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Bill Cosh
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608-267-2773

Weekly News Published - April 22, 2014

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State wildlife biologists share why to 'Keep Wildlife Wild'

EDITOR'S ADVISRY: A 30-second audio public service announcement featuring DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp on Keeping Wildlife Wild is available by clicking on the audio link below.

MADISON -- Mother Nature's wildlife nursery will be swinging into high gear over the next two months, and state wildlife officials are reminding people that this nursery operates much differently than a human nursery.

"Wild animal mothers care for their young differently than human mothers, said Tami Ryan, wildlife health section supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "It is common for wild animal parents to leave their babies unattended for periods of time while they gather food. For some species, leaving babies hidden and unattended is an adaptation to protect them from predators."

Ryan says spring and early summer is the peak period when people discover baby wild animals.

"The most common situations we see involve deer, rabbits, raccoons and bird nestlings, and we want to offer advice on how to we can all help keep Wisconsin's wildlife wild," she said.

Ryan advises that sometimes it can be hard to know if the wild animal someone finds is truly in need of help. If someone thinks a wild animal is in need of assistance, Ryan cautions that they should not touch the animal. The first thing they should do is call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or contact the DNR's Call Center at 1-888-936-7463.

Mandy Kamps, DNR wildlife biologist and a member of the multi-agency Keep Wildlife Wild initiative, agrees, saying, "If you find a baby wild animal on its own don't assume it's orphaned."

Kamps cites these examples for common wildlife species:

  • Baby rabbits are left alone in their nest, concealed by grass or vegetation, during the day. The mother returns a few times to feed her babies. She leaves quickly to keep away predators.
  • Baby raccoons become more mobile as they grow and open their eyes. They are often seen playing in trees or yards during the day without their mother. However, mom is nearby and will maintain her mostly nocturnal behavior and will only be seen toward nightfall.
  • Fledgling songbirds also leave nests without parental supervision and before they can fly. They hop around on the ground learning how to forage. This hopping makes people wonder if the bird is injured and cannot fly. They cannot fly because their wings are not fully developed. Young birds out of the nest at this age are also still fed by their parents, who are usually close by finding food.
  • Fawns are born with spots and very little scent to help them stay hidden. They move very little in first weeks and often left alone for much of this time. The mother doe returns to feed. A fawn lying still, quiet and by itself should be left alone.

"While our first human instinct may be to rush in and try to assist, the best thing for these youngsters is to leave them alone," Kamps said.

In addition, Ryan recommends visiting DNR's Keep Wildlife Wild webpage. The webpage provides a lot of helpful information on how to tell if a baby animal is truly orphaned, as well as, how to contact one of Wisconsin's licensed wildlife rehabilitators and how to help injured or sick wildlife.

The Keep Wildlife Wild campaign offers the following tips:

  1. Control family pets when outdoors.
  2. Stay alert for wildlife on roads.
  3. Place covers on window wells so small animals do not get trapped. Seal off spaces under decks or buildings, and spaces in attics, garages, or buildings so wild animals cannot make nests.
  4. Make potential food items inaccessible to wild animals, including pet food and garbage.
  5. Be careful if trapping and relocating adult wild animals during warmer months. You may unknowingly separate wild animal adults and babies.

More information is available by searching the DNR website for "orphan."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tami Ryan 608-266-3143, Mandy Kamps, 715-359-5508)

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Deer Management Assistance Program enrollment begins April 29

MADISON - Enrollment for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Deer Management Assistance Program will begin April 29, 2014. DMAP provides habitat and herd management assistance to landowners interested in managing their property for deer and other wildlife.

DNR wildlife and forestry professionals will work with participants to develop consistent and realistic goals for their property. In return, participants will share information, collect biological and observational data and attend annual meetings and workshops.

