Waterfowl hunters can help stop spread of aquatic invasive species

MADISON, Wis. – During the 2020 migratory bird season, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources would like to remind waterfowl hunters to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in hunting areas and adjacent waters.
For example, mud can hide seeds, the bulbils of starry stonewort and the eggs or larvae of tiny invaders like spiny water fleas. The faucet snail, which carries intestinal flukes that can kill ducks if they consume them, is also of particular concern to hunters.
Luckily, just a few minutes of preventative action can protect our hunting tradition for generations to come. Before launching into and leaving a water body, hunters should:
* Inspect waders, boats, trailers, motors and hunting equipment, including boots, blinds and dogs.
* Remove all plants, animals and mud to the best of their ability.
* Drain all water from decoys, boats, motors, livewells and other hunting equipment.
* Never move plants or live fish away from a water body.
* Additionally, waterfowl hunters should remove all seed heads and roots when using vegetation for duck blinds. It is important to note that it is illegal to use phragmites in counties where the plant is listed as prohibited by NR40. In general, these counties include the western half of Wisconsin.
Learn more about how hunters can help on the DNR website under the Hunter Resources tab.
To aid in AIS education, outreach modeled after the successful Clean Boats, Clean Waters (CBCW) program is targeting lake, river and wetland hunting access points for the fifth consecutive year. Although more limited this year, boat inspectors and educators are conducting a hunting version of the CBCW survey and talking to hunters about specific aspects of duck hunting that risk moving aquatic invasive species.
Members of Wisconsin’s AIS Partnership, including DNR staff, may also be available to provide presentations and other outreach for hunt clubs and other organizations virtually. They can also answer specific questions about AIS in your preferred hunting region.
For more information on aquatic invasive species, including where they are prohibited and restricted in Wisconsin, visit the DNR’s website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR & Dane County Sheriff's Office expand shooting range hours

MADISON, Wis. – Thanks to the continuing project agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Dane County Sheriff's Office, the public again will have November access to the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center Range for hunter firearm sight-in.
November hours were first announced in June, when weekend hours at the range were announced.
Between Nov. 7-20, the public will have access from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day for hunter sight-in.
There is a $10 fee for the first gun and $5 for each additional gun.
The program allows hunters to sight-in their shotguns, rifles and pistols in a safe environment. No appointment is necessary.
Citizens may only bring firearms that are legal for deer hunting in Wisconsin.
Experienced instructors will be on hand to aid in the sighting and adjusting of firearms.
Hearing and eye protection is mandatory and is provided, or you may use your own.
Hunters will also be able to receive information on hunting laws, regulations and gun safety.

Facility Specifics
During this public access period, one 100-yard rifle range and one 25-yard pistol range will be open to the public for shooting and target practice.
Shooters will not be limited in the time they spend on the range unless there are no open firing positions and others are waiting.
Target stands are available at the range. Shooters should bring ear and eye protection, paper targets and their own ammunition.
Fees: $10 per person, per day. Fees must be paid with cash or personal check. Credit cards are not accepted.
Minors: A parent or legal guardian must accompany minors. A minor must be at least 12 years old and present proof of enrollment or completion of the DNR Hunter Safety Program to shoot at the range.

COVID-19 & Social Distancing
The following steps must be taken by those participating in the weekend open range shoot:
* All individuals entering the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center must wear a mask or else entry will be denied. No exceptions.
* Individuals may opt to wear a mask while outdoors or on the range.
* When entering the facility, individuals will be required to stay at least 6 feet away from the next person in line unless they are a family member or a member of the same household.
* Measurements will be masked on the floor.
* Shooting lanes on the range will be restricted to the use of every other lane providing a 10-foot distance between each shooter.
* Disinfectant/hand sanitizer will be available upon entry to the building and on the range.
* Extra cleaning/disinfecting will occur for multiple-use items.
* Length of time to spend at the range will be at the discretion of staff based on the number of individuals waiting their turn.
* The Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center is located at 5184 Highway 19 in the Town of Westport, one mile east of the intersection of Highway 113 and County Trunk I.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR welcomes people with disabilities at wildlife management areas

