MADISON -- Last minute questions from hunters at deer camp and from deer stands day or night is routine. It's all in a day's work for the Department of Natural Resources Call Center. The expanded hours call center - unique among state natural resources agencies - has handled more than 370,000 customer contacts in the last year, one quarter of them at night and on weekends. More than 21,000 customers have also taken advantage of their on-line chat feature so far this year.
The highly trained representatives respond to a wide variety of DNR issues, from clarifying regulations on hunting and fishing to restrictions on firewood transportation. The call center is on pace to receive more than 370,000 calls this year, with more than 20 percent of these coming during nights and weekends. The Call Center's motto, "We're here for you!" Give them a call 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week.
Call Toll-Free 1-888-WDNR INFo (1-888-936-7463)
MADISON - The close of the nine-day gun deer season also signals the opening of the 10-day muzzleloader deer season that runs from Nov. 26 through Dec. 5. The muzzleloader season is statewide with the exception of most state parks. New laws opening state parks to hunting and trapping including deer hunting won't be in effect until after Jan. 1, 2013.
Like the nine-day gun deer season, this year's version of the muzzleloader season opens on the earliest possible calendar date.
"The muzzleloader season is generally far more relaxed and considerably less crowded," said Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. "The gun deer season crowds are gone, so it's a much quieter time in the woods that many hunters find enjoyable and the deer start getting back to their normal movement patterns."
New this year, hunters have the option of using a muzzleloader, a bow and arrow or a crossbow during this season. Muzzleloading firearms are still the only firearms that may be used during the 10-day muzzleloader season.
Following the muzzleloader hunt is a four-day antlerless deer hunt running Dec. 6-9 statewide except in state parks and in Menominee County.
There is also an ongoing gun deer hunting season through Dec. 9 in designated metropolitan, or metro, units due to higher deer populations near some urban areas. Check the current deer hunting regulations for details.
Late archery deer season and small game seasons are still in play during the muzzleloader and late antlerless gun deer seasons which means archers and small game hunters must follow blaze orange clothing requirements through Dec. 9. Waterfowl hunters are exempt from the blaze orange requirements.
DNR License sales officials say there are unit-specific antlerless deer tags still available for some regular units for $12 each. Antlerless deer tags for units designated as Herd Control units are also still available for $2 each.
Visit the DNR web site at dnr.wi.gov and search for "deer hunting" for details on license requirements, permit availability, bag limits and harvest rules. For additional questions call the toll free 1-888-WDNR-INFo (888-936-7463) line for answers. The line is staffed 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days per week
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, 608-261-7589
MADISON - With the opening of Wisconsin's nine-day gun deer hunting season on Saturday Nov. 17, state wildlife officials are encouraging hunters to record their wildlife observations to help better track population changes and improve management decisions.
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is a great opportunity for hunters to let the Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists know what they are or are not seeing while deer hunting. The easy-to-do survey has hunters recording their deer and other wildlife observations while in the field and then reporting those observations later through an online form.
In the first two months of the survey, deer hunters have recorded more than 1,809 observations. Hunters have recorded 840 bucks, 1,517 does, 1,136 fawns, and 412 unknowns. Deer seen per hour varies widely by region, with the high being the Eastern Farmland (0.85 deer per hour) and the low being the Northern Forest (0.42 deer per hour). Turkeys, raccoons, and ruffed grouse are the next most commonly seen animals while hunting.
To access the survey webpage, search for "deer hunter survey" on the DNR website dnr.wi.gov. Hunters can print a tally sheet to keep track of their observations and then enter them online through January 2013. Individuals that provide their email address - which must be provided at the bottom of every form submitted - will receive a personalized summary of their 2012 deer hunting season. Hunters can also view results of previous years on the deer hunt survey page.
Hunters can also send in trail camera photos and access a trail camera gallery through the deer hunter wildlife survey page. Take a moment to view some of the photos or watch a video. Check back often, the site is updated as soon as new photos are sent in.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey - 608-221-6342 or Jes Rees, 608-221-6360.
FITCHBURG, Wis. -Hunters are reminded that free chronic wasting disease testing services are available at registration stations within the designated CWD monitoring areas and in selected areas where voluntary surveillance is occurring.
"Monitoring the occurrence and spread of CWD is an important wildlife management objective. Three CWD monitoring areas [PDF] will have mandatory sampling in 2012. Two areas are at the fringes of the CWD Management Zone and one is in the core area centered near the Dane-Iowa county line," said DNR wildlife supervisor Eric Lobner.
For maps and a list of registration stations go to the DNR website dnr.wi.gov and search for "CWD sampling." Many of the listed stations are also drop-off points for the venison donation program. Hours may vary at some locations so calling ahead is recommended.
Additional opening weekend sampling services
Additional sampling services will be provided by DNR wildlife management staff on opening weekend - Nov. 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day at the following locations.
All deer killed in the CWD management zone must be registered within the unit of kill or an adjacent unit within the CWD management zone. All deer killed within the CWD management zone must be registered no later than 5 p.m. on the third day after harvest or by 5 p.m. on the day after the close of the season, whichever is earlier.
Hunters who will be transporting their deer out of the CWD management zone are reminded that whole deer carcasses and certain restricted parts - brain, spinal cord and lymphoid tissue - can only be transported to other areas of the state if they are taken to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 72 hours of registration.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Lobner, Wildlife Supervisor, 608-235-0860
Or Bob Manwell, DNR Office of Communications - 608-275-3317
MADISON -- A new waterway and wetland general permit that streamlines the permitting process for local governments to construct, reconstruct or maintain highways, bridges, and culverts is now in effect, state officials say.
This statewide general permit -- or "GP"-- combines DNR wetland and waterway regulations into a simpler permit review process for municipalities for small highway and bridge projects. Projects involving unavoidable wetland fill of up to 10,000 square feet of wetland -- just under one-quarter of an acre - receive coverage under the general permit if the project meets the standards and conditions in the general permit, according to Maureen Millmann, Department of Natural Resources Transportation Liaison.
"This general permit simplifies the process for municipalities and assures they'll get an answer within 30 days on whether their permit meets the standards and has been approved," Millmann says.
Dave Siebert, director of DNR's Bureau of Environmental Analysis, says the new general permit is the second of what will eventually be several general permits DNR will issue as a result of changes to state wetland laws effective July 1, and waterway laws effective Aug. 1.
The general permit sets forth the specific standards and steps that local government must address in designing small highway and bridge projects to protect the environment while meeting public transportation needs, Siebert says. "Our goal is to have a permit process that recognizes the unique nature of these public projects."
Each general permit identifies the location, design, and construction standards and other conditions any project must meet to qualify for the general permit, and to ensure that minimal environmental effects occur. The general permit is valid statewide for five years. When property owners apply for coverage under the general permit, DNR is required to issue a decision within 30 days.
Projects that involve more than 10,000 square feet of wetland fill or do not meet the GP standards and conditions continue to require an individual permit, which has a longer process time, greater level of environmental review, and requires wetland mitigation to offset the impacts of the wetland fill.
A copy of the statewide wetland general permit, application materials and instructions on how to apply are available by searching the DNR website for keyword transportation and clicking on the "permit" tab.
Information on the value and importance of wetlands can be found by searching the DNR website for keyword "wetland."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Maureen Millmann (414)263-8613 or Dave Siebert (608) 264-6048
MADISON - With much of Wisconsin still experiencing drought conditions, some wetlands are less obvious than ever so state wetland officials are encouraging developers and municipalities to check first before proceeding with their projects, and farmers before expanding their cropland, to avoid harming protected wetlands.
"Because the drought makes it even more difficult to recognize some wetlands, we encourage developers, farmers and others pursuing projects to take some easy steps to make sure they are not accidentally encroaching into wetlands protected by state and federal law," says Cami Peterson, wetland policy coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.
"Getting in touch with us before starting a project or expanding cropland can help protect wetlands and save folks trouble and cost down the line."
Wetlands can be found in wooded areas and pastures but may appear drier in the fall, particularly because of this year's extreme drought, Peterson says. With such wetlands being less obvious, they are more vulnerable, Peterson says.
"All wetlands are protected by law because they provide habitat, clean water, flood storage and recreation," she says. "We want to work early on with people so we try to get their project done in a way that avoids impacting wetlands."
Filling, ditching, subsurface tiling, land leveling, clearing woody vegetation or diverting run-off water from a wetland may be regulated under state and federal wetland regulations. Conducting these activities improperly or without necessary permits may result in the property owner paying to restore wetlands, a potentially costly endeavor.
In addition to proactively calling the DNR water management specialist for the county [PDF], people are encouraged to review DNR's interactive maps that show potential wetlands, watch a video showing physical clues that wetlands may be present on land when it isn't obvious, and complete a short checklist with those same physical clues. These materials are available on the DNR website by searching for "Locating Wetlands."
Wisconsin has more than a dozen different types of wetlands, some of which may be dry for most or all of the year. These drier wetland types - like seasonal or "ephemeral" wetlands that appear usually in spring or fall during heavy rains or after snowmelt - are crucial as nurseries for frogs, salamanders and insects and as rest and feeding areas for waterfowl, Peterson says.
Information on the value and importance of wetlands can be found by searching the DNR website for keyword "wetland."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Cami Peterson (608) 261-6400; Liesa Lehmann (608) 264-8554
MADISON - Wisconsin's Great Lakes photo contest is now accepting entries. This year there's a new category to highlight the businesses and industries that rely on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
Winning photos will be featured in the Wisconsin's Great Lakes 2013-2014 calendar distributed at the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis.
This wintry photo taken in Ephraim won first place in the cultural and historic features category of DNR's Great Lakes photo contest last year.
Roy Radosevich photo
"We've been overwhelmed by the response to our annual contest this past year. Now we're especially excited about our new category, Wisconsin's Working Lakes," says Steve Galarneau, who leads the Department of Natural Resources' Office of the Great Lakes. "Lake Superior and Lake Michigan are critical resources for many Wisconsin businesses and industries, and we look forward to entries that reflect their important economic role."
Photos of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior as well as their tributaries, wetlands and harbor towns are eligible, with all submissions due by Feb. 1, 2013. Photos in all seasons are needed and will be accepted in the following categories: Natural Features and Wildlife; Cultural and Historic Features; People Enjoying Wisconsin's Great Lakes; and Lake Protection Activities, and the new category, Wisconsin's Working Lakes, according to Jo Temte, the Great Lakes specialist coordinating the contest.
The Office of the Great Lakes is also accepting writings about Lake Superior or Lake Michigan. Statements, short essays, stories, poems and songs can be submitted to the Office of the Great Lakes. Photos and writings may be used in the calendar and other Great Lakes publications as well as on the DNR's website and in displays and presentations.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jo Temte, 608-267-0555
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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