Hunting and Trapping

It may come as a surprise to some visitors to learn that regulated hunting and trapping is permitted in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Unlike the congressional acts that established national park areas like Yellowstone or Yosemite, the legislation that created Apostle Islands National Lakeshore provided for regulated hunting and trapping within lakeshore boundaries. Wildlife in the lakeshore are managed in cooperation with Federal, State and Tribal partners to preserve ecologically sound native biological communities which include both plants and animals; to provide for state regulated and treaty related harvest opportunities; and to safely integrate hunting and trapping with other visitor experiences.

There are a number of harvest opportunities available within the lakeshore. Hunting and trapping on the Mainland Unit of the lakeshore offers a similar experience to that found on other federal lands on the mainland in Wisconsin. Hunting on the islands offers a very primitive experience and requires boat transportation and careful planning.

In general, hunting and trapping within the lakeshore follows state regulations, however, in some instances, there are differences and specific restrictions.

What you need to know:
  • During the lakeshore’s busiest visitor season, May 15 through Labor Day, hunting and trapping are not permitted.
  • Baiting or feeding or wildlife is not allowed within the Lakeshore.
  • A free access permit is required for most hunting or trapping activities on the islands (previously DMU 79). The access permit helps the National Park Service keep track of the amount of regulated hunting and trapping activity that occurs on the islands and the numbers of animals taken. It is very important for wildlife management that you report back to the park with your activity and harvest information. This permit is available from lakeshore headquarters - Park Dispatch, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, 415 Washington Avenue, Bayfield, Wisconsin 54814 or
  • An access permit is NOT required for hunting or trapping on the mainland unit or on Long Island, or for small mammals or waterfowl.
  • The islands (except Long) have unique deer hunting seasons, weapon types, and increased season limits (see below under Deer).
  • Hunting and trapping is not allowed on Gull or Eagle Islands to protect colonially nesting cormorants, herring gulls, and great blue herons.
  • Due to safety concerns, hunting is not permitted within 100 yards of any building, dock, designated campsite, or facility administered by the Lakeshore; on use and occupancy lands without the permission of the lessee; or from a public road in an area where hunting is authorized.
  • No motorized vehicles are allowed on the islands, however, ATV's are allowed on designated roads within the Mainland Unit. Motorized equipment, such as generators and chainsaws, are not allowed within the lakeshore without a NPS permit.
  • Wildlife harvested by hunters or trappers during designated hunting or trapping seasons must be secured from all wildlife contact. Acceptable storage includes suspending large animals such as deer at a suggested height of 8-10 feet and distance of 3-5 feet from the trunk of the tree that is at least 100 yards from any designated camping area, or putting the carcass in a bear proof locker.
  • Construction or use of a ground blind or any elevated device (i.e., tree stand) is not allowed, unless it does not damage the tree (i.e., no use of screws, nails, etc.) and it is completely removed each day at the close of hunting hours. Note: portable blinds constructed of man-made materials are allowed, but must be removed each day at the close of hunting hours.
  • Brushing out or cutting shooting lanes is prohibited.
  • If you plan to hunt with dog(s), you are limited to six (6) animals regardless of the number of hunters in the group. Each dog must be kept on a 6' or less leash unless they are actively engaged in hunting activities.
  • If you plan to camp, please go here and get information about camping in the Apostles.
  • Transporting firewood from the mainland to the islands, between islands, or from the islands to the mainland is prohibited to reduce the spread of exotic pests. Only dead and downed wood can be collected for firewood.
  • The use of lead free ammunition is encouraged.
  • Black bears remain active in the park until mid-November.

For more detail, see the lakeshore's Harvestable Wildlife Plan and Environmental Assessment (1450 kb pdf)

Hunters are advised that Sand Island, Long Island, and the Mainland Unit are closed to wolf harvest (hunting and trapping).

Deer Hunting

A valid State hunting license is required to hunt within the park.

The Mainland Unit of the park is within the Bayfield County deer management unit. Long Island is within the Bad River deer management unit. Hunting regulations for the Mainland Unit and Long Island are generally consistent with State of Wisconsin regulations. However, make sure to read "What you need to know" for regulations specific to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

There are special seasons and regulations specific to the islands within the Lakeshore (except long).

  • An access permit is required. You can complete the permit request and either email or mail the form to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, 415 Washington Ave., Bayfield, WI 54814. APIS Access Permit Application (16kb doc)
  • To provide a unique primitive hunting experience, only primitive weapons (any Wisconsin legal archery or muzzleloader equipment) are permitted.
  • The muzzleloader season is from October 1-31
  • The archery season is consistent with Wisconsin regulations.
  • The following carcass tags can be used for tagging deer on islands within the Lakeshore (except Long):
    • Archery buck deer carcass tag
    • Archery antlerless deer carcass tag
    • Gun buck deer carcass tag
    • Special Apostle Islands National Lakeshore tags - available from Park Headquarters. These special tags are free and available at a rate of up to 2 permits per day per hunter. Each tag may be used to tag any of the following:
      • An antlerless deer
      • A buck deer if the hunter possesses an antlerless deer registration verification earned in this unit in the current year.
      • A buck deer if the hunter possesses an antlerless deer that has been legally harvested in this unit and is tagged prior to the harvest of the buck deer and the antlerless deer accompanies the buck deer until each is registered.

Bear Hunting

Bear populations can vary greatly from island to island. Most of the islands only have transient bears, however, a few have year-round populations.

  • Bears within the park are managed as part of a larger state management zone (Zone D).
  • A State of Wisconsin Class A bear hunting license and valid tag are required to hunt bear within the lakeshore.
  • Hunting seasons and harvest limits are consistent with State of Wisconsin regulations.
  • Only primitive weapons (e.g., muzzleloader, bow, etc.) are allowed and an access permit is required for hunting on islands within the park (except Long).
  • No baiting is allowed within the park and there are special restrictions regarding hunting with dogs.
  • Make sure to read "What you need to know" (LINK to UPPER SECTION) for regulations specific to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

  • Wolf hunting and trapping is closed on the Mainland Unit, Sand Island and Long Island.
  • Hunting and trapping regulations within the lakeshore for other furbearers are consistent with State of Wisconsin regulations.
  • An access permit is required for hunting or trapping furbearers on the islands. Make sure to read "What you need to know" (LINK to UPPER SECTION) for regulations specific to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Small Game and Waterfowl

  • Hunting regulations within the lakeshore are consistent with State of Wisconsin regulations.
  • An access permit is not required for small game and waterfowl, however, we would appreciate knowing what you harvest.
  • Make sure to read "What you need to know" (UPPER SECTION) for regulations specific to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Ojibwe Treaty Rights within the 1842 Ceded Territory

Part of the lakeshore's mainland unit is within the reservation of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the remaining land areas of the lakeshore are within territory that was ceded as part of the 1842 Treaty with the Ojibwe. Within this ceded territory, the Ojibwe reserved their rights to hunt, trap and gather. These rights are recognized and respected by the National Park Service.

Did You Know?