DNR: Total 2019 Wisconsin deer kill down 14%

MADISON — Hunters in Wisconsin killed nearly 50,000 fewer deer last year than in 2018, according to a report state Department of Natural Resources officials planned to submit to their board Tuesday.

Hunters killed 288,025 deer across all seasons, including archery, the November nine-day gun season, the youth hunt and the muzzleloader season, according to the report. That's down 14% from 335,243 deer in 2018.

The nine-day season saw a 23.5% drop-off, from 219,715 kills in 2018 to 168,091 last year. DNR officials attributed the decline to a number of factors. They said the season started so late that the rut had ended and deer weren't moving. They blamed wet, snowy weather during the last half of the season, too. The wet fall delayed harvests so dramatically that more than 2 million acres were still covered with standing corn at the end of November, providing deer more cover than normal, they added.

Wardens investigated four non-fatal hunting incidents across all the seasons. They all occurred during the nine-day season. None involved a mentored hunter.

Total license sales also dipped, from 806,442 to 794,712. More hunters turned in their deer for sampling for chronic wasting disease, though; the DNR collected 17,828 samples statewide compared to 17,200 in 2018.