MADISON - Though the 2013 deer hunting season is months away, planning is underway with statewide Deer Hunter Forums being held by Department of Natural Resources during the last two weeks of March.
The department has scheduled 34 meetings seeking public input representing all counties in the state. This is the first formal opportunity of the year for hunters and other interested individuals to discuss the current status of the deer herd in their area and ask other deer management questions of DNR wildlife managers.
"By participating in a deer hunter forum, you can access information about your favorite deer management unit, plus provide your opinions and observations while thinking about how they help shape management decisions," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. "Public feedback is very helpful as we develop the 2013 deer hunting season."
Local wildlife biologists will be on hand to answer questions and talk about the current status of the local deer herd. They will listen to ideas and observations, and discuss possible strategies to manage the herd.
"Wisconsin has long been known as one of the most publicly driven deer management programs in the country, but that only works if people participate," said Wallenfang. "We hope that by hosting so many meetings and making information available on the web, people can find a location that suits them. We are looking forward to the discussions."
Those unable to attend a local meeting may still provide their personal input on their preferred deer management unit using an on-line herd status summary and survey which will be active from March 18 to April 12. During that period, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "Deer Hunter Forum." Comments and survey results will be compiled and provided to the wildlife biologist responsible for each county.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang - 608-261-7589
MADISON - Preliminary results from systematic monitoring of Wisconsin lakes for aquatic invasive species confirm that boaters, not ducks or other birds, are spreading the invaders around, state and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers say.
State researchers in SCUBA gear looked for aquatic invasive species as part of a five-year monitoring effort.
None of the wilderness lakes surveyed - those in remote places and easily accessible only to wildlife - had any invasive species present while there was a direct link between the presence of invasive species and boat access from public and private property.
Thirty percent of the lakes with boat access, however, had Eurasian water-milfoil, 18 percent of the suitable lakes surveyed with boat access had zebra mussels, and three lake systems with boat access had spiny water fleas.
"The fact that accessible lakes are the ones that are invaded indicates that these species are moved by boaters," says Alex Latzka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student involved in the research. "While birds could transport invasive species from one lake to another, our finding that remote lakes do not have invasive species strongly indicates that birds are not an important factor."
UW-Madison researchers looked for aquatic invasive species in a range of lakes, including wilderness lakes.
DNR focused its sampling on those lakes more likely to have invasive species present because they had boat access that ranged from wide, paved public boat launches to private boat launches to yard access. DNR is two years into its 5-year sampling effort to understand the prevalence of aquatic invasive species in lakes statewide and also to understand whether efforts to slow the spread are working.
Two years of sampling is not enough to tell if the rate of spread is slowing in lakes with boat access, although there are some positive signs, says Scott Van Egeren, the DNR limnologist who coordinated DNR's sampling over the past two years.
"While we did find one or more invasive species in many of the lakes with private and public boat access, the prevalence of any one of them is relatively low given that some of these invasive species have been present in Wisconsin waters for decades," Van Egeren says.
Bob Wakeman, who coordinates DNR response to aquatic invasive species, says the preliminary results underscore how important it is that boaters take the required steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Regulations since 2006 for oceangoing ships have effectively halted the introduction to the Great Lakes of new invasive species, Wakeman says, "so it's up to boaters to keep those invasive species already in the Great Lakes from being spread to inland lakes.
"Out of 184 invasive species introduced to Lake Michigan over the past century, just 29 have made it to inland Wisconsin lakes," Wakeman says. "Boaters have done a good job in recent years in following the rules, and they can continue to keep the damaging species out of inland waters as long as they take a few minutes to take some simple steps. "And we're happy to say that ducks are not going to undo your hard work!"
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman 262-574-2149; Scott Van Egeren 608-264-8895; or Jake Vander Zanden, UW-Madison, 608-262-9464
MADISON - Remaining permits for the 2013 spring turkey hunting season will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting Monday, March 18. Designated zones will be sold each day, starting at 10 a.m. and continue through midnight or until all permits for that zone or time period are sold out.
In total, 234,130 permits were available for the spring 2013 turkey season, of which approximately 100,000 permits remain for sale. The following zones have leftover permits, and the scheduled sales dates are as follows:
Starting March 23, any remaining permits will be available for purchase until the zone or time period is sold out, or until the season ends.
Customers may purchase one permit per day. Residents and non-residents will have equal opportunity to purchase these leftover permits. Purchasing leftover permits will not affect preference status for future spring or fall turkey permit drawings.
The fee for leftover turkey permits is $10 for residents, $15 for non-residents and $5 for hunters who are 10 or 11 years old. All hunters will also be required to pay the spring turkey license and stamp fees, unless they have previously purchased the 2013 license and stamp, or are a 2013 Conservation Patron License holder.
Hunters interested in purchasing a leftover turkey permit should check the turkey zone map [PDF] to verify where they want to hunt and then check the spring turkey leftover permit availability to see if permits are available for the period and zone they wish to hunt. These numbers are available on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, search key word "turkey." Or hunters can call the DNR Call Center at 1-888-936-7463.
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).