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants more people with disabilities to know about ways to use wildlife management areas.
“We want all Minnesotans, including those with disabilities, to be able to access public lands and re-engage and reconnect with nature," said David Trauba, southern region wildlife manager.
The DNR is publicizing current access opportunities now, during hunting seasons. This February, the agency will make recommendations to the Legislature about accessibility improvements on WMAs. These actions are a result of 2020 Minnesota legislation signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz that requires the DNR to reduce barriers to accessing WMAs and publicize access opportunities.
Minnesota’s system of 1.3 million acres of land in 1,500 WMAs is open to everyone for a variety of outdoor activities. These activities include public hunting and trapping, as well as other uses like fishing, wildlife watching and nature photography.
“We are working closely with the Minnesota Council on Disability and others to identify ways to increase access to the state wildlife lands,” Trauba said. “One of the near-term barriers to accessing WMAs that we are striving to address is lack of awareness about existing opportunities for people with disabilities.”
Motorized access to WMAs are usually closed to motorized access. But by applying for and gaining a permit, people with mobility disabilities can use “other power-driven mobility devices” (OPDMDs) on WMAs.
OPDMDs include any device powered by batteries, fuel or other engines used for the purpose of locomotion, but that is not a wheelchair. Some examples are all-terrain vehicles, golf carts, or similar vehicles that can be used on the roads and snowmobiles.
Minnesota statute and the Americans with Disabilities Act allow for this access unless the devices cannot be operated safely, harm resources or conflict with federal laws.
The DNR issued only 22 permits in the last fiscal year for people to use OPDMDs — not a substantial number, considering Minnesota’s population and amount of public land.
“We have the sense that many WMA users who want to use mobility devices might not know they can get started by making a quick call to an area wildlife office and downloading the special use permit application from our website,” Trauba said.
The best way to begin the process is a call to the area wildlife office for the county where the WMA is located.   
“Connecting with the area wildlife manager is a critical first step, as their knowledge of the WMA, wildlife and facilities will help users have a more enjoyable, safe and productive experience,” Trauba said.   
More information about permits for OPDMDs on WMAs, and other types of state land, is available on the DNR website.
Using OPDMDs is only one way to access WMAs.
In all WMAs in the state, any area open to pedestrian use is also open to people using wheelchairs — whether manually-operated or power-driven, including electric scooters — and manually-powered mobility aids such as walkers, crutches, canes or braces. No permit is required for this use. Users should plan ahead for few developed trails, and the wide variety of conditions found in nature.
People can search for wheelchair accessible WMAs by using the WMA Finder on the DNR website. This search will direct users to WMAs with infrastructure like accessible blinds or trails with accessible grades and surfaces.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Here’s what Minnesota deer hunters can expect this season

Nearly half a million firearms deer hunters are preparing for the firearms deer season that opens Saturday, Nov. 7, and offers opportunity to spend time outdoors with friends and family, find adventure outdoors and put venison in the freezer.
Hunters help keep deer populations in line with population goals across the state. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ wildlife managers report favorable weather so far this year and good opportunities to harvest deer in most areas.
Hunters need to know the boundaries of the deer permit areas and any chronic wasting disease regulations that apply where they hunt. Detailed information about each permit area and CWD area can be found on the DNR’s interactive deer map. Additional information about CWD areas, carcass movement restrictions and voluntary sampling can be found at mndnr.gov/cwd.
Northwest deer reportDeer hunters in northwestern Minnesota will have similar regulations as the 2019 seasons and deer populations are strong in most areas. In many permit areas, hunters are allowed to harvest more than one deer. Hunters in this region should check their deer permit area boundaries, as several have shifted since last year.
Water levels and whether ground is wet or dry can affect how hunters access hunting locations. Weather patterns in the region were very different from north to south this year. In the far northwest, there was heavy summer rain and strong winds. In contrast, areas in the southern part of the region have not received as much rain and are drier.

