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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published September 6, 2016

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Youth Waterfowl and regular season Canada goose hunts set to open in September

Contact(s): Taylor Finger, DNR assistant migratory game bird ecologist, 608-261-6458

MADISON - Regular season Canada goose hunting in the Exterior and Horicon zones opens Friday, Sept. 16, followed by a two-day Youth Waterfowl Hunt Sept. 17-18.

Youth Waterfowl Hunt

This year's Youth Waterfowl hunt will be held Sept. 17-18. This special hunt provides an opportunity for hunters ages 12-15 (or those 10 or over hunting under the mentored hunting law) to learn skills from an adult without increased hunting pressure typically found during the regular season.

"The youth hunt gives nearly 3,500 kids annually a chance to experience this special hunt due to the generosity of a friend or family member." said Taylor Finger, DNR assistant migratory game bird ecologist.

Normal season bag limits apply, but all license and stamp requirements are waived for the youth hunt. However, participants still need to be HIP registered (free of charge) and possess a regular season goose permit for the appropriate zone if they wish to hunt geese during this time. Licensed adults may also hunt geese, since the Exterior and Horicon Zone goose seasons are open during these dates.

Individuals of all ages and skill levels are reminded to check out a Learn to Hunt waterfowl clinic to learn more about hunting and its role within conservation.

Regular Goose season

With resident Canada goose breeding numbers similar to recent years and average production of Ontario breeders, hunters should have ample opportunities during the regular goose season. In 2016, hunters will again enjoy a full 92 days of hunting in the Exterior zone with a two bird daily bag limit.

"When combined with the 15 days of the early season, this puts WI at 107 days of Canada goose hunting, and the maximum season length allowed by federal law," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources assistant migratory game bird ecologist Taylor Finger.

Exterior Zone Canada goose season structure is as follows:

Hunters are reminded that the goose season is closed during the duck season split in both the South Zone (closed Oct. 10-14) and Mississippi River Subzone (closed Oct. 8-14).

New in 2016, the Horicon Zone Canada goose season structure has been combined into one period:

The daily bag limit for Canada geese in the Horicon Zone remains at two. In 2014, the season harvest limit in this zone was increased to 12 total Canada geese. It is important to remember that locations west of Hwy 73 and north of Hwy 23 are no longer part of the Horicon Zone, but rather part of the Exterior Zone.

For more information regarding waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit and search keywords "waterfowl management."

2016 Wisconsin Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast now available

Many fall hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin are just around the corner, and the 2016 Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast [PDF] is now available.

To view this year's hunting and trapping forecast, visit and search keywords "forecast [PDF]" or "hunt."

Go Wild

With the transition to Go Wild, the Canada goose harvest registration phone number is now consistent with all other species registered in Wisconsin - this new system also provides for online registration. Hunters can now register online at or via phone at 844-426-3734 (844 GAME-REG).

In addition, Early, Exterior and Horicon Zone goose permits are now printed on regular white paper, rather than green thermal paper. While afield, hunters must carry their Canada goose harvest permit - department staff encourage hunters to carry these permits in a plastic bag to shield it from any adverse weather conditions.

For more information regarding Go Wild, visit [EXIT DNR].

Avian Influenza

Several federal agencies are working in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to collect samples related to the research and surveillance of avian influenza in wild birds. This surveillance will help monitor for the virus during fall migration. Wild birds from targeted areas throughout the state will be sampled between now and spring 2017.

Avian influenza is a viral disease common in wild bird populations with many different subtypes - most do not cause obvious signs of disease in wild birds or have the ability to infect animals other than birds. While strains currently detected in the U.S. have caused mortality of domestic birds, they have not resulted in any illness in humans.

Samples will be collected from live-captured birds during DNR banding efforts and from hunter-harvested dabbling ducks, such as blue-winged teal, mallard, wood duck and Northern pintail. Federal staff will alsobe located at boat landings and other hunter access points this fall to sample ducks from willing hunters.

To learn more, search keywords "bird diseases."



Waterfowl hunters can help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species

Contact(s): Robert Wakeman, DNR statewide aquatic invasive species coordinator, 262-574-2149,; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,, 60-770-8084

MADISON - Healthy wetlands and waterways support strong waterfowl populations and as Wisconsin's goose and duck seasons get underway, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking for help from the state's dedicated hunters to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

"Wisconsin waterfowl hunters are committed to conservation and we appreciate their partnership in restoring and improving habitat," said Bob Wakeman, aquatic invasive species coordinator for DNR. "We want to get the word out about aquatic invasive species to make sure that hunters' investment of time and energy continues to pay off for waterfowl and is not diminished by the spread of damaging aquatic invaders.

In addition to the standard boating gear, waterfowl hunters often use decoys, dogs, waders and push poles that may contain water, debris and mud where invasive species such as zebra mussels and faucet snails can hide. Use of nonnative vegetation such as phragmites to help conceal blinds or boats also can lead to the inadvertent spread of species that clog waterways and crowd out more beneficial plants needed to provide food and shelter for ducks and geese.

