CWD remains biggest concern in southeastern Minnesota

During the 2019 hunting season and special hunts, chronic wasting disease was confirmed in 27 wild deer, all from southeastern Minnesota.
CWD was not detected in wild deer in central and north-central Minnesota.
“Overall, this is good news for Minnesota’s wild deer. The disease is still relatively rare across the state, and the CWD-positive test results this year came from areas where we had the most risk,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.
In total, 12,618 hunter-harvested deer were tested in the southeast disease management and control zones, 3,965 in the north-central disease management zone, and 536 in the central surveillance area.
An additional 282 opportunistic samples (deer found dead or reported sick) were tested, with one CWD-positive found within the southeast disease management zone. Researchers are still submitting some samples from cooperating taxidermists. Final results will be updated online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck as they become available.
Minnesota’s CWD response plan calls for testing of wild deer for three years after the disease is detected in either captive or wild deer because the disease incubates in deer slowly. If CWD is not detected in three consecutive years of testing, the DNR stops looking for the disease in that area.

Southeastern area
In southeastern Minnesota, 23 additional cases of CWD were discovered in the disease management zone during the fall hunting season. Three additional deer were found positive for CWD after testing from the two special hunts in this area. The southeast control zone, a buffer area around the management zone, returned no CWD-positive results.

North-central area
This was the third year of sampling in the north-central area, after the discovery of CWD in a deer farm in Crow Wing County.
More than 8,000 wild deer were tested during falls 2017 and 2018 without any detection of CWD. However, one CWD-positive deer was found dead near the infected farm in January 2019, which sparked more aggressive control strategies.
The management zone, deer permit area 604, will remain in place for at least two more years to see if CWD is found in other wild deer in the area.
“We’ll continue watching the north-central area to see if disease is present beyond the one CWD-positive deer discovered last year,” Cornicelli said.

Central area
Because no wild deer positives were detected in the central surveillance area in its third consecutive year of testing, there will be no more testing in this area during the 2020 hunting season. Precautionary testing in central Minnesota began in 2017 after the discovery of CWD at a deer farm in Meeker County.
Lots of helpTo support hunter compliance with CWD management carcass movement restrictions, the DNR placed dumpsters for deer carcass collection and disposal in 25 locations across the disease management zones, as part of the Adopt-a-Dumpster program. The program kept more than 200 tons of deer remains off of the landscape, reducing the potential for spread of CWD through infected carcasses.
“The support and help from hunters, stakeholders and businesses were critical in making this effort a success,” said Bryan Lueth, DNR habitat program manager, who helped coordinate the program. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Bluffland Whitetails Association, Crow Wing County and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association provided support for the DNR’s Adopt-A-Dumpster program, which was established by the Minnesota Legislature.
Current management actionsIn February, the DNR will work with U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services to complete targeted culling in localized areas in the southeast where CWD has been detected in wild deer. Reducing deer densities in these areas reduces the risk of disease spreading. A map of the areas of focus is available on the southeast disease management zone webpage.
Venison from deer harvested that do not test positive for CWD will be donated through the Share the Harvest program. People can find more information about the program on the DNR website.
Final CWD test results will influence how the DNR manages the disease going forward and any changes it will make to 2020 hunting regulations, which will be released in August.

Additional CWD information
CWD is an always-fatal neurological disease that affects the cervid family, which includes deer, elk and moose. Since CWD was first detected in a captive elk in Minnesota in 2002, the DNR has tested more than 90,000 wild deer in the state. To date, 79 wild deer have been confirmed positive for CWD in Minnesota. Test results, including locations of confirmed positive test results and statistics, are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck.
Keeping Minnesota’s wild deer population healthy remains the goal in the DNR’s response to chronic wasting disease. The DNR’s three-pronged approach to prevent spread of the disease was detailed in an earlier news release; the department’s CWD response plan can be found on the DNR website.
For more information on chronic wasting disease, visit mndnr.gov/cwd.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


