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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 465 days

Weekly News Published - July 12, 2016 by the Central Office

 

Lake Michigan anglers asked to aid chinook salmon and lake trout research

MILWAUKEE -With reports of great salmon and trout fishing this summer in Wisconsin ports up and down Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is encouraging anglers to aid critical fisheries research by donating the heads of fish they harvest.

The heads of stocked chinook salmon and lake trout are being sought as part of an ongoing and collaborative effort lake-wide to document fish behavior and provide information that will aid in management of the fishery. Mid-summer is an important time for data collection because salmon from throughout Lake Michigan and parts of Lake Huron travel to Wisconsin's shores to take advantage of the alewives gathered here.

"We are seeing large numbers of chinook salmon coming into the region's ports as well as steelhead, coho, brown trout and lake trout. Anglers are reporting that this is shaping up to be one of the best years of fishing in at least the last three years," said Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes district fisheries supervisor. "Given other data that show changes in the populations of prey fish, it is more important than ever for us to gather as much information as possible and we need anglers' help to learn what's going on in the lake. The tags in the snouts of the stocked chinook salmon and lake trout tell us when and where the fish were stocked plus other valuable information."

Tagged fish are missing their adipose fin.
Tagged fish are missing their adipose fin.

Only harvested fish missing the small back top fin, known as the adipose fin, are being sought, because the missing fin is a sign that the fish likely received a tag in its snout. For several years now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state natural resource agencies have been marking hatchery-raised chinook and lake trout by safely implanting a tiny steel tag etched with a number that tells where and when the fish was hatched and stocked.

Small pins have been planted in chinook that have adapose tail clipped off.
Small tags have been planted in chinook that have adipose tail clipped off.
Photo Credit: DNR
The coded wire tags may be small, but they provide important information to fisheries managers.
The coded wire tags may be small, but they provide important information to fisheries managers.
Photo Credit: DNR

The effort is funded through a grant to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (New Franken, WI) from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Several ages and sizes of tagged chinook salmon are now available for anglers to catch, making this an important time to collect chinook salmon and lake trout heads to look for the steel tags.

DNR has partnered with local businesses in most major ports along the lakeshore to provide convenient locations for anglers to drop off fish heads. The businesses have been given forms for anglers to fill out and bags to use for freezing the heads. Anglers should include the following information with each head - date and location of capture, along with the fish species, length, weight and gender.

Nick Legler, DNR Lake Michigan fisheries biologist, said the research effort will help biologists evaluate how many wild and stocked fish are in Lake Michigan and the distances they travel to feed. The data also will be used to measure fish growth, survival and age at capture as well as analyze hatchery and stocking practices.

Initial findings from the research [PDF] (starting on page 65) show that during the summer months, Wisconsin anglers benefit from chinook stocked in other states as those fish migrate here to feed. In addition, Wisconsin-stocked salmon survive at above average rates and contribute to the state's fall fishery when they return to the water where they were first stocked to spawn. Currently, wild chinook now account for about 70 percent of the lake-wide population. The vast majority of these wild fish are from spawning in Michigan (state) and Ontario (Lake Huron) streams with a more minor component coming from Wisconsin streams.

In addition to learning more about chinook, comments from recreational anglers and charter captains who attended recent Lake Michigan stakeholder meetings indicated strong interest in developing more robust information about lake trout abundance and impact on prey species. Eggold said the coded wire tag research will further efforts by DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to understand lake trout populations and their impact on Lake Michigan prey fish.

DNR appreciates the efforts of the anglers who donated fish heads last year and the businesses that serve as collection points. Thanks to the contributions from anglers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service processed more than 15,500 fish snouts from throughout the region during 2015. Anglers are also encouraged to allow DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service technicians working at tournaments and fish cleaning stations to process their catches to collect this valuable information.

Collection Locations

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Comment period remains open, background information posted on Lake Michigan fisheries issues

MILWAUKEE - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources continues to welcome comments on a variety of options to manage the valuable Lake Michigan fishery given ongoing changes in the food web.

DNR recently concluded three public meetings that laid out a variety of challenges and opportunities for the multi-million dollar fishery and those who depend on it for their livelihoods and recreation. A copy of the presentation and summary of stakeholder comments from the June 27 meeting in Cleveland, Wis., can be found by visiting the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov and searching "Lake Michigan salmon and trout meetings."

