RHINELANDER, Wis. - Wisconsin's northern bass zone harvest season opens June 15 with anglers enjoying increased bass populations across the region and liberalized harvest rules in many northwestern Wisconsin counties and the Minocqua Chain of Lakes in Oneida County.
"Bass fishing is as good as it's been in a long time," says Steve Avelallemant, longtime fisheries supervisor for northern Wisconsin. "We've seen increases in abundance over time across the region and that means plenty of opportunities for anglers."
Department of Natural Resources and university researchers and biologists are studying why bass are doing so well and if they are impacting other fish species. Bass fishing forecasts [PDF] excerpted from the 2013 Wisconsin Fishing Report detail recent population surveys for bass in many popular waters.
Avelallemant says the late ice out means anglers are still going to find bass on their spawning beds, particularly in the larger or deeper lakes where water temperatures warm more slowly. "Bass are very temperature-oriented but the temperature is warm enough to have some active bass," he says.
The northern bass zone essentially includes those waters north of Highway 64 and 77 and allows harvest from June 15, 2013, through March 2, 2014. People can keep five bass in total, and the minimum length limit is 14 inches unless special regulations apply, so check the 2013-14 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations.
Waters in many northwestern Wisconsin counties now have no minimum length for bass.
In those areas where harvest regulations have been liberalized in recent years, there has been an increase in harvest of largemouth bass. "To this point, however, we have not seen any changes in populations that can be attributed to additional harvest," Avelallemant says.
"Take your kids and enjoy the wonderful diversity of bass fishing opportunities we have in the northern zone," says Jon Hansen, a fisheries biologist based in Madison and co-chair of DNR's bass committee. If you're hungry, "keep it local" and take a few bass home for a meal, especially in places where there is no minimum length limit."
Bass are found statewide and largemouth and smallmouth bass are collectively among the most commonly caught fish, well behind panfish, but ahead of walleye, anglers' favorite. Wisconsin anglers reported reeling in an estimated 10 million bass in the 2006-7 license year, the last year for which figures are available. That compares to 7 million walleye, 1 million northern pike and 1.6 million trout.
Bass and musky were the fish Wisconsin anglers reported releasing most often, with only 5.4 percent of bass and 5.59 percent of musky harvested, according to a statewide mail survey of anglers in 2006-7.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Avelallemant, 715-365-8987; Jon Hansen, 608-266-6883
PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. - For a few short hours, a state fish research boat became a port in the storm for a flock of exhausted migratory warblers.
Tim Kroeff, a fisheries technician for the Department of Natural Resources, shares the story of what happened when the Research Vessel Coregonus, was 16 miles off the Lake Michigan coast near Port Washington in a dense fog, its crew hauling in nets set the day before to assess lake trout and burbot populations.
Kim Grveles, a DNR avian ecologist who leads Wisconsin's efforts to protect and expand stopover habitat for migratory birds, has no doubt that the research boat saved the birds' lives.
"This is the classic example of what we call a "fire escape," she says.
Migratory birds require an array of sites between wintering and breeding areas to survive, including sites not often thought of as having conservation value. Grveles and other ornithologists recognize these different types of sites and creatively categorize them as "fire escapes," "convenience stores" and "full-service hotels."
Fire escapes are sites that may receive less use because they are resource-poor, yet they are vital during times of stress as places for migrants to seek shelter from predators or storms, Grveles says.
"Birds are landing there because they need some place to land," she says.
Grveles notes that in the 1960s, a fishing boat captain who fished Lake Michigan and Lake Superior documented many instances of migratory birds finding refuge on his boat. "It happened so frequently he started putting in potted plants and trees to provide habitat for the birds," she says.
Every spring and fall, tens of millions of migrating birds sweep through the Great Lakes region and stop at a variety of sites on their way to breeding grounds as far north as Greenland and the Arctic Ocean and wintering grounds as far south as Argentina's Tierra del Fuego.
Wisconsin sits astride one such major migratory pathway, and more than 400 bird species have been recorded in the state. Yet many species face declining populations due to habitat loss, pollution, outdoor cats, window strikes and invasive plants, Grveles says.
The Wisconsin Stopover Initiative www.wisconsinbirds.org/migratory (exit DNR) was launched in 2005 to put protection of migratory stopover sites, particularly along the Great Lakes, in the forefront of conservation. Founded by DNR and The Nature Conservancy with funding from the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and State Wildlife Grants, initiative goals are to protect 30,000 acres (about 25 percent of total coastal zone acreage) of critical stopover habitat in the Lake Michigan basin and 6,000 acres (about 5 percent of total coastal zone acreage) in the Lake Superior basin over the next decade.
Learn more about the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative in "Respites for migratory birds," in the June 2011 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources and enjoy a video about the initiative.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Kroeff 920-746-5107 about the Coregonus bird rescue; Kim Grveles, Wisconsin Stopover Initiative 608-264-8594; Sumner Matteson 608-266-1571
MADISON - Two non-native wild plants that are starting to flower in Southern Wisconsin can cause serious harm to people who encounter them, making identification and control of these plants a high priority before they set seed this fall, according to state invasive species specialists.