DNR Seeking Nominations for Hunter Ethics Award

MADISON, Wis. - Do you know a hunter whose actions impressed you? Was the hunter kind, courteous, respectful, responsible, or perhaps a moral compass in action?
If so, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is now accepting applications for its annual Wisconsin Hunter Ethics Award.
Established in 1997, the Hunter Ethics Award recognizes a hunter whose action is symbolic of Wisconsin's hunting heritage. A heritage that is not about trophy bucks or number of pheasants - but of an outdoor tradition enjoyed responsibly, respectfully, and safely by and for all.
Ethical behavior demonstrates the moral character of the hunting public and illustrates how people can assist one another while recreating together in the outdoors, said DNR Chief Conservation Warden Casey Krueger.
"Ethical action can be represented in many ways; examples could include helping another person during a hunt, or taking steps to protect our natural resources," Krueger said. "Over the years, award recipients have returned lost gear, helped others find lost game or assisted another hunter facing a challenge of some kind."
Any hunter or non-hunter can nominate a licensed Wisconsin hunter for the DNR Ethical Hunter Award for an action that took place during the calendar year of 2019. Although many nominations are made during gun deer season, the ethical action could be something done during a squirrel hunt, turkey hunt, waterfowl hunt, or any other Wisconsin hunting season.
A four-person committee reviews the nominations and selects the person deemed most deserving of this award. The annual honor was established by Bob Lamb, retired outdoors editor of the La Crosse Tribune, retired DNR conservation warden supervisor Steve Dewald and retired University of Wisconsin-La Crosse biology professor and outdoors writer Jerry Davis.
The nomination committee focuses on what are often singular actions or events rather than individuals who have long term conservation-related programs.
Submit nominations by email or letter explaining what the ethical act was to: Captain April Dombrowski at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by standard mail to Department of Natural Resources, 101 S. Webster St., P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921., Attention: April Dombrowski. The deadline to submit a nomination is Feb. 14, 2020.

To become eligible for the 2019 award:
* The nominee must be a licensed (resident or nonresident) Wisconsin hunter.
* The ethical hunting act must have occurred in Wisconsin during the 2019 calendar year.
* Nominations will be considered for any DNR-regulated hunting activity, not only deer hunting in Wisconsin.
* Written nominations must contain the name, address and telephone number of the witness or witnesses, or be aware of the behavior, which led to the nomination.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


3 states join in ruffed grouse West Nile Virus sampling

In collaboration with the Michigan and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources, the Ruffed Grouse Society and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, the Wisconsin DNR has undertaken a study to improve our understanding of West Nile virus in ruffed grouse.
The study relies on samples submitted by hunters. Those wishing to participate are asked send in a small amount of blood, feathers and the heart from the ruffed grouse they harvest. The DNR also encourages the public to report any sick or dead grouse observed while out in the field.
Visit the DNR’s ruffed grouse hunting page and look under the “Disease sampling” tab to watch a video on how the agencies process samples received from the public.
Each sample bolsters the available data and provides a better understanding of the prevalence of exposure to West Nile Virus in ruffed grouse.
Members of the public should contact their local wildlife biologist to report sick or dead bird observations.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


DNR simplifies spring turkey hunting licenses

Hunters hoping to bag a tom turkey with a firearm next spring will no longer be restricted to a single permit area.
With the exception of three major wildlife management areas, a spring turkey license will provide the opportunity to hunt all permit areas in the state.
Beginning March 1, all spring turkey hunters can purchase a license over-the-counter. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is announcing the season details now so hunters can apply for permits drawn in a lottery for the three wildlife management areas.
“We’re making it easier to hunt wild turkeys in Minnesota,” said Leslie McInenly, wildlife populations program manager with the DNR. “Turkey restoration has been a great success for the state and, over time, we’ve been able to relax and simplify hunting regulations.”
The DNR annually monitors hunter participation and turkey harvest. In 2019, the agency considered recent season participation, hunter interest in lotteries, harvest levels and public comment on potential season changes. Public input indicated high levels of hunter support for greater flexibility in hunting location as well as increased opportunities to purchase licenses over-the-counter rather than through the lottery.
Turkey season runs from April 15 to May 31 and is divided into six hunt periods, A through F. Firearms hunters 18 and older must choose their hunt period when they purchase a license. Firearms turkey hunters can participate in Hunt F if they have an unused tag from one of the earlier hunt periods.
Firearms turkey hunters ages 18 and older who are interested in a permit to hunt in Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas during A through C seasons will be required to apply for a lottery. The deadline to apply for those high-demand areas is Friday, Jan. 24. Successful applicants may hunt statewide, in addition to their selected wildlife management area.
Archery-only license holders may still hunt statewide for the entire season (April 15-May 31). Hunters cannot purchase both a firearms and archery-only license.
Licensed hunters ages 17 and younger may hunt statewide for the entire season (April 15-May 31) with firearms or archery equipment.
Because there is no lottery for spring wild turkey licenses, the landowner and tenant drawing, which set aside a percentage of lottery licenses for landowners with qualifying land, has been discontinued, and landowners and tenants can purchase licenses like other turkey hunters.
Turkey lottery applications for the Mille Lacs, Carlos Avery or Whitewater wildlife management areas cost $5 and can be purchased online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, by phone at 888-665-4236, or in person from a license agent. Successful applicants will receive a notice in the mail by mid-February and can purchase their hunting license starting March 1.
More information about turkey hunting in Minnesota can be found on the DNR website.

