Weekly News Published - July 29, 2014

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Operation Deer Watch provides great opportunity to take part in management of Wisconsin deer herd

MADISON -- In an ongoing annual effort to involve the public in deer management, the Department of Natural Resources will launch Operation Deer Watch. The program enlists the public to report the number of deer they see from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30.

"This is a fun and useful opportunity for the public to be the daily eyes and ears for wildlife managers throughout Wisconsin," says Brian Dhuey, DNR surveys coordinator. "To become personally involved and committed to the well-being of Wisconsin's deer herd is a unique opportunity that should not be missed."

Participating in the survey is simple. During their assigned period, participants will record all bucks, does and fawns they see using an online tally sheet. Observations can be submitted at the same website.

In 2014, 14,000 randomly selected deer hunters received an invitation to participate in Operation Deer Watch. Those who were not selected to participate are encouraged to submit their observations and help provide insight into Wisconsin's deer herd.

This unique collaboration of data from the public, along with deer observations collected by DNR staff, provides valuable information regarding the reproductive status of Wisconsin's deer herd in 2014. The program first began in 2010 with more than 14,000 individual citizen observations logged.

For more information, videos, and past results, go to the DNR website and search "deer watch."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jessica Rees, DNR research scientist, 608-221-6349

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Summer is easily THE time to plan fall Learn to Hunt event

Have family and friends get in the game!

MADISON - If you're like me, summer is great because it is the time to plan for the best season of all - fall.

The calendar says it is high summer now. But flip the pages and you'll see fall is several weeks away, making these days the prime time to think about how you will sponsor your Learn to Hunt opportunity.

I am looking forward to hosting my own Learn To Hunt event in late September in the Madison area. Why don't you give some thought in joining me and hosting your own in your area? It is fun and rewarding to share what you know about hunting with others. Learn to Hunt events truly can be the perfect way for a novice to safely experience their first hunt.

You may be wondering how to even start such a process. Take a look around where you live. Maybe your neighbor down the block is interested. One very effective way to start a new tradition is to focus on a family that is interested in hunting and mentor them through this fall's seasons.

Get to your club or chapter and start brainstorming about how you can help maintain the hunting tradition. Can you reach out beyond the regular hunting "choir" to introduce someone new? Someone who would not get the chance to hunt any other way? That will really go a long way to making a new hunter.

Last year the final tally was about 2,500 LTH participants, a small decrease from the previous year. That is a solid, grassroots effort to pass along the hunting tradition. The decrease doesn't bother me because we've become more focused on outcomes rather than outputs. Our goal is to be effective at creating a new hunter or a new hunting family, not to post big numbers. We have really seen a growth in adults interested in hunting as a source of sustainable food. My advice is to tap into that movement and offer hunter training to your neighbors, friends and co-workers.

I know you'll take pride and step up again. You can design your own unique learn to hunt. How about a family learn-to-hunt outing? Focus on bringing the whole family out to the field and sharing our tradition and knowledge with them.

Remember, if you're hosting a LTH pheasant, sponsors can get free pheasants from the DNR game farm for the event.

For more information on all your LTH needs, go to the DNR home page and search keyword "LTH."

As you already know, the future of hunting is up to us - those of us who hunt. Let's get in the game!

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sport coordinator, keith.warnke@wisconsin.gov; 608-576-5243.

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Fish feats captured through coded wire tag project

Coordinated management efforts by Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service produce angler benefits

MILWAUKEE - In a remarkable feat of distance swimming, tiny chinook salmon released in Lake Huron two years ago swam their way through the Straits of Mackinac and down through Lake Michigan into the waters off of Racine, according to newly released data gathered with the help of Wisconsin anglers.

Fish Study
Coded wire tags are attached to young fish before release and help DNR tack fish movements throughout the Great Lakes.
WDNR Photo

Brad Eggold, Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said the 400 mile journey of fish released by the state of Michigan points to the benefits of coordinated management efforts given the mobility of species like salmon. Other fish caught at the Racine checkpoint originated from stocking efforts in Door County, western Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

The study documenting the movement of fish throughout the lakes also indicates that natural reproduction of chinooks is picking up steam in Lake Michigan. For chinooks that are one year old, 55 percent of the population now comes from natural reproduction.

What makes these findings possible? Fish heads - containing tiny coded wire tags - that have been saved by attentive anglers and dropped off at key ports and collection points along Lake Michigan's shores.

