WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- The 2013 Wisconsin State Fair kicks off this week in West Allis and the Department of Natural Resources has a lot of new things for the entire family to enjoy.
Start at the front desk where adults can pick up hunting and fishing licenses, trail passes and state park stickers, while kids can grab materials for their DNR Park scavenger hunt. Search with them for items in the DNR exhibit area such as an aquatic invasive crime scene, an insect that lives in water and a fish with a nose like a paddle.
Then, take the quiet path to Smokey's Schoolhouse. Here, kids learn a lesson from Smokey Bear about the differences between good fires and bad fires, how to build a safe campfire and the importance of giving matches or lighters to an adult.
One of the most popular displays in DNR Park is fisheries management. In addition to the fish tanks, fair visitors can check out the new fishing pier. Visitors who bring their camera can snap a picture of family and friends with a giant northern pike or a plethora of panfish. Want to learn more about how to wet a line? Check out the casting clinics each day from 3-5 p.m.
Spritz the Water Drop is making his first appearance at the fair this year.
New to the fair this year is Spritz, the water drop at the drinking and groundwater display. Spritz knows all about saving water. DNR water experts will hand out faucet aerators, toilet leak detection tablets and other tools to help you be water-wise in your home. While you are visiting, try out the high efficiency faucets and showerheads in our display.
Archery is available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
Youngsters age seven and older can visit the National Archery in the Schools Program tent where they will get a hands-on introduction to target archery. The tent has expanded hours this year, opening at 10 a.m. each day and running until at least 6 p.m. All equipment is provided.
Check out live native animals at the Natural Heritage Conservation display. Learn about beautiful natural areas that you can visit and identify ways you can get involved to save Wisconsin's rare species and habitats.
Stop and visit the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine at the State Fair. Let your friends and family know that the first 1,000 visitors to purchase a new subscription or new gift subscription will receive a free canvas tote bag.
Wrap up your visit with a stop at the DNR activity tent where the kids can unleash their creativity by putting stamp-to-paint-to-fabric at the T-shirt printing table. It's a souvenir they'll take home and cherish for years to come. The exhibit is coordinated and staffed every year by InterFaith, a group of retired senior volunteers.
There is a lot more to do at DNR Park at the Wisconsin State Fair. DNR Park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. For a map, directions, and more, search the DNR website, keyword "State Fair."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Trish Ossmann, DNR office of communications - 920-360-3252
BELGIUM - That "smoke" pouring into brick chimneys in coming weeks isn't an optical illusion but likely hundreds of native chimney swifts roosting for the night and gathering strength and numbers before they migrate south.
Wisconsin bird experts are asking homeowners, bird watchers and others to help count the birds and report where they see them to provide vital information on a declining, unique species.
"Chimney swifts are an important species in Wisconsin because they help keep flying insect populations in check," says Kim Grveles, Department of Natural Resources assistant ornithologist and a member of the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group. "We need citizens' help in counting the birds near them, and in reporting that information to us so we can better understand and take steps to reverse the decline of chimney swifts."
"You don't have to be an experienced birder or trained researcher to enjoy the evening acrobatic displays of the swift," says Nancy Nabak, co-chair of Green Bay's Swift Night Out program and member of the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group. "The sight of dozens or hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of chimney swifts going to roost for the night in chimneys can be an exhilarating spectacle."
Last year, 60 volunteers helped identify 72 sites, with the largest roost found at Cherokee Middle School in Madison, where more than 2,800 swifts were tallied. Aldo Leopold School in Green Bay, St. Norbert Abbey in DePere, and Geneva Lake Museum in Lake Geneva are sites of other large roosts.
Video footage of chimney swifts at Cherokee Middle School in Madison by Dane County's Four Lakes Wildlife Center.]
Chimney swifts breed and nest in eastern North America and migrate to South America in the fall. Their populations are declining in their range and in 2009 Canada listed them as a threatened species. The Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group formed in 2012 to help identify and conduct research and take steps necessary to halt the species' decline, says Bill Mueller, an ornithologist with the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory in Belgium and a member of the working group.
Before European settlement, the birds nested in old-growth forests. As such forests disappeared, the birds discovered brick chimneys served as an easy and abundant replacement, Mueller said. Brick chimneys work well for the birds because the chimneys provide enclosed areas with a rough, vertical surface the birds can cling to. Unlike most birds, chimney swifts do not sit on perches like a branch but must use their long claws to cling to vertical surfaces.
The decline of brick chimneys and changes in chimney design in more recent decades have decreased the available nest sites and are believed to be one main reason behind chimney swifts' dropping numbers, Mueller says. "A lot of people are capping their brick chimneys these days, and that's one of the things driving the bird's decline," he says.
Mueller and other experts also want to conduct more research on the insects chimney swifts eat to better understand how changes in their populations might be affecting chimney swifts and other "aerial insectivores" such as whippoorwills and swallows.
Chimney swifts have slender bodies, very long, narrow, curved wings and short, tapered tails. They fly rapidly, with nearly constant wing beats, often twisting from side to side and banking erratically. They often give a distinctive, high chattering call while they fly, Mueller says.
"A lot of folks see and hear them at night and don't realize they are birds," he says. "They think they are bats."
Because chimney swifts congregate in communal roosts before migrating in late summer/fall, it's relatively easy to count them. Here's how to count:
More information about chimney swifts and how to help protect them can be found on the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group webpage. wisconsin-chimney-swift-working-group (exit DNR).
