Bass fishing changes, transport of CWD positive deer among questions at the 2018 Spring Fish and Wildlife Rules Hearings


MADISON – A continuous season for bass fishing – with harvest only allowed during the current open season – restriction on moving deer that test positive for chronic wasting disease, opening the inland trout season the first Saturday in April, and a new fee to use state wildlife, fisheries and natural areas are among the questions the public can vote on at the 2018 Spring Fish and Wildlife Public Hearing and annual Conservation Congress county meetings.

On Monday, April 9, there will be 72 public hearings [PDF], one in each Wisconsin county starting at 7 p.m. where people interested in natural resources management have an opportunity to provide their input by non-binding vote and testimony to the Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Congress on proposed natural resources advisory question that may lead to future rule changes.

Among the fisheries management advisory questions are two of statewide interest related to bass fishing. One seeks input on the idea of a statewide, continuous open season for bass fishing. Harvest of bass would only be allowed during the current traditional season. The other proposes establishing alternate size and bag limits for participants in permitted, catch-and-release, bass fishing tournaments.

Local fisheries management advisory questions include:

  • Whether the department should initiate a review of longstanding panfish and gamefish size and bag limit regulations on the Mississippi River;
  • walleye harvest regulations affecting Koshkonong Lake in Jefferson/Rock counties and the Lake Winnebago system; and
  • Lake Superior sturgeon size limit and bank pole fishing regulations on the Winnebago system.

Wildlife management advisory questions include one asking whether deer harvested in a CWD-affected county could only be transported within that county or to an adjacent CWD-affected county to minimize the risk of moving CWD prions along with carcasses to areas of the state that have not had CWD-positive test results.

Other wildlife management questions include:

  • a proposal to change the closing time of certain wildlife refuges to the end of the waterfowl season to would allow recreational users earlier access to the refugees; and
  • moving the close of pheasant season daily shooting hours on public properties stocked with pheasants from 2 p.m. to noon on weekdays from the third day of the pheasant season through November 3 to give wildlife staff more time and flexibility to stock while removing hunting pressure on the birds until the next morning.

The results of voting on the DNR proposed questions will be used by the department in the development of future policies and rule proposals. The department will hold hearings on any rule change proposals that advance at the 2019 spring hearings.

This year the Conservation Congress will seek public input on 36 advisory questions on a range of topics, including:

  • opening the inland trout season statewide on the first Saturday in April
  • returning to a three-zone mink and muskrat season framework;
  • allowing the unrestricted harvest of white perch on Lake Superior;
  • changing the requirements for obtaining a Wisconsin Guide License.

“Conservation Congress advisory questions generally originate from citizens’ ideas.” said Larry Bonde, Chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. “If resolutions presented at the county level meetings are supported, the resolution is advanced to one of the congress’ advisory committees and the District Leadership Council for consideration. If the proposal advances through the committees and council, it is forward to the DNR and Natural Resources Board for consideration as a future rule change.

“Each year, there are over 200 resolutions submitted locally. Not all pass, but the ones that do have the potential to become a rule, policy or legislative change in the subsequent years,” Bonde said. “It is a true grassroots process that empowers the citizens of this state to shape natural resources policy.”

The State Natural Resources Board is also seeking input on a number of advisory questions, including a proposal for a $5 annual fee for all users between the ages of 16 and 64 of state fishery, wildlife, natural areas and leased public hunting grounds and dedicating that money to directly support fish and wildlife habitat management and infrastructure on those properties.

Other board questions include:

  • eliminating the group deer hunting law so that the only person who can fill a tag is the hunter that had been issued the deer harvest authorization; and
  • adjusting the length of the crossbow season, for those who are not disabled or elderly.

To view the 2018 spring wildlife and fisheries questionnaire package [PDF] or for information about the process search the DNR website,, for “spring hearings.”

