Contact(s): Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861; Krista Pham, assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458; Shawn Rossler, furbearer ecologist, 608-267-9428; Jenna Kosnicki, assistant furbearer ecologist, 608-261-6452
MADISON - August 1 is an important deadline for fall hunters and trappers pursuing wild turkey, sharp-tailed grouse, bobcat, fisher and otter.
Permit applications for fall hunting can be purchased for $3 ($6 for bobcat applications) online at gowild.wi.gov, at Department of Natural Resources service centers, and at all license agents. License sales are no longer available by phone, but the live operators at the DNR Call Center can help answer any questions hunters may have about the permit application process. The Call Center is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, and can be reached at 888-WDNR-INFo (1-888-936-7463).
There will be 101,300 wild turkey permits available to hunters for the fall 2016 turkey hunting season, a 600-permit increase over 2015 levels. Permit availability was increased by 200 in each of the three northernmost turkey management zones (Zones 5, 6 and 7) in order to better meet hunter demand. Any fall turkey permits remaining after the initial drawing will go on sale beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 27. Leftover fall turkey permits will be sold by zone until sold out or the season ends.
Harvest for the 2016 spring season increased by 11 percent, compared to the 2015 season, largely due to the unseasonably comfortable weather that characterized most of the season. Increased harvest may have also been due to relatively mild conditions during the winter of 2015-2016.
Turkey numbers may increase further, given the warm and relatively dry conditions during the critical June brood-rearing period. Turkey hunters can therefore expect excellent opportunities to pursue turkeys during the fall 2016 season.
The 2016 fall season will run from Sept. 17 through Dec. 31 in Zones 1-5. In Zones 6 and 7, the season will run from Sept. 17 through Nov. 18. This is the first year that turkey hunting will be allowed statewide on the Friday before the opening of the nine-day gun deer season and during the gun deer season in Zones 1-5 only. Hunters may use dogs to hunt wild turkeys during the fall season throughout the state of Wisconsin. The bag limit is one turkey of any age or sex per fall turkey hunting permit (also known as a carcass tag).
For 2016, 25 sharp-tailed grouse hunting permits will be available in Unit 8 only. This is a 75 percent decrease from 2015, when 100 permits were available in the same unit. Permit levels were decreased in order to balance hunter opportunity with a more prudent level of harvest. Sharp-tailed grouse management units use the same boundaries and designations as game management units (GMUs); a map is available on the sharp-tailed grousepage of the DNR website.Hunters are reminded to carefully review the zone map and apply only for the open unit. Applying for closed units will result in an invalid application.
The approved quotas for bobcat, fisher and river otter will be available on the trapping page of the DNR website in early August. Quotas for most zones will likely be similar or slightly higher than last year. Permit numbers, based on success rates, will be determined and drawings for all three species will take place in August, with permits issued in early September. Applicants can check their online account in early September to see if they've been awarded a permit by visiting gowild.wi.gov.