Preliminary registration numbers available for the 2017 bear hunting seasons

Preliminary registration numbers show hunters harvested 4,157 bears during the 2017 Wisconsin bear hunting seasons.
Preliminary registration totals for the 2017 bear hunt are as follows:
Zone A: 1,069;
Zone B: 816;
Zone C: 1,009; and
Zone D: 1,263.
“Although harvest declined slightly from 2016, this follows a pattern of annual variation that has developed in recent years, and reflects the goal to reduce bear numbers in certain areas of the state,” said Jeff Pritzl, Department of Natural Resources acting large carnivore specialist. “The preliminary harvest of 4,157 is very close to the previous four alternate year harvests when hound hunters had the first week of the season. Crop and property damage reports, along with nuisance complaints have declined measurably this year, due in part to purposeful management of the population through hunting.”
Summary tables and more information regarding bear hunting in Wisconsin can be found by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword “bear.”
Pheasants for the holiday season
Bird hunters will have another option to beat cabin fever in December when the Department of Natural Resources releases nearly 1,500 additional pheasants on five public properties before the holiday season.
Cabin fever is no match for time spent pursuing pheasants with family and friends.
These one-time stocking efforts, are in addition to the 75,000 birds released throughout the season and are the result of a trial run of the new hatchery equipment at the state game farm in Poynette.
Properties to be stocked before the holiday season include:
Mud Lake Wildlife Area, Columbia County;
Mazomanie Unit of Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, Dane County;
Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kenosha County;
Brooklyn Wildlife Area, Dane & Green counties; and
Avon Bottoms Wildlife Area, Rock County.
“We selected properties with suitable cover for pheasant hunting near population centers, while avoiding counties holding a Holiday Hunt for deer,” said Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. “The department hopes this late-season stocking will provide an opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends, and perhaps add some additional table fare to your holiday meal.”
As a reminder, quality pheasant hunting opportunities exist throughout Wisconsin, including wild pheasant hunting where suitable habitat exists and previously stocked public lands. The pheasant season runs through Dec. 31, and all hunting regulations and bag limits apply through the season close. Pheasant hunting regulations can be found in the 2017 Small Game Regulations.
Hunters are reminded to practice TABK while afield:
T – Treat every firearm as if it is loaded;
A – Always point the muzzle in a safe direction;
B – Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it; and
K – Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
In addition, hunters are encouraged to wear blaze orange while upland bird hunting to increase visibility with other hunters.
For more information regarding pheasant hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “pheasant.”
Record number of walleye stocked in 2017
A record 881,977 walleye were stocked in key Wisconsin waters this past year as state, private and tribal hatcheries continued to put Wisconsin Walleye Initiative funding to work for anglers, state fisheries officials said.
“We’re very pleased that the investment made to hatcheries through the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative and the hard work of our fisheries crews and our partners are once again paying off for Wisconsin anglers,” says Justine Hasz, fisheries director for the Department of Natural Resources.
The initiative, proposed by Gov. Scott Walker with the 2013-15 biennium budget and approved for continuation through the 2017-19 budget, has paid to upgrade state hatcheries and provided extra operating funds needed to keep fish on site longer and feed them minnows. The initiative also provided grants to upgrade three tribal hatcheries and six private facilities to meet the stocking demand statewide.
“We stocked a record number of fish again, meeting the need identified by fisheries biologists and we’re poised to meet the needs long into the future for walleye stocking using public and private partnerships,” says Dave Giehtbrock, DNR fisheries culture section chief.
Natural reproduction accounts for more than 80 percent of the walleye caught in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative is part of DNR’s overall management strategy to help restore naturally reproducing populations of walleye in lakes that formerly supported naturally reproducing populations and improve walleye numbers in lakes that need regular stocking to maintain good fisheries.
While stocking the larger, extended growth fingerlings makes sense in some lakes, DNR also stocks about 1.4 million small fingerlings each year, and works with several cooperators to stock walleye fry into several bodies of water. DNR fisheries biologists develop stocking plans for the different sized fish based on specific lake conditions; in some lakes the smaller fish perform very well and are more cost effective than the larger fish.
In the last year before the launch of the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, DNR stocked 142,121 extended growth walleye. Since the initiative began, DNR has stocked 455,307 large fingerlings in 2013, 719,670 fish in 2014, 760,969 fish stocked in 133 waters in 2015 and 797,815 in 2016.
Walleye are a favorite quarry for Wisconsin anglers and boost the economy by driving expenditures for lodging, dining, retail purchases, guided trips and tournament participation among other things. Wisconsin remains one of the top three fishing destinations in the U.S. with resident and nonresident anglers generating an economic impact of nearly $2.3 billion per year, according to the American Sportfishing Association.