Hunters, local businesses increase CWD surveillance

MERRILL, WI - About 1,500 deer were sampled and tested for chronic wasting disease in Lincoln, Langlade, Oneida, Forest and Vilas counties during the 2018 CWD surveillance year (Apr. 1, 2018 - Mar. 31, 2019). The Department of Natural Resources encouraged hunters to submit tissue samples from harvested adult deer in two surveillance areas near Rhinelander.
These targeted CWD surveillance efforts occurred in northeastern Lincoln, northwestern Langlade and southern Oneida counties following the detection of CWD in two wild deer along the Lincoln/Oneida County border. The first of these cases was detected in January 2018 and the second in April 2018. Surveillance efforts also included eastern Oneida, southern Vilas and western Forest counties as a result of CWD positive deer found on an Oneida County captive deer hunting ranch in 2015.
"Numerous hunters submitted deer heads for testing from these areas and beyond. We are very thankful to the hunters and cooperating private businesses that stepped up to help with this important sampling effort. With their assistance, we are better able to understand the geographic distribution and prevalence of the disease," said Janet Brehm, DNR wildlife biologist. "We couldn't have done this without them."
In addition to samples submitted from hunter harvested deer, this year the DNR offered free CWD surveillance permits to private landowners as well as to the public on select parcels of public land within these targeted surveillance areas. These permits were used to enhance CWD surveillance, and it was a requirement for all adult deer harvested under these permits to be CWD tested. The DNR had a projected sample goal of testing 450 deer from each area; the use of surveillance permits by hunters assisted greatly, accounting for about 25% of the total samples submitted.

Lincoln/Oneida county surveillance area
In the 2017 and 2018 deer seasons combined, about 430 deer were submitted and tested for CWD.
A new CWD-positive wild deer was detected through the enhanced surveillance efforts in 2018. The sample was submitted voluntarily by a hunter during opening weekend of the gun deer season. This adult doe was harvested in south-central Oneida County in the town of Crescent, about 1.5 miles from the first wild CWD positive in Oneida and about 1.5 miles from the first wild positive in Lincoln County (town of Harrison).
In total, the three known wild positives are clustered in close proximity, along the Lincoln/Oneida County line.

Oneida County surveillance area
In the 2017 and 2018 deer seasons combined, 220 deer were submitted and tested for CWD.
No wild deer have tested positive for CWD.

Baiting and Feeding
As required by law, the CWD positive detection in the fall of 2018 in south-central Oneida County renewed the existing three-year baiting and feeding ban in Oneida County and the two-year baiting and feeding ban for Langlade County. Lincoln County is still within the three-year baiting and feeding ban from the first CWD positive detection. Vilas and Forest counties still have baiting and feeding bans due to captive deer farm CWD positives.
"This additional positive CWD detection gives us a better understanding of where the disease is on the landscape and its prevalence in the local deer herd. During the 2019 deer season, hunters will again be encouraged to submit their adult deer for CWD sampling as we continue efforts in both surveillance areas, as well as throughout northern Wisconsin," said Brehm. "We also plan to offer hunters surveillance permits again to help with continued disease assessment in the two surveillance areas."
The DNR will continue to take the following steps:
Work with County Deer Advisory Council members from the counties impacted by these CWD positive detections.
Perform surveillance activities to assess disease distribution and prevalence including:
* Encourage reporting of sick deer.
* Sample vehicle-killed adult deer.
* Sample adult deer harvested under agricultural damage permits.
* Sample adult deer harvested under urban deer hunts in the area.
* Establish CWD sampling locations to be available during the 2019 deer hunting season.

