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Weekly News Published - December 12, 2017 by the Central Office

 

More than 30 candlelight events scheduled this winter at Wisconsin state parks, forests and trails

MADISON - Now that cold temperatures have finally arrived in Wisconsin, all that is needed are some good snowfalls to get trails ready for the more than 30 candlelight events scheduled for this winter at Wisconsin state park, forest, recreation area and trail properties.

"Winter candlelight events have become some of the most popular activities at Wisconsin State Park System properties," said Paul Holtan, communications specialist for the state parks program. "We have had candlelight skis and hikes in the last few winters that have attracted hundreds and even over a thousand visitors."

Hundreds of luminaries are placed out along trails for candlelight events.  These are in ice buckets at the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine. - Photo Credit: DNR by Ed Culhane
Hundreds of luminaries are placed out along trails for candlelight events. These are in ice buckets at the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine.
Photo Credit: DNR by Ed Culhane

This winter's candlelight events kick off December 31 with a New Year's Eve Candlelight Hike at Amnicon Falls State Park about 7 miles east of the Superior city limits in Douglas County. Then on January 6 Blue Mound and Mirror Lake state parks will hold events. The largest number of events will be held January 27, February 3 and February 10.

Skiing, snowshoeing and hiking by candlelight has been attracting more visitors to properties each winter. Events at Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest and Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center attract so many visitors that all of the available parking fills. Horicon now offers shuttles from other locations and parking vouchers are required prior to arrival at the Lapham Peak event.

"We encourage people to plan ahead and to consider attending a candlelight event at a property they may not have visited in the past. Also we will use our Twitter social media platform to alert people when an event has reached capacity or has been cancelled due to inclement weather," Holtan said.

Some properties offer skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, while others offer just skiing or just snowshoeing and hiking. Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 or 9 p.m.

Many of the events include additional activities such as bonfires, and hot chocolate and other refreshments may be available for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Some properties have warming shelters that are open for the events. Many of the events are organized by the friends groups of the parks, which provide much of the volunteer labor for the events.

Most events offer a combination of skiing, hiking or snowshoeing but some are ski only and some are hike only.  Be sure to check listings for details. - Photo Credit: DNR
Most events offer a combination of skiing, hiking or snowshoeing but some are ski only and some are hike only. Be sure to check listings for details.
Photo Credit: DNR

People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching keyword "candlelight." For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords "find a park." Regular park and trail fees apply for the events unless otherwise noted.

While most events will not be cancelled due to lack of snow, they still could be cancelled if conditions are icy, extremely cold or have severe wind chills, so people are encouraged to check the website, follow the DNR Twitter feed, or call properties directly to confirm the event will be held if threatening weather is in the forecast.

2018 Wisconsin State Park Winter Candlelight Events

December 31, 2017

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Many events also feature bonfires, like this one at Blue Mound. - Photo Credit: DNR by Joe Warren
Many events also feature bonfires, like this one at Blue Mound.
Photo Credit: DNR by Joe Warren

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Friday, January 26, 2018

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Friday, February 2, 2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018

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Preliminary registration numbers available for the 2017 bear hunting seasons

MADISON - Preliminary registration numbers show hunters harvested 4,157 bears during the 2017 Wisconsin bear hunting seasons.

Preliminary registration totals for the 2017 bear hunt are as follows:

"Although harvest declined slightly from 2016, this follows a pattern of annual variation that has developed in recent years, and reflects the goal to reduce bear numbers in certain areas of the state," said Jeff Pritzl, Department of Natural Resources acting large carnivore specialist. "The preliminary harvest of 4,157 is very close to the previous four alternate year harvests when hound hunters had the first week of the season. Crop and property damage reports, along with nuisance complaints have declined measurably this year, due in part to purposeful management of the population through hunting."

Summary tables and more information regarding bear hunting in Wisconsin can be found by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "bear."

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Release of additional pheasants for holiday season provides opportunity to spend time with family and friends pursuing upland birds

MADISON - Bird hunters will have another option to beat cabin fever in December when the Department of Natural Resources releases nearly 1,500 additional pheasants on five public properties before the holiday season.

Cabin fever is no match for time spent pursuing pheasants with family and friends. - Photo Credit: DNR
Cabin fever is no match for time spent pursuing pheasants with family and friends.
Photo Credit: DNR

Cabin fever is no match for time spent pursuing pheasants with family and friends.

These one-time stocking efforts, are in addition to the 75,000 birds released throughout the season and are the result of a trial run of the new hatchery equipment at the state game farm in Poynette.

Properties to be stocked before the holiday season include:

"We selected properties with suitable cover for pheasant hunting near population centers, while avoiding counties holding a Holiday Hunt for deer," said Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. "The department hopes this late-season stocking will provide an opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends, and perhaps add some additional table fare to your holiday meal."

