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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 562 days

Weekly News Published - February 5, 2013 by the Central Office

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Sturgeon spearers cautioned on variable Lake Winnebago system ice conditions

OSHKOSH, Wis. -- People preparing for the opening of the 2013 sturgeon spearing season on the Lake Winnebago system are being cautioned that ice conditions are highly variable, ranging from more than a foot of ice down to open water still remaining in some areas.

"Ice conditions are variable, not only among the upriver lakes but on Lake Winnebago itself," said Ryan Koenig, sturgeon biologists with the Department of Natural Resources.

The east side of Lake Winnebago has greater ice thickness than the west side after heavy winds a few weeks ago shoved the ice up onto the east shore, leaving open water behind on the west side.

Since then, big swings in wind and temperatures have continued to keep ice conditions widely varied. There are cracks in the ice on Lake Winnebago and spearers are reminded that no ice is safe. The Department of Natural Resources does not monitor the thickness or condition of ice. Should anyone choose to venture out on it, we highly suggest contacting one of the local fishing clubs for the latest on ice conditions.

DNR fisheries staff checked the water clarity Monday morning on Lake Winnebago and found they could see down roughly 8 feet in most areas.

Anyone who plans to head out onto the ice should remember these simple tips:

Ice should be at least 4 inches thick before walking out onto it, 5 inches if taking a snowmobile, ATV or other vehicle.

Wear proper clothing and equipment - dress in layers including wool hats, mittens and waterproof boots. Include a float coat to help you stay afloat and slow body heat loss should you go into the water.

Don't go out alone - Go out fishing or spearing with friends, take a cell phone with you, and make sure someone knows where you are and when you expect to return.

The 2013 sturgeon spearing season opens Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 a.m. and runs for 16 days, or until harvest caps are reached. More information about the upcoming season, including regulations and harvest caps, can be found on the DNR website by doing a keyword search for "sturgeon spearing".

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ryan Koenigs, (920) 303-5450

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2013 spring fish and wildlife proposed rules hearing questionnaire available online

MADISON - The questionnaire package for the 2013 Department of Natural Resources spring fish and wildlife proposed rules hearing and annual Conservation Congress county meeting and the list of meeting locations is now available for review on the Department of Natural Resources website.

On Monday, April 8, there will be 72 public hearings, one in each Wisconsin county starting at 7 p.m. where people interested in natural resources management have an opportunity to provide their input by non-binding vote and testimony to the Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Board and the Conservation Congress on proposed hunting and fishing rule changes and advisory questions.

The hearings, held annually, are combined with the county meetings during which residents can vote on and introduce their solutions to natural resources related issues.

The spring hearings cover three major areas: elections for county Conservation Congress delegates; proposed wildlife and fisheries rule changes that have been developed through previous Conservation Congress meetings; and Conservation Congress proposals for future rule development.

Among the fisheries rule change proposals are: shifting the hours to legally spear sturgeon on lakes Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan to 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and shifting the daily deadline for sturgeon spearers to register their fish to 2 p.m.; removing the northern bass management zone early catch-and-release season for largemouth bass and allowing harvest under existing size and bag limits; and allowing motor trolling statewide.

Among the wildlife rule proposals being considered are: allowing the use of rifles for deer hunting statewide; simplifying pheasant hunting regulations; establishing that, when the bear hunting season is open, hunting hours apply to people who are training bear hunting dogs as well as to people who are hunting bears; and allowing unattended, overnight placement of portable stands and blinds on Department owned and managed lands.

In addition to the department's rule proposals, there are a variety of advisory questions, including a number pertaining to regulations for training dogs that will be used to hunt wolves, expanding bobcat hunting and trapping areas, and simplifying Canada goose hunter rules.

The Conservation Congress also has a variety of advisory questions asking citizens to gauge public support on various natural resource issues including a proposal to eliminate the backtag requirement, expanding the definition of artificial lights for predator hunting, possible changes to the concealment rule for waterfowl hunting, and a proposal to require the registration of non-motorized boats.

