Wisconsin's second elk season successful for lucky hunters

MADISON, Wis. - Following more than 24 years of elk management and reintroduction efforts, five lucky hunters experienced success in the field during Wisconsin's second managed elk hunt.
"Five bull-only tags were awarded again this year, and all five hunters were successful," said Kevin Wallenfang, Deer and Elk Ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Each one had the opportunity to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with family and friends. One of the hunters had eight of his friends on hand to help get his bull out of the woods, and we had our first woman elk hunter (Lydia Pernsteiner, pictured) this year. She got a great bull while her husband was right there to watch the hunt play out."
Wallenfang said that all the hunters were excited about the overall experience and shared great stories of elk encounters.
"It has been a positive, memorable experience for everyone," Wallenfang said. "Other hunters they have bumped into were excited about the hunt, and folks from the local community were also beneficial to the elk hunters. Each hunter seems genuinely appreciative of the opportunity, and I think a few still cannot believe it happened to them."
In addition to the five bulls harvested by state hunters, members of the Ojibwa tribes successfully filled their five-bull quota. The tribes receive up to half of the overall elk harvest quota annually.
The area where elk hunting is allowed falls within the Clam Lake elk range of Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland and Price counties where 25 elk from Michigan were released in 1995. The hunt was initiated last year when the original population surpassed 200 animals. The Clam Lake population is currently approximately 275 elk. Elk hunting was not allowed in areas where elk were reintroduced from Kentucky in recent years.
Wallenfang indicated that each of the bulls harvested by state hunters varied in size, but all had impressive antlers. The majority were mature bulls, and hunters routinely reported seeing several bulls and multiple opportunities.
Last year, nine out of the 10-bull quota were filled by state and tribal hunters in the historic first year of state-managed elk hunting in Wisconsin.
Over 23,000 Wisconsin residents submitted a $10 application in 2019 to win one of four state tags, and approximately 2,500 more purchased a raffle ticket to win the final tag from a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation drawing. Seven dollars from each application and all raffle proceeds are earmarked specifically for elk management in Wisconsin.
The 2020 elk hunt application period is anticipated to start with the new license year on March 1 and runs through May 31.
For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, visit the DNR Website.
To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, visit the DNR Website 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

Deer Trails 1: Wisconsin DNR surprises deer hunters


Deer hunters received a surprise from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang (pictured) for Saturday’s nine-day, gun deer opener
“I was thinking we haven’t done it (given our population estimate) in a long time and usually have shied away from that number because it can put false expectations out for some people,” he said. “But the truth is that many deer management units (usually counties) have increasing deer numbers and there continues to be a growing frustration in these areas of how to control the herd.”
The number, the estimate of deer in the state, according to Wallenfang, is 1.8 to 1.9 million. Of course, Wisconsin’s white-tailed deer are not evenly distributed across the land.
Looking at the state, particularly in the southern farmland, hunters are being offered several antlerless authorizations (“doe tags”).  Some units are giving out four or more. Those numbers double in some cases if a hunter purchases a gun and an archery/crossbow license.
“We want people to use them. We don’t expect them to use all of them, but it sure would be nice if they used one or two of them,” Wallenfang said.
Wallenfang hopes for an initial response of getting hunter’s attention and having them realize there are lots of deer out there.
“This should send a bit of a message, at least in the Southern Farmland Zone 2, that the numbers are going up and setting quotas even though we know it is unlikely or impossible to meet these high quotas.”
The average Wisconsin deer hunter is happy to take one deer and go home.
Wallenfang said as deer numbers continue to increase, it’s going to become more and more challenging as years go on, with populations going up, to manage the herd.
He believes the DNR is using all or almost all the tools at hand to manage deer, and those are not getting the job done in some areas.
Another ploy of waving the population flag is to get more deer hunters to think of themselves as deer managers. In other words, would hunters go beyond taking just one deer before leaving the woods? Gifting deer to others or dropping a deer at a deer donation station are additional ways to use the venison if the home freezer is full.

Season Snippet: Quota party permits were initiated in eight management units in 1963.

Jerry Davis writes daily Deer Trails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season. This is the first column. You may contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112.

