MADISON -- It's that time of year again when the blaze orange is airing out, sighting-in is underway and talk turns to plans for the upcoming gun deer season opener. This year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is giving people even more ways to share their hunting traditions.
Beginning Monday, Nov. 18, the DNR is launching a Pin-it-to-Win-it contest. Entering is easy and it will land the winner a three year subscription to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.
"We want to see what hunting traditions mean to you," said Trish Nitschke, DNR social media and outreach coordinator. "That could be getting your gear ready, being out in the woods, or a traditional family recipe. Details can be found on the DNR Facebook page starting on November 18."
On Tuesday, November 19, DNR staff will hold the first of three online chats all about deer season.
People can join the conversation by going to the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov and clicking on the graphic or the "ask the experts" link, or, via Facebook by clicking on the "Cover it Live Chat" box on the top of the page.
"We are very excited about all of the ways hunters and their families can share their traditions with others," said Trish Nitschke, social media and outreach coordinator. "We are really looking forward to hearing stories about those who took a friend or family member out hunting for the first time.
"Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter throughout deer season. Share your photos and stories by using #WIhunt. We will be posting updates from across the state so you can see in real time what is going on in the field. We will be doing ride-a-longs with our wardens throughout the nine day hunt and will share their experience on Twitter."
Also new this year is the First Harvest Certificate. This is a great way for those who harvest a deer for the first time to preserve this special hunting memory. Information about when and where the deer was harvested, who they were hunting with and more can be displayed on the certificate. Learn more by going to dnr.wi.gov and searching "deer."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Trish Nitschke, DNR social media coordinator, 920-360-3252
Live online chat will provide more information on open hunting lands
MADISON - If you are still looking for a place to hunt this fall, or if you have questions about public land you frequent, check out the following links for information on public lands and private lands open to public hunting. Additionally, Department of Natural Resources experts will host a live online chat to answer your questions about accessing these hunting lands, including state parks, and using DNR's open lands mapping tools, on Wednesday, Nov. 20, starting at noon.
To join the Nov. 20 chat, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "ask the experts."
In the meantime, click on the links below to learn more about some of the public hunting access opportunities in Wisconsin.
The DNR's Explore Outdoors Web page allows people to search millions of acres of public lands by county, by proximity to a city, by type of property or by one of 22 listed outdoor activities, including hunting. Search results allow you to read about and view detailed maps of DNR properties, including:
The department's Managed Lands website at allows you to interactively map most public lands in the state.
Voluntary Public Access (VPA) is a DNR program that provides incentives to private landowners who open their property to public hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife observation. Maps are available on the DNR website.
Through the Managed Forest Law (MFL) and Forest Crop Law (FCL) programs, some private forest lands are open to the public for recreational purposes. A new DNR Private Forest Lands Open to Public Recreation Web mapping application allows people to use an interactive tool for mapping these private forest lands that are open to public hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation.
Agricultural properties enrolled in the Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims Program (WDACP) are another option to consider when looking for properties to hunt. More information on WDACP as well as a list of properties enrolled in the program that are open to the public for hunting the species causing damage can be found on the DNR website. Hunters must contact the producer before they hunt.
Other resources for information on public lands open to hunting outside of DNR include the following (all links exit DNR).
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns several large and small properties in Wisconsin that are open to public hunting. See www.fws.gov/midwest/news/wisconsin.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service owns and manage waterfowl production areas in Wisconsin. These properties are typically open to hunting. You can find out more about these sites including an interactive map.
The U.S. Forest Service manages the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, 1.5 million acres open for hunting in northern Wisconsin.
"Wisconsin has a wealth of lands, both public and private, that are open to the public for hunting," said Doug Haag, DNR Realty Operations chief. "These links are not an exhaustive representation of the opportunities, rather a snapshot of DNR programs that may help people locate places to hunt. Other resources not specifically linked here include County GIS sites, County plat books, and several printed mapping products available in local sporting goods stores."
CONTACT: Doug Haag, DNR Realty Operations Chief, 608-266-2136
MADISON - Visitors to Wisconsin State Parks are being reminded they may encounter hunters or trappers on park properties beginning Nov. 15 through Dec. 15, under a new state law that went into effect in 2013.
