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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 572 days

Weekly News Published - April 2, 2013 by the Central Office

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Spring turkey season opens April 10

MADISON -Spring wild turkey hunting season begins April 10 with Department of Natural Resources officials saying that hunters should look forward to a good season.

"We had an outstanding year of production in 2012. The warm, dry spring and early summer provided outstanding nesting and brood-rearing conditions for hens," said Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist. "Our statewide surveys revealed the third-highest brood observation rate since 1987 and hunters from across the state reported seeing more turkeys in their area throughout the summer and fall."

As a result, hunter success rates were up this past fall, and hunters can expect to see this carry over to this spring's hunt, according to Walter.

"I would expect that hunters might encounter significantly more jakes while in the field this year, and this cohort will continue to provide opportunities for hunters during upcoming years," Walter said.

Turkey populations rise or fall from one year to the next largely in response to weather conditions during critical nesting and brood-rearing periods. "We're currently riding the crest of last year's outstanding production," said Walter.

Hunters harvested 42,612 turkeys during the spring 2012 season, a 6 percent increase from the harvest of 40,133 birds in 2011.

"Weather conditions during the 2011 and 2012 spring seasons differed greatly," said Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist. "The start of the 2011 season was marked by snow, below-freezing temperatures, and high winds. The unseasonably warm weather in 2012, with green-up about two or three weeks ahead of schedule, allowed for some pretty comfortable hunting conditions."

Spring hunter success rates over the past few years have been in the 19 to 25 percent range.

The 2013 spring turkey season will consist of six 7-day time periods. Each time period will begin on a Wednesday and goes to the following Tuesday. The 2013 season closes on May 21.

In total, 234,765 permits were made available for this spring's hunt, a slight increase from the number available for the 2012 spring season. More than 135,000 of those permits were issued in the drawing for the spring 2013 season, leaving just under 100,000 tags available for over-the-counter sale. These permits went on sale on a zone-per-day basis March 18, and will be available for purchase until they are sold out or the season ends. For up to date information, look for the "spring turkey leftover permit" link by visiting dnr.wi.gov and searching keyword "turkey."

Some state parks remain open to turkey hunting by special permit only

Turkey hunters considering hunting in a state park are reminded that the previous 16 state parks that were open to turkey hunting by permit only, remain open only to those hunters who have permits to hunt in those parks. Other state park properties are open to any hunter who has a permit for the zone in which the state park is located. State parks are only open for the first three hunting periods.

Use the online harvest registration system

Successful turkey hunters can now register their turkey online or by phone. No in-person registration stations are available. All harvested turkeys must be registered using one of the following two methods:

Call the DNR's Harvest Registration Hotline at 1-888-HUNT-WIS (1-888-486-8947). The phone-in system will only accept touch-tone entries.

In addition to harvest date, time and location information, hunters will be asked to determine the age (adult or juvenile) and the sex (gobbler or hen) of their harvested turkey. In the field, refer to the Wisconsin Small Game and Wild Turkey Hunting Regulations booklet for a graphic guiding through the aging and sexing process. Hunters will also be asked to record a harvest confirmation number on their hunting permit at the end of the call or online session. Hunters will still have until 5 p.m. on the day after harvest to register their turkey.

Focus on safety for a successful spring turkey season

"The two most critical ingredients for a successful spring hunt are a detailed hunting plan in one hand and a firm grip on firearm safety in the other," said Tim Lawhern, DNR administrator of enforcement and science. Lawhern also served as the state's hunter education administrator for 17 years.

"Planning your turkey hunt is critical when two or more hunters are jointly hunting the same area - and then agree to separate if the birds are not spotted," said Lawhern. He notes that accidents can happen when the plan is abandoned. "Soon, one hunter is stalking either the decoy or the call of the other hunter."

The best way to avoid this potentially deadly situation, he said, is to have a clear understanding and agreement on the areas each hunter will hunt and to then stick to the plan.

DNR statistics show that 80 percent of accidents during turkey hunting seasons involve hunters mistaking other hunters for game, or hunters failing to positively identify their target. The other 20 percent of accidents are self-inflicted, usually the result of violating one of the four firearm safety rules.

