MADISON - Early winter surveillance of 15 caves revealed that two bats in a single Dane County cave tested positive for genetic markers of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome.
Swabs taken from two eastern pipistrelles from a single site in November 2014 tested positive for the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), which causes white-nose syndrome in hibernating bats. This find represents both a new county and a new bat species infected with Pd in Wisconsin. The site where Pd was detected was not Cave of the Mounds, a popular show cave located in Dane County.
"The upper Midwestern states, including Wisconsin, are the last remaining stronghold for the hibernating bats that are susceptible to white-nose syndrome. While researchers continue to work to find an effective treatment for the disease, it is critical that we do all we can to slow the spread of the fungus," said Owen Boyle, DNR species management section chief. "The recent findings reinforce the need for individuals who visit caves or mines to remain vigilant in properly decontaminating items and clothing to ensure the fungus isn't inadvertently spread by people."
Despite the detection of the fungus, there are currently no observed clinical or field signs of white-nose syndrome at the collection site. Bat surveillance crews will return to the cave in March to look for signs of white-nose syndrome. Final results of this hibernation season's surveillance and monitoring will be available later this spring.
White-nose syndrome was first detected in Wisconsin in a Grant County mine in March of 2014, when results from visual inspection and genetic and tissue tests showed that 2 percent of bats in the single site had the disease.
White-nose syndrome is a deadly bat disease that causes hibernating bats to frequently wake, depleting their energy and causing them to starve and dehydrate or die of exposure before the end of winter. The infection does not affect people or other animal species. According to Boyle, the best way to reduce stress and mortality on these sensitive populations is to avoid disturbing bats during hibernation.
Cave and mine owners, advisory groups and hibernacula landowners were notified by DNR of the early winter surveillance findings. Efforts to control the human-assisted transmission of the fungus remain in place, including strict decontamination for researchers and DNR personnel and screening of commercial cave and mine visitors. Every hibernaculum owner who allows visitors to their site has a white-nose syndrome prevention plan in place.
The DNR has been actively exploring effective management strategies and continues to monitor bat populations and conduct research to fill information gaps. Through two citizen-based monitoring projects, volunteers are helping to gather crucial data on bat population trends.
Wisconsin citizens can help by continuing to avoid disturbing bats, especially during hibernation; by following all decontamination requirements for those who enter caves or mines and by continuing to volunteer to monitor bat populations in Wisconsin.
People who see sick or dead bats, especially between October and March, are encouraged to report them to DNR. Citizens can find the reporting form and instructions for how to safely collect carcasses of dead bats on DNR's Wisconsin Bat Program website.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Owen Boyle, DNR species management section chief, 608-266-5244
MADISON - The 2015 spring turkey permit drawing has ended, and 134,257 successful applicants will receive spring wild turkey permits.
A total of 237,768 permits have been made available for the spring 2015 turkey season - remaining permits will be available through over-the-counter sales beginning March 23.
Postcard notifications have been sent to successful applicants, and should arrive within the next few weeks. Hunters can check permit application status online through the Department of Natural Resource's Online Licensing Center, or by calling the DNR Customer Call Center from 7 a.m. through 10 p.m., seven days a week, at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463).
The spring 2015 turkey hunt will run from April 15 to May 26, with six seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday. A total of seven zones and Fort McCoy will be open for hunting.
New in 2015, Wisconsin's state park turkey hunting zones have been eliminated. Hunters are no longer able to apply for spring turkey permits in any of the previous state park hunting zones. State parks will remain open to spring turkey hunting during the first three time periods only, and have been absorbed into the surrounding turkey management zones. For example, a hunter wishing to hunt within Governor Dodge State Park, previously Zone 1A, may still do so with a Zone 1 permit. For more information regarding hunting within state parks is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "hunting state parks."
Hunters are reminded that the Fort McCoy spring turkey hunting season is managed separately from the State of Wisconsin spring turkey hunt. Hunters who do not receive an approval to hunt turkeys through the state drawing in a Wisconsin turkey hunting zone for the 2015 spring season are eligible to apply for a spring permit at Fort McCoy. Applications can be obtained from Fort McCoy by calling 608-388-3337 or online at www.mccoy.army.mil [exit DNR].
