Friday, August 27, 2010

State repeals waiting period for deer bow hunters to purchase archery licenses

Weekly News Article Published: August 24, 2010 by the Central Office
MADISON – Archery deer hunters no longer have to wait three days after purchasing a license during the open season to begin hunting in Wisconsin. The State Legislature removed the three-day waiting period restriction during the recent legislative session at the request of the Department of Natural Resources.
“The law has outlived its usefulness,” said Tom Van Haren, DNR conservation warden. “The three-day waiting period is an obstacle for young hunters who celebrate their tenth birthday during the archery season and have to wait until then to purchase their license.”
The waiting period was originally enacted to discourage deer hunters from waiting until they killed a deer before purchasing a license and to discourage a person from buying a license for someone who had killed a deer but either did not have a tag, or did not want to use the tag on their deer.
“The waiting period is inconvenient for anyone who didn’t purchase a license prior to the season then realizes they have the coming weekend open with time to go hunting. If they do not think to purchase the license ahead of time they are unable to use the license that weekend. It has especially been a deterrent for non-residents who travel great distances to Wisconsin on a Thursday or Friday to spend the weekend with family or friends or for the primary purpose to archery hunt for deer.”
Van Haren said that before the law was changed the deer population was low and the number of deer a person could get tags for was limited.
“Basically, each archer was issued just a tag that was good for a buck or an antlerless deer. The fact is, abundant harvest tags are now available in most deer management units making it possible to harvest multiple deer legally,” he added.
The requirement that people wear a back tag while hunting reduces the incidence of hunting without a license. If a conservation warden suspects that something is wrong, the warden can find out instantly through the automated licensing system, when a license was purchased right down to the minute, which is also printed on the license or back tag. In 2009, bow hunters purchased 208, 022 licenses in Wisconsin.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Van Haren, Warden, (608) 266-3244
View all articles in this issue or check our previous Weekly News Issues.

Source: Wisconsin DNR

Monday, August 23, 2010

Two more state parks open to hunting for regular gun deer season November 20-28

News Release Published: August 23, 2010 by the Northeast Region

Contact(s): Don McKinnon, Supervisor, Potawatomi State Park, 920-746-2893

Rick Ostrowski, Park Manager, Whitefish Dunes State Park, 920-823-2400

Potawatomi and Whitefish Dunes open to hunting during the 9 day gun deer season only
STURGEON BAY, Wis. – This year, for the first time, Potawatomi and Whitefish Dunes State Parks in Door County will be open to deer hunting during Wisconsin’s regular gun deer season, November 20-28, 2010.
The parks will not be open to hunting during any other early or late-season deer hunts, included in herd reduction areas, muzzleloader dates, special youth or disabled hunts, or other special hunting opportunities.
While hunting enhances recreational opportunities in the parks, its primary objective is vegetative and resource management. Once implemented, hunting will continue long-term in both parks.
DNR staff and other natural resources professionals agree that deer over-browsing is a serious problem at these parks. Forest regeneration is severely lacking and even completely absent in some areas. Ongoing deer management is necessary to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem. Any attempts to promote forest regeneration will be ineffective until deer browsing is under control.
The parks will allow firearms that are allowed for gun deer hunting in Door County, including rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, and handguns. Archery hunting is not allowed.
DNR strongly recommends that hunters review the 2010 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations for restrictions on firearms. All firearms must be unloaded and enclosed within a carrying case when in or on a motor vehicle or within a closed area of the park. Hunters may enter the parks 1 hour prior to opening hunting hours.
Certain areas of the parks will be closed to hunting, and regular park users will still be able to use the parks during the hunting season. In fact, this 9-day deer season framework was chosen to have the least impact on other park users. The DNR recommends that anyone using any areas of these parks during this regular hunting season wear blaze orange as a safety precaution. Park users are in the parks at their own risk.
Hunters are advised to also consult the 2010 hunting regulations for additional information on hunting on state-owned lands. Certain hunting regulations relating to ground blinds, tree stands, casing of weapons, etc. apply when hunting on state property. Hunters may not pursue wounded deer into closed areas or drive deer from closed areas. Remember that any time a vehicle stops in a state park, a vehicle admission sticker is required.