"Turkey hunters, like all hunters, must practice these four basic safety guidelines when handling their firearms," said DNR warden, Jon King, current hunter education administrator. "Treat every firearm as if it is loaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, be sure of your target and what's beyond it, and keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until ready to shoot."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, upland wildlife ecologist, 608- 267-7861; Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458; Jon King, hunter education administrator, 608-575-2294

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Comment sought on Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act rule revisions

MADISON -- The public will have an opportunity at three upcoming public hearings to review and comment on proposed changes to the way Wisconsin environmental officials evaluate the environmental impacts of pending decisions as well as the mechanisms they use for seeking and considering public input on those decisions.

The Department of Natural Resources is proposing changes to chapter NR 150 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, the rule establishing environmental analysis and review procedures to comply with the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act, 1.11 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

"WEPA and NR 150 are cornerstone laws for the agency that date back to the 1970s," said Dave Siebert, head of the DNR bureau of energy, transportation and environmental analysis. "The proposed changes are intended to make our compliance with WEPA more effective, meaningful and consistent."

Siebert said the new rule emphasizes the analysis of broad issues and policies, reduces redundant review and paperwork for proposed projects, and provides clear procedures for public involvement.

The proposed rule introduces a process for the analysis and public review of controversial issues and policies. This "strategic analysis" process would be separate from the review of any individual project proposal.

Under WEPA, many proposed projects require a detailed analysis. The new rule identifies some actions to be minor. These would require no environmental analysis. Projects that are not considered minor would require the detailed analysis called for in the statute. The new rule identifies some department project review processes as being equivalent to a detailed WEPA analysis, while other kinds of projects are identified as having received an adequate review in a prior WEPA analysis. These kinds of projects would require no additional review under the proposed rule.

All other projects would require the environmental impact statement (EIS) process. The new rule would eliminate the interim step of conducting an environmental assessment to determine if the EIS process is needed.

The proposed rule also clarifies the process for assuring meaningful public involvement in the review of environmental analysis documents.

Proposed changes in the rule were developed with the cooperation of a broad array of department staff, and representatives of various constituent groups and industries.

The proposed NR 150 rule revisions may be reviewed and comments electronically submitted through the Wisconsin Administrative Rules (links exit DNR) website and at three public hearings where DNR staff will make a brief presentation on the rule beginning and then be available throughout the hearing to answer questions regarding the proposed rule.

The hearings will be held:

  • April 16, Eau Claire - 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Eau Claire Room, LE Philips Memorial Library, 400 Eau Claire St.,
  • April 17, Green Bay - 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Lake Michigan Room, Green Bay DNR Service Center, 2984 Shawano Ave.
  • April 18, Madison - 2 until 5 p.m., Room G09, State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 South Webster St.
  • Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted via U.S. Mail to Jeff Schimpff, DNR-ETEA/7, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 through Friday, May 3, 2013. Written comments whether submitted electronically or by U.S. mail will have the same weight and effect as oral statements presented at the public hearings.

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    Natural resources students learn while helping preserve one of Wisconsin's treasured resources

    APPLETON, Wis. -- Gently flowing and quietly winding through several parts of our state are true gems, often passed by without a second glance, cutting their way through wooded hills and valleys. They are high quality, cold-water trout streams and they are nothing short of a treasure.

    Fox Valley Tech students
    Shawn Sullivan, DNR fisheries operations team supervisor, takes a stream bank reading while students work their way across the stream.
    DNR photo by Trish Ossmann

    Fisheries staff with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources work to preserve these streams, which are home to native brook trout, naturally-producing brown trout, and in some cases, rainbow trout. Making sure they maintain the integrity of these waterways for years to come is a constant work in progress. But it's not just the DNR working to keep these streams in mint condition. Numerous groups help with restoration projects throughout the year.

    One of those groups is made up of students from the Natural Resources Technician Program at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. They are taking learning to a whole new level, while helping the DNR with natural resource projects, like trout stream restoration.