County Conservation Congress elections

During the Conservation Congress county meetings, county residents have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to elect delegates from their county to represent their views regarding natural resources issues on the Conservation Congress, the citizen advisory body to the Natural Resources Board and DNR. Also, individuals have the opportunity to bring forth new conservation issues of a statewide nature to the attention of the Conservation Congress through the citizen resolution process.

Lake Michigan fisheries management strategies for 2018-2020 highlight partnerships to enhance fishing for salmon and trout


MADISON — Fish stocking trucks are starting to deliver the first trout and salmon for Lake Michigan under a new stocking plan that seeks to sustain diverse fishing opportunities and expand partnerships to make sure more stocked fish survive to catchable size and wind up on Wisconsin anglers’ lines.

The plan, developed over more than two years of discussion and input from more than 500 anglers, business owners and other stakeholders, calls for stocking Skamania steelhead for the first time in a decade, stocking larger salmon and trout that survive better, and expanding efforts with fishing clubs to place stocked fish in pens in Lake Michigan to get acclimatized and grow bigger before they’re released.

DNR Kettle Moraine Springs Fish Hatchery

The plan also calls for DNR to contract with private fish farms to help meet stocking needs, and enhance data sharing with sport and charter anglers to continue improving the information DNR uses to make proactive and innovative management decisions.

“Our Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan not only have world class fisheries, they have world class anglers, businesses, stakeholder groups, and communities committed to keeping the Lake Michigan fishery strong,” says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Dan Meyer.

“With their input, expertise, and discussion, we’ve created a collaborative plan that embraces partnerships to enhance fishing opportunities and success for all anglers, while sustaining a healthy Lake Michigan fisheries community.”

Kettle Moraine Springs Fish Hatchery staff transfer Chambers Creek steelhead from raceways to a stocking truck on March 14 for delivery to Lake Michigan tributaries. - Photo credit: DNR
Kettle Moraine Springs Fish Hatchery staff transfer Chambers Creek steelhead from raceways to a stocking truck on March 14 for delivery to Lake Michigan tributaries.Photo credit: DNR

DNR’s 2018-2020 plan calls for stocking levels similar to 2017’s and remains within the guidance recommended by the Lake Michigan Committee, which is composed of state and tribal agencies on Lake Michigan, says Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes District fisheries supervisor.

“We’re cognizant of the complex interaction within the prey base,” Eggold said. “Our plan stays within Lake Michigan Committee guidelines but also maximizes the bang we get for our investment. We include innovative approaches and partnerships to make sure we are maximizing the survivability of the fish stocked and anglers’ success in catching them.”

  • Chinook salmon stocking numbers remain consistent at about 810,000 fish total a year, recognizing the popularity of this fish and that angler catch rates are highest for chinook. Eight Lake Michigan stocking sites will get more fish (1,800 to 4,200 fish per year) under a reallocation of 25,000 fish from Marinette and Strawberry Creek. Marinette will get 20,000 more brown trout per year, to offset the chinook reallocation.
  • The annual lake-wide brown trout stocking target will increase from 356,000 to 376,000 and coho salmon stocking will focus on larger yearlings versus smaller fingerlings for stocking. The number of yearling fish stocked is targeted to increase over previous years, with a target of 400,000 yearlings stocked annually. Wisconsin research indicates that coho stocked as yearlings are nearly twice as likely to be caught by anglers than coho stocked as fingerlings.
  • Steelhead stocking targets will increase from 300,000 to 350,000, and lake trout targets will continue to be evaluated, but will remain 300,000 per year for now. DNR partnered with Indiana to bring Skamania steelhead to Wisconsin hatcheries, which will be stocked into Lake Michigan in 2018, and the additional steelhead stocking is expected to occur under a new collaboration with the private aquaculture industry. DNR is developing a Request for Proposals to solicit private aquaculture interests to raise steelhead to supplement DNR stocking into Lake Michigan beginning in 2019.

