MADISON - Many fall hunting and trapping seasons are just around the corner, and this year's Wisconsin Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast [PDF] is now available.
"Whether you're hunting game or fowl, this year's forecast is a must read as you prepare to head out into the woods," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Here at DNR, we are very passionate about our resources. The forecast is a great example of our efforts in making sure everyone in the field has a safe and successful experience."
Those in search of public hunting and trapping grounds are reminded to check out the department's Public Access Lands atlas. The atlas includes all DNR properties, as well as nearly all federal and county-owned lands. You can download and print these maps free of charge from your home computer. For more information, search keyword "atlas."
A Conservation Patron license provides all the basic fishing and hunting privileges at a great price - $165 for Wisconsin residents, a price reduction of nearly one-half when compared to the value for each item included. For Wisconsin residents under the age of 18, a Conservation Patron license costs only $75.
Hunting and fishing licenses can be purchased through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, and at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays).
DNR Customer Service staff is available to assist the public online and via phone from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Spanish and Hmong bilingual customer service representatives are also available. Customers may reach customer service at 1-888-WDNR INFo (1-888-936-7463) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-261-0751; Bureau of Customer Service and Licensing, 608-266-2621
MADISON - With fall right around the corner, Sept. 12 marks the opening of the 2015 archery and crossbow deer hunting seasons. These seasons will run concurrently statewide, from Sept. 12 to Jan. 3, 2016.
"We're expecting a good year in the field," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang. "I've heard quite a few reports of does with triplets in the farmland areas, and many northern folks I've talked to say their deer sightings have increased compared to the past few years."
In its second year, the crossbow season will continue to provide an additional hunting opportunity for many hunters throughout Wisconsin. Those interested in using both a conventional bow and crossbow may do so by paying full price for one of the licenses and purchasing a $3 upgrade for the second license. Hunters will use the same buck tag and antlerless tags issued with their first license of choice.
Archery and crossbow deer hunters will again be allowed to hunt during the regular nine-day gun deer hunt in November, and will have the opportunity to fill a gun deer license tag using crossbow or archery equipment.
According to Wallenfang, deer numbers vary significantly both locally and across the state. A mild winter in 2014-15 seems to have boded well for fawn recruitment, and antler development appears to be very good in most areas. Hunters in 12 predominantly forested counties will see buck-only hunting again this year as part of continued efforts to rebuild the deer herd in these areas.
For a look at the statewide outlook for hunting of all types in Wisconsin this fall, check out this year's fall forecast (keyword "forecast [PDF]").
During any open gun deer seasons, archery and crossbow hunters are required to follow the same blaze orange clothing regulations as gun hunters. All deer hunters are reminded to be especially careful when climbing into and out of deer stands - state recreational safety specialists say statistics show this is when most injuries occur.
All harvested deer will be registered electronically in 2015. Hunters will have three options for registering their deer: by phone at 1-844-426-3734 (1-844-GAME-REG), online at gamereg.wi.gov, or electronically at a participating in-person registration station (keyword "registration stations"). A link to the electronic registration system will also be available through the Pocket Ranger app for mobile devices.
Electronic registration is simple, fast and convenient for hunters. The registration system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions and generate a 10-digit confirmation number, which must be written on the carcass tag attached to the harvested animal. Hunters are reminded to carry a pen or pencil with them to write the 10-digit number on their tag. When this registration number is written on the tag, the animal is considered legally registered.
All deer must be registered by 5 p.m. the day after the deer is recovered. Hunters must retain the tag with confirmation number as proof of registration until the deer has been consumed.
For more information regarding electronic registration, search keywords "electronic registration."
DNR staff will answer any questions hunters may have about electronic registration and 2015 deer season regulations during an online chat Sept. 3 at noon. From registration guidelines to antlerless tag use, this chat will make sure hunters are ready to head out into the field. To view or participate in the chat, search keyword "chat."
Deer hunters are encouraged to check out the frequently asked questions page for more information regarding several rule changes for 2015. The FAQ feature provides brief responses to a wide variety of deer hunting questions, ranging from deer management unit boundaries to antlerless permits. To view the FAQ page and more information regarding archery and crossbow deer hunting, search keyword "deer."