Hunting seasons currently open include archery deer, pheasant, turkey, grouse and small game such as rabbit and squirrel. Furbearer seasons open include hunting for raccoon, fox, coyote and wolf in the remaining wolf harvest zone that is open, according to Scott Loomans, hunting regulations specialist for the Department of Natural Resources.
Park properties are also open for trapping, primarily for raccoon.
While hunting and trapping are also for unprotected species such as opossums, skunks and weasels, there is very little hunting or trapping conducted for these animals except to deal with animal nuisance problems, Loomans said.
"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 (search "hunting state parks"), at park offices, and they will be posted at parking areas and other locations within parks.
The Legislature approved the Sporting Heritage Bill, Wisconsin Act 168, in 2012. The law is intended to expand outdoor recreation opportunities and make it easier for people to participate in hunting, trapping and fishing. In addition to expanding hunting and opening trapping in state parks, Act 168 also provided first-time hunters, anglers and trappers discounts on licenses; provided incentives for people who recruit others to buy licenses; and increased safety education.
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. In the fall, gun and archery hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the property from Nov. 15 through Dec. 15, except that archery hunting is allowed through the Sunday nearest Jan. 6.
Hunting is only allowed within the parks in areas designated as open. Closed areas include within 100 yards of designated use areas, such as parking lots, campgrounds and picnic areas, as well as within 100 yards of certain trails. The Natural Resources Board also recently enacted rules that prohibit the discharge of firearms, bow crossbow or air gun from, on or across designated trails which are not open to hunting.
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. Hunting is not allowed in Copper Culture, Governor Nelson, Heritage Hill, Lakeshore and Lost Dauphin state parks, Hank Aaron State Trail, Fischer Creek State Recreation Area, Havenwoods State Forest, Lapham Peak and Pike Lake units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, and the Ice Age Complex at Cross Plains.
Trapping is also not allowed within 100 yards of any designated trail or any other designated use area, such as campgrounds and picnic areas as shown on the park property map. Trapping is prohibited in all closed areas. Types of traps that may be used on dry land are restricted to ones that have been shown to be not capable of catching dogs, commonly referred to as enclosed trigger type traps. These traps are described in more detail on page 4 of the 2013 trapping regulations pamphlet. Other trap types may be used only if they are placed completely under water.
Hunting and trapping is allowed during standard park hours of 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.; however, hunters and trappers can enter a state park one hour prior to the daily hunting starting times.
Hunters who plan to hunt on state park properties should expect to encounter non-hunting park users, and all park visitors should be respectful of other people using the park, according to Dan Schuller, Wisconsin State Parks director.
"We have gone through a significant effort to safely accommodate all recreational users of the parks during the open hunting seasons. Each park has significant areas closed to hunting, generally around the most heavily used areas and trails. Visitors should have an awareness of the property and their immediate surroundings to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for you and your family," Schuller said.
Park visitors are welcome to talk with property managers to see they have additional "on-the-ground" perspective about where hunting is concentrated on a park property.
"We urge all visitors to consider wearing bright-colored, highly visible or reflective clothing when hunting seasons are open. If you have blaze orange clothing, it is a good choice to wear as it is commonly used to notify others of your presence in the area."
In addition, hunters need to be aware that park properties that were previously open for deer hunting by park-specific access permits remain open only to those deer hunters who applied for and received permits to hunt in those properties. The following parks require park access permits for firearm and bow deer hunting: Brunet Island, Council Grounds, Harrington Beach, Kohler-Andrae, Peninsula, Perrot, Rib Mountain, Wildcat Mountain, Wyalusing and the Loew Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. In addition, High Cliff and Lake Wissota state parks require park access permits for firearm deer hunting.
Park access permits go on sale in mid-August on a first come-first serve basis, and all parks except Peninsula and Rib Mountain have sold out. Peninsula and Rib Mountain are limited to bow and muzzleloader hunting only. People can check park access permits by searching the DNR website for "deer permit availability," and scroll down to park access permits.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Holtan, Wisconsin state parks public affairs manager 608-267-7517
MADISON - Wisconsin has 18 new wildlife biologists working around state on habitat management, wildlife population monitoring, and including answering questions from the public on wildlife, hunting, trapping and public recreation on wildlife areas.