    "These students are working toward an associate degree in natural resources through our school," explained Paul Groell, an instructor at FVTC in the Natural Resources program. "Every Friday students go out into the field for a day of hands-on experience where they can learn fieldwork techniques and procedures from DNR and industry contacts, as well as their instructors."

    Fox Valley Tech students
    Fox Valley Tech student, Danyelle DeBoer, alongside instructor Paul Groell, takes measurements in Chaffee Creek.
    DNR photo by Trish Ossmann

    On a recent day, five students joined Groell to use survey-grade GPS units to conduct a topographic survey of Chaffee Creek in Marquette County, near Wautoma. This is one of the waterways in the state known as a Class 1 trout stream. That means trout are naturally-reproducing and no stocking is necessary. Chaffee Creek is also one of only a handful of streams in Wisconsin that support a naturally-reproducing population of rainbow trout. The group walks the creek, recording location and elevation data along the corridor, including stream banks, water level and stream bed characteristics. They will use the information to establish a baseline map showing existing creek conditions.

    "What we will do with the information then is use it as a guide in planning habitat and creek restoration," explained Shawn Sullivan, operations team supervisor in the DNR fisheries program. "This data is critical not only for use now, but for future generations doing stream and creek monitoring. It will help show the creek's progression and changes over decades."

    Students in the FVTC program do more than GPS mapping. They also work with a wide variety of DNR programs from forestry and fisheries to wildlife and wastewater. Some graduates of the program go on to work in a variety of DNR programs.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Shawn Sullivan, 920-622-3595 or Trish Ossmann, 920- 662-5122

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    Plant the seed for a green and healthy school!

    Free spring workshops available for teachers, administrators and school staff

    MADISON - The Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin program is conducting several free workshops in different locations this spring to teach school staff, teachers and administrators how to incorporate the program into their schools.

    The workshops will connect Green & Healthy Schools program staff with area schools and bring local resources and schools officials together. Training will provide an in-depth introduction to the program, specifically focusing on:

    • waste and recycling;
    • energy;
    • water;
    • school facilities and grounds;
    • environmental health;
    • health and wellness;
    • environmental and sustainability education; and
    • community involvement.

    Workshop participants will also have the opportunity to connect with area businesses, nature centers, non-profit organizations and local governments. Educators will leave with a plan for making their individual schools green and healthy.

    Learn more about this program and start the process by attending a free one-day (8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.) workshop!

    • April 23, Chippewa Falls - CESA 10 at the CESA 10 office (register by April 17)
    • April 25, Stevens Point - CESA 5 at the UW-Stevens Point (register by April 17)
    • April 30, Green Bay - CESA 7 at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary (register by April 17)
    • May 2, La Crosse - CESA 4 at Eco Park(register by April 25)
    • May 7, Tomahawk - CESA 9 at CESA 9 office (register by April 25)

    This workshop is provided for up to 10 school teams, four people per team, from CESA regions to learn about how to achieve Green & Healthy School certification and recognition.

    Schools teams should be comprised of:

    • teacher;
    • administrator;
    • facility/maintenance representative, and
    • school board or community member.

    The teams will be provided with an expense stipend after the workshop of $100 per attendee (up to four individuals) to be used to cover expenses of attending the workshop - substitute fees, mileage, etc. - or expenses related to Green & Healthy Schools efforts.

    Workshops for the remaining CESAs are still being planned for May, September, October, and November.

    Visit [www.GHSWisconsin.org] (exit DNR) to learn more and to register. Space is limited, so sign up early. For more information seach the DNR website for "Green & Healthy Schools."

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Elisabeth Olson, 608-264-9258

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    People seeking to sponsors deer hunts for people with disabilities can now submit applications online

    Applications due June 1

    MADISON -- Sponsors and landowners interested in hosting a gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities have until June 1 to submit their application. New in 2013, an online application form will replace the previous paper application that had to be mailed in.

    "The new online application will streamline the application process for both the hunt sponsors and DNR staff and allow disabled hunters to see which properties are enrolled in the hunt sooner than in previous years," said Scott Roepke, assistant big game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

    The new online application can be found by going to dnr.wi.gov and searching keyword "disabled deer hunt." The application will contain the same information as in the past; however, it will now be in an easier format for sponsors to submit. If sponsors do not have access to the online application, hard copies will be available.