In addition, the DNR fisheries bureau is: expanding the salmon and trout net pen projects to maximize survivability of stocked fish; committing to working with Sea Grant in collecting additional information from charter and commercial fishers to better inform future management strategies; enhancing outreach and communication by more actively engaging stakeholders in communication initiatives; and exploring enhanced electronic reporting options that will increase the efficiency and accuracy of fishing report data.

Eggold says that DNR staff greatly appreciate the continued involvement, expertise, and collaborative efforts of all Lake Michigan stakeholders. “We will continue to seek creative, constructive, and diverse input to inform management strategies to maintain diverse and sustainable fishing opportunities for current and future sport, commercial and charter anglers.”

For more information, contact a Lake Michigan fisheries biologist or search the DNR website,, for “Lake Michigan fisheries.”

Order seedlings now for spring 2018 planting


MADISON — High-quality, native seedlings grown from local seed sources and seedlings that are ready for planting this spring are still available for landowners through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reforestation program.

“Every year, Wisconsin landowners plant millions of tree seedlings to enhance and restore forests,” according to Joe Vande Hey, manager of the Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel. “When a landowner is thinking about what species of trees to plant, the first place to turn for advice is the local DNR office. Each county has a DNR forester available to visit landowner properties, answer questions, and help the landowner get the maximum benefits from their tree planting activities.”

Visit, keyword “forestry assistance locator” to find the local DNR forester.

High-quality native seedlings available for spring planting. - Photo credit: DNR
High-quality native seedlings available for spring planting.Photo credit: DNR

The seedling application form [PDF] includes information about tree and shrub species that are available and directions on how to order. Landowners can utilize these seedlings for reforestation, wildlife habitat, and windbreaks and erosion control purposes. Customers who would like to select specific seedlings or shrubs must order a minimum quantity of 1,000 tree seedlings, 500 wildlife shrubs or build their own packet of a mix of 300 seedlings, usually good for landowners new to planting or those with small acreages.

Initial and steady demand depleted the state’s nursery inventory however, an inventory of suitable species still exists. Hardwood tree species available include black cherry, swamp white oak and black walnut. Conifer tree species available include white spruce and jack pine. Wildlife shrubs available include chokecherry and American plum.

Species information and tips on how to prepare a site can also be found at, keyword “tree planting.”

“Landowners contemplating tree planting projects should contact their local DNR forester, private consulting forester, or nursery staff for advice on species selection, site preparation, planting methods, cost-sharing programs, tree planter rentals and other considerations in establishing a successful forest tree planting,” Vande Hey said.

Seedlings and shrubs are distributed in April and early May. Landowners can pick up their seedlings at the state nurseries located in Boscobel, Hayward or Wisconsin Rapids, or in many counties, at a central location designated by the local DNR forester.

Information on tree and shrub inventory is updated regularly and a “Frequently Asked Questions” page addresses common questions about tree planting.

MacKenzie Center’s Annual Maple Festival April 7


POYNETTE, Wis. -Maple Festival, a fun-filled, educational event for families is scheduled for Saturday, April 7 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the MacKenzie Center near Poynette.

Students participating in the Maple Education Program at the MacKenzie Center gather sap that will be used to make syrup for the center's Maple Fest April 7. - Photo credit: DNR
Students participating in the Maple Education Program at the MacKenzie Center gather sap that will be used to make syrup for the center’s Maple Fest April 7.Photo credit: DNR

The event features: free guided tours of the sugarbush, demonstrations of how to tap a maple tree for sap and how to make syrup, interpretative talks about how some Native Americans and pioneers made maple sugar and syrup, as well as, current methods used in our own MacKenzie sugarbush. Visitors will get to explore the Ciporoke (pronounced Chee-poe-doe-kay) a typical spring home used by members of the Ho-Chunk Nation in historic sugar bushes.

Participants will have the opportunity to watch home-made ice cream being churned with an antique engine; listen to live, old-time, country music; and take a horse-drawn wagon ride. In addition, the wildlife exhibit, which includes animals native to Wisconsin, and the historic exhibits on property will be open.

