MADISON - Hunters registered just more than 4,400 black bears during the 2012 black bear season in Wisconsin, which state wildlife officials say is the second highest number on record. Hunters registered 5,133 bears in 2010 and 4,257 in 2011.
Wisconsin is known throughout the country as having both large bear as well as an abundant population that lives primarily in the northern third and central forest area of the state, according to Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.
"In recent years, bear have become more common throughout the state including many central and southern counties. We had a bear reported as far south as Green County this year, and we're hearing of more bear living year-round in many central counties," he says.
Bear hunters have until midnight on Dec. 10 to apply for a harvest permit for the 2013 hunting season, or preference point for future years. The number of permits available for the 2013 black bear hunt has not yet been determined.
"We are currently looking at information from the 2011 and 2012 hunts, and will present our recommended harvest levels to the Natural Resources Board in January," Wallenfang says.
The DNR, with the help of volunteers from the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and other cooperators, has been conducting research to better estimate the number of bear in the state. A similar study done in 2006 showed significantly more than previously estimated, so harvest quotas and permits were increased.
"We are likely now to the point where we will need to consider backing off on permit levels in some areas this year," Wallenfang said.
Wisconsin's bear harvest permits are strictly limited, and hunters must apply for several years before receiving a permit.
"We had more than 104,000 applications for just over 9,000 permits last year," Wallenfang says. The wait time to receive a permit varies by management zone and has been running between four and nine years, and could increase if harvest quotas are reduced.
Hunters are reminded that in order to retain their accumulated preference points, they must apply at least once during any three consecutive year period or they will lose all previously accumulated preference points. If a zone is selected at the time of purchase and the hunter is selected in the February drawing, their preference points will be reset to zero, even if they do not purchase the harvest permit. Winners in the drawing will be notified by mail shortly after the drawing and may purchase their 2013 Class A bear license beginning March 6.
The 2013 bear season begins Sept. 4 and runs through Oct. 8 with hound hunters starting first in most zones.
Applications for the permit drawing cost $3 and may 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). Applications postmarked after the December 10th deadline, or those which have been filled out incorrectly, will not be considered for the drawings. Hunters can check their preference point status by visiting the Online Licensing Center, by calling Customer Service & Licensing toll-free at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463), or by contacting a local DNR Service Center.
For more information search for keyword "bear" on the DNR website.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, big game specialist, 608- 261-7589 or Scott Roepke, assistant big game specialist, 608-261-7588
EDITOR'S NOTE This news release has been updated to include the following informaiton: This year, spring turkey applicants will need to provide their preferred zone and time period at time of application. If applying as a group, applicants will need to provide the group leader's customer ID number at time of application as well.
MADISON - Turkey hunters can probably look forward to a slight increase in permit levels for the 2013 Wisconsin spring turkey season, although final permit levels will not be set until after the close of the fall turkey season, according to state wildlife officials.
Wild turkey hunters have until close of business on Dec. 10 to apply for available permits for the 2013 Wisconsin spring turkey hunting season.
The 2013 spring turkey season officially begins with the April 6-7 Spring Youth Turkey Hunt. The regular turkey season begins on the following Wednesday, April 10 and consists of six 7-day time periods, ending on May 21. The drawing for permits will take place in late January or early February. Successful permit applicants can expect to receive a postcard by mid-February. All applicants may also check their drawing status online through the DNR Online Licensing Center starting in mid-February.
This year, spring turkey applicants will need to provide their preferred zone and time period at time of application. If applying as a group, applicants will need to provide the group leader's customer ID number at time of application as well.
Permit winners can purchase their spring turkey license when the 2013 license year begins on March 6. Permits are $15 for Wisconsin residents and $60 for non-residents plus a 2013 Wild Turkey Stamp ($5.25). First time buyers may qualify for reduced license costs. Conservation patrons and senior citizen recreation card holders do not need to purchase a turkey license or stamp when they go to pick up their permit.
Permits remaining after the initial drawing for the 2013 spring turkey season will be available for purchase in late March, at a date to be specified later.
In conjunction with the Mentored Hunting Program, the April 6-7 Spring Youth Turkey Hunt is open to youth 10-15 years of age, both residents and non-residents, with or without a Hunter Education Certificate of Accomplishment. Search for Mentored Hunting Program on the DNR website for special rules and regulations for those participating.