    The Gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities Program first began in 1990 to provide an opportunity to hunt deer while mild temperatures persist and mobility is relatively unhampered. These hunts are sponsored by private individuals or organizations and almost entirely take place on privately-owned lands.

    In 2012, 93 sponsors worked with landowners to make nearly 75,000 acres of land open to hunters with disabilities. These sponsors and landowners provided opportunities for more than 450 hunters to get out in the field and enjoy the woods. This year's gun hunt for hunters with disabilities will occur Oct. 5-13.

    Hunters interested in participating in the hunt can find a list of sponsors on the DNR website after June 1. Hunters are encouraged to contact sponsors as soon as possible so that the sponsors can begin to plan for the hunt. Sponsors are required to submit a list of participating hunters no later than Sept. 1. The list of participating hunters can also be submitted online, similar to the sponsor application.

    "We would like to thank all of the hunt sponsors, landowners, and volunteers for their dedication to this great event. Without them, this hunt would not be possible," Roepke said.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Roepke, 608-261-7588

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    2012-13 sport licenses now expired

    Consider purchase of a conservation patron license for 2013-14

    MADISON - Anglers, hunters and trappers are reminded that April 1 marked the start of the new license year for all Department of Natural Resources fishing and hunting licenses.

    Licenses from the 2012-13 license year expired on March 31. Anyone planning to fish and hunt again this year can buy license for the 2013-2014 seasons 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). Licenses are valid through March 31, 2014.

    DNR licensing officials say people who are multi-season hunters and anglers should consider purchasing the Conservation Patron license. For $165, the license includes general fishing, trout fishing, deer, small game, waterfowl and upland game bird licenses. It also includes an annual state park admission sticker, state trail pass and a subscription to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

    There are also conservation patron licenses available for juniors for $75, nonresident for $600 and nonresident Juniors for $77.

    Check your license addresses

    All license buyers are reminded to review the home address shown on the license purchased from agents. If it is not correct, the agent can change it on the terminal. Or, the license holder may make the correction through the Online License Center or DNR Call Center at 1-888-936-7463.

    The address on the license must be correct to ensure the holder receives notification if they are a permit winner in any of the drawings.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: DNR Call Center at 1-888-936-7463

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    Nominations sought for Invader Crusader awards

    MADISON - Nominations are being accepted through April 26 for "Invader Crusaders," Wisconsin citizens and organizations who made significant contributions in 2012 in efforts to prevent, control or eradicate invasive species that harm Wisconsin's lands, waters and wetlands.

    The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council is seeking nominations for individuals, groups, or organizations for their exemplary efforts at addressing issues surrounding terrestrial and aquatic invasive species, including plants and animals. The Invader Crusader Award will be presented in both volunteer and professional categories.

    To nominate an individual or organization, download and fill out a nomination form available on the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council's Invader Crusader (exit DNR) web page. Email the completed form to isamcoordinator@gmail.com.

    The Education Committee of the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council will review the nomination materials and select the award winners. All nominators and winners will be notified by mid-May.

    Recipients of the awards will be recognized at an awards ceremony June 11 at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison. Award recipients will be announced on www.invasivespecies.wi.gov/awareness, (exit DNR) the Invasive Species Awareness Month website, and in the news media.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Caitlin Kohlbeck (414) 263-8712; Chrystal Schreck (608) 264-8590

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    Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine sets its sights on spring.

    MADISON -- The April issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources springs ahead.

    At least, the calendar tells us it is spring. Finally! We are ready to move past winter and celebrate Earth Day and all the joys of warmer weather from the return of migrating birds to the buzz of boating. The April issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine contains a special insert - the 2013 Fishing Report - to get readers prepared to drop a line and land a whopper.

    If that doesn't get them in the mood for spring, the cover story, "Join the Natural Resources Foundation in its 20th year of field trips," sure will. Readers will learn how to discover and support Wisconsin's natural places with a wide variety of trips from those that are family-friendly to some that are geared toward the more adventure minded.

    "A true fisherman" follows the fascinating feeding habits of a great blue heron. Birds also take center stage in a promotion for the "Great Wisconsin Birdathon" in May and a story on "Rain forest birding."

    Butterflies show an unsavory side in "Unsavory puddlers." Then, readers can learn how clean marinas are big business in Wisconsin and what to do to get their boats ready for the warmer weather using green techniques in "Wisconsin recreational boating."

    They can learn what the author means when he refers to a "Blackberry winter." Then discover the seven lakes, 12 points of interest, nine rest stops and 14 miles to explore in "Add up the numbers on Stower Seven Lakes State Trail."

    We share ideas for how to "Celebrate Earth Day." And highlight a program for "Making prairie hay" that helps drought-strapped farmers. Custom Canines Service Dog Academy proves priceless gifts to those with disabilities in "Creature Comforts." We encourage readers to have a spring fling "Wisconsin Traveler."

    Looking ahead to Mother's Day or Father's Day? Remember to consider Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine as a thoughtful and inexpensive gift that gives all year. 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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    Join the community of caretakers for Wisconsin's rare plants and wildlife

    EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release was previously issued to some media March 28, 2013

    Wisconsin's rare plants, wildlife and State Natural Areas are a big part of what makes our state special. They are living proof of Wisconsin's success over the past 40 years in safeguarding and restoring these natural treasures for now and future generations.

    As the state's Endangered Resources program enters its fifth decade, we invite you to join the community of caretakers of these natural treasures.

    Together, DNR staff, landowners, citizens, conservation organizations, government agencies and corporations, have returned bald eagles, trumpeter swans, osprey and whooping cranes to our skies. They've built the nation's largest State Natural Areas program to protect pristine remnant prairies, savannas, forests and wetlands for people to use and enjoy while preserving important cultural and ecological features.

    These caretakers also have led the way in forging innovative partnerships that enable private landowners and industry to carry out their business while protecting rare orchids, endangered bats, freshwater mussels and more.

    To keep these success stories coming, we need more hands on deck. Wisconsin's rare plants and animals face serious threats including a warmer climate, more fragmentation of their habitats, and waves of aggressive invasive plants and animals. These challenges make locating and tracking, managing and protecting rare species even more important.

    Here's how you can join our community of caretakers.

    • Collect and share information about the natural world. Count frogs and sandhill cranes, monitor water quality and wetland health, and document deadly turtles crossings as a volunteer through DNR and other organizations in the Citizen-based Monitoring Network of Wisconsin , found online at wiatri.net/cbm. Consider attending the network's April 5-6 gathering in Wisconsin Rapids.
    • Stay connected. Get free email updates by signing up for DNR's Endangered Resources News & Events.
    • Join any one of more than 120 Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin field trips offered this summer in partnership with DNR and other environmental educators. The field trips occur across the state and can enlist you in helping band fawns or elk, birding by canoe on the Wisconsin River, or hanging out with biologists as they electroshock streams, search for mussels, or monitor bats.
    • Donate to help fund more good work. Every dollar you donate to the Endangered Resources Fund through the check off on your state income tax form or through a direct donation to the Endangered Resources Fund is matched dollar for dollar by the state. Buying an Endangered Resources license plate also benefits important endangered resources work.

    By joining the community of caretakers, you'll also have a great time and will help strengthen Wisconsin's economy, environment, and way of life. Our rare plants, animals and State Natural Areas are part of the food webs and ecosystems that provide the foundation for our hunting and fishing traditions. They fuel a wildlife watching industry that brings $1.489 billion in direct spending to our communities and supports Wisconsin's $13 billion tourism industry.

    And perhaps most importantly, their presence on our landscapes and in our skies speaks to who we are as a people and the conservation values we hold dear.

    So this spring, I invite you to join our community of caretakers. Help us keep Wisconsin Wisconsin!

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Crain, Endangered Resources Bureau director, 608-267-7479

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

    Last Revised: Tuesday, April 02, 2013