A pancake breakfast, sponsored by Friends of MacKenzie, will be served from 8 a.m. until noon at the Main Lodge. The cost is $7 for those 12 years old and older, and $5 for ages 3 – 11. Refreshments, maple products, and souvenirs will be sold by the Friends of MacKenzie. The Friends will also draw the winners for their annual quilt raffle at 12, noon.

Important Times:

  • Festival hours: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Wildlife viewing: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Pancake breakfast: 8 a.m. – noon
  • Horse-drawn wagon rides: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The MacKenzie Center is located two miles east of Poynette, WI on County Road CS/Q. Find us online at and search “MacKenzie.” Maple Festival is hosted by the Friends of the MacKenzie Environmental Center and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Construction to begin on expanded trail system, pedestrian-bicycle bridged in NH-AL State Forest


MANITOWISH WATERS, Wis. – Visitors to the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest will be able to bike and hike an expanded trail system through the forest thanks to a donation that will add trails to the popular Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail System.

A new trail segment in the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail system will connect this existing trail running from Boulder Junction to Manitowish Waters with a recently completed trail  - Photo credit: DNR
A new trail segment and bridge over the Manitowish River in the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail system will connect this existing trail running from Boulder Junction to Manitowish Waters with a recently completed trail constructed by the Town of Mercer in Iron County to the north.Photo credit: DNR

The State Natural Resources Board in January approved a proposal and a donation of time and materials worth approximately $1.15 million from Manitowish Waters Bike Trail Inc. for the cost of construction of the new trail, which will add approximately 4 miles of new paved bike trails, including a bridge over the Manitowish River.

Currently, the Heart of Vilas Bike Trail system includes more than 45 miles of paved trails that connect St. Germain, Sayner, Boulder Junction and Manitowish Waters, portions of which wind through the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. About 3 miles of the new trail will go through state forest property.

The new trail will connect to a segment recently constructed by the Town of Mercer in Iron County to the north, expanding the overall Heart of Vilas network significantly. This donation will also provide a side loop connection to amenities such as restrooms, parking, and a bicycle repair station at the Manitowish Waters Chamber of Commerce building.

“This donation will provide additional recreational opportunities and connect a new municipality into the Heart of Vilas Bike Trail system,” said Sara Pearson, the new NH-AL recreation superintendent. “The overall trail system is very popular and is supported by local municipalities and partners.”

The Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing on the water permit for the proposed bridge Jan. 29 and accepted comments through Feb. 8. After environmental reviews for wetlands and rare species, and review of public comments, department staff made a determination on Feb. 28 that the permit for the bridge should be approved with conditions to protect water quality and habitat. Expansion of the trail system had previously been approved in a 2017 amendment to the forest’s master plan.

The overall project will comply with all necessary permitting and construction codes. As part of the bridge permitting requirements, the bridge location had to be moved closer to State Highway 51 to comply with a recent Vilas County zoning ordinance for the Rest Lake Dam floodplain along the Manitowish River corridor. The bridge will be located west of Highway 51 upstream from Benson Lake.

Construction is expected to begin in the mid-March in order to comply with permit restrictions to minimize incidental site impacts.

Manitowish Waters Bike Trail Incorporated will be responsible for all future maintenance and operation of the trail, which will be open to the general public for hiking and biking.

VHS found in gizzard shad in Port Washington Harbor fish kill

Boaters and anglers urged to help stop the spread

MADISON – Test results have confirmed that VHS as well as one other pathogen was found associated with a late January fish kill of gizzard shad in Port Washington Harbor, according to state fish health experts. DNR officials have also looked into a report of gizzard shad mortalities in the Menomonee River (Milwaukee). Samples were collected and sent for testing. The testing period takes approximately 28 days. We will have further updates once test results have been received for the Menomonee River fish.

