The recently passed 2017-2019 biennial budget for Wisconsin included a statutory change which eliminates the need for hunters to use deer and turkey carcass tags.
“The main message is you do not need to validate and attach a carcass tag, you still need to carry proof that you have a tag, or license, or authorization to hunt deer where you are hunting deer, and you still need to register deer and/or turkey by 5 p.m. the day after harvest,” said Todd Schaller, Chief Warden for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Schaller said the purpose of the change is to make the process easier for hunters in the field.
“These changes do not affect requirements for the hunting of other species,” Schaller said.
Mike Rader, an assistant natural resources professor at UWSP and former employee of the WI-DNR said, “In the early 1900’s the deer population was really low in Wisconsin. In the 1920’s they even had closed seasons for a while.”
“When you consider what the deer population is in Wisconsin, it’s not as much of a concern as it was in the early 1900s.”
Rader said the elimination of the carcass tags has some potential to make it easier for people to harvest extra deer without registering them.
“It was another incentive to keep people from thinking, ‘Well I’m just going to get this thing home, cut it up, and then use my tag on another deer,’” Rader said.
However, he stressed that this concern was small.
“A warden can still check somebody in the field, and if they’ve got a deer, the warden should be able to verify electronically that they have a license and that they have an authorization for that sex of deer in that county,” he said.
Schaller agreed that hunters taking advantage of the rule was a concern of low priority.
“My philosophy is people are going to take advantage no matter what rules you have, and that most people are trying to do it right,” Schaller said.
Since the rule change came only weeks before hunting season, the DNR is working hard to get the new information to hunters in time.
Schaller said, “We’re getting the word out. One of our challenges is that about 100,000 gun deer hunters purchase their license two to three days prior to the season, so those folks we might miss, but the advantage is if they do what they always were doing, they’re fine. They’re just doing extra stuff.”
Environment Section Editor