DMAP will offer three levels of participation:

  • Level one (no minimum acreage requirement; no fee/three years)
  • Level two (160 acre minimum; $75/three years)
  • Level three (640 acre minimum; $150/three years)

Level one is intended for landowners interested in learning more about DMAP before deciding to apply for a higher level of enrollment. There is no deadline for enrolling at level one -- participants will receive habitat and herd management information, annual program reports and invitations to regional DMAP meetings and workshops.

Participants at level two will receive the above benefits, but will also receive eligibility for reduced-price antlerless tags, an on-site visit from local DNR wildlife and forestry staff and a property management plan. Level three benefits include, in addition to those granted in levels one and two, assistance with population monitoring, habitat evaluations and additional site visits as needed. To be eligible for participation in levels two and three in 2014, landowners must apply by May 30, 2014.

Landowners with property within one-half mile of one another may choose to form a group cooperative. Cooperatives are a great way for interested parties to qualify at a higher DMAP level, minimize participation costs and benefit from the consistent application of management practices over a larger area.

Enrollment in DMAP is also an option for public lands that may require specialized deer herd and habitat management attention. Public land managers interested in receiving more information should contact the DMAP coordinator.

In 2014, all level one applications will be accepted for enrollment. However, enrollment in levels two and three will be limited. Applications received in 2014 but not accepted in levels two or three will automatically be enrolled at level one and will be processed for enrollment in higher levels beginning in 2015.

Interested landowners may apply via a MyDMAP online application system that will go live on the DNR website beginning April 29 or by requesting a hard-copy and mailing it to Bob Nack, DNR DMAP coordinator, PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707-7921. For more information search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keyword "DMAP."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Nack, DMAP Coordinator, 608-264-6137

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Arbor Day event to branch out on state Capitol lawn

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: News media are invited to cover Friday's event, which is open to the public. WHO: Paul DeLong, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forestry division administrator; WHAT: Ceremony and tree planting to celebrate Arbor Day; WHEN: Friday, April 25 starting at 12:15 p.m.; WHERE: Capitol Park - along Carroll Street, near Mifflin Street.

Participants will celebrate arrival of a large, red oak to be planted in the Capitol Park

MADISON - Dozens of children from area schools will help celebrate the state's 131st Arbor Day at the state Capitol just after noon on Friday, April 25 with songs, speeches and the planting of a large red oak tree.

The oak, which will arrive in a giant tree spade truck courtesy of The Bruce Co., represents a stately addition to the Capitol Park. The Arbor Day event, to be held just off the sidewalk along Carroll Street near the intersection of Mifflin Street starting at 12:15 p.m., will be marked with comments by Wisconsin Chief Forester Paul DeLong and songs by Madison musician Ken Lonnquist.

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska in 1872 and was adopted in Wisconsin in 1883. Today, from Albany to Wonewoc, 192 communities in Wisconsin are designated as Tree City USA communities by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Those unable to join the celebration are encouraged to visit the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for more tips on trees. Search keywords "Arbor Day.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Wyatt, DNR urban forestry specialist, 608-267-0568 or laura.wyatt@wisconsin.gov

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Wildfire Prevention Week: Only takes one ember; make homes 'firewise' to survive

MADISON - The massive Germann Road Fire that swept through Douglas County last May consuming nearly 7,500 acres and burning more than 100 buildings, including 23 homes reinforces the importance of wildfire prevention and preparedness, according to state forestry officials who making the observance of April 20-26 as Wildfire Prevention Week a prime time to review ways to stop an unwanted fire from starting and then spreading.

Wildfire Prevetion Week
April 20-26 is Wildlife Prevention Week in Wisconsin.
WDNR Photo

Department of Natural Resources fire officials remind residents and property owners that personal responsibility is the key to preventing and to preparing for wildfires, and it can start with something as simple as a walk back to make sure a burned debris pile is truly out.

"Wildfire Prevention Week is prime time to get centered on preventing fires from starting and preparing homeowners living in or near the wildland in the event a wildfire happens," said Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist. "This time of year, wildfires are a reality and can happen anytime fire is introduced in the outdoors."

