Apply for 2020 elk hunt starting March 1

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will accept applications for the 2020 elk hunting tags March 1-May 31. This fall marks the third elk hunt in state history.
Once widespread across North America, elk were eliminated from Wisconsin in the 1880s. Thanks to the support of many partners and the backing of Wisconsinites, the herd is back.
Elk hunting season is open Oct. 17-Nov. 15, and Dec. 10-18. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive an elk tag.
"While we won't know exact tag numbers until the Natural Resources Board approves the quota in April, we don't see anything of concern regarding winter effects on the herd," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. "The northern elk population peaked at about 280 last year, and with over 100 breeding age cows in the herd, we're anticipating continued herd growth and are confident that a hunt will occur. How many tags that are offered will be determined this spring."

On The Hunt: Wisconsin Elk
The DNR is offering an earlier and longer application period to be consistent with other application dates and to be responsive to many hunters who missed last year's opportunity due to a shorter, 30-day application period.
In 2019, a harvest quota of 10 bulls was established within the original Clam Lake elk range. Five, once-in-a-lifetime bull elk tags were issued to state hunters along with an equal number allocated to the Ojibwa tribes following treaty rights. The full quota was filled, resulting in the total harvest of 10 bulls.
"It was known before the hunt started that there were a good number of older bulls in the herd, and several of those harvested were 8-10 years old," Wallenfang said. "Some of the bigger bulls that we know about are still out there!"
More than 60,000 Wisconsinites applied during the first two years of managed elk hunting, showing the appeal of pursuing yet another big game animal in Wisconsin to many hunters.
"It may seem like steep odds to draw a tag, but one person's chances are just as good as the next person," said Wallenfang. "All of last year's hunters, including our first woman elk hunter, were thrilled with their experience. Put your name in the hat, and you just might be the next lucky hunter out there in October."
Elk tag applications can be purchased by Wisconsin residents through the DNR Go Wild license system. Each potential hunter may apply once online at gowild.wi.gov or by visiting a license agent. The application fee is $10. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raffle tickets are also $10 each, and there is no limit on the number of raffle tickets an individual may purchase. An elk hunting tag for the winners of the drawing is $49.
For each application, $7 is earmarked for elk management and research in Wisconsin. During the first two hunting seasons, over $400,000 was generated and already is being used for elk habitat enhancement projects as well as for elk research and monitoring.
Hunters drawing a tag 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 2020 hunting season is expected to occur only within the northern elk herd. While the state's central elk herd has grown steadily since reintroduction in 2015, no hunting is expected to occur in 2020.
"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% of the elk range under public ownership and open to hunting, finding a place to hunt has not been a problem for elk hunters. Despite the relative 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 open from Oct. 17 to Nov. 15, and Dec. 10-18.
* Only bull elk may be harvested.
* Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive an elk tag.
* An elk tag 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, visit the DNR's elk webpage.
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


Fall waterfowl hunting season public hearing schedule set

MADISON, Wis. - Public hearings for Wisconsin's proposed 2020 waterfowl season structure will be held March 9-12.
After public comments have been collected, the final season structure will be set by the Natural Resources Board at its April 9-10 meeting in Madison.
"The 2020 waterfowl seasons will be based on the 2019 continental waterfowl population estimates, which were at near-record estimates since U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) surveys began 64 years ago," said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory game bird ecologist. With above-average precipitation last fall and this winter in Wisconsin, we expect populations to remain high in 2020. If we have favorable conditions this fall, hunters can expect good waterfowl hunting opportunities."

