MADISON - Following a 30-day application period and a great deal of anticipation, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff conducted the random drawing for four lucky residents who will participate in the first managed elk hunting season in state history.
"This is an historic time for the department and I would like to sincerely thank all those who applied for an elk license," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. "It was a privilege to call all the winners and personally congratulate them - each one recognizes that this will be a unique and exciting experience."
Over 38,000 Wisconsin residents entered the drawing for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - four hunters were selected to receive a license for Wisconsin's inaugural elk hunt. Successful applicants were from Merrill, Kenosha, Appleton and Green Bay. In addition to license fees, over $13,000 in donations was received to benefit elk management in Wisconsin.
An additional license will be awarded through a raffle conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The raffle winner will be drawn Aug. 11, and tickets can be purchased on their website. All Wisconsin residents may enter the raffle, including hunters that applied in the state drawing. Raffle tickets may be purchased for $10 each; the same cost as the state application fee.
Proceeds from elk license applications and the RMEF drawing are earmarked for elk management in Wisconsin.
"Offering this hunt has taken Wisconsin's elk management program to a whole new level," said Wallenfang. "There has been high interest and excitement since we announce the hunt, and it has brought a level of awareness to a lot of people who didn't even know that we have elk in our state. It's an important opportunity to inform and build advocacy for our elk reintroduction effort, while providing a limited, but exciting, recreational opportunity. We anticipate more tags in the future as the herds grow."
The 2018 hunting season will occur only in the Clam Lake elk range in parts of Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland, and Price counties in far north-central Wisconsin where the original restoration effort was initiated with 25 elk from Michigan in 1995. The herd is projected to comfortably surpass 200 animals this year.
Prior to purchasing an elk hunting license, all winners will be required to attend a Wisconsin elk hunter orientation offered prior to the hunt. The class will cover a hunting area overview, field sampling and health testing, regulations and more.
"The hunt will occur after the rut and the area is dense forest with openings, so it won't be easy," said Wallenfang. "But we estimate about 70 adult bulls in the Clam Lake herd, so it will be a hunt to remember for those lucky winners."