Deer hunters urged to report feral pig sightings

MADISON, Wis. - State wildlife officials are encouraging hunters heading out for Wisconsin's traditional nine-day gun deer hunting season to keep an eye out for feral pigs.
Feral pig sightings and harvests should be reported using the Feral Pig Reporting Form found on the feral pig hunting page of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.
Feral pigs can be found across a wide variety of habitats and are highly destructive because of the rooting they do in search of food. They are also efficient predators, preying on many species, including white-tailed deer fawns and ground-nesting birds like grouse, woodcock, turkeys and songbirds. Feral pigs are known to carry several diseases dangerous to humans and the domestic swine industry, including swine brucellosis, pseudorabies and leptospirosis.
"Each year, we receive reports of feral pig sightings and harvests from around the state," said Liz Tanner, DNR wildlife damage program assistant. "Fortunately, most of these reports turn out to be domestic pigs that have escaped confinement. However, any report of potentially feral pigs is of interest and concern given the negative impacts they can have on the environment, crops and our domestic swine industry."
Feral pigs have been defined as pigs "existing in an untamed or wild, unconfined state, having returned to such a state from domestication" and living in an unconfined environment, outside of an enclosure for more than seven days.
While the DNR encourages the removal of feral pigs whenever possible, Tanner cautioned that before shooting, "landowners and hunters need to be sure the pigs meet the definition of feral and they are not a neighbor's domestic pig that may have just recently escaped. Hunters could be liable for the replacement cost of the pig if they are domestic."
For removal purposes, feral pigs are currently considered unprotected wild animals and may be hunted year-round. Feral pig hunting hours are the same as for deer during the nine-day season. During the rest of the year, there are no hunting hour restrictions for feral pigs.
There is no bag limit on feral pigs, and landowners may shoot feral pigs on their property without a hunting license. Anyone else can shoot a feral pig so long as they possess a valid small game license, sport license or patron license and have landowner permission if they are on private land.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Deer hunters should watch Wild Wisconsin bonus episodes

MADISON, Wis. - As deer hunters count down the days until Saturday, be sure to check out this season of Wild Wisconsin presented by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
This year's episodes are packed with everything hunters need to know to have a successful, safe and rewarding season.
In addition to the six main episodes, be sure to check out this year's bonus segments:
* Passion for Public Land: The Hunting Public crew has a passion for public land. Here at the Wisconsin DNR, we do too. Much of Wisconsin's public lands are paid for with hunter's dollars and are available to you year-round. Whether you are hunting for deer, birds, or small game or just looking to hike or watch wildlife, public land is a great resource.
* Deer Donation Program - 20 Years Strong: Wisconsin deer hunters have been providing venison to community members in need for 20 years through our deer donation program. In that time, 92,000 deer and 3.7 million pounds of venison have been donated to make a difference in your local communities.
* Nutrition and Herd Quality: We all like to see lots of big, healthy deer while we're hunting. Often, nutrition is the key to the growth of healthy bucks. Nutrition is reflective of quality habitat, which is impacted by herd size, food availability and more.
* Tips for Hunting Private Land: There is lots of public land available in Wisconsin, but much of the land in the state is still privately owned. That doesn't mean none of it is available for public use, however. Programs like the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program help provide public access on private lands.
All web series segments and podcasts, along with wild game recipes and much more, can be found on the DNR website here. Be sure to follow DNR's Facebook, YouTube and Instagram pages for more Wild Wisconsin throughout the fall hunting season.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Early winter leaves potential risky conditions for gun deer hunters

MADISON, Wis. - Winter strong-armed its way into Wisconsin's autumn, leaving a mixed bag of treacherous landscape and waterway conditions for hunters heading out to enjoy the nine-day gun deer season Opening Weekend, Nov. 23-24.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller said hunters are known to like a bit of snowfall to help with seeing and tracking deer.
"However, the ground is saturated statewide, leaving wet conditions and ice forming on ponds, lakes, streams," Schaller said.
The result is a possibility of walking into a marsh or a swamp that has an ice cover concealed by the snow.
"The hunter will not know until that first step and the ice breaks, possibly causing a fall into the water with the firearm," Schaller said. "The marsh or swamp that the hunter believes is usually a certain depth may be quite a bit deeper due to the saturated conditions. If a hunter falls into deeper water, the next danger is the onset of hypothermia."
Schaller urges hunters to check the hunting area this week before the gun deer season starts.
"No one needs the surprise of a sudden fall into deep water or a slip on icy mud. What you thought is normal is not normal this year," he said.