Other types of aquatic invasive species may serve as hosts for parasites or bacteria that can kill waterfowl. As a result, Wakeman said DNR urges hunters to clean equipment as well as boats and check dogs' coats before leaving a hunting location.

To help share the message and provide tips for cleanup, this hunting season, DNR staff and partners will visit with hunters at key locations. On September 24, opening day for the North Zone, teams will be in the Green Bay and Mead Wildlife areas. On October 1, opening day for the South and Mississippi Zones, teams will be at access points in Horicon Marsh, southeast Wisconsin and along the Mississippi River.

To help protect waterfowl habitat and populations, hunters must take these simple steps before launching into and leaving a waterbody:

DNR also appreciates hunters' knowledge and experience in familiar hunting areas and encourages reporting new aquatic invasive species. Early detection is crucial to reducing or eliminating the harm from damaging species.

For more information on Wisconsin's invasive species rule and what hunters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts can do to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, search the DNR website, for "Aquatic Invasive Species."



Game bird brood production falls in 2016 from 2015 levels

Contact(s): Contact Brian Dhuey, 608-221-6342 or Mark Witecha, 608-267-7861

MADISON - Preliminary results from spring and summer surveys for ruffed grouse, pheasant and wild turkey broods show production fell in 2016, compared to levels seen in 2015, according to state wildlife officials.

"Brood production surveys for these species were conducted by DNR employees during the months of June, July and August as they went about their normal work duties," said Brian Dhuey, Department of Natural Resources wildlife survey coordinator. "These data are still preliminary and may change, but they can be used as an index to production and help in the forecast of fall hunting prospects."

All survey results are preliminary and subject to change upon the collection of further data and additional analysis.

Mild winter temperatures and snowfall left game birds in good condition entering the 2016 breeding season. In addition, an earlier than normal spring green up led to good game bird breeding and nesting conditions. However, above average precipitation from June until August 2016 led to losses during the brood rearing season for Wisconsin game bird populations - this may have led to the decrease in brood production for pheasants, ruffed grouse and wild turkeys.

Brood rearing conditions less than favorable

"Most of the winter was below normal for snowfall and above for temperature, the lack of heavy snow cover meant there was little snow to melt and may have led to an early spring green up, said Dhuey. "Timing of spring green up can effect game bird survival and physical condition going into the breeding and nesting season and in turn effect brood survival."

Brood rearing conditions in Wisconsin in 2016 were above average for temperature, with much of Wisconsin experiencing temperatures about one to two degrees above average for June through August. Precipitation levels were above normal, with several severe and large events. While these events were not followed by cold weather, the overall severity of the precipitation may have led to brood losses in those areas.

Early June weather is the most critical for turkey, pheasant and grouse broods, since this is when recently-hatched chicks are most susceptible to hypothermia if they become wet. Most of the summer, while warm, was also wet and may have led to less than ideal conditions for brood rearing and survival.

Ruffed Grouse

Statewide, ruffed grouse broods seen per observer hour were down 17 percent compared to 2015 and 43 percent below the long term mean. Ruffed Grouse production was down in two of the three regions that compose the primary range: central (11.1 percent decrease), northern (14.2 percent decrease), and southwestern (43.3 percent increase). Ruffed grouse brood size fell from 4.2 young per brood in 2015 to 4 in 2016.

"Breeding grouse numbers were up slightly this spring, while brood production in the primary ruffed grouse range showed a decrease," said Dhuey. "Several severe rain events likely caused declines in brood survival in the areas they occurred -- while there were losses in these areas, these events were not wide spread and it is likely that brood production in Wisconsin is patchy, with areas of good and poor brood production and survival. While some areas of the primary ruffed grouse range will be better than others, it appears that ruffed grouse numbers will be similar or slightly worse than last year."

Ruffed grouse are currently in a cyclic low population cycle. While an increase in breeding grouse is a positive sign, it will likely be a few years until Wisconsin returns to the birds' cyclic high.

Ruffed Grouse season opens in the primary portion of their range, Zone A, Sept. 17. For more information regarding ruffed grouse management in Wisconsin, search the DNR website,, keywords "ruffed grouse."


The number of pheasant broods seen per observer-hour was down 46 percent in 2016 compared to last year. Pheasant production was down in both the primary (44 percent decrease) and secondary (33 percent decrease) pheasant range, compared to 2015 levels. Pheasant brood size saw an increase in 2016, with an average of 4.3 young per brood in 2016 (compared to 4 in 2015).

"While pheasant breeding numbers have rebounded a bit from a few harsh winters in 2013 and 2014, overall breeding numbers have been declining for several years and overall population numbers are down from the highs seen in the 1990s," said Dhuey. "While brood rearing conditions may have impacted pheasants in 2016, overall pheasant numbers are likely impacted by declining grassland habitat due to losses in Conservation Reserve Program grassland acres throughout the pheasant range."

