Board rejects DNR elk harvest recommendation of 6 bulls
The Natural Resources Board (NRB) rejected the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) recommendation to reduce elk hunting permits for the 2020 season to six from the 10 tags issued the previous two years.
Meeting by Zoom in a conference call May 27, the board voted 5-to-2 to reject the DNR proposal to reduce the number of elk harvest permits from 10 to 6, and instead returned to 10 permits, as in each of the previous two seasons.
The 10 permits are split between state-licensed hunters and Chippewa tribal hunters – with five tags going to each group.
Of the five permits for sport hunters, four will be drawn from the more than 23,000 applicants and one will be drawn in a raffle run by the Wisconsin Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Proceeds from the drawings are used for management and research on Wisconsin’s elk program.
The return to 10 harvest permits was initiated by NRB member Greg Kazmierski, who, along with other board members, said it was a social issue. Kazmierski said he thought the DNR statistics were misleading. He questioned the bull-to-cow ratios and said DNR should have better aging data on the bulls that were harvested.
Kazmierski said reduced permits will make the public think the program is a failure, when it had been promised hunting opportunities.
Bob Nack, DNR big game section chief, told the board the DNR was primarily concerned with protecting the older bulls from a breeding ability standpoint and for tourism since people like to go north to see large bull elk.
Marcy West, NRB member from LaFarge, clarified that the recommendation for the reduction in permits came originally from the Elk Advisory Committee, which included the Conservation Congress and other stakeholders.
Julie Anderson, NRB member from Sturtevant, said the increase will send the message that the public will have a better chance for a permit.
NRB members Dr. Frederick Prehn, Bill Bruins, Anderson, Terry Hilgenberg and Kazmierski supported the increase to 10 elk tags. Opposed were Bill Smith and West.
The 10 permits are for the 2020 hunting season, and DNR is working on a new elk management plan expected to be completed this year.