A limited number of disabled-only turkey permits for state park areas are available as well. To purchase one of these permits, disabled hunters who have been issued either a Class A or Class C Disabled Hunter Permit should visit a DNR Service Center or call the DNR Customer Call Center at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) beginning March 18, after 10 a.m.
The spring 2013 turkey hunting season runs from April 10 through May 21. The season is divided into six time periods, each running from Wednesday through the following Tuesday.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter - 608-267-7861, Krista McGinley - 608-261-8458 or Jennifer Pelej, DNR public affairs - 608-264-9248
MADISON - Turkey hunters interested in hunting in a Wisconsin state park during the 2013 Wisconsin spring turkey hunting season should note that the 16 state parks that were open to spring turkey hunting prior to 2013 are still designated as special turkey hunting zones.
"To hunt in state park turkey zones, a person must have a turkey hunting permit that is issued specifically for that zone," said Scott Loomans, wildlife regulations specialist for the Department of Natural Resources. "The new law opening state park properties to hunting did not eliminate the established state park turkey zones that are set in current administrative codes."
All state park properties, including state park turkey zones, are only open for the first three turkey hunting periods, which end April 30; they are not open for the last three periods. Under its authority under Act 168 to restrict hunting in parks for safety reasons, the state Natural Resources Board limited hunting in the spring from April 1 through the Tuesday nearest May 3.
State park spring turkey zone permits are issued through the same permit application process as permits for regular turkey zones. Hunters had to apply for those permits by the Dec. 10 application deadline, and all available permits for state park units were issued through the application process, so there are no general state parks zone permits available for over-the-counter sales.
Loomans says any of the new state parks that will be open beginning in the spring of 2013 for turkey hunting will not have their own special zone number assigned. These parks will be open to hunting by any person who holds a turkey hunting permit for the general turkey hunting zone (zones 1-7) which that particular state park is located within.
Wisconsin State Park Director Dan Schuller said the eventual goal will be to eliminate the existing state park turkey zones.
"Until those rules are changed, people interested in hunting in any of the 16 established state park turkey zones will have to continue to apply for a permit to hunt in any of those state parks," Schuller said.
State parks that have turkey zones include: Belmont Mound, Buckhorn, Devil's Lake, Governor Dodge, Hartman Creek, Interstate, Mirror Lake, Natural Bridge, Nelson Dewey, New Glarus Woods, Newport, Rocky Arbor, Straight Lake, Wildcat Mountain, Willow River and Wyalusing, and the Loew Lake Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest. Some of those state park zones are only open to hunters with disabilities who have been issued either a Class A or Class C Disabled Hunter Permit.
A list of the state parks which have their own special zone designation, as well as a map of the state turkey management zones can be found in the Small Game and Turkey Hunting regulations pamphlet [PDF].
The Wisconsin Legislature approved Act 168, known as the Sporting Heritage Bill, last year with a broad goal of increasing participating in hunting, fishing and trapping. Among other things, Act 168: provided first-time hunters, anglers and trappers discounts on licenses; provided incentives for people who recruit others into buying licenses; and increased safety education opportunities. It also expanded hunting opportunities and allowed trapping for the first time on Wisconsin state park system properties.
Hunting is only allowed within the parks in areas designated as open. Closed areas include within 100 feet of designated use areas, such as parking lots, campgrounds and picnic areas, as well as within 100 feet of certain trails. Additional areas within parks may be closed due to safety concerns. Also some state parks have property that is within municipal boundaries where the discharge of firearms is prohibited.
"It is each hunter's responsibility to know what areas within a park are open to hunting and which areas are closed," Loomans said. Maps indicating closed and open areas are available on the DNR website, at park offices, and will be posted at parking areas and other locations within parks.
Schuller notes that while early spring is a lower use time at state parks, it is also a very popular time for many bird watchers to visit parks to observe migrating spring birds, so hunters should expect to encounter other people using the park during spring turkey hunting periods.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Loomans - 608- 267-2452 or Paul Holtan, state parks, forest, trails and recreation public affairs manager - 608-267-7517
MADISON -- Figures just in from the 2011 U.S. Census show Wisconsin's forests aren't just growing trees, they are growing jobs, with nearly 60,000 people working in forest-related positions statewide in about 1,300 businesses.
"Wisconsin continues to lead the nation in the value of forest products produced, demonstrating how our forests are the foundation of one of Wisconsin's most important economic sectors," said Paul DeLong, chief forester for the Department of Natural Resources. "Though the sustainable harvesting of timber can be visually concerning to some right after harvest, the resulting values include not only wood products but habitat for some highly desired wildlife and a healthy, growing forest that will produce an array of benefits long into the future."
The data also indicate the forest products industry has held its own during the economy's recent ride on the roller coaster.
"Significantly, the forest product industry's importance as a percentage of manufacturing has stayed roughly the same as before the downturn," said Roger Nacker, an economist and president of the Wisconsin Economic Development Institute. Nacker analyzes economic reports for the DNR Division of Forestry.
