MADISON - One of Wisconsin's favorite pastimes - the annual deer hunt - is just around the corner. Hunters are reminded to purchase licenses early and visit dnr.wi.gov for other helpful information before heading into the woods.
Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags are available for distribution. Depending on the deer management unit, one or more Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless deer tags are included with the purchase of each gun and archery deer hunting license.
Hunters who have already purchased a license for hunting deer are able to select the unit and land type for Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags and obtain a hard copy of the tag using one of the three options found below:
Hunters who have not yet purchased a license for hunting deer will be prompted to select the unit and land-type at the point of sale. Licenses may be purchased through theGo Wild website, gowild.wi.gov or at any of the more than 1,000 Go Wild license sales locations.
Hunters who have yet to determine hunting location may defer the Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tag selection. When ready, hunters may:
Bonus antlerless deer tags are available for purchase starting Monday, Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. Bonus tags will be sold at a rate of one per person per day until sold out or until the 2016 deer hunting season ends. Bonus tags cost $12 each for Wisconsin residents, $20 each for non-residents and $5 each for youth ages 10 and 11.
For a list of units with bonus tags available for purchase, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "bonus availability." These and all other deer hunting licenses and tags are available online through Go Wild and at DNR license sales locations.
Hunters will need to know the deer management zone, unit, and determine whether they will hunt on public or private land in order to purchase unit-specific bonus tags.
The first three days of bonus tag sales are management zone-specific and will be available as follows:
Department staff will host a number of informational chats open to the public, with DNR wildlife, law enforcement, regulations and communications specialists present to answer questions. These chats provide an opportunity to learn more about everything from regulations to finding a place to hunt.
Hunters are encouraged to participate in the following chats leading up to this year's 9-day gun deer opener:
Each chat will begin at noon - to view a chat schedule and check out previous chats, search keyword "expert."
The department's frequently asked questions page offers a helpful look at questions that have commonly been asked so far this fall related to deer hunting.
To view the frequently asked questions page, search keyword "deer" and select the "deer hunting resources" menu.
Those interested in receiving email updates regarding new regulations can sign up to receive occasional email reminders about season dates, license and tag types, and other information. Visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select a list of your choice.
For more information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."
MADISON, Wis. - The state's shooting sport expert says new Department of Natural Resources leases at private shooting ranges with continued public access at a Dane County-owned range means more target practice time for shooters and hunters.
Keith Warnke, DNR's coordinator of hunting and shooting sports, says the department's partnerships with range operators is an effective and efficient way to support Wisconsin's shooting sports enthusiasts.
"This is especially true in southern Wisconsin where there are few public ranges and a high population density," Warnke said. " For example, Dane County has the most hunters of any county in the state, but does not have a public shooting range."
Thanks to the continuing project agreement between the Wis. Department of Natural Resources and the Dane County Sheriff's Office, the public will have weekend access to the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center Range near Waunakee from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends through October 30 for a $10 fee per person per day. November 5-18 the range will be open daily for hunter sight-in for the same cost.
Target stands are provided. As with other shooting venues, shooters should bring their own eye and ear protection, as well as ammunition for their firearm.
Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. A minor must be at least 12 years old and present proof of enrollment or completion of the DNR Hunter Safety Program in order to shoot at the range.
The Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center is located at 5184 Hwy 19 in the Town of Westport, one mile east of the intersection of Hwy 113 and County Trunk I.
This particular county-state partnership is now in its fourth successful year, Warnke says. "The range is supported with excise taxes paid by hunters, shooters and the sporting industry to provide access and opportunity."
Funds for these partnerships come from the Pittman-Robertson Act, which places a 10 to 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition. These funds, generated by hunters and shooters, support wildlife restoration and shooting sports.
Wisconsin has hundreds of thousands shooters and hunters, and interest in shooting sports is growing. "Providing safe, high-quality places to shoot is a top priority for the department," Warnke said. "With many hunting seasons opening in September, summer shooting provides hunters with a chance to sharpen their marksmanship."
Wisconsin's residents can help with deer herd management by participating in this year's Operation Deer Watch, an annual citizen-science survey that collects information on deer. Data from this survey provides insight to the reproductive status of Wisconsin's deer herd for 2016 and helps shape deer management for the state.