Source: Wisconsin DNR

DNA analysis confirms four cougars in state within last two years

Cougars’ elusive nature makes tracking a challenge for state wildlife officials

MADISON -- A few drops of blood, preserved by an alert warden, proves that while one male cougar was tracking through St. Croix and Dunn counties this past December, another male cougar was moving near the Flambeau River, 125 miles to the north.
This cougar, crossing a road, was spotted by a female bus driver east of Park Falls. Warden Dan Michels responded and followed the animal’s tracks into a cedar swamp where he spotted tiny blood drops behind the cougar’s tracks. He collected them in a test tube, froze the contents and submitted them for DNA analysis.
No other sightings of a cougar in that vicinity were reported, and no more evidence was found. Still, the science is irrefutable. The bus driver had seen a wild North American cougar, a male.
The discovery points to just one of the challenges faced by Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials during the past two and a half years as they deal with the first confirmed cougars in Wisconsin since the last cougar native to the state was killed in or around 1908.
A series of incidents in Juneau County during the past several months has proven especially problematic. In May, a hunter reported seeing a cougar attacking a heifer. The cow had to be put down due to injuries. Later, after several sheep were attacked by an animal and killed, and instances of injured horses were reported on two different farms, it was widely assumed to be the work of the same animal, believed to be a cougar.
Later, the hunter was interviewed by a DNR biologist and his descriptions, by his own admission, fall short of a positive identification. The predator he saw was covered with mud and appeared to be less than half the size and length of a young adult cougar.
In Wisconsin, Wildlife Services (WS) – part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – responds to reports of livestock depredations under a contract with the DNR. WS agents are skilled at responding to predation by other predators, such as bear and wolf, and at trapping predators when necessary. However, despite an ongoing effort by WS and DNR to capture any predator responsible for these animal attacks in Juneau County, none has been located. None have been captured on night cameras at bait sites or by tracking dogs. At this time, no prints that can be definitely attributed to a cougar have been found, no blood, no hair, no scat and no urine. Hunting dogs have failed to pick up a trail.
Faced with this mystery, DNR officials collected all the reports, photographs and other evidence from the Juneau County investigations and submitted them to a panel of four internationally recognized cougar experts through a scientific organization called the Cougar Network.
None of these experts could confirm the presence of a cougar, based on evidence collected so far. The experts acknowledged that their opinions were based on reports, and not on field investigations.
DNR officials, acting on reports from Juneau County residents, including unconfirmed sightings, are proceeding on the belief that the presence of a cougar is possible. Efforts to trap or to locate and kill the animal causing these injuries will continue.
In the meantime, the DNR has formed a cougar working group that includes a Wildlife Services supervisor and a Conservation Congress delegate from Juneau County. The group is collecting information from cougar experts elsewhere and is preparing a detailed protocol for how the DNR will respond to cougar sightings in the future.
DNR biologists have been sent to the Black Hills for hands-on training with cougars, taking part in operations to immobilize cougars and fit them with radio collars. The top cougar biologist from the Black Hills, John Kanta, came to Wisconsin two weeks ago to assist Wisconsin’s cougar working group. He calls these elusive cats mountain lions.
“We’ve never had anyone fatally attacked by a mountain lion,” Kanta said. “Your chance of even seeing a mountain lion, in mountain lion country, is a million to one.”
The Wisconsin group will not be working on a cougar management plan. The cougars detected so far have been young males seeking new territory. They probably originated in the Black Hills of South Dakota. No females have been detected in Wisconsin and there is no evidence of a breeding population.
Female cougars tend to migrate no more than a couple hundred miles. Breeding populations east of the Black Hills would have to be established, scientists believe, before female cougars could be expected to arrive in Wisconsin, a process that could take 10 or more years, if it happens at all.
In the meantime, the DNR will continue to take all reports of cougar attacks on livestock seriously and to work with Wildlife Services to investigate any reports.
DNR officials emphasized that citizen observations are critical to this effort and they are asking landowners and outdoor enthusiasts to become familiar with the “rare mammal observation form” on the DNR’s website. This and much more can be found by typing “cougar” into the search box on the home page.
Although the DNR has been collecting reports of possible cougar observations since 1991, biologists were never able to confirm the presence of a cougar, or to find a single decent cougar track in the state, until January 2008 when a cougar observation near Milton was confirmed by prints and DNA tests of a blood sample. That cougar was killed by Chicago police in April 2008.
In March 2009, a cougar was treed by hunters just west of Spooner. Attempts to capture the cougar were unsuccessful and it disappeared, its fate a mystery. In late May 2009, a Pepin County farmer discovered tracks near his livestock pen and Wydeven confirmed they belonged to a large cat.
Then in December, a cougar that likely crossed the frozen St. Croix River from Minnesota moved through St. Croix, Dunn (and probably Eau Claire and Clark counties) where tracks show it turning north. Tests reveal this same cougar, now dubbed the “Twin Cities cougar,” was tracked near Cable in Bayfield County in February.
Since this cat appeared in December, there have been more than 10 confirmed cougar or cougar sign observations in western Wisconsin and one near Lena in northeast Wisconsin. A half dozen of these are believed to be the Twin Cities cougar.
Using DNA tests processed by the federal Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula, Montana, DNR biologists have been able to confirm the presence of four individual cougars in Wisconsin, all males, counting the one killed in Chicago. Whether these four account for all the observations is not known.
One thing is clear – cougars have proven to be very adept at covering large distances in Wisconsin without being noticed. DNR biologists say these cougars tend to move 5 to 7 miles a day. A DNR biologist tracking the cougar in Dunn County reported it stopped in one area for at least two days after killing and caching a fawn buck, returning at least once to continue its meal.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven - (715) 762-1363