Debris burn piles - the top cause of wildfires

The risk for wildfires increases in the spring as many landowners do their annual tradition of yard clean-up. It is common to see burning piles of discarded leaves, brush and pine needles. This practice coupled with warm, dry and windy days result in debris burning as the No. 1 cause of wildfires. Koele says these account for 30 percent of all wildfires reported in DNR Protection Areas.

So far in 2014, there have been 150 wildfires which have burned about 1,187 acres in DNR Protection Areas.

"Many responsible debris burners obtain proper permits, conduct their burn, but neglect to make certain their fire is out before leaving," Koele said. "It is especially important to double-check for hot coals left behind from debris piles. Oftentimes, ash still contains smoldering embers which can escape on a windy day and cause a wildfire."

Regardless of the intent of the fire, Koele says, one tiny ember can trigger a massive wildfire and place residents, homes and natural resources at risk. Embers are carried by the wind and can rain down on homes like an ember blizzard.

Homes can survive 'ember blizzard' - start by moving firewood pile

Jolene Ackerman, DNR Wildland Urban Interface Specialist of the Firewise program, says doing some easy fire prevention steps around the home could mean the difference when a fire is approaching.

"Focusing on the immediate 100-200 feet surrounding the home or what is referred to as the 'home ignition zone' is the key to a home's survival," Ackerman said. "Simple actions such as raking leaves and pine needles away from the buildings and removing dead vegetation from the landscape can make all the difference."

The Germann Road Fire was the biggest wildfire Wisconsin faced in more than 30 years; and, it caught the attention of property owners, government officials, the media and many others who live with the reality that a wildfire can happen right in their backyard.

"A wildfire of this magnitude reinforces the importance of fire prevention and preparedness," Ackerman said. While many home and property owners suffered tremendous losses, the DNR is using the Germann Road Fire as an example to heighten awareness during Wildfire Prevention Week.

Ackerman says the DNR recommends homeowners do the following:

  • Clean debris from rain gutters.
  • Move firewood stacks at least 30 feet away from buildings.
  • Make sure driveways are wide enough for a fire engine.
  • Remove evergreen trees and shrubs within the 30-foot zone around buildings.

After the Germann Road Fire, a team of fire specialists conducted structural assessments on homes within or near the fire perimeter. "Results have shown that homes can survive without the intervention of structural protection by fire departments if homeowners would take the time to make their properties Firewise," Ackerman said.

The "Be Ember Aware" campaign is currently running in various markets statewide and includes radio, TV, print and online advertisements, an in-depth video, flyers, refrigerator magnets, display banners and other promotional materials. The campaign will be utilized throughout the spring during Wisconsin's traditional fire season.

To view a 4-minute video featuring footage from the Germann Road Fire, conduct a homeowner self-assessment or for more information on the "Be Ember Aware" campaign, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keyword "ember."

Fire officials also will be live and online for a Thursday DNR Ask the Experts chat about fire prevention this Thursday, April 24, at noon. Join at dnr.wi.gov and open the link in the video box at the right.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Catherine Koele, Wildfire Prevention Specialist, 715-356-5211 x208 (office), 608-219-9075 (cell); Jolene Ackerman, Wildland Urban-Interface Specialist, 608-267-7677 (office); and, Joanne M. Haas, Public Affairs Manager, 608-209-8147

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Watch out for gypsy moth - and act soon

MADISON - As spring settles in, state forestry officials urge homeowners to look for signs of gypsy moths. From late April (southern Wisconsin) through May (northern Wisconsin), a new generation of gypsy moth caterpillars will hatch.

"At high numbers, gypsy moth caterpillars can strip trees of their leaves, which puts the tree's health at risk," says Bill McNee, a forest health specialist with the Department of Natural Resources in Plymouth. "The insect's favorite food is oak leaves, but it will feed on many other tree species such as birch, crabapple, aspen and willow," said McNee.

