with a grassroots effort to reduce hunting incidents and to educate hunters to make them safe, responsible and ethical. Since then, multiple generations of families have attended hunter education. There have been over 20,000 volunteers who have helped educate the hunters of Wisconsin and approximately 1.2 million hunters have been certified. Incident rates for gun deer accidents continue to decrease with 9 years of gun deer seasons with no fatalities. “Our intent is to go back to normal only when safe,” King said, adding that protocols may change as conditions do. “These safety rules and guidelines are essential until the ongoing pandemic threat is gone.” The DNR remains strongly committed to the health and safety of recreational safety course instructors and students. The department continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. Learn more about the DNR Safety Education Program on the DNR website. For specific information regarding COVID-19 we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Bear hunting application period opens July 1 for 2021 season
MADISON, Wis. – The application period for the 2021 bear hunting season will open July 1 after the successful completion of legislative review. The application deadline remains Dec. 10, 2020. Applicants are reminded to be aware of the new bear management zone boundaries as their usual hunting grounds may change to a new unit beginning in 2021. State wildlife officials do not know precisely how these changes will specifically affect harvest permit wait times, but they expect there will likely be no significant changes across zones A, B, C and D. There will be no zone changes for the upcoming 2020 bear season. Wisconsin bear hunting is prevalent, and more people apply each year than the number of licenses available. For 2020, more than 119,000 hunters applied for a permit or a preference point for 11,535 available permits. The new zones are part of the Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan, 2019-2029, developed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bear Advisory Committee and approved by the Natural Resources Board in May 2019. The new bear management zones are designed to address bear conflicts and manage desired population levels effectively. People who would like to hunt black bear in Wisconsin must possess a Class A bear license. Hunters may obtain a Class A bear license by: * Being selected in the bear drawing. * Participating in the Learn to Bear Hunt Program. * Receiving a Class A bear license transfer via the Awarded Permit Transfers Program or through Deceased Customer Preference Approval Transfer. Applications are required for a Class A license or to receive a preference point. Hunters must apply at least once during a period of three consecutive years, otherwise, all previously accumulated preference points will be lost. Sign up to receive an email when the 2021 bear permit application opens.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
4 Wisconsin hunters drawn for state’s 3rd managed elk hunt
MADISON, Wis. - Following a three-month application period, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources randomly drew four lucky Wisconsin residents who will have the opportunity to participate in the 2020 elk hunting season. Just shy of 28,000 Wisconsin residents entered the drawing for one of four once-in-a-lifetime elk tags. The winners are from the cities of Appleton, Junction City, Marengo and McFarland. "One of the more enjoyable tasks I have all year is calling the elk tag winners," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. "They are always super excited and usually say something like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ This year it just so happened to be one winner’s birthday, and it took a few minutes to convince him that I wasn’t one of his buddies playing a joke on him.” In May, the Natural Resources Board approved a harvest quota of 10 bulls from the northern elk herd for the 2020 Wisconsin elk hunt, matching the number of tags from the 2019 season. Of the 10 tags, five will be awarded to state hunters, and the Ojibwe tribes will receive an allocation for the remaining five elk in accordance with their treaty rights within the Ceded Territory. The fifth elk hunting license will be awarded through a raffle conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Raffle tickets may be purchased on the RMEF website, and the winner will be drawn at their state banquet in Wausau on July 25. Application numbers increased by more than 4,000 compared to 2019. For each $10 application fee, $7 is earmarked for elk management, habitat and research in Wisconsin. Almost $11,000 in donations were also received thanks to the generous contributions of many applicants. "Last year's hunters collected some very nice bulls and great stories of the hunt, so we're looking forward to continued success within the elk program that provides more hunting and elk viewing opportunities in the future," said Wallenfang. The 2020 elk hunting season will occur only in Wisconsin’s northern elk range in parts of Ashland, Bayfield, Price, Rusk and Sawyer counties, where the first restoration effort was initiated with 25 elk from Michigan in 1995. The northern elk herd is projected to be approximately 300 animals this year. Although the state’s central elk herd is projected to be approaching 100 elk this summer after calving, hunting is not recommended to occur there in 2020. For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, visit the DNR elk webpage here. 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
Preliminary 2020 spring turkey harvest registrations jump
MADISON, Wis. – Preliminary totals show Wisconsin turkey hunters registered 44,963 birds during the 2020 spring turkey hunting season, nearly a 17% increase from the 38,576 birds registered in the 2019 season. The 2020 youth season resulted in a total of 2,880 birds registered, up 47% from 1,953 in 2019. Harvest increased significantly across all zones and time periods compared to 2019 levels. Although snow was persistent this winter in the northern half of the state, there were few long-lasting cold snaps, favorable spring brooding conditions in 2019 and late standing crops in many areas of the state, leading to a healthy and robust turkey population entering the spring season. Weather conditions were optimal for almost every period of the 2020 turkey season. “The 2020 spring turkey season represents the highest harvest since 2016 and the second-highest harvest since 2010,” said Mark Witecha, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. “Good weather and enhanced opportunity for hunters this season likely contributed some to increased harvest, but ultimately we continue to have one of the healthiest turkey flocks in the nation here in Wisconsin.” A total of 224,452 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2020 spring turkey season, a 5% increase from 2019, with 132,037 harvest authorizations awarded through the drawing and 92,415 sold over the counter. Zone 1 produced the highest overall harvest at 11,689 birds, followed by Zones 3 and 2. Hunters registered 11,264 birds in Zone 3 and 10,934 birds in Zone 2. Overall, the statewide success rate was 20% compared to 18.1% in 2019. The 2020 spring season started April 11, with the Youth Hunt. The regular season began April 15, and ran through May 26, with six separate time periods. Having separate periods allows for maximum hunter opportunities with a minimum amount of interference while ensuring a sustainable harvest. Biologists in Wisconsin closely monitor harvest, hunter interference rates, hunter satisfaction and other information to track turkey populations through time to maintain a successful, enjoyable and sustainable spring turkey hunt.