Poison hemlock and wild parsnip are becoming more common along roadsides and are threatening the integrity of the natural areas as they encroach, says Kelley Kearns, a native plant ecologist with the Department of Natural Resource.
"During their flowering stage is the best time to control these plants, specifically by mowing," Kearns said.
It is said that Greek philosopher Socrates was killed by drinking the juice of poison hemlock. The sap from the plant contains chemical compounds known as neurotoxins that can be absorbed through the skin. The sap of wild parsnip can cause phytophotodermatitis: when skin is exposed to sap in the presence of sunlight, it can cause severe rashes, blisters, and discoloration of the skin.
Both of these plants are members of the carrot family, Apiaceae.
"It's hard to believe that such unforgiving plants are relatives to some of our most popular garden plants," Kearns said. "Our edible, garden-grown carrots, parsnips and parsley are all closely to these plants.
Distinguishing these species from their many relatives can be challenging, but Kerns said there area a few defining characteristics that can help aid in identification:
Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)
Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)
Kearns said the best time to control these plants is by mowing them when they are in their flowering stage. The plants should be mowed after flowering heads appear, but before seed is produced. Annual mowing treatments will reduce populations over time.
"Due to their toxic chemical constituents, people need to take precautions when dealing with these plants," Kearns said. "Avoid any direct contact to your skin and minimize inhalation of plant residues. Always wear gloves, long sleeves and pants, as well as safety goggles."
DNR invasive species specialists are interested in tracking the expanding range of these plants across the state. People who see either of these two species are asked to report them nby sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the location and photographs of the population.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelly Kearns - 608-267-5066
MADISON - The founder of the Friends of Brooklyn Wildlife Area, the founder of Weed Out! Racine, and the volunteer group Habitat Healers based in Newburg have all been honored as "Invader Crusaders" for their work in 2012 to slow the spread of invasive species.
A staff member of the Lakeland Discovery Center, based in Manitowish Waters, and the Department of Natural Resources' invasive species coordinator also received recognition as "Invader Crusaders" during a ceremony June 11 at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison.
The ceremony, hosted by the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council, (exit DNR) honored those who made significant contributions in 2012 to prevent, control or eradicate invasive species that harm Wisconsin's lands, waters and wetlands. The awards are part of Invasive Species Awareness Month activities.
Invader Crusaders were honored June 11 in a ceremony in Madison, they are the Habitat Healers of Newburg in the blue shirts, and, starting in the back row, Daniel Wallace; middle row, left to right, Mindy Wilkinson, Ann Kretschmann and Melissa Warner.
"The fight to reduce invasive species' impact and keep them out of Wisconsin will be a long and hard battle for many years to come," said Paul Schumacher, Chair of the Council and Wisconsin Lakes Board member. We would not be able to do it without these and many other Invader Crusaders."
Invasive plants and animals threaten Wisconsin's water and land by outcompeting native plants and animals and by disrupting natural habitat systems. They also threaten the productivity and economic viability of Wisconsin's agricultural lands by creating overwhelming competition with crops. Millions of dollars, both public and private, are spent each year for the control of invasive plant and animal species in Wisconsin's waters, natural areas and agriculture lands, state invasive species experts say.
The 2013 recipients of Invader Crusader Awards are:
Habitat Healers, of Newburg, Wis., has worked for the past 20 years to prevent the spread of invasive species on the 380-acre Riveredge Nature Center sanctuary. The group has significantly reduced invasions of buckthorn, autumn olive, garlic mustard, dame's rocket, honeysuckle, and barberry. This past year, with grant funding as part of "Save our Great Lakes," removed 2,682 buckthorn, 479 honeysuckle, and 192 autumn olive from the project area and have logged over 400 hours of volunteer service between fall 2012 and spring 2013.
Dan Wallace, founder of the Friends of the Brooklyn Wildlife Area, has helped lead controlled burns on many segments of the Ice Age Trail as well as assisted the Dane County Parks Department and the City of Madison parks with their controlled burns. He also serves on the board of directors for a friends group for the Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area in Michigan. He was the driving force behind obtaining 501(c)3 non-profit status for both the Friends of Brooklyn Wildlife Area and the Friends of Sylvania organizations.
Melissa Warner of Racine has worked or more than a decade on invasive species in southeastern Wisconsin. She chairs the Southeast Gateway Group of the Sierra Club and is an active member of the Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, an organization devoted to reducing the spread of invasive species throughout an eight-county region. Warner also founded "Weed Out! Racine" which is a volunteer program that aims to maintain the biodiversity of their public spaces and native areas by stopping the spread of invasive species.