Prevent the spread of CWD
There are recommended practices to reduce and prevent the spread of CWD that hunters, landowners, and any individual can assist with. Some of these actions include proper transportation, handling, and disposal of deer carcass waste, reporting sick deer, following baiting and feeding information, cleaning/decontamination of equipment, and following urine-based scent recommendations.
For more information regarding baiting and feeding regulations, ways to reduce the spread of CWD, and overall CWD information in Wisconsin, visit the DNR's website,, and search "bait and feeding" and "CWD" respectively. To report a sick deer on the landscape, search keywords "sick deer" or contact a local wildlife biologist.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Deadline nears for Gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities

MADISON - Sponsors and landowners interested in hosting a special hunting opportunity for disabled hunters are reminded of the fast-approaching June 1, deadline to enroll their lands in the 2019 Gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities.
Sponsors are encouraged to enroll at least 60 acres of land and must allow at least three hunters to use their land during the Oct. 5-13 hunt.
In 2018, more than 81 landowners in 45 counties enrolled roughly 78,000 acres of hunting land, providing opportunities for over 400 participants to enjoy hunting when the weather is more conducive to mobility in the woods for people with special challenges.
For an online application, visit and search for keywords "disabled deer hunt." For a physical application, contact Matthew Gross, DNR Assistant Big Game Ecologist, at 608-261-7588.
A full list of hunt sponsors will be available on the DNR website after June 1. Interested hunters are encouraged to contact sponsors as soon as possible to determine space availability. Each hunter may sign up with no more than one hunt sponsor.
For more information, interested hunters and sponsors are encouraged to contact Gross by phone or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Westby's Casper wins 2018 Wisconsin DNR Ethical Hunter Award

BARNEVELD – Fred Casper, (pictured) from Westby WI, was presented the 2018 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Ethical Hunter Award by WDNR Chief Warden Todd Schaller, and Customer Sales Specialist Ryan Muckenhirn, of Vortex Optics, in Barneveld.
The award was presented Thursday, May 16, at the Vortex Optics Headquarters. Vortex Optics, a worldwide company, has been a corporate sponsor of the award the past three years, gifting the Wisconsin’s ethical hunter an item from their line of rifle scopes, binoculars and range finders.
Casper undertook several ethical acts by seeing that a large-antlered buck shot at by a hunter near land Casper leases for deer hunting in Vernon County, eventually ended up with the hunter.
Casper’s son, David Casper, who nominated his father, said, “My dad could have easily said, ‘Yes, that’s my buck’, but that’s not the type of person Fred Casper is.”
In addition to not claiming, when offered, the buck’s skull and antlers,  Fred Casper eventually found out who had shot (archery) at the buck but was unable to find it, and then helped to persuade the landowner to legally give the deer parts to that hunter.
While the archer shot, but did not bring down the 8-point buck because he lost the blood trail, it wasn’t until a week later that a neighbor found the buck dead in a small stream on his land leased by the Caspers for hunting. The body was decomposing and had been partially consumed by scavengers. The skull and the antlers, still attached, were in good condition. Both brow tines have unique bends and tips making the deer easily recognizable by several area hunters, including Fred Casper.
When the landowner on whose land the buck was found asked Fred Casper if he or anyone in his party had shot the buck, Casper honestly said, "No," knowing the deer’s unique tine character.
Fred Casper fits the selection committee’s criteria of someone doing something for another hunter, a resource, or another individual. There is no monetary gain to the ethical hunter, only a good feeling of having made the right choice, the ethical choice.
“Even though I do not know Fred Casper personally, I certainly applaud his ethical decisions by not claiming the buck for himself and helping to make sure the antlers were given to the hunter who shot it,” said Bob Lamb, one of four selection committee members.
Chief warden Todd Schaller said, “Mr. Casper's actions demonstrate an ethical belief beyond his own experience, and how he could help another hunter."
Steve Dewald, retired DNR warden said, “While some hunters view the hunt as a competition for the largest trophy, ethical hunters remember that we all have a responsibility to hunt in a manner that reflects positively on the tradition of hunting. Taking the time to help another hunter recover a large buck was a generous act that will likely be remembered by these hunters for the rest of their lives.”
The DNR Ethical Hunter award was created in 1997, by Lamb, Dewald and Jerry Davis, all of whom remain selection committee members along with Chief Warden Schaller.
Learn more about the nomination process and the award by contacting any committee member or Wisconsin conservation warden.
Any Wisconsin hunter, of any age, and participating directly or indirectly hunting any game species, is eligible to be nominated by another individual.
Nominations for the 2019 award are due Jan. 15, 2020, and can be sent to Warden Schaller, any committee member, or any Wisconsin DNR field warden.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112