Fall Waterfowl Hunting Season Public Hearing Schedule:
* Monday, March 9, 7 p.m., La Crosse - State Office Building, Rooms B-19 and B-20, 3550 Mormon Coulee Rd.
* Tuesday, March 10, 7 p.m., Rice Lake - AmeriVu Inn, 1710 South Main Street.
* Wednesday, March 11, 7 p.m., Appleton - Fox Valley Technical College, D.J. Bordini Center, Room BC141., 5 N. Systems Dr.
* Thursday, March 12, 7 p.m., Pewaukee - Wildwood Lodge, N14 W24121 Tower Place.
The DNR will accept public comments on the proposed waterfowl season structure at each public hearing. If you would like to provide input directly or are unable to attend a hearing, comments will be accepted through midnight Friday, March 13.
Written comments can be sent to Taylor Finger or Jeff Williams, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707, via email to Taylor Finger or Jeff Williams or by calling 608-266-8841 or 608-261-6458.
To view and provide input for the 2020 waterfowl season options online, visit the DNR website here.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Host a spring Learn to Hunt turkey event

MADISON, Wis. - February is an ideal time to plan your spring turkey Learn to Hunt program, with classes typically taking place in mid to late March.
Hunter Nikolai, assistant hunter recruitment specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources R3 program, says the turkey Learn to Hunt is more popular than other species covered in this longstanding education program dedicated to carrying on the state's hunting heritage. R3 stands for recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters, anglers, trappers and shooting sports participants.
"Since 1996 conservation groups, outdoor clubs and dedicated individuals have helped carry on Wisconsin's hunting heritage by hosting Learn to Hunts in their communities," Nikolai said. "It's a great way for these groups to recruit new members to their organizations while passing on their hunting expertise to the next generations-both youth and adults."
Participants are not required to have hunter safety certification, and the DNR may waive season dates, license fees and stamp fees for novice participants upon approval by the local wildlife biologist.
"We're always looking for new, motivated groups to start up a Learn to Hunt program. Whether your group has never hosted a Learn to Hunt or hasn't in recent years, we're here to help you get your feet on the ground," Nikolai said.
Nikolai says spring turkey season offers an excellent opportunity for novice hunters of all ages to harvest their first bird. A conservation success story, wild turkeys abound in the state and their population continues to grow, in part because of well-managed hunting seasons.
"And, they're excellent table fare," he said.
The spring season begins April 15, and runs in six periods through May 26.
Groups may request up to $25 for each novice participant through the Learn to Hunt Reimbursement program to help cover the costs of materials, rentals, meals and overnight accommodations.
For step-by-step instruction on how to host a Learn to Hunt or to find an upcoming Learn to Hunt near you, visit the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Bear application period delayed

MADISON, Wis. - The bear application period for the 2021 bear hunting season is delayed due to legislative review.
The application period which normally opens in March will open shortly after the legislative review process is complete at a date to be determined.
The 2021 bear application deadline remains Dec. 10, 2020. Applicants are reminded to be aware of the new bear management zone boundaries as their hunting grounds may change to a new unit beginning in 2021. It is not known precisely how these changes will specifically affect harvest permit wait times, but there will likely be no significant changes across zones A, B, C and D.
The Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan 2019 - 2029 was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bear Advisory Committee and approved by the Natural Resources Board in May 2019. Among the changes are new zones which must undergo a legislative review. The new bear management zones are designed to address bear conflicts and manage desired population levels effectively.
"Wisconsin continues to be one of the premier black bear hunting states in the nation, with ample public hunting lands and a robust bear population. As such, the extent of bear range has steadily expanded further south into the central forest and beyond," said Matt Gross, DNR assistant big game ecologist. "The new zones will allow management decisions to address both the opportunities and challenges that can arise with an expanding bear population."
If you would like to hunt black bear in Wisconsin, you must possess a Class A bear license. You 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 the 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 on the DNR website to receive notification of when the 2021 bear permit application opens.
Wisconsin bear hunting is extremely popular, and more people apply each year than the number of licenses available. For 2020, over 119,000 hunters applied for a permit or a preference point for 11,535 available permits.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Enroll in Deer Management Assistance Program by March 1