The 103,516 remaining permits for the 2015 spring turkey hunting season will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting Monday, March 23 at 10 a.m. Leftover permits will be first issued for sale by zone, one zone per day - each zone will have a designated sales date.
The following zones have leftover permits, and scheduled sales dates are as follows:
After zone-only sales, all remaining turkey tags will be available for purchase Saturday, March 28. Extra tags may be purchased at a rate of one per day until the zone and time period sells out or the season ends.
The fee for leftover turkey permits is $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents, and each will have equal opportunity to purchase over-the-counter permits. All hunters will be required to purchase a spring turkey license and 2015 Wild Turkey Stamp, unless they have previously purchased the license and stamp or a 2015 Conservation Patron License. Purchasing permits will not affect preference point status for future spring or fall turkey permit drawings.
Leftover permits can be purchased through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, 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), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).
Youth hunters ages 12-15 who have completed hunter education and are accompanied by an adult age 18 or older are encouraged to participate in this year's Youth Turkey Hunt April 11- 12.
In addition, thanks to the Mentored Hunting Program that took effect in the fall of 2009, youth hunters aged 10 and 11 may now also participate in the 2015 youth turkey hunt without first having completed hunter education, as long as they do so with a qualified adult mentor and follow the rules laid out under the laws of the program. Each youth hunter must have a valid spring 2015 turkey harvest permit, license, and Wild Turkey Stamp. Youth may hunt in the Turkey Management Zone for which their permit is valid, regardless of the time period for which their permit is issued, and may harvest only one male or bearded turkey during the two-day youth hunt.
Youth hunters who do not successfully harvest a turkey during the April 11-12 hunt may use their unfilled permit during the time period and in the zone for which the permit was issued. All other spring turkey hunting regulations apply.
A limited number of Turkey Hunter Education Clinics are being offered this spring in southeastern Wisconsin. For more information regarding these clinics and general turkey hunting information, search keywords "turkey clinics" and "turkey" respectively.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist: (608) 267-7861; Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458
People can complete an input form by searching the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "deer." The form will remain open for public comment through midnight Feb. 1.
New regulations and programs, including the Deer Management Assistance Program, were set up under an emergency rule in 2014, and now a follow-up permanent rule package is necessary for the 2015 hunting seasons and beyond.
While the public input form provides an opportunity to submit feedback online, nine public hearings will also be held throughout Wisconsin over the next week. Hearing dates and locations are as follows - each will run from 6-8 p.m.:
Tuesday, Jan. 20
Wednesday, Jan. 21
Thursday, Jan. 22
Monday, Jan. 26
Tuesday, Jan. 27
The Natural Resources Board will consider feedback submitted online, along with comments from January public hearings, when making its final decision on the proposed permanent rule package on Feb. 25. If approved, the rule package will advance to the state legislature for final review.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Loomans, regulations specialist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 608-267-2452
MADISON - Wisconsin is the birthplace of modern wildlife management and people interested learning more about the that historical legacy and how recreational hunting plays a part in conservation can participate in an upcoming online course and accompanying activities related to hunting, eating and preparing local foods, and conservation.
"The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold and Conservation" (exit DNR) is a part of a University of Wisconsin-Madison series called Massive Open Online Courses. This course is being co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Aldo Leopold Foundation.
The four-week online course begins January 26, 2015 and will focus on the historical legacy of wildlife management and recreational hunting as a part of conservation, the role of wildlife in ecosystems, the importance of ethics in guiding management decisions and hunter choices, and the politics and economics of controversies surrounding game and non-game management, hunting, and conservation.
"Anyone interested in learning about this topic whether they are active hunters, hunting-curious, fans of local food, or simply nature enthusiasts are welcome to participate in this course," said Kelly Maynard, assistant DNR hunting and shooting sport coordinator.
Participants can sign up for the free online course and watch educational videos, participate in discussion forums, read articles, and take quizzes or complete educational activities. They can participate in the course from wherever they located and at anytime, as long as they have an Internet connection.
The course is being run in conjunction with two local "From Hunt to Harvest," events. On Saturday February 21 DNR staff will be facilitating a Learn to Hunt pheasant program for new adult hunters at the Pine Island State Wildlife Area near Portage. Preregistration is required and limited to 20 participants.
