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NR 1.12 NR 1.12 Migratory game birds. Migratory game birds are those species listed in s. 29.001 (39), Stats., which in the course of their seasonal movements will almost always leave the land or water on which they fledged and will often cross state or international boundaries. These species are regulated under federal law and international treaties. To implement an adequate program for migratory game birds, the following needs and actions are essential:
NR 1.12(1) (1) Habitat management. Wetlands are the primary habitat component for most migratory game bird species. Upland nesting cover and woodlands are also necessary for certain species. Legislation and programs that will protect and enhance migratory game bird habitat must be strengthened. Such a program has to include:
NR 1.12(1)(a) (a) Acquisition in fee title to protect critical lands and waters and to permit developments necessary for enhancement;
NR 1.12(1)(b) (b) Easement acquisition to protect other important lands and waters from excessive degradation by human activities;
NR 1.12(1)(c) (c) Vigorous enforcement of the state's role in the use of its regulatory powers to protect wetland resources associated with navigable waters;
NR 1.12(1)(d) (d) Strong cooperation and support to other units of government in planning and zoning programs which protect wetlands;
NR 1.12(1)(e) (e) Support for state, federal and local government programs which manage suitable public waters as production, resting and feeding areas for migratory birds, with special emphasis on the provision of nesting and brood rearing habitat for ducks;
NR 1.12(1)(f) (f) Support for the U.S. department of agriculture's soil conservation service and U.S. department of transportation in implementing, on a continuing basis, their 1975 wetland maintenance policies;
NR 1.12(1)(g) (g) Opposition to programs and activities funded by government agencies which result in loss or degradation of wetlands of wooded migratory game bird habitat; and
NR 1.12(1)(h) (h) Maintenance and development of incentive programs, including the U.S. department of agriculture's water bank program, which encourage private landowners to manage land and water for the benefit of migratory birds.
NR 1.12(2) (2) Harvest.
NR 1.12(2)(a)(a) Migratory game bird regulations must be adopted within constraints that put the future of the resource foremost in consideration. The department shall be represented on, and take part in the activities of, the Mississippi flyway council. This council makes recommendations to the U.S. fish and wildlife service including those affecting migratory game birds using the Mississippi flyway.
NR 1.12(2)(b) (b) Some Wisconsin hunting regulations may have to be more restrictive than the federal framework to assure that local breeding populations will be maintained at optimum levels.
NR 1.12(2)(c) (c) A balance between local production and harvest is essential, and regulations must be designed to achieve this end.
NR 1.12(2)(d) (d) To provide the opportunity for a quality hunting experience on major waterfowl projects, excessive hunter densities must be reduced by every available means.
NR 1.12(3) (3) Damage control and disease. Migratory game birds, especially waterfowl, often concentrate during migration, thereby increasing the potential for agricultural crop depredations and the development of disease epidemics within the flock.
NR 1.12(3)(a) (a) As a first order of priority, management of refuges and closed areas must be directed at keeping concentrations of migratory game birds at levels that are in accord with available food supplies in the vicinity and/or at levels that will minimize the probability of disease outbreaks.
NR 1.12(3)(b) (b) Disease surveillance programs for major waterfowl concentration areas, licensed game farms with waterfowl, and urban areas with semi-domestic waterfowl, must be developed. Contingency plans to deal with disease outbreaks in wild populations must also be developed.
NR 1.12(3)(c) (c) When abnormal weather delays crop harvest on private lands near refuges or closed areas, damage abatement programs will be employed to assist landowners in protecting vulnerable crops. When unavoidable losses occur, damage payments authorized by legislation can be used to compensate for the loss of crops.
NR 1.12(4) (4) Research and surveys. Research and surveys on local breeding populations, production, movements, harvest and habitat are essential to provide adequate information for developing regulations and programs to protect and manage these birds. Since migratory game birds utilize continental habitats, the international significance of cooperative surveys and research required to establish sound flyway management programs is recognized. Therefore, cooperation with other flyway states, federal agencies, Canadian agencies and the Mexican government shall be exercised as needed.
NR 1.12 History History: Cr. Register, April, 1975, No. 232, eff. 5-1-75; r. and recr. Register, July, 1977, No. 259, eff. 8-1-77; correction in (intro.) made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats., Register, September, 1999, No. 525.
NR 1.13 NR 1.13 Small game mammals. Small game mammals include rabbits, hares and squirrels. To effectively implement the small game mammal program, the following needs and actions are necessary.
NR 1.13(1) (1) Habitat management.