VHS has been confirmed in gizzard shad tested after a late January fishkill in Port Washington Harbor on Lake Michigan.  - Photo credit: Danielle Godard
VHS has been confirmed in gizzard shad tested after a late January fishkill in Port Washington Harbor on Lake Michigan. Photo credit: Danielle Godard

VHS, or viral hemorrhagic septicemia, is a virus deadly to fish and has been present in Lake Michigan for more than a decade. In addition to VHS, Enteric Redmouth was found to be associated with the Port Washington fish kill. While the potential for the transmission of Enteric Redmouth to humans is unclear, VHS is not known to be a threat to human health and safety, says DNR Fisheries Veterinarian Danielle Godard.

The test results have been reported to the necessary health authorities under protocols for handling incidents of the infectious and fatal fish disease.

Godard and other DNR fisheries officials call on anglers and others on Wisconsin waters to be vigilant in taking required precautions to avoid spreading the VHS virus to inland lakes and rivers. VHS is not a threat to people who handle infected fish or want to eat their catch, but it is threat to more than 25 freshwater fish species in Wisconsin, including musky, walleye, yellow perch and northern pike.

“This is a reminder that VHS is still present and a threat,” Godard says. “It’s very important that anglers and everyone else on the water do their part by not moving water or live fish away from waterbodies.”

Previously, VHS was most recently confirmed in Wisconsin in 2017 in a private Fond du Lac County lake close to Lake Winnebago, Godard says.

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia was first diagnosed in the Great Lakes as the cause of large fish kills in lakes Huron, St. Clair, Erie, Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River in 2005 and 2006. The virus was first discovered in Wisconsin waters in Lake Winnebago in 2006.

Wisconsin test results from 2006 to 2012 show that the virus has been detected in fish from the Lake Winnebago system, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Green Bay but it hasn’t spread more widely in Wisconsin, as originally feared.

VHS Chronology in Wisconsin

To keep Wisconsin’s inland lakes and rivers VHS free, all boaters and anglers must follow simple precautions to prevent the spread of the virus and other invasive species. Those steps include:

  • Minnow harvest is prohibited on all Wisconsin waters where viral hemorrhagic septicemia is known or suspected to be present. The prohibited area includes Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, the Winnebago system, the Mississippi River, the Wisconsin River up to the Prairie de Sac Dam and all waters connected to these waters up to the first barrier impassable to fish.
  • Drain all water from boats, containers and fishing equipment when leaving any state waters, banks or shores, or entering Wisconsin over land. This does not apply to any drinking water or up to 2 gallons of water being used to hold minnows that can be legally transported.
  • Do not transport any live fish or live fish eggs away from any state waters. There is an exception for minnows obtained from a Wisconsin bait dealer. These minnows may be transported away live and used again on the same water or on any other waters if no lake or river water, or other fish were added to their container.
  • Do not use dead fish, fish eggs, or fish parts as bait. There are three exceptions: You may use dead fish, fish eggs, or fish parts as bait on any waters if they were preserved by a method that does not require freezing or refrigeration, or they originate from the same waterbody where you intend to use them, or purchase them from a licensed commercial bait dealer.

Bonus spring turkey harvest authorization go on sale March 19


MADISON — Bonus turkey harvest authorizations (previously known as leftover permits) will go on sale the week of March 19 with each zone having a designated sales date. Bonus harvest authorizations can be purchased online through GoWild.Wi.Gov and at all license agents. Sales start at 10 a.m. and run until midnight each day.

The following zones have available bonus harvest authorizations, and scheduled sales dates are as follows:

  • Zone 1 – Monday, March 19;
  • Zone 2 – Tuesday, March 20;
  • Zone 3 – Wednesday, March 21;
  • Zone 4 – Thursday, March 22; and
  • Zones 5 and 7 (no harvest authorizations available in Zone 6) – Friday, March 23 (due to the low number of harvest authorizations available, sales for these zones have been combined into one day).