Gypsy moth populations are potentially damaging this year in parts of Ashland, Bayfield and Rock Counties. Individual trees elsewhere may have high populations. Be on the look-out for gypsy moth because now is the time to act.

Homeowners can take action to reduce damage to their trees -- Look for egg masses

"As soon as possible in April, search for the tan-colored egg masses," McNee says. Egg masses are about the size of a quarter and are often teardrop shaped.

Gypsy moth egg mass
Gypsy moth egg mass.
WDNR Photo

They can be found on any outdoor surface including trees, houses, firewood piles, play- sets, and other objects. If caterpillars are not hatching from the mass yet, property owners can scrape the masses into a can and drown them in soapy water for at least two days to kill the eggs.

"Do NOT scrape the egg masses onto the ground, step on them, or break them apart. Many of the eggs will still survive and hatch," McNee cautions. "You will have 500 to 1,000 fewer caterpillars for every egg mass you properly drown before hatch."

For more information see the University of Wisconsin-Extension Gypsy Moth in Wisconsin website (exit DNR).

Sticky barrier bands

After removing all of the egg masses within reach, place sticky barrier bands on trees with remaining egg masses.

"These bands will prevent crawling caterpillars from climbing into your trees," says Mark Guthmiller, DNR forest health specialist in Fitchburg. At a convenient height, wrap a belt of duct tape 4-6 inches wide around each tree trunk, shiny side out. Smear the center of the band with a sticky, horticultural pest barrier available at garden centers. "Routinely sweep the caterpillars gathered under the band from the tree into a bucket of soapy water to kill them," says Guthmiller.

sticky barrier bands on trees
Sticky barrier bands on trees prevent caterpillars from climbing trees.
WDNR Photo

Burlap collection bands

A few weeks after putting up sticky bands place a burlap collection band above each sticky band on trees where caterpillars are still present. This provides a place for larger caterpillars to hide during the day and you can sweep them into a bucket of soapy water each afternoon to reduce the numbers feeding on your trees' leaves. Instructions for burlap bands can be found at: gypsymoth.wi.gov (exit DNR) under "tips for protecting yard trees."

Professional assistance and insecticide sprays for yard trees

After the caterpillars hatch, insecticides can be used to kill them. Insecticides with the active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) are effective when sprayed on the leaves that small gypsy moth caterpillars eat. Btk is relatively non-toxic and does not persist in the environment. You can spray the leaves of small trees yourself or hire a certified arborist to do a ground-based spray. This is most effective when done in May and early June.

"Spray while the caterpillars are small. If Btk is used, they will die when they eat treated leaves, so they don't become a nuisance or strip all the tree's leaves," McNee says. "Arborists are busy in the spring, so determine whether this is an option for you and then make arrangements soon."

People can find certified arborists in their area by searching the Wisconsin Arborist Association Web site at www.waa-isa.org (exit DNR). Also look in the phone book under 'Tree Service'.

Aerial spraying may be an option for property owners with gypsy moth across many wooded acres. For more information on this and other gypsy moth details, visit gypsymoth.wi.gov (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: DNR forest health specialists: Bill McNee, southeast Wisconsin, 920-360-0942; Mark Guthmiller, south-central Wisconsin, (608) 275-3223; Brian Schwingle, northern Wisconsin, 715-536-0889

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Wisconsin's sustainably managed forests create economic opportunity

MADISON -- Wisconsin's strengths in sustainably managed forests, premium hardwood production and engineered wood products offer state residents something to celebrate during April, which the Legislature has designated as Forestry and Paper Products Month.

Steve Hubbard, forest products services team leader for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, says the nation's recovering housing market is providing an important boost for state mills that specialize in high quality flooring, trim and veneer wood. While Wisconsin also produces the pine 2-by-4s used to frame single family homes, Hubbard says it is the quality of the state's hardwoods such as oak, hickory and maple that truly stand out.

Just how good is Wisconsin wood? NCAA basketball fans saw it in action as teams competing in recent regional tournament games jumped, dribbled and ran on meticulously crafted maple originating from Menomonee Tribal Enterprises.