NR 1.13(1)(a)(a) The most efficient method of management is the maintenance of existing habitat.
NR 1.13(1)(b) (b) Habitat improvement measures, however, are currently needed, primarily in rural areas near population centers. Most habitat management opportunities are associated with woodlots, forests, wetlands, and odd areas that are neither plowed nor grazed. Wherever possible, squirrel and rabbit habitat needs are to be incorporated into woodland management recommendations.
NR 1.13(1)(c) (c) The capacity to produce small game mammals on state wildlife areas must be increased through more intensive management of suitable habitat. The need for den or nut bearing trees for squirrels, brush or grassy openings for cottontail rabbits and interspersion of important timber types and age classes for snowshoe hares must be considered in the course of making forest and woodlot management recommendations for all public lands.
NR 1.13(1)(d) (d) The majority of small game mammals depend upon habitat occurring on private lands. This is especially true of jackrabbits where open agricultural land is the main component of habitat. Effective management information must be provided to private landowners who request it and incentives to manage small game mammals should be provided in areas where there is high demonstrated need.
NR 1.13(2) (2) Harvest. In most areas of the state, harvest levels of small game mammals do not approach the surplus that could safely be removed. Therefore, with the exception of jackrabbits, which are not abundant, harvest regulations for these species should provide maximum opportunities for sport hunting without sacrificing the quality of the hunting experience. Improved hunter/landowner relations are important to effectively meet any increasing demands for rabbit and squirrel hunting.
NR 1.13 History History: Cr. Register, April, 1975, No. 232, eff. 5-1-75; r. and recr. Register, July, 1977, No. 259, eff. 8-1-77.
NR 1.14 NR 1.14 Upland game birds. Upland game birds are pheasants, quail, Hungarian (gray) partridge, grouse and wild turkey. While these species depend primarily upon upland sites, most species also utilize wetlands to meet part of their habitat needs. The following needs and actions are essential for effective implementation of the upland game bird program.
NR 1.14(1) (1) Habitat management.
NR 1.14(1)(a)(a) The maintenance of existing habitat and, where necessary, improvement or restoration of critical components of habitat are the preferred methods of management. Management recommendations for upland game bird habitat will become an integral part of land-use plans on all public lands.
NR 1.14(1)(b) (b) Prairie grouse (prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse) habitat is constantly threatened by natural forest succession and development of land for intensive agricultural and forestry uses. Positive efforts shall be made to assure that free-living populations of these species and their necessary habitat will be perpetuated.
NR 1.14(1)(b)1. 1. Prairie grouse management and habitat restoration programs shall be accorded high priority on all publicly-owned lands designated by the department. Where remnant flocks of sharp-tailed grouse occur, associated with habitat on public lands, the emphasis in land-use plans will be on maintenance or improvement of this habitat.
NR 1.14(1)(b)2. 2. The maintenance of huntable populations of sharp-tailed grouse shall be the management objective where suitable continuity of habitat makes this feasible. Cooperative agreements, including leases where necessary, shall be executed with other public and private owners of lands where it is deemed practicable and essential to prairie grouse management by the department.
NR 1.14(1)(c) (c) Much of the remaining habitat for upland game birds is the result of land-use decisions made by owners of private property. Therefore, programs that will promote the conservation and improvement of upland game bird habitat and improve access to private lands will be supported. In addition to the technical advice supplied by department wildlife managers, the board recognizes the contribution of wildlife management assistance given to private landowners through cooperative forest management, U.S. department of agriculture and university of Wisconsin-extension programs. However, much more must be done to offset losses of wildlife habitat in predominantly agricultural areas. Cooperative wildlife habitat management programs, including the “acres for wildlife" program, which offer additional incentives and management assistance to landowners shall be developed. Conservancy district zoning as well as other programs and policies of local and federal agencies which conserve upland game bird habitat will also be supported.
NR 1.14(2) (2) Harvest. Harvest regulations must have as their objective to take no more than the harvestable surplus of each species within broad areas of range. Regulations must also, to the extent of the law, have as their objective reasonable minimum standards of conduct for hunters and equitable distribution of hunting opportunities.
NR 1.14(3) (3) Stocking and transplanting. There are 3 basically different objectives to the artificial introduction of upland game birds. The first is to restore a species which has been extirpated, the second to speed recovery of severely depleted numbers as a result of catastrophe, and the third to provide birds for hunting recreation on areas where the demand exceeds the capacity to produce wild birds. The first 2 are ordinarily short-term efforts involving wildtrapped stock, which are aimed at establishing or increasing wild populations which sustain themselves. The third is an annual effort which does not have lasting benefits and which often masks the continued deterioration of the habitat base necessary to sustain wild populations.