A spring turkey license, stamp, and valid permit/carcass tag are required for the youth hunt and all other existing turkey hunting rules and regulations apply. See the 2012 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations, which includes the 2013 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations [PDF], for details. Youth hunters who do not harvest a turkey during the youth hunt may use their unfilled permit during the zone and time period for which the tag was issued. Interested participants in the youth hunt should apply for a spring turkey permit by the Dec. 10 deadline.
Applications for spring turkey permit drawing cost $3 and may 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). Applications postmarked after the Dec. 10 deadline, or those which have been filled out incorrectly, will not be considered for the drawings.
As a reminder to those hunters with disabilities who wish to hunt turkey next spring on private lands, there is an opportunity available using a separate application and authorization form.
Applications to conduct a Spring Wild Turkey Hunt for People with Disabilities on private land must be submitted using DNR Forms 2300-271 and 2300-271A. Forms need to be submitted by Dec. 10 to the local DNR Wildlife Biologist or department office for the county within which the hunt will take place. Please note that any hunter applicant who applies for a disabled turkey hunt on private lands using the above forms may NOT also apply for a permit through the regular spring turkey drawing.
More information is available on the wild turkey page of the DNR website. Hunters can also sign up to receive turkey information and other updates through the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov by clicking on the "Subscribe to DNR Updates" button in the footer of each page.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Scott Walter, upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861 or Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458
MADISON - Anglers and others interested in how the state allocates chinook for stocking at Lake Michigan ports are invited to join DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp for a Dec. 1 meeting to learn how the decision has been made in the past and provide input on how it should be done in 2013, the first year stocking adjustments are in effect lake-wide.
"We've agreed with other states around Lake Michigan to adjust stocking levels to assure that great fishing continues well into the future," Stepp says. "I want to hear from anglers and work with them to distribute Wisconsin fish in a way that's fair and supports the great fishing so important to so many Lake Michigan communities."
The meeting begins at 10 a.m. Dec. 1 in the Lake Michigan Room at Lakeshore Technical College, 1290 North Ave., Cleveland. The allocation discussion is the first topic in a multi-part meeting of the Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum, which includes representatives from various Lake Michigan fishing interests facilitated by UW-Sea Grant.
Starting in 1986, DNR has used a stocking allocation formula that results in a roughly equal distribution of fish between southern and northern Lake Michigan ports, says Brad Eggold, DNR fisheries supervisor for southern Lake Michigan.
"That model was updated in 1990 and used to allocate fish when we have made lake-wide adjustments in stocking," Eggold says. "We have made adjustments in chinook salmon stocking levels before, most notably in 1992, 1998 and 2006. The model has worked very well to achieve a fair distribution and great fishing."
The key to Lake Michigan fishing is a balance between predator fish like chinook and prey fish like alewives, the exotic, invasive fish species that chinook were first stocked in Wisconsin to control starting in the 1960s, Eggold says.
During the Dec. 1 meeting, DNR staff will explain the stocking allocation model used in the past and also provide information to answer some of the questions about distribution of fish that Wisconsin anglers raised in public meetings and hearings last summer on the lake-wide stocking adjustment.
For instance, some anglers have suggested distributing fish to the ports based on the sales of Great Lakes Trout and Salmon stamps or two-day Great Lakes fishing licenses. Anglers who fish for Lake Michigan trout and salmon must buy a stamp in addition to their annual fishing license or can buy two-day Great Lakes fishing licenses.
Anglers have also asked whether DNR could stock fewer fish at Strawberry Creek, where DNR has its main egg collection station for chinook. By stocking more fish elsewhere, those fish are more likely to return to streams other than Strawberry Creek and be available to anglers for fall fishing.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold, 414-382-7921; David Boyarski, 920-746-2865; Mike Staggs, 608-267-0796; Randy Schumacher, 262-894-3006.
STURGEON BAY, Wis. - Stainless steel tags smaller than a pencil lead and the "Dr. Seussian" machine that can implant them in 8,000 fish per hour are unlocking the secrets of chinook in Lake Michigan, the biggest predator on the big pond.
