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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published November 28, 2017

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Wisconsin's annual nine-day gun deer hunt sees slight increase in statewide buck harvest

Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589; Kimberly Currie, DNR Customer and Outreach Services Bureau, 608-267-7799; Todd Schaller, 608-381-8927; Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-282-5334

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to correct that the muzzleloader season runs through Dec. 6.]

Opportunities for antlerless deer hunting continue through January

MADISON - Another Wisconsin nine-day gun deer season is in the books, and preliminary registration numbers show a slight increase in statewide buck harvest. Similar to 2016, northern counties again showed the most significant increases in both buck and antlerless harvest.

"No matter how you look at it - whether from a social or economic standpoint - deer hunting is huge for Wisconsin," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Dan Meyer. "Nearly 600,000 hunters headed into the woods for the nine-day hunt, and there are additional opportunities to harvest a deer through January so our hunters can continue to enjoy this tradition."

Wisconsin's nine-day gun deer season continued to show hunting as a safe recreational activity, as the season ended with seven hunting incidents and no hunting-related fatalities. None of these incidents involved mentored youth hunters.

Preliminary Registration Totals

It was a great year in the field for many Wisconsin hunters. - Photo credit: DNR Facebook contributed photo
It was a great year in the field for many Wisconsin hunters.Photo credit: DNR Facebook contributed photo

Preliminary registration figures indicate a total of 98,364 hunters were successful in their pursuit of an antlered deer during the nine-day season. Overall, preliminary registration figures show that 195,738 deer were harvested during the nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 197,262 in 2016.

For the second straight year, the largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone (12.7 percent increase from 2016) after three consecutive mild winters and limited antlerless tags.

"Except for opening day in some areas, we had pretty good hunting conditions throughout the season," said DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. "Some magnificent bucks were taken, it was a safe hunt, and overall most hunters that I have talked to were pleased to see more deer than in recent years, especially in the northern forest counties."

"Combined with the early archery and crossbow seasons, total buck harvest is ahead of 2016, and there's a lot of deer hunting yet to occur this year. When all deer hunting seasons are complete in January, we will look at the total harvest and start making plans for 2018."

The nine-day hunt also provided successful hunters with 97,374 antlerless deer, down roughly two percent from 2016. However, those numbers will climb as hunters enjoy the statewide muzzleloader hunt, statewide four-day antlerless only hunt and nine-day antlerless only Holiday Hunt in select farmland counties. Hunters may use any unfilled antlerless tag during each of these hunts, but those tags must be used in the Zone, county, and land type designated on the tag.

For the nine-day gun deer hunt, the 2017 regional harvest breakdown by region (with percent change from 2016) included:

Hunters are required to register harvested deer before 5 p.m. the day after harvest at or by calling 1-844-426-3734. Any hunter who failed to follow mandatory registration rules should do so now, despite having missed the deadline. For more information regarding preliminary registration search keywords "weekly totals."

Preliminary license sales totals

In 2017, 588,387 gun deer licenses were sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, less than a 2 percent drop over last year. In total, 821,876 gun, archery and crossbow licenses (not including upgrades) have been sold through the end of the nine-day gun deer season, slightly more than 1 percent drop compared to 2016. Deer hunting license and tag sales will continue throughout remaining deer hunting seasons.

Hunting Incidents

Conservation wardens report seven non-fatal hunting incidents in seven counties during the gun-deer season. Incidents occurred in Brown, Shawano, Washburn, Clark, Forest Waukesha and Ozaukee counties. None of the seven incidents involved mentored youth hunters.

Hunting in Wisconsin is safe which is demonstrated by our continued downward trend in hunting incidents. Four of the last five deer seasons were fatality-free and nine out of the last 10 deer season ended with single-digit incident totals.

Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller credits the declining number of hunting incidents to sportsmen and sportswomen who know and use firearm safety principles -- and the thousands of volunteer hunter education instructors who host hunter safety courses statewide.

"Conservation wardens saw hunters following the firearm safety message of TABK - and took time to educate those who were not," Schaller said. "Hunters, and families of hunters, were out enjoying a treasured Wisconsin tradition."

As the 2017 hunting season offers additional opportunities, Schaller says it is important to stay safety-minded to continue Wisconsin's strong safety record.

Hunters are reminded of additional opportunities to hunt deer in Wisconsin.

Hunters continue to use social media to share their experience in the woods with DNR staff and fellow outdoor enthusiasts. - Photo credit: DNR Facebook contributed photo
Hunters continue to use social media to share their experience in the woods with DNR staff and fellow outdoor enthusiasts.Photo Credit: DNR Facebook contributed photo

Hunters are reminded of additional opportunities to hunt deer in Wisconsin. This year's muzzleloader season is currently open through Dec. 6, and the archery season is open through Jan. 7, 2018. A four-day antlerless-only hunt will take place Dec. 7-10, while the holiday hunt will be offered in select counties from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2018. Any legal firearm, crossbow or archery equipment may be used during these hunts.

The gun deer season in metro sub-units will remain open through Dec. 7 while archery and crossbow hunting in these sub-units is open through Jan. 31.

For more information regarding which hunts may be offered in each county, check out the interactive deer map at keyword "DMU."

Hunters encouraged to submit deer for chronic wasting disease sampling

In addition, since hunters embraced the variety of ways that they can submit CWD samples during the regular season, hunters are reminded that CWD sample opportunities continue to be available throughout the remaining seasons. Individuals interested in providing important information on the health of the herd and having their deer sampled should visit the WDNR website and search keywords "CWD Sampling."

The cooperation of hunters and private businesses has become increasingly vital to the success of our sampling process. Department staff would like to thank all those who continue to assist with CWD surveillance.

Hunters continue to embrace GameReg

GameReg internet registration system and call-in phone option worked well overall, while hunters continue to visit walk-in stations that offer these services. Positive feedback was received throughout the season as hunters enjoyed the convenience and flexibility of GameReg - 62 percent of registrations were completed online and 36 percent were completed via telephone.

With GameReg, the accuracy of deer harvest numbers is directly related to the level of hunter compliance. If a hunter forgot to register their deer, they still have time to use GameReg and help ensure each deer harvest is counted. For more information, search keywords "GameReg."

Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey remains open through remaining seasons

The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey will remain active until all deer seasons have ended, and wildlife managers ask that hunters submit a report of what they observe during their time in the field. This information will provide valuable data used to improve population estimates for Wisconsin's deer herd and other species. For additional information, search keywords "deer hunter wildlife."

While counting down to next year's hunt...

While the nine day hunt has ended, hunters are reminded to connect with DNR staff on social media through the department's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. DNR staff look forward to photos from the field each year. Also, be sure to check out Wild Wisconsin - an all new web and podcast series focused on all things deer hunting. So far, over 200,000 viewers have used the series to help prepare for deer season.

Hunters who harvested their first deer this season are also reminded to fill out a first deer certificate and commemorate a successful hunt. A printable certificate will be sent to the email address provided.

For more information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."



Commercial large mesh gill net fishery study proposed for Lake Michigan

Contact(s): Brad Eggold, 414-382-7921

Public meetings set for early December in Green Bay and Cleveland

GREEN BAY -- Proposed research to understand the potential benefits and impacts of commercial fishers using large mesh gill nets to catch whitefish on Lake Michigan is the topic of public meetings set for Dec. 5 in Green Bay and Dec. 7 in Cleveland, Wis.

Currently, such large mesh gill nets are allowed in Wisconsin Lake Michigan waters north of Bailey's Harbor and in Green Bay but are not allowed south of Bailey's Harbor due to concerns about the potential impact they may have on other game fish through unintentional bycatch and mortality and user conflicts.

Lake Michigan commercial fishing zones.  Click on image for larger size. - Photo Credit: DNR
Lake Michigan commercial fishing zones. Click on image for larger size.
Photo Credit: DNR

Commercial fishers have requested the ability to use large mesh gill nets south of Bailey's Harbor to more efficiently harvest their whitefish quota and the Department of Natural Resources is open to considering a large mesh gill net study in this area, says Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes district supervisor.

"This study would help determine if commercial fishers can more safely and efficiently meet their quotas for whitefish and save on their costs without impacting other fish and sport anglers," Eggold says.

The primary target of current commercial fishers in Lake Michigan is lake whitefish, and a lake whitefish harvest quota is established that encourages sustainable fisheries for current and future generations.

"We are committed to working collaboratively with commercial, charter, and recreational fishers to assess and develop management strategies that promote the efficient and effective shared and wise use of Lake Michigan public trust resources," Eggold says.

Public input gathered at the two December meetings will help DNR develop benchmarks, criteria, and goals that will be incorporated into a potential large mesh gill net study and assessment.

Currently, the study is proposed to fully assess the potential to enhance commercial fishing efficiency and the impacts it may have on fisheries other than whitefish. Large mesh gill nets would be allowed south of Bailey's Harbor during the study period, Eggold says.