"This is a fun and useful opportunity for all individuals and families to enjoy Wisconsin's plentiful wildlife," says Brian Dhuey, DNR surveys coordinator. "The Department of Natural Resources encourages anyone interested in deer, from hunters and trappers, to outdoor enthusiasts to take part."
To get involved, record all bucks, does and fawns seen during the day from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. Daily observations can be tracked using an online tally sheet available at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "deer watch."
Data from the survey is additionally used by County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) when developing deer season framework, harvest quotas and permit level recommendations.
MADISON - Will buffaloes and rare butterflies prove a winning combination again this year?
Following a massive increase in Karner blue butterflies in 2015, state conservation biologists hope their population surveys again find high numbers of the federally endangered species as the diminutive blue butterflies emerge from Wisconsin's savannas, barrens, prairies and sandy roadsides.
"We are happy with most of the numbers we are seeing so far in our surveys although the weather has been a serious issue," says Chelsea Gunther, the Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist coordinating surveys and Wisconsin's Karner Blue recovery program.
"The Sandhill site is looking promising again and I'm hopeful it is another good year there and at other central Wisconsin sites."
Record numbers of Karner blue butterflies were surveyed last year at Sandhill Wildlife Area, a 9,150-acre State Wildlife Area in central Wisconsin named for a series of gently rolling sandy ridges crisscrossing the property. The 58,000 total counted at the site in 2015 was a fourteenfold increase from the previous tally of 3,800 at that site in 2013 and constituted nearly 80 percent of the statewide total of 74,000 in 2015.
The main goal of the recovery program is to establish 11 independent Karner populations of 3,000 to 6,000 butterflies, on different state-owned properties that include wildlife areas, fishery areas, state natural areas, state parks, and state forests. Population levels must exceed the site specific goals for four consecutive years to be considered recovered.
Extensive efforts by DNR staff and property managers at Sandhill, as well as habitat benefits resulting from having a herd of buffalo at the site, are restoring the kind of open habitat Karner blue butterflies need. Wild lupine, the native plant that is the only one the butterflies eat during their larval stage, is found in the prairies and oak savannas at the site.
DNR research highlighted in "Bison and butterflies" in the April 2015 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, has revealed a link between habitat disturbances caused by American bison and improved habitat for the butterfly.
"They found that the bison are having a real impact by keeping woody shrubs out of the area and causing minor soil disturbance," says Gunther. The bison roll around on the ground, rub horns against the shrubs and trees, setting back growth and disturbing the soil. "It's making really great conditions for the Karner blues and I'm hopeful that these conditions continue to support Karner populations."
This summer, DNR is conducting annual population surveys at Sandhill Wildlife Area and 11 other sites using contractors including University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point faculty and students. As well, Gunther and other DNR conservation biologists are continuing habitat surveys to determine what management tools work and what don't.
The Karner blue butterfly was listed in 1992 as a federally endangered species; its range includes Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Ohio as well as Wisconsin. Wisconsin has the largest population in the world and its range here runs from Waupaca and Waushara counties west to the Black River Falls area, and then northwest to Grantsburg.
The Karner blue is protected by federal law as an endangered species, but the department and 40 other partners have implemented a statewide Habitat Conservation Plan since 1999 that allows certain activities - such as roadside and utility maintenance and timber harvests in Karner habitat - but makes sure those activities are carried out in ways that conserve and restore the butterfly and its habitat.
DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation program initiated the Karner blue butterfly recovery effort in 2007 that is working to restore Karner habitat and populations at state-owned properties in five areas of Wisconsin.. The goal of the recovery program is to establish 11 independent Karner populations of 3,000 to 6,000 butterflies each, on different state-owned properties that include wildlife areas, fishery areas, state natural areas, state parks, and state forests. There are also a handful of cooperating private landowners involved in the recovery program.
Such protection and restoration efforts have helped several of the Karner blue populations exceed the recovery goals in several years but not four years in a row as required for reclassification and removal from the endangered species list, Gunther says. As well, some designated recovery properties have no Karners or very few, so it will take continued success and expansion of populations to demonstrate recovery across the Wisconsin range.
"We still have a ways to go to get to full recovery but there is obviously something good going on at Sandhill and at some of these other sites," says Gunther, who works for DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation program.. "We're hopeful about what that means for Karner blue butterflies as well as the 50 other rare species that use the same kind of prairies, barrens and oak savannas they do," she says.
