Using Metal Detectors on DNR Land

Anyone using a metal detector on Department of Natural Resources land must first get a permit from the property manager.

Conditions of Permit
In state parks, state recreation areas and developed recreation areas in state forests, metal detectors may be used only under conditions that:

don't interfere with the enjoyment of recreational facilities by the public
protect the natural resources and maintained turf areas
preserve historical and archaeologically significant items.
Permits are issued from May 1 to October 15; no metal detector use is permitted during the rest of the year. Permits usually are limited to the hours of 6-10 a.m. and 6-10 p.m., but the property manager or representative may extend or reduce the time to not interfere with other users.

Metal detector use is permitted only:

on unturfed areas or
on beaches or
on unturfed shoreline below the ordinary high water level or
when locating a specific item lost by a property user or
when specifically authorized by the State Archaeologist on a planned project
All excavations must be returned to their original condition before beginning new excavations or leaving the area.

Found Items
Found items must be turned in to the property office before the permit holder leaves the property or at the end of the permit period.

Under Wisconsin law (s. 44.47, Wis. Stats., exit DNR), the state retains the title to all objects of archaeological interest. Objects that the property manager suspects may be of archaeological interest will be sent to the DNR archaeologist along with the name and address of the finder. If discovered to be of no archaeological value, they will be returned to the finder.

Objects whose owners might be found are held at the property office. If unclaimed, and return is requested, the items will be returned to the finder at the end of a 60-day waiting period.

The finder may keep cash and coins.

Occasionally persons with metal detectors are hired to find a specific item lost by a park visitor. If a metal detector user has a written request to search for a specific item, that item doesn't have to be turned into the office if found. The conditions of the permit may be expanded to implement the search of a specific item.

In cases where the use of a metal detector may support an archaeological study, please contact a person who is familiar with the area and with the use of a metal detector.

Anyone engaging in field archaeology must get a permit from the state archaeologist (exit DNR) before getting a DNR metal detector permit.

How to Get a Permit
To get a metal detector permit, contact the manager of the property where you want to use the detector.