During the Conservation Congress county meetings, county residents have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to elect delegates from their county to represent their views regarding natural resources issues on the Conservation Congress, the citizen advisory body to the Natural Resources Board and DNR. Also, individuals have the opportunity to bring forth new conservation issues of a statewide nature to the attention of the Conservation Congress through the citizen resolution process. For information about the process search the DNR Web site for "spring hearings."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kari Lee-Zimmerman - 608-266-0580

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Study continues to monitor cause of mortality among Wisconsin deer

MADISON - Hunting continues to account for the largest number of adult white-tailed deer mortalities in Wisconsin, while predation accounts for the highest death of fawns, according to recent results from an ongoing deer mortality study.

"Hunter harvest continues to be the greatest cause of death of both adult and yearling bucks," said Jared Duquette, research scientist and lead researcher for the study, "while predation was the leading cause of fawn mortality, with most predations occurring within the first four to six weeks following birth."

The Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Science Services has compiled data collected during 2011-12 on the causes of death in white-tailed deer into a new report, "Wisconsin Deer Research Studies, Annual Report 2011-2012." The report is available on the DNR website by searching for "deer research" (click on the tab for resources).

Prompted by questions asked by hunters, two groundbreaking studies are currently underway in Wisconsin. A five-year study of causes of adult deer mortality is quantifying, for the first the various causes of deer death and overall survival rates in deer in a northern forest environment and in an eastern farmland environment. A similar three-year study looks at causes of mortality in fawns.

Duquette said the data will play a role in future deer management decisions and addresses recommendations forwarded by study groups reviewing Wisconsin's deer population estimating process.

A brief summary of the 2011-12 report shows:

Buck and doe mortality

  • 16 adult males (deer greater than 1.6 years old) and 25 male fawns (deer 8-10 months of age) were radio-collared and ear tagged in the northern study area.
  • 15 adult males and 40 male fawns were radio-collared and ear tagged in the eastern farmland study area.
  • Adult male survival (10-12 months post capture) was 31 percent in the north and 27 percent in the eastern study area; hunter harvest was the greatest source of mortality in both areas.
  • Yearling male survival (10-12 months post capture) was 52 percent in the north and 58 percent in the eastern farmland; hunter harvest was the greatest source of mortality in both areas.
  • 30 adult does were radio-collared in the northern and seven in the eastern study areas.
  • Adult female survival (10-12 months post-capture) was 73 percent in the north and 86 percent in the east.
  • Predation (44 percent) was the leading cause of adult female mortality followed by hunter harvest (33 percent).

Fawn recruitment

  • 30 fawns (16 males; 14 females) were radio-collared and ear tagged in the northern study area; 46 fawns (26 males; 20 females) were radio-collared and ear tagged in the eastern farmland study area.
  • Fawn survival at 6-7 months post capture was 47 percent in the north and 63 percent in the east.
  • Predation was the leading cause of mortality for both study areas, followed by road kill.
  • Most fawn mortality occurred shortly after birth in May and June mainly due to predation.

Capture of adults will continue through the 2012-13 and 2013-14 winters. Fawns were live-captured in May and June in 2011 and 2012 and will be captured again in 2013. A number of captured adults and fawns are fitted with radio collars. All are fitted with ear tags. Additional metrics are collected including body weight and size, blood samples, sex, presence of external parasites and age. Does are also examined for pregnancy. Deer are followed by radio signal until death, at which time researchers study the mortality to determine cause.

Radio collars emit a special signal when a collar doesn't move for a specified period of time indicating the animal possibly has died. Researchers and volunteers zero in on the radio signal and attempt to determine cause of death. Information on deer harvested by hunters is collected when the hunter registers a collared or ear tagged deer.

Radio-collared and ear tagged deer are legal for harvest during the hunting seasons. Essential information is collected on these deer when they are registered. Hunters or others finding a dead deer with an ear tag are asked to report the find by phone, calling the number on the ear tag, so that researchers can gather any available mortality information the caller may be able to provide.

Volunteers contribute to success

"Hundreds of citizen volunteers and partner groups have participated in this effort," said Mike Watt, DNR research scientist and volunteer coordinator, "without them, I doubt we could pull this off. The participation and enthusiasm of these individuals and groups has been fantastic. Their contributions have been invaluable." Participants included University of Wisconsin-Madison, Safari Club International, UW-Stevens Point, Union Sportsmen's Alliance, Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Whitetails Unlimited, AFL-CIO, U.S. Department of Agriculture-APHIS, and Applied Population Laboratory

Interested volunteers can learn more about volunteer opportunities by going to dnr.wi.gov and searching "Deer Research."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jared Duquette, 608- 225-2951

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New plastics recycling study shows potential for economic growth

MADISON - Wisconsin could realize substantial economic rewards and jobs growth by recycling more of the valuable plastics that currently end up in its landfills, concludes a recent study commissioned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The study found that used plastics have real monetary value to processors and manufacturers within Wisconsin. Yet despite a comprehensive statewide recycling program and a strong recycling ethic, hundreds of tons of valuable plastics are still sent to Wisconsin landfills every day. The study estimates some $64 million in recyclable plastic materials is landfilled each year.

DNR commissioned the study to identify actions that can be taken now to capture and recycle more of these valuable used plastics, thereby creating jobs and boosting state economic development. "In addition to the benefits to businesses and employment, increasing plastics recycling would provide environmental benefits by prolonging the life of landfills and reducing pollution," said Cynthia Moore, DNR recycling program coordinator,.

The study, authored jointly by Foth Infrastructure and Environment and by Moore Recycling Associates, lists actions Wisconsin can take to substantially increase plastics recovery rates. Moore said the actions "could be implemented individually or as a coordinated approach, and target the most valuable and commonly used plastic containers, such as consumer beverage bottles and containers for household cleaning products."

The study also emphasizes the potential to increase recycling of plastic bags and other film plastics, as well as the less commonly recovered rigid plastics such as clamshell containers, margarine tubs and drink cups. Spurred by this study, the DNR has already agreed to conduct a pilot project this spring to expand recycling of flexible film packaging. The film recycling project will be carried out under a Memorandum of Understanding with two national business groups, the American Chemistry Council's Flexible Film Recycling Group and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition's GreenBlue Foundation.

The project will focus on expanding consumer recycling of plastic film packaging, extending recycling opportunities at small and mid-sized businesses in the state. "This public-private partnership is a win-win for both the environment and the economy," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

Currently, Wisconsin's plastic industry is ranked 8th nationally in plastics industry employment, providing jobs for some 40,000 people, with a direct payroll of $1.6 billion. "Increasing plastics recycling in the state will open the door for greater economic and job development particularly through expansion of existing business but also in creation of new business," said Dan Krivit, senior project manager for Foth and co-author of the report.

"There is a strong and growing demand for recycled plastics," says Patty Moore, President of Moore Recycling Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in plastics recycling. "Even the highest volume, highest value plastic items are only recycled at about 30 percent nationally. With a coordinated approach to increasing the supply of used plastics from Wisconsin, the state could triple its plastics recycling rate and still not exceed the demand from domestic markets, many of which are located right in Wisconsin."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Wolbert, (608) 264-6286

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More than $500,000 awarded to Wisconsin communities for urban forestry

MADISON - Forty-five Wisconsin communities, nonprofit organizations, a county and a tribal government will receive a total of $560,680 to conduct urban forestry projects including tree inventories and assessments, management plans, emerald ash borer preparedness plans, urban forest restoration projects, and other urban forestry efforts.

The Department of Natural Resources urban and community forest program provides grants from $1,000 to $25,000, with grant recipients matching each grant dollar for dollar.

This year the program encouraged communities to apply for grants to bolster their preparedness for emerald ash borer, a non-native insect that bores into ash trees and can kill the trees within a few years.

Emerald ash borer was found for the first time in Wisconsin in August 2008 in Washington County. Since then, emerald ash borer has been confirmed in Brown, Crawford, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties.

Wisconsin has 5.2 million ash trees in cities, villages and urban towns. All are at heightened risk since EAB was confirmed in Wisconsin. The grant awards will help 21 communities conduct a tree inventory, develop an emerald ash borer preparedness plan or increase species diversity.

"The urban forestry grants provide critical support for EAB early planning efforts that include forecasting budgets for labor, equipment, staff training and restoration, " said Paul DeLong, chief state forester.

The program also is seeing a rise in multi-partner grants, where communities and organizations pool resources for broader program expansion which focus on building partnerships, sharing information, and networking. The program continues to encourage innovative projects.

A start-up grant of up to $5,000 is available for communities that want to start or restart an urban forestry program. The DNR awarded 18 start-up grants for 2013.

For more information on urban forests, including a complete list of grant recipients (PDF), amounts and projects, search the DNR website for key words "urban forest" or for information on emerald ash borer visit the Wisconsin emerald ash borer website. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Roe, urban forestry team leader, 608-264- 6294

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Wisconsin seeks to fill more than 15 wildlife biologist positions

MADISON - People interested in applying to become a wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources have until Feb. 18 to complete an online application and exam.

"We currently we have more than 15 vacancies, and we expect that number to grow in the next year," says JoAnne Farnsworth, management systems chief for DNR's Bureau of Wildlife Management. "The register from this exam will be used to fill positions for at least a year."

Wildlife biologists develop and implement wildlife management programs using an integrated ecosystem management approach. This includes habitat improvement and coordinating and conducting wildlife monitoring surveys. Biologists' responsibilities include establishing and maintaining partnerships with both public and private wildlife interest organizations.

Incumbents also will implement a public outreach and education program promoting outdoor skills and the future of hunting and trapping in Wisconsin. Wildlife biologists also oversee and conduct property management activities such as land acquisition, infrastructure development and maintenance, and wildlife habitat protection and enhancement for assigned properties.

Farnsworth said DNR cannot provide exact locations where biologists would be stationed at this time because there is a lateral transfer process going on for existing vacancies.

"I'd suggest any candidates able and willing to work anywhere in the state mark "statewide" on their county selections. If not, only choose the counties of interest."

As DNR proceeds to the interview and recruitment exercises there will be more information on position locations.

The goal is to begin interviews in May and have job offers occurring in the second half of the calendar year.

People interested in applying for the positions should visit the Wisc.jobs website and search for wildlife biologist.

The exam closes at 11:59 p.m. Feb 18, 2013, with no exceptions to this deadline.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: JoAnne Farnsworth, 608-266-2191

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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine gets loony and shares a love for the outdoors

MADISON -- The February issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine has a special invitation for sportsmen and women - be a Conservation Patron License holder and share in our outdoor traditions. Discover what a great deal the CP License is: it saves you money, it saves you time and it shows that you support Wisconsin's fish and wildlife programs.

Volunteers and wildlife biologists are working to conserve the common loon.
Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine highlights loon conservation efforts

The magazine also begins 2013 with a loony cover. Learn how volunteers and wildlife biologists are working to conserve a remarkable bird, the common loon.

"Fighting back with Buster" recaps one dog's important role in a boy's unintentional experiment in wildlife population management.

Discover, in "Cave drama," what scientists and volunteers are doing to keep Wisconsin's bats safe from a deadly disease. Find out how you can contribute to their efforts. Mark your calendar with our first look at the 2013 Wisconsin hunting and trapping seasons. You'll want to tear this schedule out and keep for reference.

"Avoiding winterkill" explains what it takes to add aerators to lakes to keep fish alive during Wisconsin's harshest season. "Let's do brunch - or is it brush?" looks at hearty goat appetites and the Goats for Brush Control program.

Support green Wisconsin businesses with the suggestions in "Have some winter fun." Learn what a day is like for DNR customer service representatives in "At your service."

Spend some time learning about Wisconsin's Fish and Wildlife Account successes in an insert, "Thanks for your support," and catch up with the science looking into Wisconsin's changing climate in another insert, "Adapting to Wisconsin's Changing Climate: Science and Collaboration."

Discover healthy fish dishes in "Reader's Write" and learn how to introduce a new pet to the family in "Creature Comforts." Fall in love with "Wisconsin Traveler" as it offers some great Valentine's Day adventures.

Love the outdoors? Share your enthusiasm with someone you care about and remember to consider the magazine as a thoughtful, inexpensive gift that can share what you value about the outdoors with family, friends, customers and professional colleagues. Six colorful issues are delivered to reader's doors all year for less than $1.50 a copy. Year-round the magazine shares ways and place to enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors for only $8.97. Subscribe toll-free at 1-800-678-9472, online at www.wnrmag.com or by mail. Subscription blanks and single issues are also available from our circulation office at PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Natasha Kassulke at (608) 261-8446.

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The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 05, 2013