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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published January 8, 2019

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135,202 harvest authorizations issued for 2019 spring turkey hunt

Contact(s): Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861

Bonus spring turkey harvest authorizations go on sale March 18

MADISON - There were 135,202 successful applicants who received 2019 spring wild turkey harvest authorizations following completion of the application drawing.

A total of 244,968 authorizations were available for the spring 2019 turkey season. Bonus harvest authorizations that were not issued in the drawing will be available for purchase beginning March 18.

The spring turkey season allows for one bearded or male turkey per harvest authorization. - Photo credit: DNR
The spring turkey season allows for one bearded or male turkey per harvest authorization.Photo credit: DNR

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has mailed postcard notifications to successful applicants. Hunters can also monitor their harvest authorization status in their online account at

Along with a spring turkey harvest authorization, a valid 2019 spring turkey license and Wild Turkey Stamp are required to hunt turkeys in Wisconsin. Licenses and stamp privileges may be purchased online at or at any license agent beginning in March at the start of the license year. Collector turkey stamps may only be purchased at DNR service centers.

Spring turkey periods run for seven days

The regular spring turkey season begins on the third Wednesday in April. In 2019, the season will run from April 17 through May 28, with six seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday.

Hunters are reminded that the state park hunting zones have been eliminated following a 2014 rule change. Instead, state parks are included in the current turkey management zones and will remain open for spring turkey hunting during select periods. For more information, visit and search keywords "hunting state parks."

The Fort McCoy spring turkey hunting season is managed separately from the Wisconsin spring turkey hunt. Hunters may apply for a 2019 spring turkey harvest authorization at Fort McCoy only if they have not received one through the regular spring turkey drawing. Applications can be obtained from Fort McCoy by calling 608-388-3337 or visiting [exit DNR].

Spring turkey hunting regulations can be found within the 2018 Small Game Hunting Regulations, 2018 Fall Turkey Regulations and 2019 Spring Turkey Regulations [PDF].

Bonus spring turkey harvest authorizations go on sale March 18

All harvest authorizations remaining after the drawing will be sold as bonus harvest authorizations starting at 10 a.m. Monday, March 18. Bonus harvest authorizations will be first issued for sale by zone, one zone per day. Bonus harvest authorizations may be purchased at a rate of one per day until the zone and time-period sells out or the season closes.

Hunters are encouraged to check the turkey management zone map [PDF] and the bonus harvest authorization availability page to see if harvest authorizations are available for the period and zone in which they wish to hunt.

The scheduled sales dates for the 2019 spring turkey harvest authorizations are:

Bonus turkey harvest authorizations cost $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents. Residents and non-residents will have equal opportunity to purchase bonus harvest authorizations. Purchasing a bonus harvest authorization will not affect preference point status for future turkey drawings. Hunters may purchase bonus harvest authorizations online at or in person at any license agent.

Youth turkey hunt set for April 13-14

Youth hunters under the age of 16 may hunt during the youth turkey hunt on April 13-14. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18. During the youth hunt weekend, hunters under the age of 12 and youth hunters who have not completed a hunter education course may hunt under the Mentored Hunting Program. Special rules and regulations apply.

Each youth hunter must have a valid spring 2019 turkey harvest authorization, license and Wild Turkey Stamp. A current, valid harvest authorization issued for any time period may be used during the youth hunt, but the youth hunter must hunt within the turkey management zone indicated on their harvest authorization. Youth hunters may harvest only one male or bearded turkey during the two-day hunt.

Youth who do not successfully harvest a turkey during the youth hunt may use their unfilled harvest authorization for the time-period and zone for which their authorization was issued. All other spring turkey hunting regulations [PDF] apply.

For more information and the rules and regulations on the spring turkey youth hunt, visit and search keywords "youth hunt."

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



Bald eagle watching events take off in January

Contact(s): Sumner Matteson, DNR avian ecologist, 608-266-1571 or Gene Unger, Ferry Bluff Eagle Council president, 608-963-9838.

Sauk Prairie Bald Eagle Watching Days Jan. 18-19

MADISON - Bald eagle lovers can watch up to three rehabilitated eagles released to the wild, see other eagles perching or soaring above the Wisconsin River, and view eagles up close indoors during live raptor shows as the 33rd annual Bald Eagle Watching Days lands Jan. 18-19 in Sauk Prairie.

The event, the longest running eagle watching extravaganza in the state, kicks off Wisconsin's eagle watching season: other known events are set for Fox Valley communities on Jan. 26, in Prairie du Chien on Feb. 22-23, and in Ferryville on March 2. More information on these events and general eagle watching tips area available by searching the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website,, for bald eagle watching.

"We just received news that up to three rehabilitated eagles would be ready for release that week of our event and feel honored that our event has been chosen to assist with the releases," says Gene Unger, president of the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, lead event sponsor.

Marge Gibson of Raptor Education Group, Inc. will release up to three rehabilitated bald eagles as part of Bald Eagle Watching Days Jan. 18-19 in Sauk Prairie.  - Photo credit: Matt Ahrens
Marge Gibson of Raptor Education Group, Inc. will release up to three rehabilitated bald eagles as part of Bald Eagle Watching Days Jan. 18-19 in Sauk Prairie. Photo credit: Matt Ahrens

"Marge Gibson and Raptor Education Group Inc. staff do amazing work nursing these eagles back to health and people will always remember seeing Marge return these birds to the wild."

Brochures and other materials do not list the eagle release -- they were printed in December before the availability of eagles for release was confirmed Jan. 5 - but the live eagle release is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at VFW Park in Prairie du Sac.

Other highlights of the event include free guided bus tours to popular eagle viewing sites all day Jan. 19, live raptor shows beginning at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 19 featuring educational birds and trainers from the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee, and many more presenters and family friendly activities. Find full details on the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council website: (exit DNR).

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 8 photos

Eagle watching days are here

The DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program, NHC for short, co-hosts Bald Eagle Watching Days in Sauk Prairie with the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, the Sauk Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce, the Tripp Heritage Museum, Bird City Wisconsin, and Raptor Education Group, Inc.

The NHC program also will have booths at some of the other events, says Sumner Matteson, a DNR avian ecologist who has long been a part of Bald Eagle Watching Days.

"Bald Eagle Days events celebrate the importance of the bird's remarkable recovery and afford excellent opportunities to view our nation's symbol along the shores of the Wisconsin, Fox and Mississippi rivers," he says. "Come join us!"

Bald eagle populations in Wisconsin have grown from the 108 occupied nests counted during the first aerial survey in 1973 to a record high 1,695 nests in 2018, affording fantastic viewing opportunities as eagles from northern Wisconsin, Canada, northern Michigan and Minnesota move south in search of open waters. Seeking fish, a main food source, the raptors typically congregate along open water areas below dams along the Wisconsin, Mississippi and Fox rivers, where their growing presence has turned the sites into birdwatching destinations and inspired many community events.

Colder weather ahead should bring more eagles to event sites and other traditional haunts

A warm start to 2019 and open water still on many larger southern lakes means eagles are dispersed across Wisconsin now, but Matteson says that colder weather forecast for mid-January will likely freeze many remaining lakes and bring more eagles to traditional roost sites along the Wisconsin, Mississippi and Fox rivers.

"When you have a lot of lakes and rivers still open, the eagles become more dispersed on the landscape. There isn't that necessity to congregate below dams or other open water areas to find food because the eagles can feed on carrion in the fields," he says.

Matteson advises that the best time to see eagles will be in the early morning (7:30-10 a.m.) as they come down from their roost sites to feed along the river and late in the day, like an hour before dusk, as they return to their roosts.

When viewing eagles, whether at these events or on your own, please take care not to disturb them. Do not venture so close that you cause them to fly off, and please stay in your car unless you are at a staffed viewing site, Matteson says.

"Eagles are stressed at this time of the year and they need their energy to keep warm through the long winter night," he says. "So please enjoy them respectfully and carefully and they'll continue to amaze us for years to come."



Bald eagle nests soar to a new record and Walworth County gets its first documented nest

Contact(s): for statewide eagle survey results: Laura Jaskiewicz, 715-365-8922; Carly Lapin, 715-365-8954; for southeastern eagle results: Sharon Fandel, 608-275-3207

MADISON - Wisconsin's bald eagle population continues to reach new heights as 2018 nest surveys revealed a record number of nests statewide and Walworth County confirmed its first documented nest in at least a half century, according to results released in the 2018 Wisconsin Bald Eagle Nest Survey.

"2018 was another great year for the bald eagles' remarkable comeback in Wisconsin," says Laura Jaskiewicz, the Department of Natural Resources research scientist who coordinates the statewide aerial survey effort. "The number of nests is still increasing throughout the state and we now have them documented in 71 of 72 counties."

A record number of bald eagle nests were found statewide in 2018. - Photo credit: DNR
A record number of bald eagle nests were found statewide in 2018.Photo credit: DNR

The 2018 surveys found a total of 1,695 bald eagle nests occupied by breeding adults, an increase of 105 nests from 2017. That's a 6.6 percent increase and more than 16 times as many nests found in the first detailed surveys in 1974, when bald eagles were listed as state and federally endangered species and only 108 nests were documented.

As in past years, Vilas County with 172 nests and Oneida County with 154 nests had the highest totals. Bald eagles prefer to nest in tall trees along water, and these two counties have some of the highest concentrations of freshwater lakes in the world.

"It doesn't seem like we've hit any ceiling yet," Jaskiewicz says. "Eagles are still finding places to nest, some continuing in the same nests for many years and some new ones popping up here and there."

Eagle-eyed citizen reports Walworth County nest

Click on image for larger size. - Photo credit: DNR
Click on image for larger size.

While the aerial nest surveys were conducted in March and April by DNR conservation biologists and DNR pilots, the nest documented in Walworth County was reported by a private citizen. Sharon Fandel, a DNR district ecologist with the Natural Heritage Conservation program, went to the site and confirmed the nest.

Fandel put out a call last year for residents to report potential bald eagle nests in southeastern Wisconsin.

"Citizen reports were a big help this past year. There were a handful of reports that helped confirm new nests while other reports identified nests that we didn't know about previously," Fandel says.

"It's great that so many people are interested in eagles and their continued success and population expansion in the state. It would not surprise me if we learn of other new nests in southeastern Wisconsin in 2019."

Confirming the Walworth County nest means that Milwaukee County remains the lone county in the state without a known active eagle nest. Fandel said the heavily developed nature of Milwaukee County means there is relatively little bald eagle nesting habitat available (when compared to surrounding counties) and that it is less likely a nest will be documented there.

"That being said, it's certainly not impossible. In areas like the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota, bald eagles are doing quite well and the Minnesota DNR has documented dozens of active nesting territories," says Fandel.

It's a testament, at least in part, to the species' adaptability, she says. Depending on the individual bird(s), some appear to be more accustomed or tolerant to human activity.

"Time will tell if eagles stake their claim in Milwaukee County, but if Minnesota's "urban" eagle population is any indication, there's certainly a precedence to suggest it could be on the horizon for Milwaukee, Fandel says.

People who have seen new, small nests can report them by searching the DNR website,, for bald eagle watching and click on the link on the right hand navigation column for "Report a plant or nongame animal."

The record number of nests documented this year results from protections under the state and federal endangered species laws, declining levels of DDT in the environment, and DNR and partner efforts to help monitor and aid recovery. Bald eagles flew off the state endangered species list in 1997 and the federal list in 2007; eagles and their nests are still federally protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

How the survey information helps protect bald eagles and other survey results

The 2018 Wisconsin Bald Eagle Survey also contains results from the 2018 winter eagle survey conducted by DNR staff and many volunteers, and the report details a new effort in Dane County using volunteers to help monitor nests from the ground to see if the eagle nests produced young and if they fledged. The Madison Audubon Society is leading that pilot program.

All of the eagle survey information allows DNR and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to monitor eagle populations and enables DNR to provide up-to-date information to land owners, companies, and communities that have an active nest on their property, so they can avoid disturbing the nests and eagles during breeding season.

Endangered Resources eagle license plate helps fund the next comeback success

Bald eagles' comeback in Wisconsin is celebrated in the new Endangered Resources bald eagle license plate. The plate raises money for DNR's work to protect and restore native and endangered wildlife, plants and State Natural Areas. The plate costs an extra $25 annually on top of regular registration.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 08, 2019

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