"This is not to say we don't produce significant quantities of fiberboard and other commodities, but where we win is with the quality of our hardwoods," Hubbard says.

Wisconsin also remains the nation's No. 1 paper producer, a title the state has claimed for more than 50 years. While the paper industry continues to face challenges worldwide, Hubbard says Wisconsin's sustainable forestry practices have given producers here a competitive business advantage.

Wisconsin now ranks among the nation's leaders in terms of the number of pulpwood forests certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Forest Stewardship Council. These certifications have played a critical role in recent contracts between state producers and industry leaders such as Time Warner that have goals for using sustainably sourced paper in magazines and catalogs, Hubbard says.

"We now manage more than 7 million acres of third-party environmentally certified forest land in the state," he says. "Our management practices have allowed us to benefit from consumer trends."

The future of forestry and paper products in Wisconsin promises to be no less dynamic. For example, nanocrystalline cellulose - made from the tiny crystals that give wood its strength - can be engineered with the stiffness of steel at just a fraction of the weight.

Research now underway at the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory (exit DNR) in Madison and at a handful of state companies promises to usher in completely new categories of products ranging from high-strength, lightweight fabrics that could be used in bullet proof vests to new automotive components.

"The sky is the limit for our trees," Hubbard says. "Going forward, we anticipate new forestry and paper products industries to grow alongside our existing manufacturers in the sector."

With total production valued at nearly $19 billion each year and employment of more than 46,800 based on numbers from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the economic importance of Wisconsin's forestry and paper products industries is clear. Despite this level of productivity, Hubbard says, residents may be reassured to know that the number of forested acres in the state continues to grow.

"While other states incur losses, Wisconsin's forest lands have increased since 1983 and now total more than 17 million acres," Hubbard says. "Each year, we grow more wood than industry removes; our forests produce about 490 million cubic feet of growth each year, while about 332 million cubic feet is removed.''

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Steve Hubbard, (608) 231-9329, steven.hubbard@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, communications, (608) 770-8084.

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Leftover tags still available for 2014 Wisconsin turkey season

Hunters have many options for locating, accessing public hunting lands

MADISON - Though the 2014 spring turkey season is officially underway in Wisconsin, there are still tags available and a number of public hunting lands to enable you to give the season a try.

"With such a large number of public hunting lands available and almost 38,000 leftover turkey tags left for the spring season, 2014 is an excellent year for first-timers and seasoned veterans alike to head out and turkey hunt," said Scott Walter, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. Hunters can find more information about leftover turkey tags on the leftover permit availability page of the DNR website.

There are a few great resources available for those looking for public hunting lands during the turkey season. Through DNR's "explore outdoors" feature, interested hunters can search for state hunting lands in their area.

The Public Access Lands atlas is another great tool available to help find public hunting grounds and public access lands in Wisconsin. The atlas highlights the public access to state lands made possible through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. The atlas contains 441 maps, two indexes, a glossary, and extensive contact information to help you connect with land managers to learn more about each property.

For those interested in making their land available for public access, the Voluntary Public Access program and Turkey Hunting Access Program provide opportunities to increase our state's already robust number of public hunting lands.

The Voluntary Public Access program provides financial incentives to private landowners who open their property to public hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife observation. Annual VAP lease rates are determined by land type and agreements are up to six years in length.

The Turkey Hunting Access Program is a pilot program that provides financial incentives to private landowners who allow access on their property to turkey hunters. Spring turkey hunting and scouting are the only activities allowed on THAP properties - lands are open from March 1 - May 29.

More information about turkey hunting and turkey tag availability in Wisconsin is available by searching the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "turkey." For information regarding public access lands, search keywords "VPA" or "THAP." To purchase the Public Access Lands atlas or view its online version, search keyword "PAL."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861; Justin Blindert, VPA & THAP coordinator, 262-224-9884

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Interactive map shows locations of all Wisconsin fish species found in state

MADISON - Anglers and fish enthusiasts alike can now see where their favorite fish species have been found using an interactive Department of Natural Resources research tool that shows results from fish surveys dating as far back as 130 years.