The tags, which are embedded into the snouts of the young fish, include numbers identifying when and where the fish were stocked. The tags themselves are smaller than a fine sliver of pencil lead, yet when entered into a database maintained by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists, they provide a powerful narrative about the lives of these fish.

Fish and Chip
Tiny coded wire tags attached to fish provide important information about fish movements.
WDNR Photo

"We could not undertake this type of research without the support of an educated and dedicated group of anglers willing to save the fish heads and bring them in to our collection points," says Eggold. "The results continue to provide incredible insights into the movement and reproduction of Chinook salmon while demonstrating the benefits of interstate cooperation. For example, anglers harvesting fish in Racine are catching fish stocked everywhere in Lake Michigan and in some cases, fish stocked in Lake Huron."

While the natural reproduction data varies somewhat by year - in part due to inconsistences in the number of fish heads collected - a six-year time series dating from 2006 to 2011 indicates natural reproduction levels well above 50 percent. The results represent good news for anglers, whose license purchases have provided the funding to support biological research, as fisheries managers will continue to fine-tune stocking strategies based on the latest scientific data.

Eggold says state agencies with jurisdiction surrounding Lake Michigan as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like to encourage anglers to continue providing fish heads so the research can progress through additional years. While the tiny coded wire tags placed in the snout of the fish may be difficult to see, anglers can tell whether their salmon or trout carries a tag because the adipose fin on the fish's back, just in front of the tail, will be missing.

DNR appreciates the efforts of the more than 200 anglers who participated last year and the businesses that serve as collection points. These businesses have been given a supply of forms for anglers to fill out and bags to use for freezing the heads.

The forms ask anglers to include basic information such as the date of capture, capture location, fish species, length, weight and gender. Drop-off locations include:

  • Algoma - Algoma Hardware, 513 4th St., 920-487-3374;
  • Green Bay - Department of Natural Resources, 2984 Shawano Ave., (Hours - Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.), 920-662-5100;
  • Kenosha - Gander Mountain, 6802 118th Ave., 262-857-3757;
  • Kewaunee - Accurate Marine and Storage, 203 Dodge St., 920-388-2326;
  • Marinette - A&K Feed, Seed, & Bait, 1616 Shore Drive, 715-732-6100;
  • Milwaukee - Gander Mountain, 6939 S. 27th St., Franklin, 414-761-1500;
  • Milwaukee - DNR, UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, 600 E. Greenfield Ave., (Hours vary - Monday-Thursday - call ahead), 414-382-7929;
  • Peshtigo - Peshtigo Shell Gas Station, 815 French St., 715-582-3681;
  • Peshtigo - Department of Natural Resources, 101 N. Ogden Road, (Hours - Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) , 715-582-5000;
  • Port Washington - The Bait Box, 215 E. Washington St., 262-284-9355;
  • Racine - Turk's Bait, 2950 93rd St., Sturtevant, 262-886-3061;
  • Racine - Department of Natural Resources, 9531 Rayne Road, Suite 4, Sturtevant, (Hours - Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), 262-884-2300;
  • Sheboygan - The Wharf, 733 Riverfront Drive, 920-458-4406;
  • Sheboygan - Department of Natural Resources, 1155 Pilgrim Road, Plymouth, (Hours - Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), 920-892-8756;
  • Sturgeon Bay - Howie's Tackle, 1309 Green Bay Road, 920-746-9916;
  • Sturgeon Bay - Department of Natural Resources, 110 S. Neenah Ave., (Hours - Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), 920-746-2860; and
  • Two Rivers - Seagull Sports Marina, 1400 Lake St., 920-794-7533.

For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search for "adipose missing fin."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold, Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, 414-382-7921; Jennifer Sereno, communications, 608-770-8084

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2015 Wild Turkey, Pheasant and Waterfowl Stamp design contest winners announced

MADISON - Talented artists from throughout Wisconsin submitted a total of 36 pieces of artwork for the 2015 Wisconsin Wild Turkey, Pheasant and Waterfowl Stamp design contests. Robin Raab and James Pieper were selected as this year's winners, with Raab submitting winning turkey and pheasant designs and Pieper submitting the winning waterfowl design.

Judging for the contest took place July 25. The top three pieces of artwork for each of the three stamp contests will be on display in the Natural Resources Park at the 2014 Wisconsin State Fair. The artists, their families, and members of the public are encouraged to view the artwork and learn more about Wisconsin's wildlife stamp program.

