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DNR Weekly News Update for November 19, 2019

Weekly NewsPublished November 19, 2019




Early Winter Leaves Potential Risky Terrain, Waterway Conditions for Gun Deer Hunters

Early ice forming is creating a mixed bag of treacherous landscape and waterway conditions for hunters heading out to enjoy the nine-day gun deer season.  - Photo credit: Savannah Ernzen, DNR
Early ice forming is creating a mixed bag of treacherous landscape and waterway conditions for hunters heading out to enjoy the nine-day gun deer season.Photo credit: Savannah Ernzen, DNR

Contact(s): Todd Schaller, Chief Warden, 608-381-8927,

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 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.




Be Sure of Your Shot -- Whitetail Hunters Reminded to Look Out for Elk and Moose on The Landscape

Hunters are being reminded to be on the lookout for elk and moose. Elk are now regularly encountered in Ashland, Sawyer, Price, Rusk and Bayfield counties and reintroduction efforts that began in 2014 brought elk back to Jackson County. - Photo credit: DNR
Hunters are being reminded to be on the lookout for elk and moose. Elk are now regularly encountered in Ashland, Sawyer, Price, Rusk and Bayfield counties and reintroduction efforts that began in 2014 brought elk back to Jackson County.Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist, 608-261-7589,

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.

To be sure of their shots, hunters should recognize the difference between whitetails and elk. - Photo credit: DNR
To be sure of their shots, hunters should recognize the difference between whitetails and elk.Photo credit: DNR

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.




DNR Reminds Hunters About Deer Transportation Regulations and Carcass Disposal Options

Hunters can find nearby deer carcass disposal options on the DNR website and in the Hunt Wild mobile app. - Photo credit: DNR
Hunters can find nearby deer carcass disposal options on the DNR website and in the Hunt Wild mobile app.Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Dan Kroll, waste management specialist, 920-662-5488, or Amanda Kamps, Wildlife Health conservations specialist, 608-712-5280,

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. Please check the list of currently available disposal options [PDF]. 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.




Watch Wild Wisconsin Bonus Episodes Ahead of Gun Deer Season

Contact(s): Caitlin Henning, communications specialist, 608-228-6518,

Wild Wisconsin 2019

MADISON, Wis. - As hunters count down the days until opening 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 FacebookYouTube and Instagram pages for more Wild Wisconsin throughout the fall hunting season.




Deer Hunters Urged to Report Feral Pig Sightings to the DNR

When intending to harvest a feral pig, hunters should be sure that the animal is feral and not recently escaped livestock. Hunters and the public are encouraged to report any feral pig sightings to the DNR. - Photo credit: DNR
When intending to harvest a feral pig, hunters should be sure that the animal is feral and not recently escaped livestock. Hunters and the public are encouraged to report any feral pig sightings to the DNR.Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Liz Tanner, wildlife damage program assistant, 608-266-2151,

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.




State Offers Opportunity to Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Available on Six Northern State Forests

 - Photo credit: DNR
Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Teague Prichard, State Lands Specialist, 608-669-8290,

MADISON, Wis. - People interested in cutting a Christmas tree for their home can obtain a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permit to cut a tree at a northern state forest. This service is only available on the Black River, Brule River, Flambeau River, Governor Earl Peshtigo River, Governor Knowles and Northern Highland-American Legion state forests.

Permits can be obtained from the property headquarters for a nominal fee, said DNR State Lands Specialist Teague Prichard. Fresh evergreen boughs may also be harvested with the non-commercial forest products permit.

"We know people enjoy our forests throughout the year and the opportunity to find that special Christmas tree or bring home some fresh-scented evergreen boughs provides another great reason to visit our northern state forests," Prichard said.

Balsam firs - known for their beautiful fragrance and dark green needles - are among the most sought-after species in northern state forests. Various types of pines also find their way home with visitors, Prichard said.

Before heading into the woods with a freshly sharpened saw and permit in hand, the DNR encourages visitors to know a few basics. For example, harvesting is prohibited within 100 feet of visual distance of roads, trails and water, and there is no harvesting from campgrounds or day use areas. Trees must be cut at ground level with a maximum height of 30 feet and the trees taken from state forests cannot be resold. Trees cut inside the gypsy moth quarantine area cannot be moved outside the quarantine zone.

Find contact information for the northern state forests and their locations and information on non-commercial harvesting permits on the DNR website.

Not all forests issue Christmas tree cutting permits, so people should contact the state forest in advance to ensure there are no special harvesting restrictions. Many county forests also allow non-commercial harvest of Christmas trees. Permits are also available to harvest a Christmas tree on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.


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