NR 1.14(3)(a) (a) Stocking of state wildlife areas to supplement wild populations for hunting recreation will be confined primarily to cock pheasants. However, stocked hens as well as cocks can be harvested on state wildlife areas in submarginal pheasant range. While stocking can usually put additional birds in the field at a lesser cost than habitat improvement, it yields only short-term, single-purpose benefits reaped primarily by the participants who hunt them. Therefore, user fees should be the primary means of support for pheasant stocking on designated state-owned areas. In order to assure the opportunity for a quality hunting experience on heavily hunted wildlife areas stocked with pheasants, (as was the case in s. NR 1.12 (2) (d) relating to waterfowl projects) a reduction in excessive hunter densities will be pursued by every available means.
NR 1.14(3)(b) (b) Cooperative game bird stocking (pheasant) programs will be used as necessary to supplement wild populations on privately-owned land in areas where the demand for upland game bird hunting exceeds the supply of wild birds. All game birds reared under cooperative programs continue to be the property of the state until released and harvested under general hunting regulations provided in ch. NR 10. The department will provide chicks and a specified amount of feed per chick to individuals or groups who care for the birds and provide rearing facilities that meet state standards. When the cost-sharing program is not elected, all game birds reared by private individuals or groups shall be released on lands which are accessible to the public for hunting without charge.
NR 1.14(3)(c) (c) Game birds shall not be stocked on lands to which the public is denied access for hunting unless a percentage of chicks fixed by the department is returned to the state at 8 or more weeks of age as specified in a written cost-share agreement. When cost-share birds are to be released, a percentage of the birds representing in total value the state's investment in chicks and feed shall be returned to the department and released on state wildlife areas. Cost records from the Poynette game farm will be used to determine the value at release age. The balance of the cost-share birds may be released by the individual or group on private lands, posted as desired, except that none may be released on private shooting preserves or private game farms.
NR 1.14(4) (4) Research and surveys. Statewide or regional surveys and investigations shall have high priority. Their primary objective is the establishment of base information regarding population densities, harvest, range and habitat quality or quantity. Periodic reassessment of these same bases will yield trend information necessary for management.
NR 1.14 History History: Cr. Register, April, 1975, No. 232, eff. 5-1-75; r. and recr. Register, July, 1977, No. 259, eff. 8-1-77.
NR 1.15 NR 1.15 Big game mammals. Big game mammals in Wisconsin are white-tailed deer, black bear and elk. The needs and actions specified in this section are essential to an effective big game management program.
NR 1.15(1) (1) Habitat management. The natural growth and changing composition of forest stands, particularly in the north, is causing a long-term decline in habitat quality for big game and other forest wildlife.
NR 1.15(1)(a) (a) Forest diversity. A planned program of maintaining forest diversity including shade-intolerant cover types, particularly aspen, oak and forest openings, is required to slow or halt this decline in habitat quality and to maintain deer populations at established population objectives.
NR 1.15(1)(b) (b) Summer range. Habitat conditions are deteriorating most rapidly on summer deer range. Forest maturation, conversion from sun-loving tree species to shade tolerant species and loss of grassy openings are reducing the quality of summer deer range and with it, the deer carrying capacity in northern Wisconsin. The habitat management objective is to provide an adequate mixture of aspen, oak, upland brush, jack pine and sodded openings in connection with regular forest management practices.
NR 1.15(1)(c) (c) Winter range. Winter habitat may be increasing as a result of expanding coniferous cover and implementation of deer yard plans on public lands. However, winter deer survival is largely dependent on fat acquired on the summer range. Deer have evolved physiologically and behaviorally to survive in northern forest habitats under average winter conditions. Occasional severe winters will result in deer mortality. These periodic losses are considered normal for northern deer and will occur irrespective of winter habitat quality. Severe deer losses can be mitigated most effectively by maintaining quality summer habitat. Direct feeding of hay, corn or other agricultural crops is seldom effective and even detrimental if not introduced gradually over time. While browse cutting does provide natural feed, it is largely ineffective. Specially formulated feed in pelletized form has been demonstrated to benefit malnourished deer. However, the cost and logistics of feeding enough deer to produce a measurable result in subsequent years precludes feeding as normal public policy. The department recognizes public concern for malnourished deer, public desire to feed stressed deer regardless of cost or measurable results and the benefits to individual animals which are properly fed. Therefore, the following policy is adopted for wintering deer in the northern forest.