The Department of Natural Resources wildlife program was recently able to fill positions around the state, many that have been vacant for extended periods of time.
"We are delighted that this new class of wildlife biologists can fill the gaps in coverage we had across the state and strengthen our service to the citizens of Wisconsin and the wildlife they cherish," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Our local field staff are vital to building effective wildlife conservation partnerships within the communities and counties they serve."
The new biologists, together with, existing wildlife biologists and technicians, provide land and wildlife management from prescribed burning to access maintenance on the vast network of Wildlife Management Area's throughout Wisconsin. Wildlife areas are used by the public for educational activities like school field trips, and recreational uses like hiking, bird watching, hunting, trapping and fishing.
"The mission of the Wildlife Management Program is to work with people to protect and manage Wisconsin wildlife populations and their habitats, and to promote wildlife enjoyment and appreciation for the benefit of current and future generations," said Tom Hauge, DNR Wildlife Program Director.
Wisconsin's Wildlife Biologists have undergraduate, and in many cases, graduate degrees in a wildlife related field.
"The strong academic training and work experience that this new group of biologists brings to the DNR will be a great asset to the state as they plan and conduct land management activities -- such as habitat restoration, exotic plant control, and prescribed burns -- and protect and manage wildlife populations.," Hauge said
Additionally, their responsibilities include overseeing public recreation activities; such as hunting, and trapping that occur on the lands they manage, as well as construction of public use facilities. They also serve the citizens in their community by responding to public inquiries, participating in Learn To Hunt and Hunter Safety Programs and attending meetings with local governments and constituents.
The following wildlife biologists will be stationed at the locations listed below:
More information about Wisconsin's wildlife program can be found by searching the: DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keyword "Wildlife" to get an overview of what the DNR does to conserve and protect our wildlife populations and habitats; or search "wildlife areas" to get links to all the state wildlife areas and other state managed lands.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Hauge - 608-266-2193
MADISON -- This fall, hunters may inadvertently be taking home more than deer and good memories. The Department of Natural Resources is asking hunters to be aware of a few steps that can be taken to help keep invasive plants from hitching a ride on their gear or their vehicle.
To help keep Wisconsin's forests and lands healthy for both deer and hunters who access them, the DNR invasive plants program suggests the following four tips for hunters heading to the field this fall:
"There are benefits both for wildlife and for hunters in keeping Wisconsin's healthy forests filled with native vegetation. For one, deer prefer to feed on native plants," said Tom Boos, DNR invasive species coordinator. "In fact, research shows they leave behind the less-appetizing non-native invasive plants like buckthorn and garlic mustard. Plus, if you've ever tried to access a good hunting spot through a thorny thicket of invasive multiflora rose, for example, you've probably come to prefer native plants too."
As deer browse native plants and leave behind invasive one, those invasive plants quickly out-compete native plants, leaving fewer of the native plants essential for a healthy wildlife habitat. Additionally, invasive plant infested woods can harbor substantially more ticks than healthy forests. According to Boos, Japanese barberry, an invasive plant becoming widespread across the Wisconsin landscape, creates a more humid environment perfect for breeding and harboring ticks.
"So remember when you're hunting this year, the deer may not see your blaze orange but invasive seeds sure can. When you're taking home your deer this year, be sure you aren't taking home invasive buckthorn, or other invasives too," said Boos.
More information is available by going to the Best Management Practices for Recreational Activities (exit DNR) on the Wisconsin Council on Forestry website. A Common Invasive Species [PDF] brochure available on the DNR website can help people identify invasive plants.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Boos, invasive species coordinator, 608 266-9276, Thomas.Boos@wisconsin.gov
MADISON - State wildlife officials are encouraging hunters heading out for Wisconsin's traditional nine-day gun deer hunting season to keep an eye out for feral pigs. Feral pig sightings and harvests should be reported on the Department of Natural Resources website dnr.wi.gov by searching for keyword "feral pigs."
Since 1997 feral pig have been reported in at least 51 Wisconsin counties, although not all of these reports have been verified.