To receive email updates regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "white-tailed deer" distribution list.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589
MADISON - Wisconsin's archery and crossbow deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 12, and that means it's time to review how to stay safe in your tree stand.
Tree stands can greatly enhance a deer hunter's chances of harvesting a deer, but DNR Hunter Education Administrator-Warden Jon King says stand-related incidents also are one of the leading causes of injury to hunters.
"A few minutes reviewing these easy-to-apply safety maneuvers can prevent a fall that could bring a fast end to any outdoor fun this fall," King says. "The first simple safety tip is to always wear your harness."
Here are the rest of Warden King's tree stand safety tips:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jon King, hunter education administrator 608-575-2294; Joanne M. Haas, DNR communications, 608-209-8147
MADISON - The black bear population has remained stable throughout most of Wisconsin -- a welcome sign for bear hunters as they prepare for another fall hunting season.
The past six seasons have ranked as the top six bear harvests in Wisconsin history, and this trend is likely to continue with a record number of permits made available in 2015 (10,690). Wisconsin consistently ranks as one of the top bear harvest states in the country.
Interest in Wisconsin bear hunting continues to grow, with more than 109,000 applications received in 2015 (compared to 108,271 in 2014 and 106,500 in 2013). Bear populations have remained relatively stable at over 25,000 bears statewide.
"Wisconsin has one of the largest black bear populations in the country and high hunter success rates--this combination makes it a great place to hunt," said Dave MacFarland, DNR large carnivore specialist.
Bear hunters should be aware of a few important changes to bear hunting regulations in 2015. State law was recently changed to eliminate the Class B bear license; a Class B license is no longer required to bait bears, train dogs to track bears, act as a back-up shooter, or assist hunters with pursuing bears (provided that a person does not shoot, shoot at, capture, take or kill the bear unless acting as a back-up shooter). Any individual may now participate in bear hunting and training activities without a Class B bear license any time those activities are permitted and in compliance with applicable regulations.
Also new in 2015, hunters must submit a bear tooth directly to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in lieu of registration stations. Hunters who successfully drew a bear harvest permit for 2015 were provided with instructions and materials required to submit a tooth. These age data are used as part of a population model that helps estimate the size of Wisconsin's bear population. For more information regarding tooth collection, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "bear registration."
The number of preference points required to draw a bear harvest permit in 2014 ranged from one in Zone C to nine in Zone B. "Although wait times may be several years in some of the northern zones, Zone C gives hunters a great opportunity to participate more frequently," said MacFarland.
In 2014, hunters harvested 4,526 bears - the third highest harvest in state history. Bear Management Zone D led all zones with 1,444 bears harvested, followed by Zone A (1,315), Zone C (1,024) and Zone B (738). Bayfield County led all counties with 445 bears harvested, followed by Price (321), Rusk (307) and Sawyer (291). In 2014, hunter harvest success was highest in Zone B, with a 75 percent success rate. Zone B was followed by Zone D (65 percent success), Zone A (64 percent success) and Zone C (20 percent success).
Gun hunters harvested 3,776 bears in 2014, while bow hunters accounted for 695 bears. A majority of bears were harvested using bait (3,395), but the use of both dogs and bait (995) and neither dogs nor bait (69) was also successful.
In zones A, B and D, the first week of the harvest season will be reserved for hunters using dogs to pursue bear. In turn, the last week of the season is reserved solely for hunters who use bait and other legal methods (excluding the use of dogs). In Zone C, the use of dogs is prohibited.
The deadline to apply for a 2016 bear harvest permit or preference point is Dec. 10, 2015. Hunters are reminded that they must apply for a preference point or harvest permit at least once every three years in order to maintain their accumulated preference point total. Hunters may apply online at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "license," or at any DNR service center or licensing agent. For additional information, call 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463).
Hunters who successfully draw a harvest permit and are interested in transferring the permit to a youth hunter can search keywords "bear transfer." For more information regarding bears in Wisconsin, search keyword "bear."