NR 1.15(1)(c)1. 1. The department will seek appropriate deer harvest quotas to move deer populations in the direction specified by deer population objectives.
NR 1.15(1)(c)2. 2. Habitat management will emphasize maintaining summer range quality which will produce well nourished deer in the fall and enhance their overwinter survival.
NR 1.15(1)(c)3. 3. The department will monitor wintering deer herds by surveying yarding areas and measuring winter severity.
NR 1.15(1)(c)4. 4. The department will implement existing deer yard plans to maximize browse and perpetuate priority cover.
NR 1.15(1)(c)5. 5. The department will provide technical advice and guidance to individuals and groups on where, when, what and how to feed privately acquired food to deer during severe winters.
NR 1.15(2) (2) Harvest. Big game hunting regulations shall be designed to meet the following objectives:
NR 1.15(2)(a) (a) Deer population objectives. The department shall seek to maintain a deer herd in balance with its range and with deer population and sustainable harvest objectives that are reasonably compatible with social, economic and ecosystem management objectives for each deer management unit. Deer population objectives are to be based on:
NR 1.15(2)(a)1. 1. Carrying capacity as determined by unit population responses to habitat quality and historical records of winter severity.
NR 1.15(2)(a)2. 2. Hunter success in harvesting and seeing deer and public deer viewing opportunities.
NR 1.15(2)(a)3. 3. Ecological and economic impacts of deer browsing.
NR 1.15(2)(a)4. 4. Disease transmission.
NR 1.15(2)(a)5. 5. Concern for deer-vehicle collisions.
NR 1.15(2)(a)6. 6. Chippewa treaty harvest.
NR 1.15(2)(a)7. 7. Hunter access to land in a deer management unit.
NR 1.15(2)(a)8. 8. Ability to manage the deer herd in a management unit towards an established population objective.
NR 1.15(2)(a)9. 9. Tolerable levels of deer damage as described in par. (am).
NR 1.15(2)(am) (am) Tolerable levels of deer damage to crops. Deer damage to crops in a deer management unit exceeds tolerable levels when the crop damage is greater than 2.5 times the median in 2 of the following 4 indicators:
NR 1.15(2)(am)1. 1. Appraised deer damage losses determined through the wildlife damage program under s. 29.889, Stats., per 100 overwinter deer.
NR 1.15(2)(am)2. 2. Appraised deer damage losses determined through the wildlife damage program under s. 29.889, Stats., per square mile of land in the deer management unit.
NR 1.15(2)(am)3. 3. Appraised deer damage losses determined through the wildlife damage program under s. 29.889, Stats., per square mile of agricultural land in the deer management unit.
NR 1.15(2)(am)4. 4. Number of claims for deer damage submitted through the wildlife damage program under s. 29.889, Stats., per 100 square miles of total land.
NR 1.15 Note Note: The crop damage data used for these evaluations are adjusted to omit damage losses to high valued crops such as cranberry, orchard, Christmas tree, truck farm crops, etc. where low deer numbers can still cause high losses, and where effective abatement is available in the form of 8 foot high deer barrier, high tensile woven wire fences. The focus of the “tolerable levels" criteria is on chronic damage losses caused by high deer populations.
NR 1.15(2)(at) (at) If crop damage in a deer management unit with an objective to maintain or increase the population is above the tolerable limit in 2 years out of a 3 year period prior to a unit review under s. NR 10.104 (3), the department shall consider establishing an objective to reduce or maintain the deer population.
NR 1.15(2)(b) (b) Hunting objectives. Achieving and maintaining opportunities for a range of deer hunting experience while still allowing to the extent possible, freedom of choice by hunters. Regulations should provide incentives or disincentives to encourage better distribution of hunting pressure. If hunter numbers continue to increase, control of hunting pressure may become necessary.
NR 1.15(2)(c) (c) Black bear. Maintaining the black bear as a trophy big game animal and offering the best opportunity for a quality hunting experience. In addition, the maintenance of a quality hunt will be emphasized by continuing controls over the use of bait and dogs.
NR 1.15(2)(d) (d) Animal damage. Deer, bear and elk damage complaints will be handled according to the provisions of s. 29.889, Stats., and rules as published in the Wisconsin administrative code. Damage can be most economically controlled by maintaining populations with a hunting season harvest as specified in par. (a).