2015 Wild Turkey and Pheasant Stamp design contest

A painting depicting two turkeys in a Wisconsin farmland setting, submitted by Robin Raab of Delavan, took the top prize in the 2015 Wild Turkey Stamp design contest. Raab also took first place in the 2015 Pheasant Stamp design contest with her painting of two pheasant roosters in a field. This is Raab's first time submitting artwork for the wildlife stamp design contests.

While Raab has no formal training in painting, the abundance of natural beauty and animals near her home inspired her to pursue a new way to express her love for art and wildlife.

Many wild turkeys make their home on Raab's property - she used the big toms strutting right outside her window as inspiration for her first place Wild Turkey Stamp entry. She has also been visited by a pheasant rooster for the past three years, and modeled her first place Pheasant Stamp entry after pictures she took of this bird.

2015 Wild Turkey Stamp Winner
The winning stamp submitted for the 2015 Wild Turkey Stamp contest.
WDNR Photo

Raab particularly admires the work of wildlife artists Robert Bateman and Carl Brenders, and her advice for beginning artists is first and foremost to have fun and understand the work and discipline involved. Raab attributes her success to her passion for wildlife.

Second place in the 2015 Wild Turkey Stamp design contest went to Robert Andrea of Spooner, and third place went to John Nemec, Jr., of Peshtigo.

All turkey hunters are required to purchase the $5.25 Wild Turkey Stamp to legally hunt turkeys in Wisconsin, and proceeds help provide vital support for turkey management in Wisconsin. Wild Turkey Stamp sales generate over three-quarters of a million dollars annually for habitat management, restoration projects, education, research, equipment purchases and the management of the wild turkey program statewide.

Second place in the 2015 Pheasant Stamp design contest went to John Nemec, Jr., of Peshtigo, and third place went to Steven Hovel of DeForest.

2015 Pheasant Stamp Winner
The 2015 Pheasant Stamp Winner.
WDNR Photo

A $10 Pheasant Stamp is required to hunt pheasants in the state of Wisconsin, and sales bring in several hundred thousand dollars annually for the development, management, conservation and maintenance of wild pheasants and their habitat. Proceeds also support the stocking of pen-reared pheasants on Wisconsin's public hunting grounds.

2015 Waterfowl Stamp design contest

First place in the 2015 Waterfowl Stamp design contest went to James Pieper of Iron Ridge for his painting of a pair of blue-winged teal. Pieper also won the 2011 Waterfowl Stamp design contest, 1994 Pheasant Stamp design contest and 1993 Wild Turkey Stamp design contest.

Pieper's lifelong relationship with art has been greatly influenced by the works of artist Owen Gromme - especially Gromme's winning 1945 Federal Duck Stamp design featuring a pair of northern shovelers. In fact, there's a good chance the taxidermy mount Pieper used while working on his winning entry for the 2011 Waterfowl Stamp contest was used by Gromme in 1945 - its tag listed the specimen's collection by "O. J. Gromme at Lake Puckaway, 1932."

The inspiration for Pieper's winning 2015 Waterfowl Stamp design contest entry came from the waterfowl enclosure at the Suamico Zoo, where he took photographs to provide inspiration. Pieper's art education includes two years of graphic design study at Milwaukee Technical College.

2015 Waterfowl Stamp Winner
The winning submission for the 2015 Waterfowl Stamp contest.
WDNR Photo

Second place in the 2015 Waterfowl Stamp design contest went to Samuel Timm of Wautoma, and third place went to Keith Raddatz of Watertown.

Proceeds from the sale of the $7 Waterfowl Stamp are used for managing, restoring and protecting habitat in Wisconsin and Canada for waterfowl and other wetland species. Duck and goose hunters are required to purchase the Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp in order to hunt waterfowl in Wisconsin.

The judging panel for the 2015 Wisconsin Wild Turkey, Pheasant, and Waterfowl Stamp design contests included Brian Glenzinski, regional biologist for Ducks Unlimited, Caleb Metrich, past winner of the stamp design contest, and George Metrich, an avid outdoorsman and retired taxidermist.