Northeast deer report
Permit areas in the northern portions of the northeast region, have had long, severe winters for the last eight years.
In areas that had significant snow depth last winter — which has a more profound impact on deer survival than temperatures — more deer died and fewer fawns were born in the spring. This has required more lottery management zones this season than in past years.
In the southern portion of the region, where winter was somewhat milder, hunters will be allowed to harvest more deer in an effort to stabilize and in some cases further reduce local deer populations to goal levels. Where deer had access to good habitat, field observations show normal fawn production.
Hunters have good potential for success by focusing on prime food sources for deer such as mowed hayfields, forest areas that are growing back after being cut, and agriculture crops.
Central deer report
Strong early archery harvest and positive reports from hunters and DNR field staff point to what could be another outstanding year of deer hunting across central and southeastern Minnesota. Robust deer populations across the region have resulted in many permit areas with regulations allowing hunters to harvest more than one deer.
Dry conditions during the late summer and early fall mean crops are being harvested without delay ahead of the firearms opener. Average-to-high acorn production will keep deer in the oak woods this fall and provide hunters with another strategy for scouting and selecting hunting locations. Excellent summer habitat conditions provided plentiful forage and cover.

Southern deer report
Weather conditions for deer and other farmland wildlife were favorable in 2020. Winter conditions were milder, with above-average temperatures and shallower snowpack compared with 2019, with no spring snow storms.
Habitat conditions reflected the favorable weather. River floodplains, which offer some of the best deer habitat and deer hunting in the southern region, finally had a year to recover from persistent flooding over the last few years. As such, these floodplain habitats are once again offering excellent cover for deer, which bodes well for deer hunters.
Upland grassland areas and wetland basins are in good shape as well, but hunters will encounter lower water levels or completely dry wetland basins especially in the extreme southwest.
As always, the largest wildcard in this landscape in determining overall deer harvest is the amount of standing crop remaining in the field during firearms deer season. The crop harvest is in full swing right now and ahead of the long-term average — that’s another positive sign for hunters looking forward to deer season.   
A map of DNR’s administrative regions is available on the DNR website.      

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Caywood shooting range to temporarily reopen on limited basis

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with the local Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) have partnered through volunteer efforts to reopen the C.W. Caywood Memorial Shooting Range on a limited basis before the 9-day gun deer season.
The range will be operating under supervision from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following dates only:
* Oct. 24-25
* Oct. 31-Nov. 1
* Nov. 7-8
* Nov. 14-15
After Nov. 15, the range will continue to be closed until the appropriate engineering improvements have been completed.
Earlier this summer, the range was closed due to safety concerns. Engineering efforts are underway to improve range safety, but the improvements' completion date is currently unknown.
For information on the C.W. Caywood Shooting Range and other ranges in the area or around the state, visit the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

State hunter education now available online

MADISON, Wis. – As of Oct. 15, students of all ages can earn their Wisconsin hunter education safety certification through a single, online-only hunter education course under a temporary change approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The temporary change allows those under age 18 to take the online-only course from Oct. 15 through Dec. 31, 2020. Those interested in taking the online-only course who are over 18 years of age may continue to do so.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DNR reviewed the available methods for delivering hunter education. A survey of volunteer instructors showed support for exploring alternatives to the traditional in-person hunter education course.
Hunter education volunteer instructors often fall into higher-risk categories for contracting COVID-19. The online option addresses these concerns as well as issues with limited public facility availability for in-person instruction, personal protective equipment requirements, shortened courses and capacity limits for in-person classes.
"The temporary online-only certification option will provide additional hunter education opportunities to all customers affected by COVID-19," DNR hunter education administrator Jon King said. "The online option aligns our program with many hunter education programs in other states, which are facing the same challenges with their hunter education programs."
Students of the online-only course will be required to pay the approved online vendor fee plus the $10 state-required course fee.
Those interested in hunter education can learn more on the Safety Education webpage. Additionally, interested students can enroll in the online-only hunter education on the same webpage.
Those under age 18 who take the online-only course for the remainder of 2020 will not be required to complete the in-person field day.