Pheasant season opens statewide Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. For more information regarding pheasant management in Wisconsin, search keyword "pheasant."

Wild Turkey

Wild turkeys experienced a decline in brood production in 2016, with a 27 percent decrease in the number of broods seen per observer-hour compared to 2015. Overall, the size of broods saw in increase.

Four out of the five turkey regions showed decreases in observation rates from 2015 levels, with the largest changes occurring in the southeast (53.4 percent decrease), south central (48.8 percent decrease), western (31.5 percent decrease), and northern (24.9 percent decrease) regions, while the northeast region saw a 10.4 percent increase.

The statewide observation rate was 35 percent below the long-term mean, while the average brood size seen in 2016 was 4.4 young per brood (up slightly from 4.3 young per brood seen in 2015). "Preliminary data show that weather conditions did effect wild turkey brood rearing in 2016, causing a decrease in brood production this summer," said Dhuey.

The fall turkey season opens statewide in all zones Sept. 17. Fall turkey permits have been issued via US mail, and leftover tags are currently available. For more information regarding wild turkey management in Wisconsin, search for keywords "wild turkey management."



Wisconsin deer hunters have the opportunity to get their deer tested and help with CWD surveillance

Contact(s): Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief, 608-266-3143

MADISON -- State wildlife officials will continue testing harvested white-tailed deer for chronic wasting disease this year. This testing is part of the ongoing efforts to monitor the status and spread of the disease in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will be testing deer from select areas of the state. Surveillance will focus on adult deer, since older deer are more likely to have the disease.

"We provide testing as a service to deer hunters, but it is also important in our efforts to monitor the distribution and prevalence of the disease," said Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief. "We will continue testing and tracking this disease within our long-term monitoring areas in southern Wisconsin where CWD is regularly found. Long-term monitoring provides useful data that increases our understanding of CWD dynamics and impacts."

A map of the 2016 CWD sampling area [PDF] can be found at, keyword "CWD."

The department will continue to collect samples from deer harvested in Dane, Iowa, Rock, Walworth, Vernon, Crawford, Grant, Waukesha, Washington, Washburn, Polk, Burnett, Barron, Juneau, Adams, Portage, Marathon, Eau Claire, Clark, & Jackson counties.

New for 2016, wildlife staff will be sampling deer in Oneida, Vilas, & Forest counties in the area around a CWD positive captive deer facility.

In Marquette and Green Lake counties, samples will be collected for the second consecutive year at select taxidermists throughout the deer hunting season.

"We know that CWD is found at higher prevalence rates in adult males than in other deer sex and age classes," said Ryan. "Working with taxidermists is a cost-efficient surveillance method to increase our sampling of older age bucks, and is our best method for detecting new disease locations."

CWD sampling will be offered at various locations throughout southern, central, & northern Wisconsin. For information regarding where to take your deer for sampling, search keywords "CWD sampling" or contact the DNR call center at 888-936-7463. Hunters are reminded to contact sampling stations in advance to verify hours of operation.



First harvest and first experience certificates will help hunters remember time in the outdoors for years to come

Contact(s): Erin Larson, DNR wildlife data coordinator, 608-264-6054; Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-261-0751

MADISON - Hunters and trappers of all ages who harvest their first deer, turkey, bear, bobcat, otter, fisher, or simply have a great first year in the field are encouraged to check out the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' selection of first harvest and first hunting experience certificates.

"The first time you harvest an animal can be very exciting, however the first time sitting in a tree stand or setting that trap can be just as memorable," said Erin Larson, DNR wildlife data coordinator. "The department is offering the first trapping and hunting experience certificates as a way to commemorate the entire experience, from the first time going into the outdoors, to the first successful harvest."

Sample Caption and Alt Text
Commemorate your first year in the field with a First Harvest or First Hunt Experience Certificate!

Those interested can submit a photograph of their special moment to be included, as well as details about the experience. To help preserve hunting memories with friends and family, these free certificates can act as a personalized memento.

While first deer and turkey certificates remain popular throughout the state, hunters and trappers also have the option to create additional certificates, including:

Hunters are asked to fill out information about when and where the animal was harvested. This information will be displayed on the individually customized certificate. Certificates will be sent electronically to the successful hunter within a few weeks.

To create a certificate, search the DNR website,, for keywords "first certificates."



Online bobcat chat rescheduled to Oct. 13 at noon

Contact(s): Shawn Rossler, DNR furbearer Ecologist, 608-267-9428; Nathan Roberts, DNR carnivore and furbearer research scientist, 715-490-9345

MADISON - Join Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources experts for an online chat about bobcats in Wisconsin that has been rescheduled to Thursday, Oct. 13 at noon.

Please note that a previous news release listed the chat date as Sept. 15.

Visit and search keyword "chat" to submit questions and view responses from DNR experts. Here, you can also view past chats and sign up to receive email notifications. For more information regarding bobcats in Wisconsin, visit and search keyword "furbearers."


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 06, 2016

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