Fish Mapper
Click on image to go to fish mapper website (exit DNR).

The online fish mapping tool lets anyone search the more than 160 fish species found in Wisconsin by either county or habitat types. Data points on the map are pinpointed by GPS coordinates and show the kinds of fish species were found during a given research outing.

"What's great about the fish map tool is you can see the big picture of where different species are found in the state," says John Lyons, fisheries research scientist. "It also lets you zoom in on specific bodies of water so you can see what kinds of fish are found in your favorite local lakes."

The tool offers a fun interactive application for anglers and there is a tutorial video on the fish map website (exit DNR) explaining how to use the map and along with terminology. The fish map tool was created in partnership with the US Geological Survey Center for Integrated Data Analytics and is used by DNR researchers to study long term trends for fish populations in Wisconsin.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: John Lyons, fisheries research scientist, 608- 221-6328 John.Lyons@Wisconsin.gov

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More anglers draining bilge, buckets to slow the spread of invasive species

MADISON - Nearly 10 percent more anglers and boaters took a key step in preventing the spread of invasive species and fish diseases last year than in previous years, spurring state invasive species experts to urge them to keep up the good work in 2014 when the inland fishing season opens May 3.

"Anglers and boaters really stepped up to the plate last year and started draining boat bilges and the containers carrying their day's catch in significantly greater numbers," says Bob Wakeman, who coordinates aquatic invasive species efforts for the Department of Natural Resources. "We're really pleased with the response and hope to see even more boaters and anglers draining their boat bilges, live wells and the containers holding their catch."

Boaters and anglers over the past decade have reported a high awareness of the state law that requires them to remove any attached plants and animals from their boats and equipment before leaving a water body to avoid accidentally spreading aquatic invasive species and fish diseases. However, awareness has been much lower among anglers and other boaters that the smallest invasive species - like microscopic zebra mussel larvae and spiny water fleas - can spread in leftover water from boat bilges, live wells and buckets.

Aquatic invasive species are non-native plants and animals that can harm Wisconsin's aquatic wildlife and economy by outcompeting native species and hampering recreation. The invaders are transported to new lakes and rivers when they hitchhike on boats, trailers, fishing equipment, machinery or other gear.

To raise awareness of draining requirements, DNR and partners launched a statewide "Drain Campaign" last summer. With help from volunteers, wardens, county staff and other partners, Wisconsin anglers heard reminders to drain water from their live wells and buckets on the radio, in newspapers, and from their local natural resources staff.

Thousands of anglers also received complimentary ice packs at the boat launch, since ice is an excellent and legal alternative to water for keeping the day's catch fresh on the drive home. Using ice is not required, but Wisconsin law does require that all water be drained before leaving the landing, with some exceptions for live bait, Wakeman says.

"Our partners helped get the word out quickly, and we also saw boaters and anglers talking to each other about what needs to get done before moving on to another lake," Wakeman says. "We were really pleased with the results and thank boaters for stepping up to the plate."

The extra reminder from the campaign is already yielding some positive results. After just one summer, surveys by watercraft inspectors at boat landings found a 6 percent increase in the number of boaters who report draining water from their catch when they leave the landing, as well as a 9 percent increase in boaters who report draining their bilges.

DNR and partners will again focus this spring and summer on raising awareness of the need to drain boat bilges, live well and containers of water, and will be giving away the ice packs in June at many popular landings, Wakeman says.

Efforts by water users to follow Wisconsin's prevention steps have had a big impact on keeping invasive aquatic species from spreading to inland lakes, Wakeman says. Search by region, county or alphabetical lake now for a listing of lakes and rivers where invasive species have been documented.

