Eau Claire (WQOW) - Opening weekend of the gun deer season is over, and preliminary reports from the DNR show harvest numbers are down statewide, but that does not necessarily mean that many fewer deer have been killed by hunters.
DNR Conservation Warden Scott Thiede told News 18 a lot of people are forgetting to register their deer on the phone, or online after they harvest it. That could be leading to the lower number of harvested deer. He said even if you missed the 5 p.m. deadline to register your deer the day after harvest, it is better late then never to do so.
Statewide, 68,756 deer were harvested on opening day according to the most recent DNR numbers. That's down more than 7,000 from a year ago.
Locally, harvest reports show 591 deer taken in Eau Claire County, 770 in Chippewa County and 1,620 in Dunn County on opening day.
Another issue Thiede dealt with over the weekend was people not attaching their paper tags after the kill. It is the first year the paper tags are being used in Wisconsin. Thiede said there is a learning curve involved with this new rule, which is why he has been traveling throughout the area reminding hunters of new rules.
He said chronic wasting disease is still a concern statewide, and even though you no longer have to take your deer to be registered, the DNR still wants samples for CWD and they are asking for your help.
"There are a lot of options for hunters to cut off the head of the deer and then submit it for testing," Thiede said. "It is a free service. Anybody in the state can have their deer tested. There are certain areas of the state where they are doing surveillance. Certain counties like Eau Claire County have deer processors and kiosks at some of the gas stations in the area, even some taxidermists are collecting heads for us."
If you have been lucky enough to harvest a deer and want to make a donation for testing there are a number of drop-off locations in the area. For a list of locations in Eau Claire, Dunn and Chippewa counties, click here.