Bonus harvest authorizations cost $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents – each will have equal opportunity for purchase. All spring turkey hunters are required to purchase a spring turkey license and 2018 Wild Turkey Stamp, unless they are a 2018 Conservation Patron License holder. Bonus harvest authorization purchases will not affect preference point status for future spring drawings.

There are 106,078 turkey bonus harvest authorizations for sale for the spring season that opens April 18. - Photo credit: DNR
There are 106,078 turkey bonus harvest authorizations available for turkey hunters wanting to take to the woods for the spring season that opens April 18.Photo credit: DNR

During the sale of the spring bonus harvest authorizations, the system will use an online queue to assign random numbers at 10 a.m. to customers who enter the site between 9:45 and 10 a.m. There is no advantage to entering the site prior to 9:45 a.m. Customers who enter after 10 a.m. will be added to the line in order of arrival.

Once you log in to your personalized dashboard on GoWild.Wi.Gov, click the ‘Buy License’ button to open the catalog. From there, you will find “Spring Turkey Bonus Harvest Authorization” at the top of the list.

Bob Peterson of Marinette with a tom turkey harvested in Shawano County. - Photo credit: DNR
Bob Peterson of Marinette with a tom turkey harvested in Shawano County.Photo credit: Ed Culhane, DNR

Bonus turkey harvest authorizations can be purchased at a rate of one per day until the zone and time period is sold out, or the season closes. If the harvest authorizations for a zone sell out during the designated day, online users will be sent directly to the Go Wild home page for the remainder of that day.

DNR customer service staff recommends that turkey hunters who are interested in purchasing a Conservation Patron license do so prior to March 19 to make the bonus harvest authorization process as quick and easy as possible. In 2017, several enhancements have been made to the GoWild.Wi.Gov site to allow license purchases with fewer “clicks” and speed the rate at which customers will be able to transact business.

There are 106,078 spring turkey bonus harvest authorizations for sale in six of the seven turkey management zones. Hunters are encouraged to check the turkey zone map [PDF] and the department’s spring turkey bonus harvest authorization availability to see if harvest authorizations are available for the time period and turkey zone in which they want to hunt.

After zone-specific sales, all remaining turkey harvest authorizations will be made available for purchase Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m.

Spring turkey periods run for seven days

The 2018 spring turkey season will run from April 18 through May 29, with six seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday. A total of seven zones will be open for hunting. For more information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, search the DNR website,, for keyword “turkey.”

“Turkey production was up last year and we are anticipating another great spring turkey season in Wisconsin” said Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. “I encourage turkey hunters to look at the regulations ahead of the season, and I wish everyone a safe and happy hunt!”

Spring turkey hunting regulations can be found within the 2017 Small Game Hunting Regulations, 2017 Fall Turkey Regulations, and 2018 Spring Turkey Regulations. [PDF]

Public lands are the perfect place to pursue turkeys this spring.

Youth turkey hunt set for April 14-15

Youth hunters under the age of 16 may hunt during the youth turkey hunt on April 14 and 15. Hunters under the age of 12 and youth hunters without hunter safety can participate in the youth turkey hunt under Mentored Hunting Program. Youth hunters must be accompanied by qualified adult and follow the youth turkey hunting and mentored hunting program rules. Spring turkey youth hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, stamp and harvest authorization. A harvest authorization for any time period can be used during the youth hunt weekend, but youth hunters must hunt within the turkey management zone indicated on their harvest authorization.

First managed elk hunt in Wisconsin history is result of over 22 years of conservation efforts by DNR staff and partners


MADISON — Following more than 22 years of elk management and reintroduction efforts, 2018 will mark Wisconsin’s first managed elk hunt in state history.

“This is an incredible conservation success story for Wisconsin,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Dan Meyer. “Thanks to the efforts of so many great organizations and individuals, the northern elk herd has continued to grow to the point where we can offer this very special and long-awaited hunting opportunity.”