University of Wisconsin research shows that of the 15,000 lakes in Wisconsin, about 4,000 are suitable for zebra mussel and state surveys have shown that only 163 lakes are invaded by zebra mussels thus far; spiny water fleas, another potentially damaging species, have only been found in 12 waters, and that more than three-quarters of the lakes with public access surveyed were free of Eurasian water-milfoil, despite its being in Wisconsin for more than 50 years.

"By taking a few extra minutes before leaving a boat landing or shoreline at the end of the day, boaters and anglers are making a big difference," Wakeman says. "Thanks for keeping it up and for keeping Wisconsin fish, lakes and rivers healthy!"

To stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, complete the following steps before traveling away from a waterbody:

  • INSPECT your boat, trailer and equipment
  • REMOVE any attached aquatic plants or animals
  • DRAIN all water from boats, motors and all equipment - including live wells and buckets
  • NEVER MOVE live fish away from a water body.*

*Limited exceptions apply for live bait. Search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "bait laws."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman 262-574-2149

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Study: Wisconsin fish full of beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids

Free cookbook, new videos and more online to help enjoy eating the day's catch

MADISON - Just in time for the opening day of Wisconsin's inland fishing season: new research reveals just how good Wisconsin fish can be for anglers' hearts and brains while a free new online cookbook and new videos aim to help anglers savor the flavor of their catch and maximize the health benefits while minimizing exposure to environmental contaminants that may be in the fish.

"Fishing is a great tradition in Wisconsin and now we know even more about the health benefits of eating sport fish," says Meghan Williams, a Department of Natural Resources toxicologist who works on the fish consumption advisory. "We're also trying to give anglers more interactive, friendly ways to understand the health benefits and minimize the risks of eating the fish they catch."

All of the new materials - plus an online query tool allowing anglers to look up consumption advice for specific lakes -- can be found on by searching the DNR website for keywords "eat your catch."

Trout, salmon, cisco and whitefish tops in omega-3 fatty acids

DNR sent samples of nearly 200 sport fish representing 15 species to the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene and the Minnesota Health Department to be analyzed for several types of fatty acids, including five types of omega-3's. The testing revealed that an 8-ounce serving of all 15 species analyzed will provide the adequate intake level of two fatty acids important in preventing heart diseases and hypertension, and in brain and eye development, Williams says.

"The good news is that Wisconsin sport fish contain high enough concentrations of beneficial fatty acids that you don't need to eat them every day," says Candy Schrank, who coordinates the fish consumption advisory. "In fact, eating one or two meals per month of some species will get the job done. Check the consumption advice that applies to your fishing spot and start enjoying the health benefits."

Read "A Healthy Dose of Flavor," in the April Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine to learn which fish species tested highest for these beneficial fatty acids and get tips on avoiding exposure to mercury and PCBs, two common fish contaminants.

Updated videos now available in English, Spanish and Hmong

Using a grant from the Department of Health Services, a partner in issuing the fish consumption advice, DNR has updated videos about the benefits and concerns of eating fish, and how to use the state's fish consumption advice to choose fish meals high in nutritional benefits and low in environmental contaminants.

The updated "Eating your Catch" video is available in English and translated into Spanish and Hmong versions.

Wisconsin has been testing fish for environmental contaminants since the 1970s and issuing fish consumption advice to help people reduce their exposure to the contaminants while enjoying the good food, health benefits and fun of eating the fish they catch.

Most waters in the state are covered by general statewide advice, while 128 waters carry more specific, stringent advice due to higher contaminant levels in fish from those waters.

Free "Healthy Dishes with Wisconsin Fishes" cookbook now available online

Anglers can start the 2014 fishing season off on a delicious note by trying a new recipe for preparing the fish they catch. DNR's new Healthy Dishes with Wisconsin Fishes cookbook is now available online for downloading.

The cookbook illustrates the wide variety of Wisconsin fish species that can be eaten - gar on the half-shell, anyone? - and features recipes submitted by Wisconsin anglers and chefs. The cookbook also highlights species and recipes that maximize health benefits while reducing health risks of eating fish, and passes along helpful tips for fileting northern pike, suckers and redhorse to remove the "Y" bones.