On Sunday, February 22 the Leopold Foundation will host a full day of free activities, including a deer butchering class and wild game cooking demo, guest speakers, hands-on activities, information tables, and more. The Foundation is located between Baraboo and Portage. Pre-registration is required for some of the activities.
People can register for the "From Hunt to Harvest" events on the UW-Madison website at go.wisc.edu/rkr3sl.
More information and registration is available on the UW-Madison Massive Open Online Courses website at moocs.wisc.edu (both links exit DNR) and look under events.
MADISON -- In a continuing effort to reach out to Wisconsin residents, businesses and groups, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has launched a company LinkedIn page as well as three showcase pages.
"We are very excited to be opening up this additional line of communication and outreach," said Trish Nitschke, DNR social media and outreach coordinator. "LinkedIn provides a unique opportunity for us to share information about upcoming events, job postings and behind-the-scenes stories of the work being done in cooperation with the public at DNR."
The main DNR LinkedIn page will feature posts relevant to virtually everyone in the state and list some job positions open at DNR. Additionally, there are three showcase pages which contain more specific information about various topic areas:
In addition to LinkedIn, DNR can also be found on Facebook www.facebook.com/WIDNR, Twitter twitter.com/wdnr, YouTube youtube.com/WIDNRTV, Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/widnr and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/wdnr.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Trish Nitschke, 920-360-3252
EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to reflect snowmobile fatalities in Wisconsin for the winter of 2014-15 have now risen to seven, with the death of an individual who died from injuries sustained in a snowmobile incident several days ago.
MADISON - Minimal snowfall in the southern third of Wisconsin has snowmobilers heading north to popular trails where officials remind operators snowmobiles are like cars in that following too close may have unintended consequences.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Snowmobile Administrator Gary Eddy says two of this snowmobile season's seven fatalities occurred after the individual fell off the snowmobile and was struck by a following snowmobile.
The Wisconsin Snowmobile Education Course states traveling 15 miles per hour may require a reaction distance of more than 50 feet and a braking distance to close to 100 feet. A snowmobile operator traveling 60 mph may need about 260 feet of reaction time and another 300 feet to brake taking the total distance needed to just under 600 feet.
Eddy says these calculations will change with other factors such as vehicle condition, trail conditions, amount of light and operator condition.
Another factor so far this year may be trail congestion in a small strip of northern Wisconsin where sufficient snow fall has allowed trails to open.
"Trail conditions can deteriorate or become icy, especially in corners or at road crossings. The trails can become more congested and passing oncoming snowmobiles occurs more frequently," Eddy says.
Frozen waterways require snowmobiler safety awareness
Snowmobilers in other parts of the state may choose to take to the frozen waterways which bring its own set of hazards. Lack of adequate snow on the ice affects steering, braking and overall control. Some lakes and rivers may have open or notoriously bad spots for ice.
Riders should use a high degree of caution while traveling on the ice and should always check ice conditions with local law enforcement or bait shops. Carry or wear a personal flotation device, always ride with a companion and refrain from riding at night.
Eddy makes the following recommendations to help everyone have a safe and enjoyable time on the trails:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Eddy, 608-245-2315
MADISON -- Thirty-two communities, nonprofit groups and counties will share $483,747 in 2015 state grant dollars to promote and sustain urban forest resources in Wisconsin.
The Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry Grant program funds projects that align with state and national goals for increasing urban forest canopy and its benefits. "The 2015 grants will fund tree inventories and assessments, management plans, urban forest restoration projects, staff training, public education, urban wood utilization and other urban forestry efforts," said Suzann DaWalt, DNR urban forestry financing specialist.
DNR forestry officials encouraged communities to apply for grants to bolster their planning efforts to manage emerald ash borer and its impact on ash trees in their community. Wisconsin has approximately 5.2 million ash trees in cities, villages and urban towns. All are at heightened risk since the insect was confirmed in Wisconsin in 2008; a total of 37 counties are now quarantined. Grant awards help communities conduct tree inventories and develop emerald ash borer preparedness plans, as well as increase species diversity to reduce impact of future tree diseases or insect infestations.
The grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, and grant recipients must match each grant dollar for dollar. A startup grant of up to $5,000 is available for communities that want to start, or restart, a community forestry program. Of the 32 communities selected for 2015 Urban Forestry grants, eight are for startup grants.