Following more than 22 years of elk management and reintroduction efforts, 2018 will mark Wisconsin’s first managed elk hunt in state history.

The area of the planned hunt is within the Clam Lake elk range of Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland, and Price counties in far north-central Wisconsin. Original restoration efforts occurred within this range with the release of 25 elk from Michigan in 1995. This northern herd is projected to reach a population level of over 200 animals this year, including a high proportion of bulls.

“It is important to note that the areas where Kentucky elk were released in Jackson County and the Flambeau River State Forest will not be included in this hunt,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. “This hunt concentrates on elk born here in Wisconsin over the past two decades – we do not wish to take Kentucky elk, many of which are cows and may not be harvested.”

Ten tags will be made available for a bull-only hunt in Fall 2018. Four tags will be awarded to Wisconsin residents through a random drawing. One additional tag will be awarded to a Wisconsin resident through a raffle conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Consistent with federal court rulings, the elk harvest quota is being shared equitably with the six Wisconsin Chippewa tribes.

“We look forward to the opportunity for Chippewa members and state hunters to have a harvest season” stated Chris McGeshick, Chairman of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community. “We continue to support this effort and look forward to seeing the herd grow, and sustaining future harvest opportunities for our state.”

Interested hunters can apply, however, only Wisconsin residents are eligible to purchase an elk tag. The application fee is $10 and applications will be available starting May 1 through the Go WILD system at Prior to receiving their carcass tag, all drawing winners will be required to complete an elk hunter education course prior to the start of the season,” Wallenfang says. “Revenue from the elk tag application process will provide important funds to support elk habitat management, research and monitoring here in Wisconsin as the herd continues to grow.”

The elk harvest quota for 2018 was determined by the department’s Elk Advisory Committee, which, in addition to DNR biologists and researchers, includes representation from the following:

  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation;
  • Wisconsin Wildlife Federation;
  • Jackson County Forest and Parks;
  • Wisconsin Conservation Congress;
  • U.S. Forest Service;
  • Wisconsin Bowhunters Association;
  • Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission;
  • U.W. Stevens Point, and
  • Ho-Chunk Nation.

“Our volunteers and members have been looking forward to this moment for a long time, and a hunt will show the success of the reintroduction effort to a lot of people,” said Kurt Flack, Regional Director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which has invested over $1.6 million dollars on elk reintroduction and other conservation efforts in Wisconsin. “We are excited to play a role in the hunt and continue to raise money for Wisconsin elk management.”

Flack said that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation elk tag raffle tickets are expected to be available for purchase by May. Those interested in purchasing raffle tickets may do so by going to (exit DNR).

Pittman-Robertson funding has been integral to elk restoration efforts in Wisconsin since the very beginning, helping to fund elk management, research, and monitoring. This funding source is and will continue to be critical, and is supplemented by private donations from several partner groups that paid for the most recent translocation efforts from Kentucky.

Wisconsin’s inaugural elk hunting season will adhere to the following guidelines:

  • season will be open from October 13 to November 11, 2018 and December 13-21, 2018;
  • only bull elk may be harvested;
  • Areas where Kentucky elk were released between 2015-2017 will be off limits to hunting until the population increases to levels identified in the elk management plan;
  • only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive a harvest tag; and
  • harvest tags may be transferred to a Wisconsin resident youth hunter 17 years or younger.

Translocation efforts will continue in 2019 through partnership with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Wisconsin DNR has one year remaining in an agreement with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to bring additional elk to Wisconsin – July 2017 marked the third year of the partnership and additional elk are planned to be released in the Flambeau River State Forest in 2019.

For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, go to and search keyword “elk.” To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled “subscribe for updates for DNR topics,” then follow the prompts and select the “elk in Wisconsin” and “wildlife projects” distribution lists.