Source: Wisconsin DNR

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hunters with disabilities are reminded that it is up to them to contact a hunt sponsor

Sept. 1 is deadline to secure sponsor for disabled gun deer hunt

Weekly News Article Published: August 3, 2010 by the Central Office

MADISON – Qualified hunters with disabilities have until Sept. 1 to line up a sponsor so they can participate in a special gun deer hunt this October.
A sponsor list for the 2010 gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities is now available. Hunters with disabilities must contact sponsors directly and get signed up by Sept. 1, 2010.
Hunters with a valid Class A permit, a long-term Class B permit that authorizes shooting from a vehicle, or a Class C Disabled Hunting permit are eligible to participate in this special hunt, which will take place Oct. 2-10.
The disabled hunt is the first gun deer hunt of the season and is scheduled to provide hunters with disabilities easier access and fewer weather-related difficulties. The only other deer hunters in the woods during the Oct. 2-8 time period are archery deer hunters. There will be a statewide youth gun deer hunt on Oct. 9-10.
Find more information on the 2010 gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities web page.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Linda Olver - (608) 261-7588
View all articles in this issue or check our previous Weekly News Issues.

Source: Wisconsin DNR

First week of deer observation survey brings in more than 800 reports

Weekly News Article Published: August 10, 2010 by the Central Office

MADISON – The first week of Operation Deer Watch, a program that asks citizens to report deer observations during the months of August and September, produced 818 observation reports, filed by 420 individuals, according to Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists monitoring the program.

“This is a great response for the first week of a new program,” said Tom Hauge, director of the DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management. “We welcome the extra eyes in the woods and appreciate the intense interest folks have in their natural resources and especially in the wildlife around them.”

Reports have come in from all corners of the state,” said Brian Dhuey, DNR research scientist, “we’ve received reports from 111 of our 139 DMUs (deer management units). DMU 77M (Milwaukee, and parts of Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha, Sheboygan, Racine, Kenosha and Manitowoc counties) has the most reports at 45, followed by DMU 64 (parts of Manitowoc, Calumet, Brown and Outagamie counties) with 29 reports.”