NR 1.15(2)(e) (e) Elk. Maintaining elk as a big game animal and offering the best opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime, quality hunting experience. In addition, the maintenance of elk as a valued component of the natural community will be emphasized by continued management.
NR 1.15(3) (3) Research and surveys. Surveys, investigations and research shall be conducted to provide technical information necessary to evaluate population objectives and establish population trends, harvest recommendations, population objectives and habitat management needs and guidelines.
NR 1.15 History History: Cr. Register, April, 1975, No. 232, eff. 5-1-75; r. and recr. Register, July, 1977, No. 259, eff. 8-1-77; am. (2) (d), Register, January, 1984, No. 337, eff. 2-1-84; am. (1) (a), (2) (a) and (b), r. and recr. (1) (b) and (c), Register, July, 1987, No. 379, eff. 8-1-87; r. and recr. (2) (a), Register, July, 1996, No. 487, eff. 8-1-96; correction in (2) (d) made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats., Register, September, 1999, No. 525; CR 00-154: am. (2) (a) and cr. (2) (am) and (at), Register January 2002 No. 553, eff. 2-1-02; CR 08-021: am. (intro.) and (2) (d), cr. (2) (e) Register November 2008 No. 635, eff. 12-1-08; Emr1405: emerg. am. (2) (at), (3), eff. 2-25-14; CR 13-071: am. (1) (a), (b), (c) 1., (2) (a) (title), (intro.), r. and recr. (2) (a) 8., am. (2) (at), (3) Register July 2015 No. 715, eff. 8-1-15.
NR 1.16 NR 1.16 Furbearers. For the purposes of this section, furbearers are muskrat, mink, weasel, beaver, fisher, otter, skunk, raccoon, fox, coyote, bobcat and opossum. The furbearer management program has the following essential needs and actions:
NR 1.16(1) (1) Habitat management.
NR 1.16(1)(a)(a) Wetlands are the primary habitat component for many furbearers so the actions regarding wetland protection and management stated in s. NR 1.12 (1) are reemphasized in relation to furbearers.
NR 1.16(1)(b) (b) The capacity to produce furbearers on lands and waters under the management and control of the department can be increased through more intensive management of suitable habitat. Generally, management activities designed to improve furbearer populations are compatible with management for other species of wildlife. In certain situations, populations of furbearers such as fox, raccoon, coyotes and skunks can depress the population of other game species. Management activities on department lands should be designed to achieve a desirable balance between predator and prey species which is consistent with goals and objectives established in the course of developing master plans for state properties.
NR 1.16(1)(c) (c) Since the majority of furbearers depend upon habitat under the control of private landowners, management information will be provided to private landowners requesting it. Incentive programs to encourage habitat preservation and management on private lands will be developed where they are feasible.
NR 1.16(2) (2) Harvest. Furbearers are significant from an ecological, biological, recreational, cultural and economic standpoint. Management efforts will assure their future in suitable natural ecosystems and harvest regulations will be designed to make optimum use of these species for these purposes.
NR 1.16(2)(a) (a) Every effort shall be made to design regulations on as uniform a basis as possible that will still maintain desirable population levels from year to year. Best management practices that include cultural, ecological and biological objectives shall be accorded primary consideration in the management of furbearer populations and the establishment of harvest regulations.
NR 1.16(2)(b) (b) Because of the cultural, economic, recreational and public service value of the furbearer harvest, present trapping methods and techniques must continue. However, efforts to develop best management practices for trapping that would improve humaneness, selectivity, efficiency, effectiveness and safety will be encouraged.
NR 1.16(3) (3) Stocking. Stocking of furbearers is restricted to the trapping and relocation of certain species to effect planned range extension or introductions.
NR 1.16(4) (4) Damage.
NR 1.16(4)(a)(a) All of these species are capable of causing economic damage. Section 29.885, Stats., provides a procedure for dealing with wild animals causing damage to private property. Desired population levels of furbearers and hunted carnivores will be maintained primarily by the use of general public hunting and trapping seasons. Control of damage through the issuance of permits to the complainant shall be the next step employed to control problem animals. Direct control by the department shall be employed only where other control methods are not feasible or effective.
NR 1.16(4)(b) (b) In addition to the above, beaver activities can harm trout habitat and lowland forest stands but at the same time can benefit the habitat of other wildlife species. Beaver reduction and management programs shall be based on the following guidelines:
Published under s. 35.93, Stats. Updated on the first day of each month. Entire code is always current. The Register date on each page is the date the chapter was last published.