Skip to Content

Wisconsin deer hunting license numbers see steady decline

WISCONSIN–  In Wisconsin, the State Department of Natural Resources data shows a steady decline in deer hunting licenses since 1999.

The latest reports from last year show numbers are down and officials say in that report they expect them to keep declining.

According to figures released last hunting season, the Wisconsin DNR sold 582,281 licenses authorizing hunting with a firearm throughout the nine-day season. That number, down over 5,000 sold opening weekend in 2016.

Deer hunting with a firearm leads sales of all hunting authorizations in Wisconsin.

Gun-deer license sales in Wisconsin peaked in 1999 when 694,000  people purchased an authorization.
gun-license sales declined by about 10% in 2002 as a result of hunter concern over chronic wasting disease.

In the next few years, license sales recovered by about half as hunters gained experience dealing with CWD.

But CWD concerns isn’t the only reason for the decline in Wisconsin deer hunters.  The DNR sites a lack of access to hunting land and declining health of hunters as significant impacts.

A 2016 report for the Wisconsin DNR states in closing,  “assuming no changes in fee structures or increasing participation rates within population segments, revenue from the sale of hunting licenses can be expected to continue to decline into the future.”

To help, the Governor Walker last year signed a bill, eliminating the 10-year-old minimum age to participate in a mentored hunt.

Unfortunately, not as many young hunters signed up as the state was hoping.

It mentioned marketing and outreach to really remind people the great aspects of being outdoors to help improve numbers.

Jessie Slater

Weekend Anchor and Multimedia Journalist

Skip to content