To receive email updates regarding bear hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "black bear" distribution list.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: David MacFarland, DNR Large Carnivore Specialist, 715-365-8917
MADISON -- The 2015 hook and line sturgeon season will get underway Saturday, Sept. 5, and run until Sept. 30 on waters including the Chippewa River, Wisconsin River and other select areas where careful management has produced a sustainable fishery for the majestic fish.
This year, however, a new rule will be in force on a portion of the Menominee River, a Wisconsin-Michigan boundary water, with an extended catch and release zone between the Grand Rapids and Menominee dams. Anglers will still have the opportunity to harvest sturgeon greater than 60 inches in the more than 40 river miles upstream from the Grand Rapids Dam, said Mike Donofrio, east district fisheries team supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The Menominee and Park Mill dams are the farthest downstream on the Menominee River - the closest dams to Green Bay - and have been a barrier to upstream movement of sturgeon and other fish. In spring of 2015, adult lake sturgeon larger than 60 inches were moved upstream past the first two dams in an effort to provide the sturgeon with greater access to spawning habitat in the Menominee River and improve population numbers between the Grand Rapids and Menominee dams.
"By extending the catch and release zone to the waters between the Grand Rapids and Menominee dams, we hope to boost the region's fishery by limiting the harvest as the new fish acclimate and begin reproducing," Donofrio said. "The emergency rule is necessary to prevent the harvest and consumption of lake sturgeon that have been moved from Green Bay upstream past the Menominee Dam. In addition, it will prevent the harvest and waste of sturgeon that should not be eaten."
As background, the sturgeon passed over the Menominee and Park Mill dams have identification tags inserted under their skin, but do not have any external marks that would tell an angler that the fish came from Green Bay. The only way to tell whether a fish greater than 60 inches originated from Green Bay would be to present the harvested fish at a sturgeon registration station where the identification tag could be scanned. Since anglers would then be advised not to eat the fish, the lake sturgeon would likely be discarded, resulting in waste of a natural resource.
Elsewhere, anglers who intend to harvest a lake sturgeon - regardless of age or need for a fishing license - must first purchase an inland or Wisconsin-Michigan boundary water hook and line sturgeon harvest tag from a DNR Service Center or sales agent. Anglers do not need a harvest tag if they are catching and releasing sturgeon on waters open to sturgeon fishing during the hook and line season. However, the fish must be released immediately.
Anglers who harvest sturgeon from applicable waters must immediately validate and attach the tag to the fish just in front of the sturgeon's tail. A harvested fish must be registered at a designated registration station no later than 6 p.m. the day after the fish is caught.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Donofrio, DNR east district fisheries team supervisor, 715-582-5050 email@example.com, Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov
BLACK EARTH, Wis. - A Monroe man who organizes weekly volunteer workdays to help care for state natural areas in south central Wisconsin has been named Volunteer Steward of the Year.
Jerry Newman Photo
Tom Mitchell of Monroe received the award on Aug. 29 at the Pleasant Valley State Natural Area in Dane County during a volunteer appreciation potluck sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources.
The award recognizes volunteers for their outstanding work and commitment to help manage state natural areas , a system of 673 sites across Wisconsin that contain some of the best remaining examples of Wisconsin's wetlands, woodlands, prairies and oak savannas. While DNR owns two thirds of these special places, one-third are owned by more than 50 partners ranging from The Prairie Enthusiasts to the U.S. Forest Service to The Nature Conservancy.
Mitchell's efforts have benefitted state natural areas in Green and Rock counties, where he is a leader in The Prairie Enthusiasts-Prairie Bluff Chapter, according to Jared Urban, a DNR conservation biologist who coordinates the State Natural Areas volunteer program.
The Prairie Enthusiasts, or TPE for short, help manage state and University of Wisconsin-Arboretum owned properties as well as TPE-owned properties where Mitchell organizes weekly workdays and spends a majority of his days working.
"You will often find Tom working with others in the field, forming friendships and leading by example," Urban says. "Lots of people have learned from his knowledge and infectious interest by working with him directly. He is unafraid to try new things, teach new people, allow others to lead, or blaze his own trail even when things get tough."