MADISON - Twenty-three Wisconsin organizations, local governments and projects will share a combined $100,000 from the Department of Natural Resources to expand volunteer efforts to help monitor Wisconsin's natural resources. Efforts will focus on monitoring resources as wide-ranging as water levels in northern lakes, the spread of invasive plants in southwestern Wisconsin, and bumble bees in southern Wisconsin.
The funding is part of the Citizen-based Monitoring Partnership Program, through which DNR has supported 242 high-priority monitoring projects since 2004. Sponsoring organizations typically contribute $3 in donated time and money for every $1 the state provides toward the projects, says Eva Lewandowski, who coordinates the Citizen-based Monitoring Program for DNR.
"Citizen-based monitoring efforts contribute valuable information about Wisconsin's natural resources, support DNR initiatives, and help us make the most of state dollars," Lewandowski says. "We're extremely pleased with the quality and variety of the applications this year."
Citizen-based monitoring is widespread and successful in Wisconsin; more than 150 organizations in Wisconsin rely on volunteers every year to collect information about the health and distribution of wildlife and plant species and water quality. Some projects in the state, such as the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey, which is in its 35th year, provide crucial long-term data sets, while others address emerging issues like the spread of invasive species to new areas in Wisconsin.
"There are citizen-based monitoring projects in all parts of Wisconsin, with volunteers from schoolchildren all the way up to retirees helping to monitor our natural resources," says Lewandowski. "The projects we're funding this year will join in an excellent state tradition of monitoring plants, animals, and their habitats."
Below is a list of the projects and their sponsoring organizations and individuals by geographic area.
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is launching a project to eliminate localized populations of an aquatic invasive species commonly known as tall mannagrass and is seeking help from property owners to map the invader's whereabouts.
The reed, formally known as Glyceria maxima, is constrained to very wet conditions and tends to be found in marshes, streams and drainage ditches, said Jason Granberg, DNR water resources management specialist. Elsewhere, the plant has posed a threat to dairy and beef cattle because consumption of its young shoots may sicken or kill animals. It also makes water stagnant and unpalatable for animals to drink.
Native to Europe, Glyceria maxima forms thick stands that crowd out native plants and impair habitat for fish. The plants also slow stream flow, reduce dissolved oxygen, increase siltation and can create a potential flooding hazard in low lying areas next to streams.
Granberg said the aquatic invader has limited distribution within the United States, with a documented presence in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the state of Washington. Wisconsin DNR is asking for help from property owners in Dane, Jefferson, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Door, Calumet, Winnebago, Wood and Oneida counties so that the department can find populations, map the extent of its spread and plan chemical treatments.
"We'd like to hear from homeowners who think they may have tall mannagrass on their properties so that we can offer an herbicide treatment," Granberg said. "We have funding to provide free treatment for control of this plant. Also, we will be testing the effectiveness of glyphosate and imazapyr on controlling this species. Both of these treatments are commonly used herbicides for agricultural and home garden applications and have U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval."
The herbicide application will only occur on properties where DNR has received written consent from the landowners and where all adjacent landowners have been informed of the project. The herbicide application will be paid for using a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Prior to treatment, DNR is making an environmental analysis available for public review and comment.
To view the environmental analysis, visit DNR.wi.gov and search http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/invasives/fact/pdfs/GlyceriaMaximaControlEA07012016.pdf. Comments should be emailed to Jason.Granberg@Wisconsin.Gov or mailed to Jason Granberg, DNR Water Quality, 101 S. Webster St. Madison, WI 53703, Room WT/3 by Aug. 5, 2016. Questions related to the project also may be directed to Granberg at 607-267-9868 or Jason.Granberg@Wisconsin.Gov.
More information and pictures about Glyceria maxima may be found on the DNR website by searching for "tall manna grass." By late July, the plant will have well developed seed heads and can be readily seen in wetlands or in saturated soils. This plant is not found in dry uplands.
Landowners who suspect they have the plant on their properties may contact Granberg for identification assistance. Digital photographs from the property owner and location details are greatly appreciated and may be emailed to Jason.Granberg@Wisconsin.Gov.
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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