"We hope the cookbook gives people some new recipes for their fish dishes and provides a fun, interactive way to learn about the health benefits of eating fish and about Wisconsin's fish consumption advisories," Williams says.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Meghan Williams 608- 267-9665 or Candy Schrank, 608- 267-7614

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Deputy Administrator tapped to lead DNR Water Division

MADISON - The Department of Natural Resources has appointed one of its most experienced leaders on water issues to head the agency's Water Division staff. DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp today announced the appointment of Russ Rasmussen as administrator. Rasmussen had served as deputy division administrator since 2011.

Rus Rasmussen
Rus Rasmussen

"I am excited to continue having Russ on our management team and look forward to his input and collaboration," said Stepp. "Having worked in a variety of public and private settings and among different agency programs, Russ brings a unique and much-appreciated perspective to our efforts."

As administrator, Rasmussen will oversee more than 600 professional staff working in drinking and groundwater, fisheries management and surface waters programs across the state.

"It is an exciting opportunity and an honor to be asked by Secretary Stepp and Deputy Secretary Moroney to serve as the administrator of the Water Division," said Rasmussen. "Moving forward, I intend to continue the initiatives started in the division and in the department, including critical projects like e-permitting to help customers more easily navigate our permit system."

Rasmussen brings nearly 40 years of experience to the position, including 16 years in the private sector. He spent the past 22 years working at several state agencies, including the DNR, where he served in a variety of capacities on solid waste, runoff and watershed management issues. Prior to being deputy administrator, Rasmussen served as the Watershed Management Program's director from 2004-2011.

Rasmussen succeeds Ken Johnson, who retired this month after 35 years of government service. Rasmussen begins his new position immediately.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Russ Rasmussen, 608-267-7651

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Prairie du Chien nets DNR brownfield grant to help cleanup property, develop Block 43 Gateway Project

MADISON - The city of Prairie du Chien plans to expand its retail offerings and grow a couple dozen new jobs with the help of a $130,000 brownfields grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR awarded a Ready for Reuse grant to the Redevelopment Authority of Prairie du Chien to clean up a now-vacant lot near the city's north side, known locally as the Block 43 Gateway Project, making way for a new hardware store, garden center and greenhouse.

"The Ready for Reuse grant will enable the city and its business partners to redevelop this key gateway to Prairie du Chien's historic downtown," said Dave Hemmer, mayor of Prairie du Chien.

Beginning in the early 1900s and spanning nearly a century, several commercial and industrial businesses occupied the Block 43 property, including a bulk-oil storage facility, livestock feed manufacturing, construction yard and fertilizer storage. The new hardware store and garden center development will help increase the property value on the land to more than $1 million and, when finished, create more than two dozen jobs.

"DNR staff in the regional and central offices have worked hand in hand with the city to find creative, safe, efficient and effective solutions to turn this contaminated site into a development that will enhance the community and make it an even better place in which to work, live, and visit," Hemmer said. "Without the technical and financial support from DNR, this project would not be possible."

Ready for Reuse grants are federal funds given to communities by the DNR to clean up contaminated properties known as brownfields. To date the department has awarded 23 grants and six loans totaling more than $8 million to 20 communities.

The funds will be used by the city to remove soil from the nearly 1.5 acre lot and cap it off to contain any remaining contaminants - polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and assorted metals.

The grant awarded to the city required Prairie du Chien and the hardware store to provide a combined 23 percent match. Additional funds from the city and a private developer will help with the project.

"These Ready for Reuse dollars help kick start environmental cleanup and economic development all around Wisconsin," said Christine Haag, brownfields specialist for the DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program.

Haag said funding is still available for communities, and interested parties can get more information by searching the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keywords "Ready for Reuse."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Haag, 608-266-0244

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The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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Last Revised: Tuesday, April 22, 2014