Please note that an electronic "stamp approval" is printed on wild turkey, pheasant and waterfowl licenses at the time of purchase. Hunters will only receive an actual stamp upon request. Each state stamp is available free of charge at DNR service centers for hunters with stamp approval. Those interested in collecting the Wisconsin wildlife stamps may purchase one directly from the department. For more information, contact the DNR Call Center at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) or visit the online licensing center.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458

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Public input sought on proposed ATV/UTV trail at Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area

RHINELANDER - A public open house regarding a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources feasibility study on a proposed ATV/UTV trail will be held Tuesday Aug. 19 from 4-7 p.m. at the Northwoods Community Elementary School in Harshaw, WI. Attendees will have an opportunity to discuss the department's analysis of the proposed trail for a portion of the Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area.

The Nokomis ATV Club has asked for an ATV/UTV trail to be added across the southeast portion of the wildlife area. The requested route is 1.4 miles long and runs on an existing snowmobile trail.

Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area
Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area
WDNR Photo

Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area is a forested 3,000 acre property located approximately ten miles west of Rhinelander. Woodboro has an extensive network of walking trails and lightly developed roads. Use of ATVs/UTVs is not currently allowed.

The department has completed a report on the feasibility, alternatives and environmental impact analysis of the trail request. Following public review, the trail request will be forwarded to the Natural Resources Board for a final decision. The public will have an opportunity to provide comments to the board at that time.

The department will accept initial public comment regarding the ATV/UTV trail and feasibility analysis until 5 p.m., Aug. 25, 2014. Comments may be directed to Jeremy Holtz, Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area, 107 Sutliff Ave., Rhinelander, WI 54501; by email to Jeremy.Holtz@Wisconsin.gov, or by calling 715-365-8999.

To view the feasibility report, visit dnr.wi.gov, search keywords "master planning," and select "Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area." Copies are available at the Rhinelander DNR office, or by contacting Jeremy Holtz at the phone number or address listed above.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Watkins, DNR property planner, 608-264-6058

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Permit numbers remain stable for 2014 fall turkey hunt

MADISON - Fall turkey permit availability in 2014 will be equal to the number offered during the 2013 fall season. A total of 96,700 permits will be available statewide, with permits allocated to specific turkey management zones based on the amount of habitat available and relative size of turkey population.

Fall permit levels are set by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources after review by the Turkey Advisory Committee, a group that includes representatives from the department and numerous partner organizations with an interest in Wisconsin's wild turkey resource.

Zone-specific fall 2014 permit levels are as follows:

  • Zone 1: 27,500;
  • Zone 2: 18,000;
  • Zone 3: 30,000;
  • Zone 4: 15,000;
  • Zone 5: 3,800;
  • Zone 6: 1,400; and
  • Zone 7: 1,000.

"The pursuit of turkeys in the fall provides a different experience from the spring hunt," said DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist Krista McGinley. "Getting out there in the fall allows hunters to experience the Wisconsin woods and engage with the birds during a different part of their annual cycle when different hunting techniques are required."

Spring permit levels were reduced in northern zones 6 and 7 for the 2014 season in response to an extremely harsh winter. Overall, spring harvest was down only slightly in the north. While the department recorded some mortalities likely associated with a harsh winter, it became apparent that this mortality was localized and occurred where flocks were trapped by deep snow in areas without accessible food sources.

"We certainly heard from hunters who were concerned that this past winter might significantly impact our northern turkey flock," said DNR upland wildlife ecologist Scott Walter. "We do know from research in the Midwest that prolonged periods with deep snow and cold can lead to increased mortality, and with up to four feet of snow on the ground and weeks of bitter cold in some areas this year, those concerns were justified. However, when the snow finally began to melt and winter flocks broke up, folks began to see turkeys in large numbers across the north."

Fall either-sex harvests can impact turkey populations if hen harvest is excessive, but the number of hens harvested in Wisconsin is very low. Biologists are not concerned that fall harvests will influence turkey populations. Given these low hen harvests and indications from the spring season that turkeys came through winter in decent shape, the advisory committee decided to maintain fall permit availability at 2013 levels.

"In northern zones 6 and 7, hunters harvested just one hen for every 50 to 100 square miles of forest cover last fall," said Walter. "In some counties, total registered hen harvest was in the single digits - these very low hen harvests are well below the level capable of influencing population abundance."

According to Walter, since all permits are utilized in the northern zones, every permit not allocated would lead to one hunter that would not be able to pursue turkeys in that zone in 2014. A permit reduction would provide no benefits for the turkey population, so a reduction in hunting opportunity is not necessary.

For more details regarding Wisconsin's fall turkey season, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "turkey."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861; Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458

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Last Revised: Tuesday, July 29, 2014