Here are more easy-to-follow ice safety tips:
* In all likelihood, the ice looks thicker - and safer - than it is.
* The best advice to follow is no matter what the month, consider all ice unpredictable.
* There can be cracks and changes in the thickness you may not be able to see. This is especially true after the first cold nights, and the early ice is spotted.
* Always remember that ice is never completely safe under any conditions.
* Go with a friend. It is safer and more fun.
* Contact local sport shops to ask about ice conditions.
* Carry a cellphone and let people know where you are going and when you will return home.
* Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or a float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss.
* Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself - or others - out of the ice.
* Do not travel in unfamiliar areas - or at night.
* Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents, which can thin the ice.
* Take extra mittens or gloves, so you always have a dry pair.
* The DNR wants you to be safe enjoying the outdoors. Common sense is the greatest ally in preventing ice-related accidents.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Deer hunters should know carcass disposal options

MADISON, Wis. - With the 2019 deer hunting season underway, hunters are reminded to follow the deer carcass transport regulations and to dispose of deer carcass waste appropriately.
The movement of deer carcasses infected with chronic wasting disease is a pathway for the disease to spread, and carcass parts from CWD-positive deer that are left on the landscape are a possible route for disease transmission to other deer.
CWD can spread among deer by direct contact between animals and indirectly through exposure to environments contaminated with CWD prions, the protein that causes the disease. Exposure to an area where a CWD-positive carcass has decomposed could be enough to cause infection in deer. Because of this risk, it is vital that deer carcasses, including all bones and other deer carcass waste from butchering, are disposed of in a way to reduce this infection risk.
Carcass movement restrictions are in place to limit the spread of the disease. Both whole deer carcasses and certain parts of carcasses from CWD-affected counties can only be moved within CWD-affected counties and an adjacent county unless going directly to a licensed taxidermist or meat processor within 72 hours of registration. Hunters in non-CWD affected counties can also take this action voluntarily. Visit the DNR website for a list of deer carcass parts that may be transported beyond CWD-affected counties or an adjacent county, as well as more information about carcass transport.
Hunters from other states/provinces should be aware of their state's carcass movement restrictions of deer harvested in Wisconsin before heading home.
Whole carcasses and parts of carcasses, other than those listed, from states and provinces where CWD has been detected, are not allowed to be brought into Wisconsin unless taken to a meat processor or taxidermist within 72 hours of entry into Wisconsin.
"CWD prions are infectious even after a positive deer dies, so proper handling and disposal of the carcass is very important to slow the spread of the disease," said Tami Ryan, acting Wildlife Management bureau director. "Transporting a CWD-positive carcass to areas that are not yet known to have CWD increased the risk of transmission to new areas of the state.
Proper disposal of deer carcass waste is a factor in containing the spread of CWD. The DNR is committed to providing safe, convenient disposal options to hunters, especially in areas where options are limited or unavailable.
"This year, more deer carcass waste dumpsters are available to hunters across the state," Ryan said. "Some of the dumpsters will become available right before the nine-day gun deer season, so hunters should check the deer carcass disposal map on the DNR website frequently. More locations will be added and available during the nine-day gun deer season thanks to all the individuals and organizations that are participating in our adopt-a-dumpster program."
Hunters are encouraged to dispose of deer carcass waste in a licensed landfill that accepts this waste or in a dumpster designated for deer carcass waste. If a municipality allows deer disposal curbside or at a transfer station, the carcass should be double bagged. A map with the CWD sampling locations and deer carcass disposal locations is on the DNR website as well as in the Hunt Wild app.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin deer hunters must look out for elk and moose

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reminds the public, and especially hunters, to be aware of elk and moose on the landscape in central and far northern Wisconsin as they enjoy fall hunting seasons.
Hunters should always be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. This practice ensures the safety of other people, but it is also necessary to avoid the accidental shooting of non-target animals.
Elk reintroduction has occurred in two locations of the state, and the combined herds now number more than 350 animals. They are regularly encountered in the far northern counties of Ashland, Sawyer, Price, Rusk and Bayfield. Reintroduction efforts that began in 2014 brought elk back to Jackson County, and elk are seen regularly there and in surrounding counties as well.
While Wisconsin has not reintroduced moose, animals do wander into the state and even take up permanent residency as a result of successful reintroduction in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and a native population of moose in Minnesota. Fall 2019 moose sightings have been frequent in Wisconsin's northernmost counties.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR