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 for each individual to hunt deer, bear, and turkey, or hunt/trap wolves and furbearers on islands in the Lakeshore (excluding Long Island). In addition to the permit, two "harvest authorization tags" (unique to the Lakeshore) will be issued. 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 individual access permit and "authorization tags", please fill out the Permit Request Form (Available August 1st - end of season). 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
What you need to know:
Areas Closed to Hunting and Trapping
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).
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 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:
Hunting and trapping regulations within the National Lakeshore for furbearers are consistent with current State of Wisconsin regulations with the following EXCEPTIONS:
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.
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: July 6, 2022