Visit DNR at Canoecopia in Madison March 9-11


MADISON –Visitors to Canoecopia in Madison March 9-11 can find information about paddling and camping on some of the state’s premier whitewater and quiet rivers and buy Wisconsin State Park admission stickers by visiting Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources displays in the exhibit hall and lobby.

Visitors also will be able to pick up free guides to state natural areas and to some of the native wildlife they may encounter on their trips, enter a free drawing for the bald eagle license plate that is a fundraiser for endangered species, and sign up for fishing and hunting for food classes.

Visit DNR at Canoecopia to learn about great places to paddle and camp, to buy a state parks sticker, and to find guides to the wildlife seen along the way.  - Photo credit: DNR
Visit DNR at Canoecopia to learn about great places to paddle and camp, to buy a state parks sticker, and to find guides to the wildlife seen along the way. Photo credit: DNR

Canoecopia, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, is the largest paddle sports consumer event in the world, and includes more than 250,000 square feet of kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards, outdoor equipment and clothing and more than 140 seminars, speakers and clinics. Ticket prices are $15 for a day pass and $25 for a weekend pass – visitors ages 17 and receive free admission. Show hours are as follows:

  • Friday. March 9 – 4-9 p.m.;
  • Saturday, March 10 – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and
  • Sunday, March 11 – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More information regarding this annual event can be found at (exit DNR).

Wisconsin State Park admission stickers will be available for purchase at DNR’s exhibit and the department’s Wisconsin Wild Harvest initiative will feature a display about classes paddlers can take to help them get started in taking an active role in putting meat on the table by fishing and hunting.

A free guide to state natural areas will help outdoor enthusiasts find recommended sites for paddling, wildflower viewing, scenic vistas and archaeological sites and more. A drawing will be held for the bald eagle license plate – a fundraiser for endangered species. Visitors interested in helping DNR staff monitor a number of species can also learn more about volunteer opportunities for paddlers to help survey birds, bats, mussels, frogs, toads and more.

Visit the DNR at the 2018 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show, March 7-11


[EDITOR’S ADVISORY: This news release was previously issued to statewide media.]

WEST ALLIS – Outdoor enthusiasts will have an opportunity to meet Department of Natural Resources staff at the 2018 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show which opens Wednesday, March 7, and runs through Sunday, March 11, at the Wisconsin Exposition Center at State Fair Park, 8200 W. Greenfield Ave. in West Allis.

DNR Secretary Dan Meyer said the relationship between the agency and the sports show dates to the days when the agency was called the Wisconsin Conservation Department. “It’s been a long and happy engagement, Meyer said, “Because the focus of our agency is customer-driven, this is a great opportunity for the public to ask questions and engage with our staff,” he added.

Freshwater fish tank - Photo credit: DNR
A 600-gallon freshwater tank lets visitors view live bluegills, crappies, perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass.Photo credit: DNR

The DNR’s exhibit features a 600-gallon freshwater tank where visitors can view live bluegills, crappies, perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass. Live reptiles and amphibians will be on display at the wetlands and waterways section.

Parents are encouraged to bring their youngsters to the “Kids Corner” of the DNR booth. As they’ve done for several years, DNR wildlife staff will bring an array of wildlife pelts including beaver, badger, coyote, fox and wolf for young people eager to learn more about our furry friends and pick up fish and mammal -themed giveaways.

“This is definitely a ‘please do touch’ display,” said Meyer.

Also returning will be the free kids casting clinics where young anglers can hone their skills. This popular attraction is once again cosponsored by the Kenosha Sport Fishing and Conservation Association.

Visitors to the DNR booth can purchase their hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. License sales are a big attraction, especially since previous year licenses expire March 31.

The DNR booth is in the southwest corner of the exposition center. The hours for the 2018 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show are Wednesday, March 7, through Friday, March 9, from noon to 9 p.m. On Saturday, March 10, hours are from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. On Sunday, March 11, doors open at 10 a.m. and the show closes at 6 p.m.