DNR: Hunters should avoid placing stands in ash trees, follow COVID-19 guidelines during Wisconsin gun deer season

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MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – State officials are urging hunters to keep safety measures in mind as Opening Day of gun deer season nears.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says hunters should adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions as the state continues to see record-setting numbers of positive cases.

“Hunting is a long-established tradition in Wisconsin. However, with the pandemic, it is up to each of us to keep our communities healthy and safe this deer season,” says DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole. “As hunters new and old make their way into the woods this season, it is important they follow all of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 safety precautions including wearing a mask, keeping six feet of distance from others and avoiding crowds.”

Governor Tony Evers recently signed Executive Order #94 that encourages Wisconsinites to stay home when possible and to take precautions when they must leave home.

DHS is discouraging against social gatherings of any size, including getting together with friends or extended family during hunting season at deer camp.

“Wisconsin is in crisis – our case numbers are rising and our hospitals are strained,” says DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Each of us must do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Limiting your interactions with people outside your household is a key step, so we ask hunters to reduce their travel and to hunt with the people you live with.”

The DNR wants to remind hunters thaty they can register their deer online or by phone.

Hunters are also reminded to avoid placing deer stands in or near ash trees.

According to the DNR, Door County, as well as counties in the southern half of the state and along the Mississippi, are heavily impacted by ash trees that are dead or dying from emerald ash borer infestation and may unexpectedly snap or drop large branches.

Tree stand accidents are the leading cause of serious injury for deer hunters making it essential to place and maintain tree stands carefully.

“Infested or dead ash trees are not as structurally sound as healthy trees, so they are not safe places to put deer stands,” says DNR Forest Health Specialist Bill McNee. “At this time of year, it can be hard to tell if a tree is infected, so hunters should place deer stands in other types of trees instead.”

Hunters should also be careful around ash trees when on the ground, especially in windy conditions, as infested trees are susceptible to breakage. 

The DNR says anyone who is getting firewood for hunting trips, outdoor recreation, or household heating should get it near where it will be used. This reduces the chance of introducing emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, and other harmful pests to new areas.

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