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is looking to partner with landowners for the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) designed for healthy deer and habitat.
DMAP is a cooperative effort between the Department of Natural Resources, landowners and hunters to provide habitat and deer herd management assistance to those interested in managing their property for wildlife. Wildlife and forestry professionals assist landowners with management practices that consider the ecological and social impacts white-tailed deer have on the landscape.
In return, DMAP participants can choose to share habitat information, collect biological data and participate in DMAP workshops. This one-on-one relationship, stressing communication and cooperation, makes DMAP a flexible and effective deer management program for private and public lands alike.
Although DMAP enrollment is open year-round, landowners, hunters and land managers with properties that are 160 acres or more are encouraged to enroll before March 1, to be eligible for a site visit with a DNR biologist and forester in 2020. Landowners, who enroll by March 1, will also receive a management plan with recommendations to assist with reaching the goals for the property.
DMAP provides informational resources and professional assistance regarding wildlife habitat management for properties of any size to help participants improve habitat for wildlife. DMAP participants are invited to professional workshops on a variety of topics such as:
* Financial assistance programs.
* Natural forage for deer, deer ecology and management.
* Chronic wasting disease (CWD).
* Deer research and predator effects on the deer herd.
DMAP participants receive regular updates on items of interest to land stewards and opportunities to participate in citizen science programs. Neighboring landowners with properties within one-half mile are encouraged to enroll as a DMAP cooperative.
Landowners who enroll in a DMAP cooperative with a combined acreage of 160 acres or more are eligible to receive a site visit and management plan. DMAP cooperatives also provide an opportunity to monitor local wildlife populations, and share costs and equipment on habitat projects to benefit deer and other wildlife over a greater area.
To receive DMAP email updates and other information, subscribe here. Follow the prompts and select the "Deer Management Assistance Program" option, found under Wildlife Management.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Hunters register 3,792 turkeys during 2019 fall hunt

MADISON, Wis. - With another wild turkey season complete, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports hunters registered 3,792 birds during the fall 2019 wild turkey season.
There were 74,775 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2019 fall season, an increase of 860 from 2018. Of those sold in 2019, 70,084 were awarded a fall turkey license and 4,691 were sold over the counter as bonus harvest authorizations.
As in 2018, the fall turkey drawing was waived in 2019. Anyone with a fall turkey license and stamp was awarded one harvest authorization for the zone of their choice. In addition to the harvest authorization included with a fall turkey license, a total of 13,000 bonus harvest authorizations were available for purchase in zones 1-4.
With a difference of only 10 more birds registered, the fall harvest in 2019 was almost identical to 2018. There were 3,782 turkeys registered during the 2018 fall season. This season's harvest success rate was 5.1%, also equal to 2018. The success rate is calculated based on the number of harvest authorizations sold and is not corrected for non-participation.
"Although this year's fall harvest is nearly identical to 2018, over the last decade, we have seen a steady decline in the number of turkeys harvested in the fall," said Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. "Reductions in harvest over the last 10 years are largely due to a decline in hunter participation and effort. The annual fall hunter survey shows continued declines in fall turkey hunter numbers and a larger portion of those hunters are pursuing turkeys secondary to other species."
The wild turkey is truly one of Wisconsin's wildlife management success stories. A key role in the success of the wild turkey management program can be attributed to hunters through their purchase of the Wild Turkey Stamp which provides vital financial support in providing for future opportunities for turkey management and hunting in Wisconsin.
Since wild turkeys were first successfully reintroduced into Wisconsin in 1976, population levels continue to increase and expand statewide. Successful restoration of the wild turkey resulted from tremendous hunter and landowner support, good survival and high-quality habitat.
The DNR first initiated a fall turkey season in 1989 after an increase and expansion of turkeys throughout the state. Since then, hunters have been able to pursue turkeys during both fall and spring seasons.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


CWD informational meeting scheduled Feb. 12 in Dunn County

MENOMONIE, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Conservation Congress will host a public meeting Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m., to discuss the recent discovery of chronic wasting disease in a wild deer in central Dunn County.
The meeting will be in the Dunn County Judicial Center, Room 1402 (multipurpose room), 615 Stokke Parkway, Menomonie, WI. DNR staff will be present to answer questions and share information with attendees.
Following this informational session, representatives serving on the County Deer Advisory Council will meet with DNR staff. These council representatives will assist department staff in developing preliminary recommendations regarding sampling strategies and responses to new CWD cases.
For more information about CWD in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR