Following a 30-day application period, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conducted the random drawing for four residents who will have the opportunity to participate in the 2019 elk hunting season.
"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 23,000 Wisconsin residents entered the drawing for one of four once-in-a-lifetime elk tags. The winners were from the cities of Cameron, Cumberland, Grand View and Medford. The fifth license has already been awarded through a raffle conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The winner was drawn at the RMEF state banquet in Wausau on June 1 and is from Hazel Green.
Although the number of applicants is down from last year, the funding brought in through this application process as well as the additional $7,800 that was donated, will be used to support habitat management and research to benefit Wisconsin's growing elk population and a variety of other wildlife as well.
"Last year's hunters collected some very nice bulls and great stories of the hunt, so we're looking forward to continued success within the elk program that provides more hunting and elk viewing opportunities in the future," said Wallenfang.
Wallenfang adds that the hunt has brought a new level of awareness to many people who were unaware that Wisconsin has elk in the state. "Elk viewing, especially in the fall, is adding a welcomed boost to local communities as people travel to hear elk calls and catch a glimpse of elk in their natural habitat."
The 2019 elk 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 be as high as 230 animals this year, not including more than 50 elk that are currently in quarantine as part of the final year of reintroduction efforts. Those elk will not be allowed for harvest during this year's hunt.