Apply now for unique deer hunts at Sandhill Wildlife Demonstration Area

BABCOCK - Two unique deer hunting opportunities to be held this fall at Sandhill Wildlife Demonstration Area will provide opportunities for youth to learn to hunt and one for beginning adults.
A one-day learn-to-hunt workshop is open to both youth ages 12-15 and adult beginners.
The youth program is open to young people with varying levels of hunting experience while the program for adult beginners (16 years or older) is intended for individuals who have no previous experience hunting deer with a firearm before. All participants must complete a Hunter Education course before the hunt portion of the program.
This unique program includes a workshop that will educate participants in the following topics:
* Deer biology and management.
* Hunting rules and regulations.
* Sportsmanship and ethical hunter behavior.
* Basic firearm safety and marksmanship.
The workshop will culminate in a one-day hunt on Nov. 2. All participants and chaperones are required to attend the workshop.
The second opportunity, a two-day antlerless-only hunt, is open to youth ages 12-15 and experienced adult hunters. This hunt is Nov. 9-10, and does not require a pre-hunt workshop, but participants will be required to review the hunting rules and regulations for Sandhill before the hunt.
This two-day, antlerless-only hunt is being held to achieve deer population goals within the 9,150-acre Sandhill Wildlife Demonstration Area near Babcock.
"We have now experienced five consecutive years of mild winters at Sandhill as described by the Winter Severity Index, and deer numbers will need to be reduced to maintain over-winter densities of 25 deer/square mile," said Darren Ladwig, wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The deadline to apply for either the learn to hunt workshop or the two-day antlerless-only hunt is June 30. Applications are available on the DNR website,, by searching for Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center and at all Department of Natural Resources Service Centers.
For more information, contact the Sandhill Wildlife Demonstration Area office, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 715-884-6331, or e-mail Darren Ladwig at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR urges landowners to host deer hunters with disabilities

MADISON - Sponsors and landowners interested in hosting a gun hunt for deer hunters with disabilities in Wisconsin are reminded that the deadline to submit an application is June 1.
Both landowners and those hunters with a Disability Hunting Permit can enroll in the Gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities Program, which helps provide opportunities for everyone to enjoy hunting in Wisconsin. The 2019 deer hunt for hunters with disabilities will take place Oct. 5, to 13.
For an online application, search the DNR website,, for keywords "disabled deer hunt." If sponsors do not have access to an online application, please contact Matthew Gross at 608-261-7588 for a physical copy. Sponsoring landowners should own at least 60 acres of land and must allow opportunity for at least three disabled hunters to use their land during the disabled deer hunt.
In 2019, 81 landowners made more than 78,000 acres of land available to hunters with disabilities. Sponsors and landowners provided opportunities for more than 360 disabled hunters to get out into the field and enjoy the outdoors.
"We've simplified the application process for sponsors, and we're here to help with any questions about the program and how to apply," said Gross. "Hunters with disabilities are able to see which properties are enrolled in the hunt and contact sponsors sooner than in previous years. Our sincere gratitude goes out to all of the hunt sponsors, landowners and volunteers."
A full list of landowners sponsoring a hunt will be available on DNR website after June 1. Qualified hunters are encouraged to contact sponsors soon after the list is made available.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin elk hunting applications open May 1