Steven Hubbard, DNR forest products services specialist, notes the growth in the forest products industry is good news for the entire state. For starters, last year the 2010 U.S. Census figures showed the industry had about 56,500 employees. The newly released figures show an industry job growth to 58,136.
Add to that a growth in the value of shipments to $19 billion - up from about $17 billion in 2010.
"This is why Wisconsin's forests are the foundation of one of the most diverse economic sectors - and one of the strongest," Hubbard said.
Wisconsin's forest industry includes firms in the North American Industry Classification System, wood and wood products sector, and the furniture and fixtures and the paper and allied products sectors. Add to that the 270 firms in forestry and logging with a payroll of more than $27 million and 800 employees. Nursery and tree production also are in addition to these numbers.
The forest products industry also supports thousands of related jobs, including those producing specialized machinery for the forest products and paper industries.
Overall, the industry contributes about $2.6 billion annually in wages to the Wisconsin economy, and supports about $228,000 in state and local taxes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steven Hubbard, Forest Products Services Specialist, Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources, 608-231-9329. Joanne M. Haas, public affairs manager, 608-267-0798.
MADISON - The bumper crop of smallmouth bass produced in southwestern Wisconsin in 2012 is one more reason for farmers to keep up their good work in carefully spreading manure on fields so that it doesn't run off into streams and kill fish, state water resources officials say.
"Good manure management is good for the farmer and good for our water resources," says Jim Amrhein, a Department of Natural Resources water quality biologist who covers streams in southwestern Wisconsin. "Our bass population has really improved since the 1970s and the 1980s, in part because of better land and water conservation practices. It's important to be vigilant to keep the momentum going."
March is typically among the riskiest times to spread manure because rain and melting snow can easily wash the manure off frozen fields and ground. Periodic fish kills caused by manure entering lakes and streams have been a problem in Wisconsin in past years, Amrhein says.
While manure benefits crops and soil health, ammonia in the manure can be toxic to fish and the organic materials in the manure can use up the dissolved oxygen in the water, robbing fish of their oxygen supply. Some fish kills are immediate; others may occur months down the road in the summer when plants and algae growing in the water and fueled by the phosphorus associated with manure runoff demand more dissolved oxygen.
"2012 was a banner year for smallmouth bass reproduction," said Dr. John Lyons, a longtime fisheries researcher in DNR's science services bureau. "Smallmouth tend to pull off really good hatches during the hot and dry years, like we had in 2012. The hatch last year rivals that of 1988 and 1989, which also were dry years, in terms of their number and size."
Amrhein also noticed a boom in bass population while conducting surveys. "We turned up bass hatched this year in just about every tributary to a major river," he says. "The trick will be to get these young fish through to maturity so they can not only provide action for anglers, but also be able to spawn themselves."
Smallmouth bass use these tributary waters as nursery streams. Periodic fish kills in tributary waters, sometimes caused by improper manure management can have a devastating effect on smallmouth bass populations, particularly if it kills the larger, mature fish that are necessary for spawning, Amrhein says.
"We saw a decline in the smallmouth fishery over the past 50-60 years from a variety of reasons, including fish kills caused by runoff of manure," he says. "We've made progress in land and water conservation practices that have helped many rivers and streams rebound over the past 25 years."
Contour farming, properly planning nutrient applications, creating vegetated buffers along stream banks and using other conservation practices have helped keep more soil and nutrients on the land. In addition, a greater awareness in the last five years of the potential dangers of spreading manure on snow-covered or frozen ground when it's raining or snow is melting is helping reduce the number of runoff incidents and fish kills.
Amrhein and Lyons hope that greater awareness of the factors which influence smallmouth reproduction and survival can help return southwestern Wisconsin to the bass fishing heyday of the 1950s and 1960s, when Field & Stream magazine in 1968 highlighted the area as a draw for smallmouth bass anglers from all over the Midwest.
"We think we can again return southwestern Wisconsin to a destination for anglers who are interested in catching these hard fighting gamefish," Amrhein says. "But we need to work together to keep manure on the land and out of the streams. Periodic fish kills caused by manure runoff are a major factor that could keep us from attaining our goal."
Amrhein advises farmers to check the state's online runoff risk advisory forecast - www.manureadvisorysystem.wi.gov (exit DNR) -- to plan when they will spread manure so to avoid conditions when the risk of runoff is high. That advisory also contains information about ways to reduce the risk of runoff if farmers must spread manure on fields on a day when soil, weather, and other conditions increase the risk of runoff.
He also encourages farmers to work with their crop consultant or county Land Conservation Department staff to develop nutrient management plans. Such plans help keep nutrients on fields and out of lakes and rivers by properly balancing and timing applications of manure and other nutrients.
Resources to help farmers during times when runoff risk is high
New this year, DNR and partners have created a flier to help increase awareness of the runoff risk advisory forecast. DNR water quality officials encourage people to downloaded the flier, print it off and post it as a reminder. The flier, along with links to important resources including nutrient management planning resources and an example emergency manure spill response plan, can be found on the Manure spills response, planning and prevention page of the DNR website.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Amrhein, 608-516-5078 or John Lyons, 608- 221-6328
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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