2020 Spring Turkey Hunt Periods
Hunt A: April 15-21
Hunt B: April 22-28
Hunt C: April 29-May 5
Hunt D: May 6-12
Hunt E: May 13-19
Hunt F: May 20-31


December deer hunts coming up as part of CWD efforts

Hunters can participate in two special deer hunts to help limit the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer in southeastern Minnesota.
Residents and nonresidents can participate in the hunts from Friday, Dec. 20, through Sunday, Dec. 22, and Friday, Dec. 27, through Sunday, Dec. 29, in deer permit areas 643, 646, 647 and 648, which are the only permit areas where the disease has been found to be persistent in wild deer.
Hunters must plan ahead and should check the DNR’s special hunt webpage for complete details about the hunts including hunt rules, CWD sampling locations, carcass movement restrictions and a map of the hunt area.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


DNR offers opportunity to discuss deer population goals


Minnesotans can take an active role in helping shape deer population goals across the state by attending local workshops designed to increase inclusiveness and transparency in the Department of Natural Resources’ decision-making process.
Based on feedback from hunters and others, the DNR is using a new workshop format to facilitate small group discussions to both scope issues and create recommendations. The workshops replace the citizen advisory committees and public meetings that were used during the last round of deer goal setting in 2017.
“Using workshops to gather input opens the doors to include more participants and more viewpoints than the advisory committees used previously, and we’re really looking forward to hearing the conversations and recommendations,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “We encourage anyone who has an interest in deer management to attend these workshops and give feedback on future deer population trends in the areas where they live, work and recreate.”
Using the workshop format is a change based on information from Minnesota’s hunters about how they prefer to provide input, exit interviews of participants from the last round of population goal setting and consultation with the statewide Deer Advisory Committee.
The DNR sets deer population goals – how much of an increase or decrease is desired in a deer population in a particular deer permit area – as part of managing the state’s wild deer herd. Deer population goals will be updated on a staggered basis in 14 regional goal-setting blocks that are made of multiple deer permit areas. The population goals established in this process will provide direction for management over 10 years, with a midpoint review every five years.
The goal-setting process will take four years to complete statewide, with several geographic blocks addressed each year. This year focuses on blocks in the northwestern and western parts of the state. Complete details, including the dates and locations of the workshops are listed on the goal-setting webpage.
Join in the goal-setting processThere will be a pair of workshops for each block, each three hours long. During the first workshop, participants will work in small groups to identify key issues of interest and priorities to guide management of the deer population. In the second workshop, participants will discuss solutions to the issues and create recommendations for the deer populations in those blocks.
Anyone may attend these workshops, regardless of affiliation or knowledge of the process. Background information will be provided. Attendees are highly encouraged to RSVP on the DNR goal-setting webpage.
Those who are unable to attend the workshops can still participate in the goal-setting process. There will be online comment opportunities supplementing the workshops, including an online questionnaire that will be on the DNR website in January. The public will also be able to comment on the draft population goals that result from the goal-setting process.
In addition to goal setting, there are other ways to provide input about deer management. As in prior years, anyone can talk directory with area wildlife managers or attend deer open houses (information about open houses found at on the DNR website).
To find out more, visit the DNR’s deer population goal-setting webpage.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Pheasant, duck plans to enhance habitats and recreation

Strategic conservation efforts designed to foster stewardship of pheasants, ducks and their habitats are outlined in new Minnesota Department of Natural Resources action plans for these popular birds.
“The DNR strives to be a forward-thinking leader for pheasant and duck management in Minnesota,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “The issues facing ducks and pheasants are serious. They include the amount and quality of habitat and the impacts of a changing climate. These plans help clarify and focus our work to better address these issues.”
The action plans were developed during the last 10 months with the help of conservation and tribal partners as well as the public and technical experts. Each plan is designed to better define what the DNR will do and how it will work with partners. Each outlines short-term actions that can help fulfill long-term conservation goals.
While species and habitat management plans often cover time periods of 10 or more years, the new action plans focus efforts over four years. That allows the DNR and its conservation partners to more immediately assess and adjust activities to meet long-term goals that are affected by changing conditions.
“A key part of DNR’s work outlined in these short-term plans will be collaboration with our conservation partners,” said Mike Larson, interim DNR wildlife section manager. “Helping support our partners’ work, especially their work with private landowners, is critically important.”

Strategies outlined in the plans include:
* Maintaining land acquisitions for wildlife management areas, primarily in western and southern Minnesota, and increasing the proportion of those acquisitions in priority areas identified for pheasants and ducks.
* Increasing the quality and quantity of habitat improvements and enhancements on state lands for pheasants and ducks.
* Supporting the work of conservation partners to protect and enhance habitat on private and federal lands.
* Increasing coordination of actions under the plans with related activities of conservation partners in Minnesota.
* Supporting priority management actions within the Mississippi Flyway for ducks.
* Improving access to land for outdoor recreation and habitat appreciation.
* Defining research and monitoring priorities and working with partners to address those priorities.
“These action plans for pheasants and ducks complement other conservation plans already in place,” Larson said. “Our intent is to better define and track our work to conserve and create more habitat, increase recreational opportunities, and increase public awareness and appreciation of habitat conservation.”
More information about DNR habitat work, activities and accomplishments related to the action plans, as well as the plans themselves, are available on the DNR website.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR