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Weekly News Published - August 21, 2018 by the Central Office


Sept. 1 marks opener for mourning dove, early teal and early goose hunting seasons

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

MADISON - Saturday, Sept. 1 marks the opener for Wisconsin's mourning dove, early teal and early Canada goose hunting seasons.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose hunting begins with the early season Sept. 1-15, with a daily bag limit of five geese during this time. This early season targets locally breeding geese with the higher daily bag limit of five geese per day during the early season. During the early goose season, regulations apply statewide, with no zone-specific regulations. As a reminder to Canada goose hunters, registration of Canada geese and in-field validation of the Canada goose hunting permit is no longer required.


The green-winged teal is the smallest of all North American ducks, roughly 14 in long and weighing under a 1 pound. - Photo credit: DNR
The green-winged teal is the smallest of all North American ducks, roughly 14 in long and weighing under a 1 pound.Photo credit: DNR

This is the first year of the operational early teal-only duck hunting season. The early teal season will run Sept. 1-7, with a daily bag limit of six teal. Shooting hours for the early teal season have changed and are now sunrise to sunset for the entirety of the season (see page 28 in Migratory Bird Regulations [PDF]).

The duck identification quiz, found at, keyword "waterfowl" gives hunters an opportunity to brush up on duck identification prior to this early season.

While the early teal season is offered statewide, some state-owned properties have special waterfowl hunting limitations. For example, Mead Wildlife Area does not allow waterfowl hunting prior to the regular duck season, and Lake Mills Wildlife Area (Zeloski Marsh) has unique shooting hour restrictions. Contact a local wildlife biologist or consult the 2018 Migratory Bird Regulations for a list of areas with additional requirements or limitations.

To view a full list of waterfowl hunting seasons [PDF] and the 2018 Migratory Game Bird Regulations [PDF], search keyword "waterfowl."

Early teal season and early goose hunters are, at minimum, required to purchase the following licenses and permits and carry one of appropriate proof of authorization:

Mourning Dove

In 2018, the mourning dove hunting season will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 29. The daily bag limit is 15 doves, and possession limits for doves are three times the daily bag limit. Dove hunters are at minimum required to purchase the following licenses and carry appropriate proof of purchase:

Go Wild

While afield hunters must carry proof of the license, permit and authorization purchase. Acceptable methods of proof include a paper copy, Go Wild Conservation Card, authenticated Wisconsin Driver License, or DNR generated PDF on your mobile device.

To purchase the required license, permit and authorization and for more information For more information regarding Go Wild, visit [EXIT DNR].

Band Reporting

Hunters who find or harvest a banded bird, should report it at You'll need the band number, or numbers, where, when and how you recovered the bird. Even if the band you recover is inscribed with a 1-800 telephone number, you can only report it at

Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool

Dove hunters are encouraged to check out the Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool. FFLIGHT helps hunters of all types locate young aspen and alder habitat for grouse and woodcock hunting, pheasant-stocked public hunting grounds, and managed dove fields.

FFLIGHT also allows users to print maps and find GPS coordinates to assist in navigation and provides measuring tools to help estimate acreage and walking distance. Mobile users can use this tool on-the-go to find suitable habitat for hunting. For more information, search keyword "FFLIGHT."

Looking for more? Check out an Off the Record podcast with DNR migratory bird staff

Be sure to check out this Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast with DNR staff to learn more about migratory bird management in Wisconsin,. A YouTube link can be found below - this podcast is also available on the department's iTunes and Stitcher channels.

Wisconsin's Migratory Game Birds - Off the Record Podcast



Continental duck population estimates released and reminder to hunters to register for HIP

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

MADISON - With duck hunting seasons just around the corner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released the 2018 continental duck population estimates.

These estimates come from one of the largest bird surveys in the world, conducted annually across North America. Historically, these estimates were used to set the waterfowl seasons for the current year; however, because USFWS changed its regulatory timeline, these estimates will be used to set the 2019 waterfowl season structure.

The total 2018 continental duck population estimates [PDF] (exit DNR) is down 13 percent compared to 2017 at approximately 41.2 million ducks. Despite nearly all species seeing some decline compared to 2017, almost all are still above or near their long-term averages. Mallard, Blue-winged teal, and green-winged teal populations are near 7.9 million, 6.4 million and 2.4 million, respectively.

Of the species-specific population estimates for the three top breeding ducks in Wisconsin, mallards, showed the largest increase from 2017. - Photo credit: DNR
Of the species-specific population estimates for the three top breeding ducks in Wisconsin, mallards, showed the largest increase from 2017.Photo credit: DNR

Nearly 75 percent of Wisconsin's duck harvest consists of mallard, wood duck, blue-winged and green-winged teal. The Wisconsin breeding duck [PDF] population estimate of 439,397 represents a decrease of 8 percent compared to 2017, and is near the long-term (45-year) average. Of the species-specific population estimates for the three top breeding ducks in Wisconsin, (mallard, blue-winged teal and wood duck) mallards, showed the largest increase from 2017.

"With the combination of a late cold spring followed by dry conditions and above average temperatures this summer, things were drier this year across much of the breeding grounds and is likely the reason for the decline in numbers," said Taylor Finger, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources migratory bird ecologist. "Most of these populations remain healthy and are either near or above their long-term averages, and hunters should expect another good year of hunting."

As a reminder, waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP), which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their harvest. HIP registration is free and can be done at the time hunters purchase their licenses, but can always be added later on if a hunter decides they may pursue migratory game birds.

With the transition to Go Wild our new licensing system, we have even made it easier and more convenient to register for HIP online. Simply log on to your Go Wild account at, select "buy license" and navigate to the Hunt/Trap tab. If you have not already registered for HIP, it will be available as an option to select.



Lake sturgeon hook and line season opens Sept. 1

Contact(s): Mike Donofrio, fisheries supervisor, Peshtigo, 715-582-5050;Joe Gerbyshak, fisheries biologist, Eau Claire, 715-839-2877;Nate Nye, fisheries biologist, Poynette, 608-635-8122;Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist, Park Falls, 715 -762-1354

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to correct the photo captions.  We regret the error.]

Anglers get the opportunity to catch a fish as big as they are

MADISON -- The hook and line season for lake sturgeon opens Sept. 1 and runs through Sept 30 on several major river stretches, giving anglers a chance to catch the fish of a lifetime.

Lake sturgeon can grow to more than 6 feet long and exceed 150 pounds, and the state record sturgeon taken by hook and line was a 170-pound, 10-ounce fish pulled from Yellow Lake in Burnett County in 1979.

Anglers will find a healthy lake sturgeon population on the lower Chippewa River, where the DNR fisheries crew out of Eau Claire handled 218 lake sturgeon during surveys this spring. Here, Joseph Gerbyshak processes  the biggest sturgeon of the surveys, a 68-inch, 81 pound fish.- Photo credit: DNR
Anglers will find a healthy lake sturgeon population on the lower Chippewa River, where the DNR fisheries crew out of Eau Claire handled 218 lake sturgeon during surveys this spring. Here, Joseph Gerbyshak processes the biggest sturgeon of the surveys, a 68-inch, 81 pound fish.Photo credit: DNR

All anglers fishing for lake sturgeon must have a valid Wisconsin hook and line fishing license, along with a sturgeon hook and line harvest tag if they intend to keep a sturgeon. The harvest tag is available throughout the season and costs $20 for residents and $50 for nonresidents.

Licenses and harvest tags are available for purchase online through and at any one of over 1,000 sales locations.

Find a list of harvest waters, harvest registration stations and instructions for properly tagging a harvested fish on the Lake Sturgeon Hook and Line Season web pages. Anglers also will find a list of other waters where catch and release seasons are underway, including on sections of the Mississippi, St. Croix, and St. Louis rivers.

Fisheries biologists report exciting opportunities on major river stretches open to harvest

Fisheries biologists who manage river stretches open for the hook and line harvest season say there will be exciting opportunities for both harvest and catch and release of lake sturgeon.

"Most anglers will continue to enjoy a mostly catch and release experience of undersized lake sturgeon on the Menominee River with a rare adult sturgeon over 60 inches," says Mike Donofrio, fisheries supervisor in Peshtigo.

Nate Nye, fisheries biologist stationed in Poynette, reports that populations of lake sturgeon in both Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River below Prairie du Sac Dam remain strong.

"Lake sturgeon smaller than 60 inches are relatively common (catch and release only); fish larger than 60 inches are not uncommon, and anglers may even encounter the occasional fish larger than 70 inches in either population," he says.

Nye advises that anglers may experience greater success later in the season when water temperatures are cooler."

The hook and line season offers anglers a chance to land a fish as big as they are, like this lake sturgeon harvested in 2017 from the Menominee River.  - Photo credit: DNR
The hook and line season offers anglers a chance to land a fish as big as they are, like this lake sturgeon harvested in 2017 from the Menominee River.Photo credit: DNR

Joseph Gerbyshak, fisheries biologist based in Eau Claire, says that anglers will find a healthy sturgeon population to challenge them on the lower Chippewa River.

"The DNR fisheries crew out of Eau Claire handled 218 lake sturgeon during surveys this spring with the biggest being 68 inches and 81 pounds. Lake sturgeon harvest on the lower Chippewa River in 2017 was 17 fish, which is the second highest since the 60-inch minimum length limit was put in place a decade earlier."

Gerbyshak says the majority of fish harvested during the 2017 season were caught between Chippewa Falls Flowage Dam and the Dells Pond Dam. Anglers also reported catching numerous sublegal fish, a sign of a healthy sturgeon population. Night crawlers or cut bait presented in deep holes where there is current is a good combination for a successful sturgeon fishing trip, he says.

Jeff Scheirer, fisheries biologist based in Park Falls, reports that lake sturgeon populations in the Chippewa and Flambeau rivers are healthy and produce a good hook-and-line fishery. Sturgeon often congregate in the impoundments and tailwaters of the dams along these systems, where anglers can enjoy fast-action, catch-and-release fishing, or wait for an opportunity to harvest a legal-size fish.

In September 2017, anglers registered 12 sturgeon that measured at least 60 inches long, matching 2014 as the highest annual harvest in the Upper Chippewa Basin since more restrictive regulations took effect statewide in 2007, Scheirer says. Last season 10 sturgeon were taken from Flambeau River, one from the North Fork Flambeau, and one from the Chippewa River. The heaviest sturgeon weighed 58 pounds, and the longest sturgeon measured 65 inches. An average of about seven sturgeon are kept each season under the 60-inch limit, compared to about 72 sturgeon per year under the former 50-inch limit. As intended, the new rules dramatically reduced the harvest of females, allowing these late-maturing fish to reproduce more than once before reaching harvestable size.



Disabled deer hunters are encouraged to sign up for a sponsored hunt by Sept. 1

Contact(s): Maggie Stewart, DNR assistant big game ecologist, 608-261-7588

MADISON -- Eligible hunters who are interested in participating in the 2018 gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities are encouraged to contact a land sponsor to sign up for a hunt before the Sept. 1 hunter participation deadline.

As of the June 1 sponsor application deadline, 65 landowners have enrolled almost 80,000 acres across 40 counties, which takes place Oct. 6-14. For a complete list of 2018 sponsors, visit and search keywords "disabled deer hunt."

Hunters with disabilities  - Photo credit: DNR
Hunters with disabilities interested in participating in this hunt should contact land sponsors to sign up before Sept. 1.Photo credit: DNR

"We are thrilled with the number of sponsors that are willing to provide opportunities for our hunters," said Maggie Stewart, assistant big game ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Giving hunters access to over 80,000 acres of land is instrumental in making this unique opportunity a success and for continuing Wisconsin's deer hunting tradition."

Hunters or assistants should contact sponsors directly to sign up for a hunt. Hunters will have to provide their name, contact information, and DNR customer ID number. To be eligible, hunters must possess a valid Class A, Class B long-term permit that allows shooting from a vehicle or Class C or D disabled hunting permit. As in the past, eligible hunters must also possess a gun deer license.

It is important for hunters to note that some properties are able to accommodate more hunters than others. The smaller properties may only be able to allow the minimum number of three hunters, so hunters are advised to contact potential sponsors as early as possible to determine if space is available.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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