"Each year we receive reports of feral pig sightings and harvests from around the state," says Dan Hirchert, DNR wildlife damage specialist. "Fortunately most of these reports turn out to be domestic pigs that were running loose; however, any report of feral pigs is of interest and concern given the negative impacts they can have on the environment, Wisconsin's agriculture, and our domestic swine industry."
Feral pigs have been defined as "existing in an untamed or wild, unconfined state, having returned to such a state from domestication." Feral pigs can be found across a wide variety of habitats and are highly destructive because of the rooting they do in search of food. They're also efficient predators preying on many species including white-tailed deer fawns and ground nesting birds like grouse, woodcock, turkeys, and songbirds.
Feral pigs are known to carry a number of diseases of danger to humans and the domestic swine industry, including swine brucellosis, pseudorabies and leptospirosis.
For removal purposes, feral pigs are currently considered unprotected wild animals and may be hunted year-round. The only day they cannot be hunted with a gun is the Friday before the day of the nine-day gun deer hunting season. Also, feral pig hunting hours are the same as for deer during the nine-day season. During the rest of the year, there are no hunting hour restrictions for feral pigs.
There is no bag limit on feral pigs. Landowners may shoot feral pigs on their own property without a hunting license. Anyone else can shoot a feral pig as long as they possess a valid small game license, sport license, or patron license and have landowner permission if they are on private land.
While the department encourages the removal of feral pigs whenever possible, Hirchert cautions that before shooting "hunters need to be sure the pigs are feral and they are not their neighbor's domestic pigs that may have just escaped. Hunters could be liable for the replacement cost of the pig if they are domestic." A call to the local sheriff's office can help to determine if escaped pigs have been reported by the owner.
Additional information on feral pigs and feral pig hunting is available on the Department of Natural Resources Website: dnr.wi.gov keyword search "feral pigs."
State officials request that anyone shooting a feral pig call a DNR service center or contact a DNR wildlife biologist so that blood and tissue samples can be collected for disease testing in collaboration with U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection veterinarians office.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Hirchert, 608-267-7974
MADISON - A Green Bay naturalist and a Waukesha County conservation specialist were recently recognized as "facilitators of year" for two statewide environmental education programs.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources awarded Kim Diedrich with the Project WILD Facilitator of the Year award, and Jayne Jenks with the Project WET Facilitator of the Year award on Nov. 9 at ceremony entitled "A Celebration of Excellence in Environmental Education" at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona.
"These awards are given to facilitators who have provided outstanding contributions to each of these programs," said Janet Hutchens, DNR environmental education specialist who coordinates the two programs. "Award recipients have strengthened literacy focused on wildlife and water conservation and have provided citizens with a greater understanding of Wisconsin's rich natural resources and their management, along with effectively demonstrating the use of the program's materials. These individuals have demonstrated a sustained active dedication to the program's goals and serve as a valued partner of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources."
Kim Diedrich has dedicated 25 years of her career to sharing Project WILD with educators and future youth leaders. She is the chief naturalist at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay and provides several workshops each year to teachers, other non-formal educators and many UW Green Bay pre-service teachers. Diedrich enjoys working with college students and creating activities that are relevant to kids of all ages in Wisconsin. She is looking forward to continuing to deliver multiple workshops annually to reach more citizens.
Jayne Jenks, conservation specialist with the Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use, coordinates the storm water education programs for 26 communities. She has been an active and dedicated Project WET facilitator for 16 years. She uses project WET frequently in programs with youth, school groups, scouts and childcare programs. She also provides an Environmental STEM teacher training using Project WET. Jayne works with Concordia and Carroll Universities and wants to build new partnerships to share Project WET with others.
Project WILD is a supplementary wildlife conservation education program emphasizing awareness, appreciation and understanding of wildlife and natural resources and encourages learning in the outdoors with field investigations that meet national and state learning standards.
Project WET is Water Education for Teachers and provides Wisconsin water resources education to youth leaders with a goal to promote awareness and empower students to take action in their communities to help solve local water resource issues.
Project WILD and Project WET training is available across the state through a large network of facilitators who provide training locally. To learn more about how to become trained, find your local trainer, or subscribe to our workshop notification service, visit the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov and search for the programs by name.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Janet Hutchens, State Coordinator, Project WILD and Project WET, 608-261-8453, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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