FITCHBURG, Wis. – Either sex harvest for bow and gun hunting, shorter seasons and a longer break between them highlights changes to deer hunting rules for southern Wisconsin’s chronic wasting disease (CWD) zones this fall.

The rules, approved earlier this year by the Natural Resources Board, the DNR’s seven citizen member policy-making body, and later reviewed by the state legislature, “were formulated in response to what we have been hearing from many hunters over the past four years,” said Alan Crossley, the state agency’s CWD project leader based at Fitchburg.

Hunters have said that shorter seasons and a more concentrated effort will get deer moving and result in the greater harvest that’s necessary to manage the disease. There is, however, some disagreement among hunters on how best to achieve herd reduction in the zone. Some who attended forums held last March believed that Earn-a-Buck, which requires the registration of an antlerless deer to earn a buck tag, should remain in place to reduce deer numbers.

“There are no easy answers in meeting herd reduction and hunter satisfaction needs,” noted Mr. Crossley. “The important thing this fall is for hunters to step to the plate and shoot enough deer of both sexes as we continue toward our long-term goal of maintaining a healthy deer herd in Wisconsin.”

Hunters can harvest as many deer as they choose under the either-sex regulation in both of southern Wisconsin’s Eastern and Western Disease Eradication Zones (DEZ) and much larger Herd Reduction Zone (HRZ) during bow and gun seasons. Either sex tags will be available in early September at all registration stations in the CWD Zones, some licensed vendors and DNR offices.

DEZ and HRZ boundaries were not changed and remain the same as last year. A map of the CWD zone boundaries can be viewed on the DNR Web site. The bow and gun seasons for the Eastern and Western DEZ’s and the HRZ this fall are:

Gun/Disease Eradication Zones

  • Oct. 14-22
  • Nov. 18 – Dec. 10

Gun/Herd Reduction Zone

  • Oct. 19-22
  • Nov. 18 – Dec. 10

Archery/Disease Eradication & Herd Reduction Zones

  • Sept. 16 – Jan. 7

2005-06 Hunting Seasons in DEZ’s

Over 12,000 deer were harvested during the 2005-2006 hunting seasons in the CWD Disease Eradication Zones.

“Hunters and landowners remain the key to herd reduction and disease management in the DEZ’s,” pointed out Mr. Crossley. “We recognize that our goal of a healthy deer herd will not be successful without the cooperation of landowners and hunters. Without your help, we would be faced with an impossible challenge.”

The hunting season breakdown in the DEZ’s for all 2005-06 hunting seasons was:

  Antlered Antlerless Unknown Total
Bow 397 646 9 962
Gun 4405 6622 125 11,152
Total 4712 7168 134 12,114

Disease Surveillance

The Department tested 24,782 deer for CWD during the 2005-06 seasons and found 181 positives, with 15 identified in the outlying Herd Reduction Zone and the remainder from the Eastern or Western DEZ. Since 2002, DNR has sampled 100,147 deer and have found 652 positives, 20 from the HRZ and the rest from one of the two DEZ’s.

The breakdown by county for positive deer in 2005-06 is 115 from Iowa County, 40 from Dane County, eight from Walworth County, six from Rock County, four from Lafayette county and two each from Columbia, Jefferson, Richland and Sauk Counties.

DNR will continue to focus its disease surveillance on areas in and around the two DEZ’s, clusters of CWD positive deer in the outlying HRZ, CWD positive deer farms, and, this year, in the agency’s 18-county Western Region.

Last year, hunters brought in 4,563 deer for sampling in the agency’s 16-county Northeast Region. All deer tested negative for CWD.

“It’s very encouraging that no CWD positive deer were found in northeast Wisconsin and this fall we will be asking hunters in the Western Region to bring in deer they shoot for CWD testing so we can successfully continue our CWD surveillance in other areas of the state,” said Mr. Crossley.

Persons interested in the latest information on CWD in Wisconsin can visit CWD in Wisconsin.

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