Traditional Hunter Ed And Mentor Courses Still Available
Traditional hunter education courses involving in-person instruction will remain available thanks to the dedication of volunteer instructors. A blended hunter education course coupling the online course with the required in-person field day will also be available.
"Last year, there were more than 750 traditional hunter education classes held statewide, in every county," King said. "We prefer the hands-on course with our outstanding volunteer instructors, who play a pivotal role in keeping hunting safe in Wisconsin. However, health and safety is our top priority."
“Our instructor group talked about holding an in-person hunter education class this year, but the logistics of keeping everyone safe were tough,” said Jim Wipperfurth, a Sauk County hunter education instructor since 2010. “In light of COVID, online hunter education is the best opportunity to get certified.”
Additionally, the mentored hunt program is available as an option for those who have not received hunter education certification. This program, which has been available for over 10 years, helps break down hunter education certification barriers for all ages.
Anyone can obtain a mentored-only hunting license and hunt without first completing a hunter education course through mentored hunting. They must be accompanied by a licensed hunter (mentor), hunt within arm's reach of the mentor and follow other rules. This one-on-one mentoring opportunity gives first-time hunters a chance to try hunting and enables veteran hunters to pass on their passion for the outdoors.
To learn more about DNR safety programs for other outdoor activities, visit the DNR's website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Minnesota DNR reminds deer hunters to submit CWD samples

Minnesota deer hunters should be aware of chronic wasting disease regulations and sampling as they plan ahead for upcoming deer seasons, including the antlerless-only and youth deer seasons that take place from Thursday, Oct. 15, to Sunday, Oct. 18, and the opening weekend of firearms deer season Saturday, Nov. 7, and Sunday, Nov. 8.
For the 2020 hunting season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has shifted to voluntary sampling for all designated CWD areas. Hunters may submit samples from their deer at unstaffed sampling stations.
Hunters planning to transport harvested deer should also familiarize themselves with the deer carcass movement restrictions that are in place for certain areas of the state.

Voluntary CWD sampling
The change to voluntary sampling using unstaffed stations facilitates social distancing required during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hunters in CWD management zones, control zones or surveillance areas are urged to drop off the head of deer 1 year of age or older at these stations.
“Samples are critical in helping us monitor the spread of chronic wasting disease in Minnesota’s wild deer,” said Michelle Carstensen, DNR’s wildlife health program supervisor. “The more samples we receive, the better we understand the prevalence of CWD in these areas and the more information we have to determine the best methods to keep our deer healthy.”
Hunters can find details about how to submit their deer for sampling, including any deer that will be made into deer mounts, on the DNR’s CWD sampling page. Hunters must register their deer prior to sampling, by phone, internet or at a big game registration station. After submitting a sample, hunters can check their CWD test results online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck by entering their nine-digit MDNR number from the deer’s site tag.
Sampling stations will be available for all seasons in the disease management zones (north-central, south metro and southeast) and control zone (southeast). In disease surveillance areas (east-central, west-central and south metro), stations will be available until sampling goals have been reached. Hunters should check the CWD webpage for current station availability.

Mandatory carcass movement restrictions details
Deer carcass movement restrictions are in effect for all CWD management and control zones, located in north-central and southeastern Minnesota and the south metro area. No carcass movement restrictions are in place in CWD surveillance areas, where the disease has not been discovered in wild deer. These carcass movement restrictions help keep the disease from spreading farther in the state.
Whole carcasses cannot leave a management or control zone until a “not detected” CWD test result is received after providing a sample. Successful hunters may de-bone or quarter their deer to transport their harvest without brain and spinal column material.
To help hunters comply with these restrictions, the DNR has set up dumpsters in the management and control zones to allow hunters to properly dispose of deer remains. After quartering or de-boning the meat so it is free of brain and spinal column material, hunters can then take the meat or quarters out of the CWD area. Hunters can find the current list of disposal locations on the DNR webpage devoted to each CWD sampling area. These area-specific pages are accessible through mndnr.gov/cwd.

CWD testing outside of sampling areas
Hunters outside of a sampling area may collect their own lymph node sample and submit it for testing to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory at either University of Minnesota or Colorado State University for a fee. The University of Minnesota fee is $39, with an additional charge of $34 if the whole head is submitted. The Colorado State University fee is $35. A DNR video showing how to collect a lymph node sample is available at mndnr.gov/cwd/videos.html.

Additional information
For more information about CWD, the DNR’s continued efforts to manage the disease and how to help, visit mndnr.gov/cwd.
Hunters can also find hunting regulations and information about chronic wasting disease regulations and sampling in the 2020 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations, available online at mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting and wherever licenses are sold.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR