MADISON - Wisconsin wild turkey hunters registered a total of 7,054 birds during the fall 2012 wild turkey season, an increase of 28 percent from the 5,523 registered during the 2011 season. Success rates also increased, from 10.1 percent in 2011 to 12.9 percent during the 2012 season.
"The jump in harvest reflects favorable weather conditions over the past year," said Scott Walter, upland wildlife ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. "Right on the heels of a very mild winter, we experienced an early and relatively dry spring and early summer in 2012. This allowed hens to enter the nesting season in good condition and likely promoted high poult survival during the critical brood-rearing period."
Variable weather conditions play a significant role in turkey population dynamics, and turkey populations can increase rapidly during years of favorable weather, according to Walter. DNR summer game bird brood surveys last year revealed the third-highest observation rate for turkey broods since 1987.
Also up in 2012 were permit numbers. Not including Fort McCoy, the total number of permits available statewide for the fall 2012 season was 96,700, a 1,000-permit increase compared to 2011. A total of 54,500 permits were sold for the 2012 fall turkey season; 37,721 via the drawing and another 16,779 permits sold over-the-counter after the drawing had been completed.
The number of permits available to hunters in each of the state's seven turkey management zones is recommended by members of the wild turkey management committee, who consider recent trends in harvest, hunter success, and turkey reproduction, as well as hunter densities and field reports of turkey abundance.
DNR first initiated a fall turkey season in 1989 with the increase and expansion of turkeys throughout the state. Since then, hunters have been able to pursue turkeys in the fall and the spring.
"Hunting turkeys in the fall is quite different than taking part in the spring hunt, where hunters use the breeding behavior of gobblers to call one into range," said Walter. "Fall hunters learn that the key to success is to pattern turkey flocks, and are adept at locating roost sites or feeding locations in order to get close to turkeys.
"Hunters that pursue turkeys during both the spring and fall seasons are really treated to two very distinctive outdoor experiences, and get to enjoy turkeys during very different phases of their annual cycle," added Walter.
The spring 2013 turkey season begins with the youth turkey hunt, April 6 and 7. The regular season begins April 10.
"I would definitely say that the success hunters had last fall also suggests this spring's hunt will provide plenty of outstanding opportunities for those who get out there," said Walter.
Once harvest data for the spring 2013 season is available and biologists can assess spring production levels, permit levels for the 2013 fall season will be set.
"We won't announce final fall 2013 permit levels until this summer, but hunters can expect plenty of opportunity to pursue turkeys in zones 1 through 5," stated Walter.
Fall permit levels in northern zones 6 and 7 have been held at relatively lower levels, as turkey numbers have begun to build in these areas only in the last decade.
"There is less of an agricultural food base in these two zones and they are subject to more severe winter weather," said Walter. "Lower permit levels thus afford turkeys in these areas some added protection."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861; Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458
OSHKOSH - By the time the Lake Winnebago system upriver lakes spearing season closed at 12:30 p.m. today, Feb. 12., 10 people had joined the "hundred-pounder club" by spearing 100-plus pound fish, more than half of the eligible spearers had harvested fish, and all emerged with new stories from participating in a unique winter fishery.
The parade of big fish continued in 2013, as this 80.0 inch, 179.0 pound fish harvested by Peter Vander Wielen and registered at Quinney on opening day ranks as the sixth largest fish harvested.
The spearing season remains open on Lake Winnebago because poor water clarity has slowed the harvest rate over the first three days of the season and set the table for spearers to have the full 16 days to get their fish, says Ryan Koenigs, Department of Natural Resources sturgeon biologist for the Winnebago system.
"There's a strong probability that we'll see our third consecutive Lake Winnebago season stretch the full 16 days," Koenigs says. "Hopefully, the water clarity will improve in coming days and provide spearers more opportunities to get out on the ice and enjoy another shot at a unique winter fishery.
"As expected, the 2013 spear fishery on the upriver lakes of Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan has been very successful, with 235 fish being harvested in the first three days of the season, nine of which have been in excess of 100 pounds." After Tuesday's spearing hours and the season ended, the number of fish exceeding 100 pounds had climbed to 10 and the total number of fish harvested climbed to 261.
"The harvest of these large fish has almost completely re-written our record books over the last eight years," he says.
Nine of the top 10 fish in the record books were taken between 2004 and 2013, including the 80-inch, 179-pound fish harvested by Peter Vander Wielen on opening day, now ranking as the sixth largest fish reported. Photos of other top 10 fish and more on sturgeon growth patterns are found on DNR's Record Sturgeon feature Web page.
The upriver lakes spearing season, controlled by a lottery that limits the number of participants to 500, lasted two days longer than in 2012. The season closes one day after the harvest reaches 90 percent or on the same day that the harvest reaches 100 percent of any of the harvest caps set for juvenile females, adult females or males. DNR tightly controls harvest to 5 percent of the adult population to protect the slow-maturing fish.
The success rates on the upriver lakes are higher than on Lake Winnebago because the three lakes collectively are much shallower than Lake Winnebago, Koenigs says. The majority of lakes Butte des Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan are 4- to 7-feet deep with a few areas up to 9 feet deep. So water clarity doesn't have as much of an impact on the upriver lakes as it does on Winnebago where the majority of the lake is at least 12 feet deep. The upriver lakes are also a nursery area for juvenile sturgeon and a staging area for migrant fish that will spawn during the upcoming season, "but water clarity is number one for the higher success rate," Koenigs says.
Due to very low registration numbers at stations along the north shore of Lake Winnebago, DNR has closed its Harrison Town Hall and Payne's Point registration stations until further notice. Harvested fish in these areas can be registered at Stockbridge Harbor, Waverly Beach, or Jerry's Bar (Oshkosh).
The Winnebago System sturgeon spearing 2013 web page is updated daily with harvest totals and insights from Koenigs. Photos and stories from DNR public affairs manager Joanne Haas, whorode along with Conservation Warden Mike Disher on opening weekend, are available on Warden Wire; and multimedia features on everything from sturgeon biology, to the history of sturgeon management in Wisconsin to the colorful decoys used to attract the fish, are available on DNR's Sturgeon Week multi-media features.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ryan Koenigs - 920-303-5450
MADISON - Recommendations from the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council to add to the list of regulated invasive species are the topic of public listening sessions later this month and next month.
The council, an independent group appointed by the governor and advisory to the Department of Natural Resources, has recommended adding select invasive species to the list of species regulated by the state and clarifying rule language.
"The invasive species rule is helping us make strides against invasive species across the state and creates a level playing field for businesses that sell plants," says council member Greg Long, who represents the nursery industry on the council. 'Now we have recommendations to make the rule even more effective."
DNR staff is reviewing the council's recommendations and the public listening sessions offer DNR the chance to hear from the public and consider that feedback in deciding which council recommendations to accept, says Kelly Kearns, a DNR conservation biologist.
"We want to get input on the specific recommendations and hear about any economic impacts of regulating or not regulating the species proposed for listing," Kearns says.
Such information will help DNR shape the draft administrative rule it takes to its policymaking board and will also help fulfill a statutory requirement that state agencies conduct an economic impact analysis of all proposed rules, Kearns says. Official public hearings will be held later this year once a formal revision proposal is drafted, offering another opportunity for public input.
Wisconsin's Invasive Species Rule, found in Natural Resources Chapter 40 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, has provided consistent regulations for invasive species across the state since 2009.
DNR worked with dozens of stakeholder groups and the Wisconsin Council on Invasive Species to develop the rule, which classifies invasive species into two categories, "Prohibited Species" and "Restricted Species," and establishes regulations people must follow for those listed species.
Species recommended for the "prohibited" status are not yet widely established in the state and pose great economic or environmental threat. People may not transport, buy or sell, possess or introduce prohibited species without a permit. Control of existing populations will be required. More than 50 species are proposed by the council for listing as prohibited, including the plants water lettuce and water hyacinth and animals including the nutria and the Malaysian trumpet snail.
Species recommended for the restricted status pose great economic or environmental threat but are already widely established in Wisconsin. People may possess restricted species but may not transport, buy or sell or introduce them without a permit. Control isn't required but is encouraged. Forty species are proposed by the council for listing as restricted, including the plants Japanese barberry, yellow iris, burning bush and crown vetch.
For more information on the recommended species additions and the general timeline for revisions, please visit the Council's website invasivespecies.wi.gov (exit DNR).
The public listening sessions will feature a short presentation, staff on hand to discuss invasive species issues, and opportunities to provide comments. People who are unable to attend the listening sessions can provide comments by email at email@example.com. Any comments provided by March 29 will be considered while drafting the rule revision proposal.
The public can receive email updates about this rule revision process. Join the " Invasive Species Rules and Regulations" list by typing your email address.
All sessions will run from 4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. at the following locations:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mindy Wilkinson (608) 266-6437
MADISON - Preliminary results of the 2012 Wisconsin deer hunter wildlife survey show hunters reported spending 24,868 hours in the field observing wildlife and on average saw 0.39 deer per hour statewide. The next most frequently observed species was turkey.
In its fourth year, the survey asks Wisconsin deer hunters to report on wildlife they see while they are in the woods. In 2012, a total of 1,136 Wisconsin deer hunters sent in reports on 5,017 hunting trips. In all, reports were received from 71 counties and 124 of Wisconsin's 139 deer management units. Trail cam photos can also be submitted.
"In each succeeding year hunters' reports become more valuable," said Jessica Rees, who manages the survey for the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Science Services. "As year after year of data add up we are able to see emerging trends and changes in wildlife populations that help managers better understand what is going on in of Wisconsin's wildlife populations."
The greatest number of observations were submitted for deer management unit 77M in southeastern Wisconsin with188 observations, followed by DMU 53 in central Wisconsin with 180 observations. In general hunters averaged about five hours per trip. The most trips and observations came from the northern forest followed by southern farmland, eastern farmland, western farmland and central forest respectively.
Deer hunters have reported 1,971 bucks, 4,244 does, 2,510 fawns, and 1,046 unknowns. Statewide, hunters averaged 0.39 deer seen per hour. Deer seen per hour varied between regions with the high being the Eastern Farmland averaging 0.61 deer per hour and the low being the Northern Forest averaging 0.20 deer per hour. The Southern Farmland and Western Farmland saw 0.51 and 0.56 deer per hour, respectively. The Central Forest region averaged 0.28 deer per hour.
Hunter sightings varied greatly by regions, with most sightings occurring in Wisconsin's primary turkey range, the farmland and central forest regions. After deer and turkey the next most frequently seen animal was raccoon.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jessica Rees, 608-221-6360
EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated with 2013 grant recipients.
MADISON - Seven Wisconsin municipalities have been awarded an Urban Wildlife Damage Abatement and Control grant to aid them in development and implementation of long-term management solutions for dealing with problems caused by white-tailed deer or Canada geese.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides 50 percent matching reimbursement grants up to a maximum of $5,000 to communities to help them manage wildlife conflicts. All of the State fiscal year 2013 grant funds, totaling $24,700, have been awarded. Grant recipients and amounts awarded include:
In order to be eligible for grant consideration, an applicant must be an urban area pursuant to s. 86.196(1)(c), Wis. Stats. More grant information and a summary of the 2013 grant awards can be found on the Urban Wildlife Damage Abatement and Control page of the DNR website under "Related Links."
FOR MORE INFORMATION: on grant awards, contact Kari Beetham, DNR Bureau of Community Financial Assistance, 608- 264-9207; on technical assistance related to urban areas, wildlife plans, or urban wildlife, contact Dan Hirchert, wildlife damage biologist, 608-267-7974.
Enroll today so you are ready for opening day of all seasons
MADISON - More than 40 percent of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Hunter Education courses are held in spring, making this an opportune time for you to enroll to complete the class to ensure you can hunt when you want to hunt.
"This truly is the best time to get this important course completed. All too often we see how time can get away from people and suddenly we are into the seasons, and the courses are either full or no longer being held," Hunter Education Administrator and Warden Jon King said. "If you complete the course early in the year, you are scout, target shoot and have fun preparing so you are ready to take to the woods on opening day."
The hunter education courses are led by trained and certified volunteer instructors and are offered statewide throughout the year.
Easy ways to get do the course
There are three ways to get hunter education certified:
"Thanks to the Hunter Education program, hunting is safe and getting safer," King said.
Hunter education covers the firearm handling skills, regulations, and responsibilities of a safe and ethical hunter. Nearly 30,000 Wisconsin youths and adults get hunter ed-certified every year. Wisconsin hunter certification is recognized by all states and provinces requiring hunter education.
"Get enrolled now and join the ranks of today's hunter education graduates who are ensuring the future of our hunting heritage," King said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jon King - 608-575-2294
MADISON - Forest landowners in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa interested in learning more about traditional woodland management techniques, timber taxes, game and non-game wildlife management, forest soils and non-timber forest products such as maple syrup and ginseng may want to attend the March 9, 2013 Tri-State Forestry Conference at Sinsinawa Mound Center, 585 County Road Z, Sinsinawa, WI.
Registration information is available online [PDF] (exit DNR). The conference can accommodate up to 550 registrants and is a partnership between Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the natural resource management agencies for Illinois and Iowa, the University of Illinois Extension and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences.
While the focus of the conference is on woodland management, there a number of other interesting sessions offering practical advice on things like growing hardy grapes, chainsaw sharpening, invasive plant identification and control, traditional bow making, what to do with a GPS unit and small scale home brewing.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol Nielsen, 608-267-7508 or Bob Manwell, DNR South Central Region public affairs manager, 608-275-3317
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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