“Operation Deer Watch is one of many volunteer efforts that can fit under the umbrella of citizen science,” says Hauge. “For decades deer hunters have contributed to a huge volume of deer harvest data every time they registered their deer. Wisconsin has what is probably the most extensive record of deer sex, age and condition reports of any state in the country thanks to their efforts.”

Each year, biologists use a formula to estimate deer populations. The formula includes the number of deer harvested from the hunting seasons, the percentage of yearling bucks and does harvested, the buck recovery rate, and a fawn-to-doe ratio to estimate the population in each deer management unit. Data from Operation Deer Watch will be used with DNR observations to help determine the fawn-to-doe ratio.

Another opportunity for deer hunters to contribute is by sending in a Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey. Started in 2009 the Deer Hunter Wildlife Observation Survey asks hunters to send in their observations of deer, raccoon, skunk, porcupine, red and gray fox, turkey, ruffed grouse, coyote, bear, otter, fisher, bobcat, house cat, badger, wolf, opossum, or other wildlife not normally seen in their area. Since deer hunters often spend many quiet observation hours in the woods, they can provide valuable information about species that are often very difficult to measure. In the first season, hunters filed reports covering approximately 20,000 hunting outings and 120,000 hours of observation. A summary of the 2009 season is available on the Wisconsin Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey page of the DNR website.

The 2010 version of the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey starts Sept. 18, the first day of the 2010 archery deer season, ending Jan 23, 2011.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey – (608) 221-6342

View all articles in this issue or check our previous Weekly News Issues.

Source: Wisconsin DNR

Bonus antlerless deer tags and state park deer hunting permits available August 21 and 22

MADISON - Antlerless deer (bonus) carcass tags for regular deer management units, and hunting access permits for state park deer management units go on sale starting Aug. 21.

Tags and permits will be sold at the rate of one per person per day. Tags and permits for odd numbered units will be available for sale on Saturday Aug. 21 from noon until midnight. Tags and permits for even numbered units will go on sale beginning Sunday Aug. 22 at noon.

Sales will continue Monday, August 23 for both odd and even numbered units for all remaining tags. Sales will continue until sold out or until the hunting season ends.

Tags and permits will be available for purchase at any DNR licensing sales location, through the DNR Online Licensing Center, or by phone toll free at 1 (877) 945-4236 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1 (877) 945-4236 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Deer hunters are encouraged to check the 2010 deer management unit designations map or in the 2010 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations booklet for the units they plan to hunt in this fall.

Forty seven regular units will require hunters to purchase antlerless (bonus) tags if they wish to tag antlerless deer in those units this fall. Nineteen regular deer management units will not have any antlerless tags available for sale this year to encourage herd growth. Every gun and archery deer hunting license will include an antlerless carcass tag valid for units designated as Herd Control or Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD units have unlimited earn-a-buck (EAB) rules.

If hunters are planning to hunt in any of the twelve state parks that require access permits for deer hunting, they should plan accordingly, as many units will sell out quickly. Those interested in hunting these properties should first check the 2010 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations or the Hunting Opportunities web page to learn about special weapon restrictions and season dates. Some state parks that allow deer hunting may not require access permits, but may have different season dates.

Purchasing a deer hunting license before Aug. 21 can speed up the permit purchasing process, suggest officials, since hunters must obtain a deer hunting license before they can purchase a bonus antlerless tag or state park access permit. Hunters can check for tag or access permit availability on the DNR website. Tag and permit availability are updated regularly. Units with relatively low numbers of available tags can be expected to sell out quickly. Units with a high number of tags available generally last longer or may not sell out.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Jason Fleener, Assistant Deer Ecologist – (608) 261-7589

For questions about tag sales and park access permits contact the DNR Call Center at 1-888-WDNRINFO

Source: Wisconsin DNR