Wisconsin deer hunters escape COVID-19 stress

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Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Gun deer hunting season begins today. The nine-day long time when people can hunt deer is an annual tradition for many Wisconsinites. But how is the coronavirus pandemic affecting this season? First News at Nine’s Max Cotton takes a look.

As Wisconsinites cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them are spending their time outdoors.

Eric Lobner, Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Management Program Director said, “We saw an increase in activity for outdoor activities for whether it was hiking or fishing or camping or biking, you name it. Anything that was outdoors we’ve seen a general increase all summer long.”

Lobner says gun deer hunting is no exception.

He says, as of this past Monday, license sales were up six percent compared to that point last year.

Lobner says, “Definitely there’s been an interest in people getting out and enjoying whether it’s that whole mental balance of just needing to get away or this other desire of, you know, they have a little more time on their hands or maybe they need or they want the additional protein source.”

He adds, the increase in hunters isn’t surprising. In fact, it’s fairly typical during an economic downturn.

“I would say it has partially to do with people having more time. Whether they’re underemployed or unemployed, they do have some more opportunities there. I also think there is this driver to put meat on their table. Rather than sitting in the line at the grocery store, it can be very economical to go out and hunt,” said Lobner.

But before eating the meat, be sure to get it tested for chronic wasting disease if you’re hunting in an area which has seen cases. The state will test it for free.

“Get any adult deer tested and then just hold onto the meet and debone it or if you’re taking it to a meat processer, the meat processer will hold it until that test result comes back,” said Lobner.

He also recommends people hunt closer to home and avoid large camps to avoid potentially spreading COVID-19.

In Eau Claire, Max Cotton, First News at Nine.

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