A new fish tagging project is showing that stocked chinook swim all over Lake Michigan and those caught in Wisconsin waters are just as likely to have originated in Michigan hatcheries.
Loaded with information about where and when each fish was hatched, the tags are already showing that chinook caught by anglers in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan were just as likely to come from Michigan as from Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists recovered hundreds of coded wire tags from angler-caught chinook from Wisconsin ports during the summer of 2012.
"Our preliminary analysis indicates that about 41 percent of these stocked and tagged chinook originated from Wisconsin stocking sites and 34 percent originated from Michigan DNR stocking sites on Lake Michigan," says to Nick Legler, the lead DNR fisheries biologist working on the project.
"Another 9 percent originated from Michigan DNR's Lake Huron stocking sites, 11 percent originated from Illinois, and 5 percent originated from Indiana," Legler says. "These tag returns will give us a much better understanding of how much of that mixing is occurring."
Legler cautions that it's important to remember that the information biologists have so far is based on a few years' tag returns. "We expect much better information once we have four to five year-classes tagged and those returns analyzed."
Importantly, the tags will also eventually help better document just how many fish are naturally reproduced and how many come from hatcheries. That's a key question because in the 1960s, when Wisconsin and other states first began stocking chinook to control alewives, an exotic fish, 100 percent of the chinook caught in the lake by anglers were from hatcheries, Legler says.
In more recent decades, natural reproduction has come on strong in Michigan tributaries and a study started in 2006 and continuing in 2012 suggests that on average 55 percent of the 1-year-old fish in the lake were naturally reproduced.
"The key to a healthy fishery in Lake Michigan, which has a pretty disrupted ecosystem, is balancing predator fish like chinook with prey fish," Legler says. "If more fish are being naturally reproduced, we need to take that into account when we stock."
The states and Michigan tribes with management responsibilities on Lake Michigan recently agreed to adjust stocking starting in 2013 to offset the increased number of naturally reproduced chinook and low levels of prey fish.
More of these tag returns and the information they provide are expected in coming years because the tagging machines, brought to Lake Michigan hatcheries by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service starting a few years ago, will continue to mark all hatchery-raised chinook salmon.
Those fish are now becoming big enough where they can be caught by anglers or are making their spawning runs up the tributaries where DNR and other states collect eggs.
Legler says that tags from chinook making their spawning runs up Lake Michigan streams will enable DNR and partners to know whether most of the fish stocked in Wisconsin return to the water in which they were stocked, or whether they stray from that site. This winter, DNR and USFWS biologists also will be analyzing tag returns in chinook processed at DNR's Strawberry Creek egg collecting facility. More than 800 chinook heads were collected for analysis at that facility, as well as at DNR egg collection facilities in Kewaunee and Racine.
"The tags that we collect from our spawning facilities during the fall will allow us to learn more about straying rates," Legler says. "They also can allow us to determine the exact age of a marked fish, and we can then compare each fish's age to its weight to evaluate growth rates, ecosystem predator-prey balance, etc. "In the future, Legler expects DNR will ask anglers who harvest chinook in the fall during the salmon runs on the tributaries to donate chinook heads to DNR for analysis of the tags in the fish.
"By collecting heads from anglers during the fall, we hope that we'll be able to acquire data that will help us to determine when and where mature salmon begin staging, before the fall spawning event."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Nick Legler, 920-746-5112
MADISON - The boom in Wisconsin frac sand mining is driving additional demand for exploratory drilling around the state, and this is elevating the potential for serious groundwater contamination.
Groundwater and enforcement specialists with the state Department of Natural Resources are aware of several cases in which boreholes drilled by landowners and others have not been sealed or sealed properly. This creates a direct pathway for potential contaminants to reach groundwater resources.
"There are landowners and drillers out there who take the time to understand state law and do the work properly," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Our concern is with a smaller number of irresponsible parties who threaten our groundwater resources. We need individuals searching for sand deposits to do it responsibly."
If a landowner authorizes drilling, Stepp said, the landowner should ask the driller to properly seal the bore hole.
The DNR is reminding individuals involved in sand drilling that state law requires the proper abandonment of all boreholes or drill holes exceeding 10 feet in depth or any borehole that intersects groundwater.
This message is affirmed by the newly formed Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association - whose members include U.S. Silica, Unimin, the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Company, a subsidiary of Fairmount Minerals, and Badger Mining Corporation. WISA promotes safe and environmentally responsible mining and has established a code of conduct for members to follow.
"The members of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association adhere to very high environmental and safety standards, and we applaud the DNR's efforts to ensure all operators do, as well," said Rich Budinger, president of WISA. "Sand mining offers significant economic benefits for Wisconsin when done responsibly. We support this effort by the DNR."
State law requires drillers to file a report upon abandonment. Improper abandonment could result in enforcement action.
While the code specifies that a bore hole be properly abandoned within three days of its use being discontinued, DNR encourages drillers to close exploration boreholes immediately to avoid the potential for soils collapse and bridging to occur in the hole.
"Most drinking water wells, with very few exceptions, are recharged locally," said DNR drinking and groundwater supervisor Mike Blodgett. "Failure to fill these boreholes properly can have a very direct impact on local drinking water supplies."
Rules for properly abandoning drill holes are in NR 141.25, Wisconsin Administrative Code. Leaving holes open can create a direct conduit for entry of contaminants to waters of the state and is a violation of Chapter 281, Wisconsin Statutes.
A link to NR 141.25 can be found on the Silica sand mining pages of the DNR website along with a form to be submitted to the local DNR office after abandonment. Information on WISA is at wisconsinsand.org (exit DNR).
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Woletz, DNR natural resources manager, 715-839-3756; Ed Culhane, DNR communications, Eau Claire, 715-781-1683; Andrew Savagian, DNR communications, Madison 608-261-6422
MADISON -- More than 8,700 new fans, 105,500 video views, 1,070 tweets, and 124,660 views of 2,735 available photos: those are among the analytics from the first year of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' venture into social media.
"We are thrilled with the first year success of our social media efforts," says DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "And we have ramped them up for our traditional nine-day gun deer season so we hope people who haven't checked out these services yet will this week."
DNR launched its facebook page www.facebook.com/WIDNR (exit DNR) Nov. 8, 2011 and it now has more than 8,700 fans.
"This past weekend we implemented our first-ever facebook contest, asking for the public to submit photos for our 'Wisconsin Hunting Tradition' photo contest," says Trish Ossmann, the DNR's lead facebook administrator and the public affairs manager for the DNR Northeast Region.
On average, 15 to20 people "like" DNR's Facebook page every day.
"Staff at Facebook commented to DNR administrators how they are watching our page and are fascinated by the rapid growth," she says.
Launched on Nov. 14, 2011, DNR's YouTube channel (exit DNR) has 396 subscribers who receive notices as new videos are posted and the channel has surpassed 105,500 views in its first year. There are currently 159 videos uploaded to the DNR channel.
Since launching a Twitter account (exit DNR), DNR has tweeted more than 1,070 times. The account has more than 2,750 followers who receive tweets in their stream.
New during this year's deer season, DNR is featuring a tweet-along on Nov. 17, 18, 22, 23 and 25. Joanne Haas, DNR law enforcement and forestry public affairs manager, will live-feed tweets and images from a ride-along with a DNR conservation warden working deer season. Tweets will focus on the social, safety, and community-building aspects of the nine-day gun deer season.
The DNR Flickr page www.flickr.com/photos/widnr (exit DNR) is also seeing impressive growth. There are 2,735 photos available to the public for download and use with photo credit. Each photo also contains metadata, detailing who took the photo, when it was taken and where. To date, there have been more than 124,660 views.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Trish Ossmann, 920-662-5122
MADISON - The public has an opportunity to submit comments on three Wisconsin businesses that have applied for the state's innovative Green Tier program, designed to recognize and reward organizations who are committed to superior environmental performance.
Badger Mining Corporation, Unimin Corporation and Waukesha Iron and Metal, Inc., have all applied for Tier 1 of Green Tier, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources program which encourages innovation, collaboration and new environmental goal setting.
Public comments on the Green Tier applicants will be taken through Dec. 19, 2012. Specific information on these applicants and the Green Tier program can be found by searching the DNR website for "Green Tier" and clicking on the tab for Comment on Green Tier applicants. Comments may be directed to the DNR Environmental Assistance Coordinator listed for each applicant, or to Mark McDermid, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 101 S. Webster St. CO/5, email@example.com, 608-267-3125.
"To be accepted into Green Tier, an applicant must have a good environmental record, commit to superior environmental performance and implement an Environmental Management System," said Mark McDermid, Cooperative Environmental Assistance Bureau director.
The Badger Mining Corporation has operated out of Berlin, Wis., for more than 100 years. Today the family-owned business still includes a corporate office in Berlin as well as Wisconsin mining and processing facilities for high quality industrial sand located in Taylor and Fairwater. Environmental responsibility is a core value at Badger Mining. Company activities include creating post-mining land surfaces that simulate natural landscapes, controlling erosion to prevent off-site discharge and annually planting 3,000-5,000 native trees and shrubs.
Badger Mining also works closely with the DNR and its Disabled October Gun Deer Hunt Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on native prairie establishment and the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin.
Unimin Corporation's Portage facility has been producing industrial silica sand as part of the nationwide Unimin Corporation since 1983. The facility has helped make Unimin an industry leader in environmental stewardship, driven by the company's efforts to preserve local wildlife habitats while reducing emissions and energy consumption through equipment upgrades.
As a member of the Wildlife Habitat Council, Unimin and its dedicated team of employee volunteers manage habitat projects onsite, including a successful timber diversification project. The Portage facility also collaborates with Pheasants Forever and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for pheasant habitat restoration, and with DNR and the Wisconsin Audubon Society for bluebird monitoring and protection.
Waukesha Iron and Metal is a third generation, family-owned company located in Waukesha that has specialized in metal recycling since 1956. Operating throughout the Midwest, Waukesha Iron serves trades from auto salvage and industrial operations to contractors and utilities.
To assure that materials are being handled in an environmentally responsible manner, Waukesha Iron offers an audit trail which tracks materials through the entire handling process. Other sustainability efforts include a non-ferrous metal separator which removes 95 percent of recyclable metal, a 4,000 square-foot fluid collection basin which collects any fluids co-mingled with scrap metal for runoff prevention, and radiation detectors to alert staff of any potentially hazardous material before it enters the facility.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark McDermid, DNR, 608-267-3125
MADISON - A state run shooting range in located in northern Wisconsin's Iron County will undergo improvements to expand opportunities and make the range safer thanks to a nearly $15,000 donation from the National Rifle Association.
Keith Warnke, Department of Natural Resources hunting and shooting sport coordinator accepted a check in the amount of $14,700.00 for the Snaketrack Public Shooting Range project. This was the third grant from the NRA for upgrading public ranges. The first two, each for $25,000.00, were for the Yellowstone Lake State Park range in Lafayette County and McMiller Range in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
Warnke says the funds will be matched at a three-to-one rate with federal Pittman-Robertson grant monies to improve the three very popular ranges.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp noted that with an estimated 800,000 shooters in the state, Wisconsin DNR has a long history of promoting safe and accessible shooting opportunities, including a commitment to provide ranges on public lands.
The dozen or so public ranges are considered generally heavily used and several are in need of repair and maintenance work.
"These grants, generously given from the National Rifle Association will really help us to fulfill our commitment to improve and increase public awareness of, and access to, quality, safe shooting opportunities at public ranges," Stepp said.
The Pittman-Robertson grant revenues are taxes that are paid by shooters and hunters on ammunition and equipment, "so it's only fitting we're putting the money right back into providing more shooting opportunities," she said.
NRA Senior Field Representative Scott Taetsch thanked Secretary Stepp and the DNR for having implemented this much needed program, stating that the NRA, with its vast experience and resources in shooting ranges, was proud to assist in building more public ranges in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs, and Educators Inc. (Wisconsin FORCE) President Jeff Nass stated, "Working together we can properly use Pittman-Robertson funding and expand and improve shooting ranges across the state." Wisconsin FORCE is the NRA's chartered association and has been working closely with the NRA and DNR on various projects. Wisconsin FORCE helped tie the two organizations together on this project.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, 608-576-5243
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