As a reminder, quality pheasant hunting opportunities exist throughout Wisconsin, including wild pheasant hunting where suitable habitat exists and previously stocked public lands. The pheasant season runs through Dec. 31, and all hunting regulations and bag limits apply through the season close. Pheasant hunting regulations can be found in the 2017 Small Game Regulations.

Hunters are reminded to practice TABK while afield:

In addition, hunters are encouraged to wear blaze orange while upland bird hunting to increase visibility with other hunters.

For more information regarding pheasant hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "pheasant."

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Record number of walleye stocked in 2017

Wisconsin Walleye Initiative funding boosts state and private production

MADISON - A record 881,977 walleye were stocked in key Wisconsin waters this past year as state, private and tribal hatcheries continued to put Wisconsin Walleye Initiative funding to work for anglers, state fisheries officials said.

"We're very pleased that the investment made to hatcheries through the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative and the hard work of our fisheries crews and our partners are once again paying off for Wisconsin anglers," says Justine Hasz, fisheries director for the Department of Natural Resources.

State fish crews collecting extended growth walleye from the Art Oehmcke State Fish Hatchery near Woodruff. - Photo Credit: DNR
State fish crews collecting extended growth walleye from the Art Oehmcke State Fish Hatchery near Woodruff.
Photo Credit: DNR

The initiative, proposed by Gov. Scott Walker with the 2013-15 biennium budget and approved for continuation through the 2017-19 budget, has paid to upgrade state hatcheries and provided extra operating funds needed to keep fish on site longer and feed them minnows. The initiative also provided grants to upgrade three tribal hatcheries and six private facilities to meet the stocking demand statewide.

"We stocked a record number of fish again, meeting the need identified by fisheries biologists and we're poised to meet the needs long into the future for walleye stocking using public and private partnerships," says Dave Giehtbrock, DNR fisheries culture section chief.

Natural reproduction accounts for more than 80 percent of the walleye caught in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative is part of DNR's overall management strategy to help restore naturally reproducing populations of walleye in lakes that formerly supported naturally reproducing populations and improve walleye numbers in lakes that need regular stocking to maintain good fisheries.

While stocking the larger, extended growth fingerlings makes sense in some lakes, DNR also stocks about 1.4 million small fingerlings each year, and works with several cooperators to stock walleye fry into several bodies of water. DNR fisheries biologists develop stocking plans for the different sized fish based on specific lake conditions; in some lakes the smaller fish perform very well and are more cost effective than the larger fish.

In the last year before the launch of the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, DNR stocked 142,121 extended growth walleye. Since the initiative began, DNR has stocked 455,307 large fingerlings in 2013, 719,670 fish in 2014, 760,969 fish stocked in 133 waters in 2015 and 797,815 in 2016.

Those totals include the contributions from tribal and private hatcheries. In 2017, 177,891 fish came from private and tribal hatcheries.

Walleye are a favorite quarry for Wisconsin anglers and boost the economy by driving expenditures for lodging, dining, retail purchases, guided trips and tournament participation among other things. Wisconsin remains one of the top three fishing destinations in the U.S. with resident and nonresident anglers generating an economic impact of nearly $2.3 billion per year, according to the American Sportfishing Association.

To learn more, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search "Wisconsin Walleye Initiative."

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Endangered Kirtland's warbler increases numbers and nests in Wisconsin

10 years of nest monitoring, protection and habitat work by DNR and partners pay off

MADISON - Ten years after Kirtland's warblers were first documented in Wisconsin, populations of the songbird have increased and their range is expanding through the efforts of state, federal and local partners to increase and manage the endangered bird and its habitat in the state. ,

According to the recently released 2017 nesting season report., the number of Kirtland's warblers grew from eleven birds and three nests in 2007 to 53 birds and 20 total nests in 2017.

Populations of the endangered Kirtland's warbler in Wisconsin are increasing and expanding geographically.  - Photo Credit: Joel Trick
Populations of the endangered Kirtland's warbler in Wisconsin are increasing and expanding geographically.
Photo Credit: Joel Trick

The population has grown and its range has expanded from Adams County to also include Marinette and Bayfield counties. The birds fledged a minimum of 49 and up to 63 young in 2017.

"We're very encouraged by results of recent years -- the numbers of birds and nests continues to increase and expand geographically," says Kim Grveles, a biologist for the Natural Heritage Conservation Program of the Department of Natural Resources. "We look forward to contributing more birds toward the recovery of this species in coming years."

Sarah Warner, wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says the progress reflects a decade of conservation work from many enthusiastic and dedicated partners. "We want to thank all of the partners for making this season and the overall effort a success."

A male Kirtland's warbler that was recently color-banded as part of state and federal efforts to monitor the endangered songbird. - Photo Credit: Joel Trick
A male Kirtland's warbler that was recently color-banded as part of state and federal efforts to monitor the endangered songbird.
Photo Credit: Joel Trick

Kirtland's warbler is a wood warbler that measures 5.5 inches long, weighs under a half ounce, and migrates from the Great Lakes to the Bahamas for the winter.