MADISON - Following the state's first elk hunting season in history, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced preparations for another hunt this fall.
For a chance to participate, interested hunters are encouraged to submit their elk hunting application starting May 1.
"The chance to pursue yet another great big game animal in Wisconsin is very appealing for a lot of hunters, as was clear with almost 38,500 applicants last year," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. "It may seem like steep odds to draw a tag, but your chances are just as good as the next person. I encourage everyone to throw their hat in the ring to be one of the lucky people with an opportunity to hunt Wisconsin elk in October."
Last year marked Wisconsin's first managed elk hunt in state history when the DNR set a harvest quota of 10 bulls in the original Clam Lake elk range. Five once-in-a-lifetime elk tags were issued to state hunters resulting in four bulls being harvested in October and November. By treaty, half of the quota is allocated to the Ojibwa tribes who harvested the remaining five bulls.
For this fall, a quota of 10 bull elk was set. For the 2019 hunt, five bull tags are again available to state hunters through the DNR. Four of those will be awarded through the state application and drawing, and the fifth will be awarded through a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raffle. Hunters may enter both, but can only win once. Those interested in entering the RMEF raffle should look for more information on the organization's website. The Ojibwa tribes will again receive an allocation of the remaining five elk.
Elk license applications can be purchased in the DNR Go Wild license system from May 1-31, and only Wisconsin residents may apply. Each potential hunter may apply once online at or by visiting a license agent. The application fee is $10. RMEF raffle tickets are also $10 each, and there is no limit on the number of raffle tickets each individual may purchase. The cost of an elk hunting license for the winners of the license drawing is $49. Seven dollars from each application are earmarked for elk management and research in Wisconsin.
All five state hunters will be notified in early June. Prior to obtaining an elk hunting license, all winners are required to participate in a Wisconsin elk hunter education program offered in early September. The class will cover regulations, hunting techniques and more.
The 2019 hunting season will occur only in the Clam Lake elk range in parts of Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland and Price counties in far north-central Wisconsin, where the original restoration effort was initiated with 25 elk from Michigan in 1995.
"A number of potential elk hunters ask if they will be able to find a place to hunt if they draw a tag," Wallenfang said. "With approximately 70 percent of the elk range under public ownership and open to hunting, finding a place to hunt should not be a concern. Despite the somewhat remoteness of the area, there are campgrounds, hotels and restaurants, so everything you need is within easy reach."
Wisconsin's elk hunting season will adhere to the following guidelines:
* Season will be open from Oct. 12-Nov. 10, and Dec. 12-20.
* Only bull elk may be harvested.
* Areas where Kentucky elk were released between 2015-2019 will be off-limits to hunting.
* Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive an elk license.
* An elk license may be transferred to a Wisconsin resident youth hunter 17 years old or younger or to an eligible Wisconsin resident disabled hunter.
For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, search the DNR website,, for keyword "elk." To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, visit 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

Turkey Donation Program helps families in need

MADISON - Now in its third year, the Turkey Donation Program returns this spring and provides hunters the opportunity of donating their harvested turkeys to needy families across the state.
Donated turkeys will be processed free of charge, and the meat will be provided to local food pantries.
"This is a great opportunity for turkey hunters to participate in a sport they enjoy while also providing turkey meat to Wisconsin families in need," said Liz Tanner program coordinator with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters can participate in the program by following five simple steps:
* Legally harvest and register a turkey.
* Field dress the turkey and keep it in a cool location.
* Call a participating processor to make sure they are prepared to accept the turkey. A list of processors can be found at, keywords "turkey donation."
* Drop off the turkey at a participating processor, during regular business hours, by May 31.
* Fill out the log sheet at the processor to verify the donation. Hunters must donate the entire turkey carcass in order for the processing cost to be covered by the program (beard, tailfin, and spurs/feet may be kept).
Those interested in supporting the Deer and Turkey Donation Programs can voluntarily donate $1 or more to the Deer and Turkey Donation Programs to help cover meat-processing fees. To donate, visit any license sales location or donate online through a Go Wild account at GoWild.Wi.Gov.
For more information regarding the turkey donation program, including a list of participating processors, search the DNR website,, for keywords "turkey donation."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR