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Using metal detectors on DNR lands

Metal detectors may be used on DNR lands or waters only for locating specific lost personal items. A special permit is required.

Conditions of permit

A property office may issue a metal detector permit only to a specific person or designee for the recovery of one or more specific lost personal items, which must be described in the permit application. The permit specifies a limited search area within a DNR-managed property and a specific time between May 1 and October 15 when the detector may be used.

Any proposed metal detecting within recorded archaeological sites requires review and approval by the DNR archaeologist (metal detecting is generally not permitted within reported burial areas, in any case).

Found items

Any recovered item(s) must be presented and reported to the property office for comparison with the permitted recovery. The property office will keep all recovered items not belonging to the permittee.

Archaeological materials (50 years old and older) may not be removed from their locations.

How to get a permit

Fill out the permit form [PDF], including a list of your lost items. Send or take it to the manager of the property (park, forest, wildlife area, waterway, etc.) where you want to use the detector. The manager must sign the form before you use the metal detector.

For more Information, ask Richard Kubicek, DNR historic preservation officer, 608-445-8395.

Last revised: Wednesday April 03 2019