December public meeting details

All interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend one of two public meetings.

If interested stakeholders are unable to attend either of these meetings and would like to comment on this potential study, please submit your comments to before Dec. 10, 2017.

For more information, questions or comments contact Bradley Eggold (414-382-7921, or Todd Kalish (608-266-5285,



DNR report shows that monitored air pollutant levels continue to decrease statewide

Contact(s): Katie Praedel, DNR Air Program Monitoring Section Chief, 608-266-1058

MADISON - The Department of Natural Resources annual air quality report for Wisconsin shows that air quality in the state continues to improve.

The Air Quality Trends Report, released this month, provides official state monitoring data through 2016 for air pollutants. The report shows that concentrations of most pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act have been decreasing over the past decade throughout the state.

"High quality data for air pollutants is collected year after year through Wisconsin's Air Monitoring Network. Understanding long-term trends in air quality is critical for guiding decisions related to management of air quality," according to DNR Air Program Director Gail Good.

Good noted the many success stories highlighted in the report, including reductions in pollutants like sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particles. One such success story is the dramatic reduction in SO2 emissions in Wisconsin since 2011.

"SO2 emissions from point sources, such as power plants, paper mills and other industrial facilities, decreased statewide from 142,566 tons in 2011 to just 33,378 tons in 2016 - that's a 77 percent decrease in just six years," said Good.

The report also highlights the low concentrations of NO2 measured near a major roadway in Milwaukee. Since 2014, Wisconsin has been monitoring the NO2 at this spot in order to demonstrate compliance with the 1-hour NO2 standard implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010.

"Typically, NO2 concentrations would be expected to be elevated near major roadways due to vehicle emissions, but this monitor has measured very low concentrations of NO2," said Good.

Another success story is the significant reduction in fine particle pollution. The report demonstrates how regulatory controls have successfully reduced concentrations of this pollutant. Statewide, ambient concentrations of fine particles have decreased by approximately 30 percent over the last decade. All counties in Wisconsin now monitor concentrations of fine particles well below the federal air quality standards and are considered to be "in attainment" by the EPA.

The 2017 version of the report contains several additions, including:

The report is available on air quality trends page of the DNR website, which also includes an interactive map where users can view data from monitoring sites around the state.

To view more information on Wisconsin's air quality, search the DNR website,, for keywords "air quality."



Public invited to comment on state water quality plans

Contact(s): Tim Asplund, 608-267-7602

MADISON-The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment through December 15, 2017 on a new set of Clean Water Act water quality plan updates. These plans help the Department to better understand the state's water resources and plan for future improvements.

Click on image for larger size.
Targeted Watershed Assessment Projects

Click on image for larger size.

Water Quality Plans for each of 14 study areas within the state include the results of detailed monitoring studies which are presented as condition information and management recommendations. The plans were developed by DNR water quality field and bureau staff to describe the results of studies conducted from 2014 to 2016. At least one plan update was conducted in each DNR region, with a concentration of watershed-based studies available in the Eastern and Southern Districts.

"Water quality plans are created as part of a cycle of activities designed to advance monitoring, assessments and management of water resources," said Sharon Gayan, Bureau of Water Quality Director. "This helps us to identify priority areas within the state and supports decision-making at the state and local level to determine how best to use limited resources."

Clean Water Act Water Quality Plans have been developed since the early 1970s and are used to identify watershed-based priorities for water resource management ranging from wastewater treatment plant recommendations to support opportunities to address contemporary issues such as streambank erosion, stakeholder involvement, and priority areas for DNR or volunteer monitoring, data collection, and restoration efforts. These plans are closely tied to the state's Clean Water Act Water Quality Report to Congress as well as local and regional partnerships. Water quality plans are designed to support the presentation of water quality information in County Land and Water Plans, Nine Key Element Plans, and in Total Maximum Daily Load implementation work to restore and protect Wisconsin's waters.

"These efforts help us better understand our water resources, including where we can best focus our efforts on restoration and protection with interested partners through in-kind efforts, grant funding, county land and water plan resource information, and restoration actions by DNR and partners," Gayan states.

Prior to commenting, the public can view online presentations and additional information on the water quality planning program page of the DNR website.

Public comments about the program or specific plans can be submitted in writing to: WQM Plan Public Comments, c/o Lisa Helmuth, WY/3, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921

Comments may also be sent to Comments will be reviewed and incorporated into the plans before documents are sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of the state's Areawide Water Quality Management Plan under the Clean Water Act.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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