Urban says that Mitchell works year-round doing a variety of tasks, but his recent accomplishments include work at Muralt Bluff Prairie State Natural Area , where his chapter put in more than 400 hours in 2014. Mitchell collected pounds of seed for prairie plantings on DNR and TPE properties, removed garlic mustard and other herbaceous invasive weeds, sumac and other woody plants, and led field trips.
In addition to that work, Mitchell has participated in numerous workdays on publicly owned state natural areas across Green and Rock counties, Urban says. He also has been a valuable contributor and advocate for the SNA volunteer program since its beginning in 2011.
Mitchell says he was surprised by the award because "there are so many people doing good volunteer work on SNAs and Jared has done a wonderful job of organizing them."
Since he got hooked on prairie restoration in the 1990s, he couldn't wait to retire, and now that he's retired, "this has become what I do," Mitchell says. "It's outdoors, healthy, and a nice combination of physical and mental, trying to figure out how you are going to manage the prairie. I can't imagine what my life would be like without them. "
Muralt Bluff Prairie State Natural Area is particularly important to him and other prairie enthusiasts because it's where the prairie movement in southern Wisconsin got started and because the site boasts a rich prairie ecosystem, full of insects, grassland birds, and other prairie plant and animal species.
Wisconsin's State Natural Areas volunteer program has since grown to include volunteers who help care for more than 20 sites mostly in south central and south eastern Wisconsin. In 2014, such volunteers donated more than 2,400 hours of physical labor to maintain state natural areas. Learn more about the volunteer program in "Showing a Passion for Wild Places" in the June 2015 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine and find a listing of upcoming volunteer workdays on the SNA volunteer page of the DNR website.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jared Urban, 608-228-4349
MADISON - Two rural communities on opposite ends of the state received brownfield awards totaling approximately $75,000 from the Department of Natural Resources to help clean up contaminated properties and spur redevelopment.
A Spooner property known locally as the "roundhouse" is the focus of future redevelopment with the assistance of a DNR brownfields award.
The award, from the department's Remediation and Redevelopment Program, will help local officials determine if the property contains any contamination in the soil or groundwater.
Valued at approximately $45,000, the award comes from the department's Wisconsin Assessment Monies program. The award provides contract services for assessing conditions at closed or closing industrial sites.
"A WAM Award can help jump-start the cleanup and redevelopment process," said Christine Haag, chief of DNR's Brownfields Section. "It's especially helpful in smaller communities because the work that's produced is often leveraged with other sources of funding."
The Spooner roundhouse property was the site of a former creamery and, most recently, a construction and wood processing facility. It is located next to the popular Wild Rivers State Recreational Trail and city leaders hope to turn the property into a public park and historical site.
An old creamery in the heart of Blanchardville could see new life soon with the help of a DNR WAM award. The "Old Dairymen" property on South Main Street has been underused for the past twenty years and is about to be razed.
The award, valued at approximately $30,000, comes in the form of contract services for assessing conditions at the site and will help village officials determine if the property contains any contamination in the soil or groundwater.
"This award to Blanchardville will help the community determine if contamination exists at the site and if so, to what extent," said Haag. "The village suspects there might be a contamination issue and we're glad to help determine if that's the case."
The Old Dairymen property was a cheese factory in Blanchardville from the early 1900s until the end of World War II. Later, it was used as a cheese packaging and distribution facility under the name Trumpy Cheese. That business closed in the 1990s, and the facility has been underutilized since that time. Several businesses have expressed interest in the site, and the village may also try to market the site to additional buyers.
The RR Program's WAM awards require minimal effort by the awardee. There is no match or project administration involved on the part of the recipient, making them attractive opportunities for small communities with limited resources. In many instances, WAM awards are also leveraged against other sources of funding.
Applications can be submitted for a WAM award at any time, although funds are limited. Eligible sites for funding include closed or closing manufacturing plants, or vacant land with a history of manufacturing. Gas stations, dry cleaners, salvage yards and agricultural co-ops are not eligible.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Haag, Brownfields Section chief, 608-266-0244; Andrew Savagian, communications, 608-261-6422
BROWNSVILLE, Wis -- The public has an opportunity to comment on an application for Wisconsin's Green Tier program by Michels Corporation. The company's application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource will cover its Brownsville corporate headquarters in Dodge County.
Michels, a utility contractor specializing in services such as pipeline construction, horizontal directional drilling, electrical transmission, road building and fiber optic network construction, is applying for Tier 1 of the program.
Green Tier is designed to encourage and recognize companies that are committed to superior environmental performance. To be accepted into the program, applicants must have a history of environmental performance, commit to future superior environmental performance and must have or commit to developing an environmental management system.
Michels first began doing business in 1959 as a gas pipeline contractor providing construction and installation of natural gas distribution systems to Wisconsin utilities. The company has grown and diversified since 1959, now employing more than 5,000 people, owning more than 10,000 pieces of heavy equipment and operating out of 31 permanent facilities in North America. It is one of the largest, most diversified utility contractors in North America and the 33rd largest contractor in America.
The public can view past, present and planned sustainability initiatives and achievements on the DNR website by searching for "Green Tier" and clicking on the link "see applicants" and selecting Michels Corporation.
The department will accept public comments on Michels Corporation's Green Tier application through October 1, 2015. Comments may be directed to Tom Eggert, Wisconsin DNR, OB/7, PO BOX 7921, Madison, WI 53707, by email to Thomas.Eggert@wisconsin.gov , or by calling 608-267-2761.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Eggert, 608-267-2761
MADISON - Applications are now available from the Department of Natural Resources for the Municipal Dam and the Dam Removal grant programs.
Any Wisconsin city, town, village, county, tribe or public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district that owns a dam, may apply for financial assistance through the Municipal Dam grant program to fund eligible engineering and construction costs associated with the maintenance, repair, modification or abandonment and removal of municipally owned dams.
To be considered for funding for the Municipal Dam grant program, completed grant applications must be received by Jan. 21, 2016, and sent to DNR Dam Grant Program, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI. 53701-7921. All complete applications received by the application deadline will be scored and ranked. Ranked projects will comprise the priority funding list. Using the priority funding list, grants will be awarded until funds are depleted. Successful applicants will be notified by March 28, 2016.
Dam Removal grants are available for any Wisconsin city, town, village, county, tribe, public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district, or any other dam owner. The Dam Removal Grant Program provides reimbursement for 100 percent of eligible project costs up to a maximum of $50,000 to remove a dam. Applications for Dam Removal grants are accepted on a continual basis until all available funding is committed. Application materials are now available by searching the DNR website for keyword "dam" and then clicking on the link for "grants" and "municipal dam grant" or "dam removal grant."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kari Beetham, DNR dam grant manager, 608-264-9207 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Meg Galloway, DNR dam and floodplain section chief, 608- 266-7014; or Bill Sturtevant, DNR state dam safety engineer 608-266-6790
MADISON - Organizations interested in ensuring the education, training and development of safe and ethical hunters and mentors can now apply for cost-sharing grants to conduct programs under the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Hunter Recruitment, Development, Training and Education grant program.
Under this grant program the DNR provides cost-sharing grants to local clubs, organizations, communities, governments, Wisconsin Tribes, colleges, universities, technical schools, and individuals for hunter training, development, and education programs. The grant prioritizes funding for programs that introduce hunting to people who would not otherwise have had exposure in particular focusing on adults, females and families.
"There is a great need for strategically developed, tested programs and results on which we can base future program priorities," says Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator.
This is a reimbursement program, under which grant recipients incur and pay all costs associated with the project before seeking reimbursement from the DNR. No grant advances are possible. It is possible for grantees to request partial (quarterly) reimbursements from the DNR during the life of the project.
To learn more about this new grant opportunity, contact Bobbi J. Winebar at 920-662-5175, or search the DNR website for Hunter Recruitment, Development, Training and Education Grant Program.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, 608-576-5243 or Bobbi J. Winebar, DNR community financial assistance, 920-662-5175
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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