Anne Kretschmann of Manitowish Waters is the water specialist and aquatic invasive species coordinator for North Lakeland Discovery Center and is an integral part of the partnership among the center, the Manitowish Waters Lakes Association and the Town of Manitowish Waters. Kretschmann trains and coordinates volunteers who monitor for invasive species and offers educational programs to groups and public. In 2012, her efforts led to the training of more than 70 volunteers who spent more than 400 hours monitoring for aquatic invasive species. She was instrumental in writing, applying for, and executing the Wisconsin DNR AIS grants which were awarded to the partnership to help combat aquatic invasive species.
Mindy Wilkinson has led DNR's Invasive Species Team and the entire department's implementation efforts for the invasive species rule. She also has provided her coordination and facilitation skills to the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council and organized a series of five discussion sessions with the best experts in the field to provide the council with insights to prevention, detection, rapid response, control, and economics of invasive species. Before joining DNR in 2010, Wilkinson was invasive species coordinator for the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and was a liaison for the National Invasive Species Council in Washington, D.C.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chrystal Schreck, 608-264-8590
MADISON - A Mineral Point fifth-grader won top honors in the Invasive Species Awareness Month poster contest open to Wisconsin fourth- and fifth-graders. Nicholas DuBois' winning design, and most of the posters submitted by students, will be displayed at the Capitol rotunda from June 7 through June 21.
DuBois, a student at Mineral Point Elementary, and other poster contest winners were honored today by the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council during a ceremony at Olbrich Botanical Garden in Madison.
Poster contest winner Nicholas DuBois of Mineral Point Elementary School with Jack Sullivan, DNR's representative to the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council that sponsored the contest.
Yashav Patel, a student at St. Frances Cabrini in Oshkosh, won second place and Morgan Wendel, a student at Shell Lake School in Shell Lake, won third place.
The poster contest is part of activities marking Invasive Species Awareness Month and sponsored by the council, an advisory group to the Department of Natural Resources. The theme this year was, "Protecting the Places Where You Play," and more than 400 students submitted posters. The winning design and the two runner up designs are displayed on EEK!, DNR's Environmental Education for Kids website.
Council Chair Paul Schumacher said that the poster contest winners and all students who submitted designs inspire people to keep Wisconsin's special places free of invasive species.
"The fight to reduce existing invasive species' populations and keep new invasives out of Wisconsin will be a long and hard battle for many years to come," he said. "We would not be able to do it without these children - the next generation of environmental stewards - and many other committed citizens."
In addition to the winners, other students and an entire class received recognition for their designs.
Mary Roberts' fourth-grade class at Rusch Elementary in Portage received a special honorable mention award for their designs and participation.
"During science I like to highlight important 'current' science events which are always very engaging to my fourth graders," Roberts said. "We first discussed how June was Invasive Species Awareness month. I told the students we would be learning about invasive species in Wisconsin and making a poster about one of their choices for the contest. We read about the invasive species on the EEK! site.
"Each student picked one of the species they felt was the most interesting to them. It was important to me as a teacher to have my students work on that assignment because I try to integrate as much of the curriculum I can."
Others students receiving honorable mention awards for their contest entries were Olivia Doro, of Rusch Elementary in Portage; Yasmin Mirhashemi of St. Mary's School in Greenville;
Rosebud Ann Johnson and Cassandra Gripentrog of Nasonville Elementary School in Marshfield.
Mia Maslowski and Nora Sammons of St. Frances Cabrini in Oshkosh, and Kaleigh Fitzgerald of Magee Elementary School in Genesee Depot, also received honorable mentions.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Caitlin Kohlbeck, 414-263-8712; Chrystal Schreck, 608-264-8590
MADISON - Cities, towns, villages, counties, tribes or solid waste management system that operate state-approved recycling programs can begin submitting applications for basic recycling grants and recycling consolidation grants from the Department of Natural Resources on July 9, 2013. Recycling grant awards for both programs are available for residential recycling and yard waste program costs that are reasonable and necessary for planning and operating an effective recycling program.
Recycling and yard waste program costs for residential and two- to four-unit households are eligible for grants. Some of the examples of costs covered by the grants include but are not limited to education and outreach materials, collection and transport of residential recyclables, responsible unit employee salary, wages and benefits, utility services, purchased services and rents and leases. The collection of recyclables or yard waste from governmental, businesses or residential buildings larger than four units are not eligible costs
Responsible units eligible to apply for the basic recycling grant may also qualify for the recycling consolidation grant program. Since the grant is provided as supplemental assistance for responsible units eligible for recycling grants, eligible costs and deadlines are the same as the Basic Recycling Grants for Responsible Units. Qualifying Responsible Units must meet at least one of the criteria prescribed in s. 287.24, Wis. Stats. to receive the Recycling Consolidation Grant.
Both grants have a due date of Oct. 1, 2013. Grant applications received after Oct. 1, 2013 receive reduced funding based on the following schedule:
Application Received Percent of Grant Award Funded
To learn more about grants and aids available from the DNR search the DNR website for "grants." To learn more about the Basic Recycling Grant to Responsible Units and Recycling Consolidation Grant click on the tab for "Recycling."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kari Beetham, financial assistance specialist, 608-264-9207
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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