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.

Anyone who is hunting or trapping in the Lakeshore must have a valid Wisconsin license/permit, applicable to the species and location.

A free access permit, from the park, is required to hunt deer, bear, and turkey, or hunt/trap wolves and furbearers on islands in the Lakeshore (excluding Long Island). The access permit is not needed to hunt on the mainland unit of the Lakeshore or hunt small game and migratory birds. In addition, wolf harvest is not permitted on the park’s Mainland Unit, Long Island or Sand Island.

To receive your free access permit, please fill out the Permit Request Form. Please consider requesting your access permit in advance. The earlier you request, the easier it is for staff to process and issue it in a timely manner. Resource Management staff will contact you if any additional information is needed to issue your access permit. They will also contact you to arrange for pick-up or delivery of your access permit. Please contact Resource Management via email (apis_resource_issues@nps.gov) with any questions.

 

What you need to know:

  • Federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal and Wisconsin state law, to legally possess firearms within Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
  • Hunting and trapping are not permitted May 15 through Labor Day, during the Lakeshore's busiest visitor season.
  • Baiting or feeding of wildlife is not allowed within the Lakeshore.
  • The islands (excluding Long) have unique deer hunting seasons, weapon types, and increased season limits (see below under Deer).
  • 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 camp, a separate camping permit is required.
  • 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 collected on the island can be used for firewood.
  • The use of lead free ammunition is encouraged.
  • Black bears remain active in the park until mid-November.
  • Please report back to the park with your harvest information. This information is used to monitor wildlife populations in the park.
  • For more detail, reference the lakeshore's Harvestable Species Plan (accessible PDF, 1.1 MB).
  • There are trap type restrictions for upland habitats on all islands, excluding Long Island.

Areas Closed to Hunting and Trapping

  • Hunting and trapping are not allowed on Gull and Eagle Islands in order to protect colonially nesting birds.

  • 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 lessees.
    • from a public road in an area where hunting is authorized.
 
 

Deer Hunting

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, some federal regulations prohibit practices that are legal on State lands. For example, baiting or feeding wildlife is not allowed on the islands (including Long Island) or in the Mainland Unit. For a full list of regulations specific to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore make sure to read "What you need to know".

There are special seasons and regulations specific to the islands within the Lakeshore (excluding Long Island and the Mainland Unit).

  • A park provided access permit is required for hunting on islands within the park (excluding Long).
  • To provide a unique primitive hunting experience, only primitive weapons (any Wisconsin legal archery or muzzleloader equipment) are permitted.
  • The archery season on the islands (excluding Long Island) is from mid-September – September 30 & November 1 – the first weekend in January (i.e., the Sunday nearest January 6)
  • The archery season is consistent with Wisconsin regulations with the exception that only muzzleloader hunting is allowed in October. Bow hunting is prohibited on the islands during the October muzzleloader hunt.
  • The muzzleloader season on the islands (excluding Long Island) is from October 1 – October 31.
  • The following WI-DNR Harvest Authorizations can be used to harvest deer on the islands (excluding Long Island):
    • Archery buck deer State-wide Harvest Authorization
    • Archery antlerless deer State-wide Harvest Authorization
    • Gun buck deer State-wide Harvest Authorization
    • Unique Apostle Islands Harvest Authorization/s
      • These Harvest Authorizations are free and available at a rate of up to 2 per day, per hunter.
      • These Harvest Authorizations are provided to hunters in addition to their conventional State-wide Harvest Authorizations.
    • Each Apostle Islands Harvest Authorization may be used to harvest any of the following:
      1. An antlerless deer.
      2. A buck deer, if the hunter has previously registered an antlerless deer with their first Apostle Islands Harvest Authorization #, either on the same day or within the current season.

The order of harvest can vary depending upon the specific Harvest Authorization # a hunter will use to register their carcass with the WI-DNR. Some hypothetical examples often help illustrate the practical application of the different Harvest Authorization numbers:

Example 1) The first deer a hunter encounters and harvests while hunting on the islands is a buck deer. They will need to use their State-wide Harvest Authorization # to register the carcass. If the hunter continues to hunt on the islands after harvesting this buck deer, they may harvest an antlerless deer using their first Apostle Islands Harvest Authorization #. If they continue to hunt on the islands after harvesting the first two deer, they may now harvest a buck deer using their second Apostle Islands Harvest Authorization #.

*Example 2) The first deer a hunter encounters and harvests while hunting on the islands is an antlerless deer. They will need to use their first Apostle Islands Harvest Authorization # to register the carcass. If the hunter continues to hunt on the islands after harvesting this antlerless deer, they may harvest a buck deer using either their second Apostle Islands Harvest Authorization # or their State-wide Harvest Authorization #. If they continue to hunt on the islands after harvesting the first two deer, they may now harvest a buck deer using whichever Harvest Authorization # they have remaining. *

* It should be noted that even on the islands with the highest number of deer (Basswood, Oak, & Stockton), the deer population densities are much lower than the mainland deer population. The likelihood of a hunter being as fortunate as the hunter/s in the above examples is extremely low.

 

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.

Hunting seasons and harvest limits are consistent with State of Wisconsin regulations. Special regulations include:

  • A park provided access permit is required for hunting on islands within the park (excluding Long Island).
  • No baiting is allowed within the park.
  • There are special restrictions regarding hunting with dogs.

  • Only primitive weapons (e.g., muzzleloader, bow, etc.) are allowed.

  • 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 paper carcass tag are required to hunt bear within the lakeshore.

  • Make sure to read "What you need to know" for additional regulations specific to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

 

Furbearers

Hunting and trapping regulations within the National Lakeshore for furbearers are consistent with current State of Wisconsin regulations with the following EXCEPTIONS:

  • Methods for upland habitats (dry land sets) are restricted to cage/box traps or cable restraints on islands within the lakeshore (excluding Long Island and the Mainland Unit). These restrictions are consistent with Wisconsin Marten Protection Areas and are in place to protect the State endangered, American marten.

  • Wolves – the park’s Mainland Unit, Sand Island and Long Island are closed to wolf harvest.

A park provided access permit is required for hunting or trapping wolves or other furbearers on the islands. Make sure to read "What you need to know" for additional regulations specific to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

 

Turkey

  • A park provided access permit is required for hunting on islands within the park (excluding Long Island).
  • A valid Wisconsin Harvest Authorization is needed for the Wisconsin Turkey Management Zone that you are hunting in.
  • Make sure to read "What you need to know" for additional 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. The remaining land areas of the lakeshore are within territory that was ceded as part of the 1842 Treaty of La Pointe made with the Ojibwe Tribes of Lake Superior and the Mississippi River. 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.


Last updated: September 20, 2021

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