Until 1995, Kirtland's warblers were found almost exclusively in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan and were struggling to recover from a steep decline in populations in the 1960s and 1970s due to habitat loss and nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds.

Davin Lopez, a DNR conservation biologist who co-leads the project with Grveles, says the partners are also working to maintain and expand the mix of 5- to 20-year-old jack pine trees and barrens to provide quality habitat for Kirtland's warblers and other species.

In addition to DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, other partners and collaborators include the University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation, USDA Wildlife Services, Sand Valley Restoration Fund LLC, Meteor Timber, the Wisconsin Trapshooting Association, Bayfield, Marinette, Vilas, and Jackson County Forest Departments, and many birders and other private citizens.

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Help protect Wisconsin's woodlands from timber theft

RHINELANDER, Wis. - State officials are joining efforts with federal and tribal authorities to halt birch tree timber thefts threatening Wisconsin's woodlands, a renewable resource that is important to the state's economy, environment and culture. Increasing demand for birch products is putting the state's birch trees at risk as illegal harvests continue on national, state, county and private properties.

State officials say it is difficult to determine how broad the issue of timber theft is; however, the increasing market demand for birch in home and business decor keeps making it a problem year after year. Wisconsin's paper birch is now only 2.5 percent of forested land in the state, a decline of 54 percent since 1983.

Increasing demand for birch products is putting the state's birch trees at risk. - Photo Credit: DNR
Increasing demand for birch products is putting the state's birch trees at risk.
Photo Credit: DNR

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Bureau of Law Enforcement are working together along with the Wisconsin County Forests Association, the U.S. Forest Service and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission to ensure responsible use of the state's birch resources and discourage damaging illegal cutting.

"It is important to sustainably manage Wisconsin's paper birch trees for woodland diversity and to protect this culturally significant resource," said Carmen Hardin, DNR forest management bureau director. "A pilot program was developed to make permits available for state properties, in limited situations, for people who want to collect birch sapling and trees legally, responsibly and with minimal negative impacts to the forest."

"We need everyone to work together to protect these resources and encourage people to report any suspicious harvesting activity in the woods," said Dave Zebro, DNR warden. "Landowners, hikers and hunters can us help by reporting any possible timber theft in their area."

Anyone who suspects someone is illegally harvesting white birch on public or private lands, should contact a local DNR warden using the DNR hotline 1-800-TIP-WDNR (847-9367) or online.

If you are interested in harvesting white birch for decorative or other purposes, contact your state forest manager. For more information, search the DNR website for "Harvesting of Non-commercial Forest Products"

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Wisconsin DNR seeking public comment on their proposal to close its gypsy moth suppression program

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on a proposal to close its successful gypsy moth suppression program due to diminishing need through a proposed change to rule NR 47.910. Public hearings will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 11:00 a.m. at the DNR service centers in Fitchburg, Milwaukee, Green Bay and Eau Claire.

The invasive pest defoliates trees during its caterpillar stage. Designed to reduce occasional surges of gypsy moth populations in places where the insect is already established, the DNR Gypsy Moth suppression program is one of two state programs that succeeded in keeping gypsy moth numbers in check. In recent years, the program has controlled gypsy moth infestations throughout the eastern two-thirds of Wisconsin where gypsy moth already exists.

"At the peak of its efforts in 2004, the department sprayed about 50,000 acres in eastern Wisconsin to control gypsy moth populations. Demand for suppression spraying has decreased since 2004 and, in 2017, DNR's suppression program treated just 188 privately owned acres in southcentral Wisconsin," said Andrea Diss-Torrance, a DNR plant pest and disease specialist. "As the need for suppression spray decreases, forest health program staff turned their attention to assisting in dealing with new invasive pests and diseases such as emerald ash borer and oak wilt disease."

Comments must be received on or by Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. Members of the public may submit comments verbally or in writing at a scheduled hearing or submit written comments.

Written comments and any questions on the proposed rules may be submitted by U.S. mail and e-mail, and will have the same weight and effect as oral statements presented at public hearings.

E-mail comments can be sent to DNRAdministrativeRulesComments@wisconsin.gov Please include "Attn: Andrea Diss-Torrance" in the subject line.

Other written comments should be mailed to: Department of Natural Resources, Attn: Andrea Diss-Torrance, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection will continue its separate initiative (following links all exit DNR) to delay the introduction and spread of the insect into new areas in the western third of the state. This "Slow the Spread" initiative will continue to use aerial spraying methods to slow down the movement of gypsy moth into new territory.

Information on managing gypsy moth infestations is available through Wisconsin's Cooperative Gypsy Moth website, gypsymoth.wi.gov.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Contact information

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James Dick
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