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kim Grveles, DNR, 608-264-8594; Bill Mueller, Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory, 414-698-9108
EDITOR'S NOTE: A live chat with DNR and DHS blue-green algae and water monitoring experts is set for July 30 at noon. To participate, visit the DNR home page, and look for the box on the on the right to enter the chat, or search the phrase "ask the experts". People can also join the conversation via DNR's Facebook page and by clicking the "Cover it Live Chat" box at the top of our page.
MADISON -- State and local public health and water quality officials advise that high temperatures typical of late July into August can spur the growth of blue-green algae blooms.
"August has typically been when we receive the most bloom reports because the water is usually the warmest and conditions most conducive to fueling algae growth." says Gina LaLiberte, Department of Natural Resources research scientist and statewide blue-green algae coordinator.
A blue=green algae bloom on Delevan Lake last July.
Blue-green algae, technically known as Cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present at low numbers in all Wisconsin lakes, streams and ponds. When conditions are favorable, usually in summer, the number of algae can increase dramatically, appearing as opaque, pea-soup-like water or forming colorful scums. Some algal species produce toxins that, when ingested or inhaled, can cause illness in people, pets, livestock and wildlife, according to LaLiberte.
Gastrointestinal upset from swallowing toxins in water and flu-like or asthma-like symptoms from inhaling algae in water droplets are the most common symptoms reported to the Wisconsin Harmful Algal Bloom Surveillance Program, according to Emmy Wollenburg, Outreach Specialist at the DHS.
"People may also experience rashes and hives from skin contact with blue-green algae, particularly if they are susceptible to other allergic reactions," Wollenburg says.
The worst illnesses are usually seen in animals like dogs, which aren't concerned about water quality and may swim in or drink from water with significant blue-green algae blooms, Wollenburg says. "Dogs also are at risk because they may ingest algae when they groom themselves after swimming, which is why it's so important to rinse your pet with fresh clean water every time they swim in a lake, pond or river," Wollenburg says.
When blue-green algae appear as scums on the surface of the water, pea-soup like water discoloration, or a paint-like sheen, this indicates impaired water quality, according to LaLiberte.
"A good rule of thumb for assessing algae levels is that if you walk into the water up to your knees - being careful not to kick up the bottom sediments -- and you can see your feet, the risk from blue-green algae is low to moderate, but it's still a good idea to avoid swallowing water," LaLiberte says. "When you can't see your feet, keep children and dogs out of the water, and consider having the whole family pursue another activity that day," she says.
It's also a good idea to always wash hands before eating, and wash off after swimming in any lake or and pond to reduce the chance of irritation or allergenic effects, LaLiberte says.
And people should not forget about pets that have been playing in the water, Wollenburg says. Rinse off pets with clean water to prevent them from ingesting blue-green algae accumulated on their fur.
"Dogs also are at risk because they may ingest algae when they groom themselves after swimming, which is why it's so important to rinse your pet with fresh clean water every time they swim in a lake, pond or river," Wollenburg says.
If a pet displays symptoms such as seizures, vomiting, or diarrhea after contact with surface water, contact a veterinarian right away.
People who think they are experiencing symptoms related to exposure to blue-green algae -- stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing - should contact their doctor or the Wisconsin Poison Center at 800-222-1222.
To report illnesses that may be related to blue-green algae, contact the Department of Health Services at 608-266-1120, or fill out an online survey on its website. Go to www.dhs.wisconsin.gov and search for "blue-green algae" (exit DNR).
For information on blue-green algal blooms in Wisconsin, search the DNR website for blue-green algae.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gina LaLiberte, DNR (608) 221-5377; Emmy Wollenburg, DHS (608)267-3242
MADISON -- In an ongoing effort to include public input in deer management, and to effectively monitor and evaluate Wisconsin's deer herd, the Department of Natural Resources is continuing its annual citizen-science survey, Operation Deer Watch.
This unique collaboration of data from the public, along with deer observations collected by DNR staff, provides insight on the reproductive status of Wisconsin's deer herd in 2013. The number of does, bucks, and fawns seen are indicators of annual deer herd production.
"This is a fun and useful opportunity for the public to be the daily eyes and ears for the deer herd in their area." said Brian Dhuey, DNR surveys coordinator. "Citizens annually provide thousands of observations that the department utilizes in monitoring the herd."
To get involved, begin recording all bucks, does, and fawns seen between dawn and dusk during the period of Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. Daily observations can be tracked using a tally sheet that is available at dnr.wi.gov, search keywords "deer watch." Observations can be submitted at the same web site.
"This year, 14,000 deer hunters were selected at random and sent a letter inviting them to participate in Operation Deer Watch," said Dhuey. "However, if you were not one of the hunters selected to participate we still encourage your participation to help provide insight into Wisconsin's deer herd."
For more information, videos, and results of previous years, search the DNR website for keywords "deer watch."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey, DNR surveys coordinator, 608-221-6342 or Jay Watson, DNR research technician, 608-221-6360.
MADISON - The project to stabilize a stream bank on the Eau Galle River in Dunn County may result in the "incidental taking" of a rare turtle under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.
Geraets Farms LLC proposes to stabilize a portion of the stream bank Eau Galle River, which is a Class 2 trout stream. This will be accomplished by placing riprap rock along the toe and lower part of the bank. The remainder of the bank will be sloped, seeded and mulched. It is also a goal of the project to enhance stream habitat for fish by installing lunker structures and boulders along the bank.
The presence of the state threatened wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some turtles.
Department staff concluded that the proposed project will minimize the impacts to the species by adhering to conservation measures; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of this species or the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action.
The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the threatened species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the wood turtle are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Rori Paloski at 608-264-6040. Public comments will be taken through August 29, 2013 and should be sent to Rori Paloski, Conservation Biologist, WDNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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