To view the list of selected grant recipients, or for more information about the DNR Urban Forestry Grant program, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "UF Grant", or contact Suzann DaWalt, Urban Forestry Financing Specialist, at 715-453-2188 ext. 1267 or Suzann.DaWalt@wi.gov.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Suzann DaWalt, Urban Forestry Financing Specialist, at 715-453-2188 ext. 1267
MADISON - Winter is the time for anyone hoping to conduct a Learn to Hunt Turkey event for novice adults and families who want to learn to hunt this spring to begin planning their event, according to state wildlife officials.
"Many adults interested in hunting did not come from hunting families," said Keith Warnke, Department of Natural Resources hunting and shooting sport coordinator. "But they may not know where to get started. Learn to Hunt events are a great way for them to learn in a controlled environment with an experienced mentor."
In recent years, Warnke has noticed more and more adults and women making up a larger and larger percentage of new hunters. "The face of hunting and conservation is changing," he says, "to be effective at stopping the decline in hunters, we need to refocus our programs to serve growing demand."
Most Learn to Hunt turkey events are held in late March or early April. However, they may be held any time before, during, or after the six spring turkey hunting periods.
With Learn to Hunt forms now online, individuals and sporting clubs hosting these events can direct their efforts toward finding productive turkey hunting land and selecting quality mentors.
The procedure for hosting a Learn to Hunt event is simple.
After selecting a site, sponsors submit a completed application to the local wildlife biologist and instruct potential mentors to complete a mentor application. Make sure to have a certified Hunters Education Instructor present at the event. And don't forget to apply for reimbursement of $25 per participant.
The DNR will post Learn to Hunt events on its website and on the Hunter's Network Facebook page.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke 608-576 5243; John Motoviloff 608-266-8597 or Kelly Maynard, 608-267-7438.
MADISON -- Outdoors fans who eat local, take care of matters themselves but don't have a background in hunting, can sign up to take a Learn to Hunt for Food program.
Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sports coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, who has been teaching the course since 2012, says more adults are finding their way to his course through their passions for local food, sustainable living and a connection to nature.
"Most of these students don't come from hunting families," Warnke says. "We start at the very beginning and show them everything. The course is really a soup to nuts kind of thing."
Warnke says that while food classes typically have a higher percentage of women students, "our classes are about half-and-half men and women. When you consider the population of hunters, women make up about 10 percent."
Classes typically meet every week for about a month. Students begin by learning about conservation history and how the North American conservation model is unique. Next is basic biology and habitat. Types of hunting land -- public, private, and special categories like Managed Forest Crop land -- scouting, and shot placement also are covered.
Students learn the importance of waiting for a clean shot and how to track wounded game. They explore "fair chase" and other concepts.
"Hunting is an excellent way to bring local, high-quality and great-tasting meat to the table," Warnke says. "And who doesn't like that?"
An added benefit of the course -- especially since many students are self-described "foodies" -- are wild foods brought to class by the instructors, who are themselves avid hunters and often excellent game cooks.
"It's a wild game potluck," course instructor and cookbook author John Motoviloff says. "Venison, dove, duck, small game, wild rice, fried bluegill. It all depends what we have on hand. Next class, I'm going to try my hand at making turtle soup."
Students learn to clean game, handle firearms and visit a shooting range for live-fire practice. Students also have the option of earning their Hunter Safety certificate.
The class culminates in a guided hunt led by an experienced mentor. Since the DNR has the authority to conduct hunts outside the normal season framework, chances of hunter success are improved.
Mentors and students meet the night before the hunt at deer camp or turkey camp sites. Everyone enjoys a meal and plans the next day's hunt.
Learn to Hunt Events have proven popular in cities like Madison, La Crosse, Stevens Point, Wausau, and the Twin Cities - and in the rural areas.
Warnke says no matter where someone lives in Wisconsin, enjoying good food and caring about the natural resources are shared traditions.
Wisconsin is among a growing number of states offering such programs. Learn to Hunt for Food--or similar programs--are also being offered in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota, and several more states. These new Learn to Hunt for Food programs differ from traditional, kid-focused Learn to Hunt programs in a number of ways.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, 608-576 5243; John Motoviloff, 608-266 8597; Kelly Maynard, 608-267 7438.
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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