The recent meetings focused on a variety of potential management actions to ensure continued diverse opportunities for sport anglers. Topics for discussion included finding the right species mix, stocking numbers, use of net pens, hatchery production, habitat restoration and the potential to increase focus on species with the greatest chances of thriving given the record low levels of open water forage fish such as alewives and rainbow smelt.

The initiative represents part of an ongoing effort by DNR to ensure anglers' voices are heard.

In addition to concern over the size of the proposed lake-wide stocking reduction for chinook, anglers at the recent meetings expressed interest in other methods to bring Lake Michigan's predator-prey ratio into balance, including reducing stocking of lake trout and increasing the daily bag limits for lake trout. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service already has indicated plans to reduce stocking of lake trout in Lake Michigan waters by a total of 550,000 fall fingerlings in 2016.

Anglers, charter captains, associated business owners, commercial fishers and other fish enthusiasts are encouraged to provide input to help natural resource managers maintain a world-class fishery.

The deadline for comments is July 31. Send comments via DNR Lake Michigan Plan or to: Bradley T. Eggold, Wisconsin DNR, UWM-GLRF-SFS, 600 E. Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53204

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Deer Management Assistance Program continues to grow

MADISON -- In its third year of serving the people and wildlife of Wisconsin, the Deer Management Assistance Program continues to build relationships with landowners, hunters and property managers to manage deer and improve wildlife habitat.

Following the March 1, 2016 enrollment deadline, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources received 228 new DMAP applications covering over 124,000 acres in 62 counties. This brings the three-year total number of landowners involved in DMAP to nearly 1,000, with 220,980 acres enrolled in the program statewide.

"The DMAP cooperator base continues to expand, allowing for increased opportunities for private landowners, public land managers and DNR staff to properly manage forests while improving habitat for deer and other wildlife species," said Bob Nack, DNR DMAP coordinator. "The partnerships being developed to do good things for the wildlife we all enjoy are really impressive."

DMAP applicants can sign up at one of three levels of enrollment based on property size; each offers a different enrollment fee and set of benefits. Properties of any size can enroll at Level 1 at no cost to receive benefits such as consultation with a local DNR wildlife biologist, access to online deer and habitat management publications and participation in local DMAP workshops and citizen science opportunities. Properties greater than 160 acres can enroll at Level 2 or 3 for a minimal three-year fee. Along with all Level 1 benefits, Level 2 and 3 properties receive a site visit from a local DNR wildlife biologist and forester, a property-specific management plan and the potential for reduced-price antlerless harvest tags. Properties within a half mile of each other can combine acreage to sign up as a group cooperative and qualify for benefits at a higher enrollment level.

DMAP cooperators at any level may also attend one of several workshops offered around the state in the spring and summer of each year.

"DMAP workshops provide information on the habitat needs of deer and other wildlife, proper forest management techniques to benefit wildlife, cost-share programs for habitat improvement projects and much more," said Nack. "Our focus for these workshops is to get cooperators thinking about which strategies they could implement on their property to provide the best habitat for the wildlife they want to watch or hunt."

Summer workshops are open to DMAP cooperators, and combine professional presentations, discussion, hands-on activities and tours of DMAP properties to share information on the principles of wildlife habitat and deer management. Workshops also provide an opportunity to network with wildlife and forestry professionals and other DMAP cooperators.

Four summer workshops are scheduled for 2016:

Overall, reception of DMAP continues to be positive. On average, 82 percent of DMAP cooperators rated the quality of service through DMAP as "good" or "very good." DMAP site visits also received high marks, with 91 percent of cooperators responding that they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the site visit.

Landowners not currently enrolled in DMAP can attend the remaining summer workshops by signing up for DMAP at any time. Level 2 or 3 applications received now will immediately receive DMAP benefits and will be eligible for a site visit in 2017. To find more information and to enroll in DMAP, visit dnr.wi.gov, keyword "DMAP."

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DNR hires two new deer biologists in Black River Falls and Rhinelander

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has added two new deer field biologists to its ranks. Matt Esser will be stationed in Black River Falls, while Curt Rollman will work out of Rhinelander.

"We are excited to have Curt and Matt on board," said Bob Nack, DNR big game section chief. "They will work directly with landowners, hunters and the general public that have a keen interest in white-tailed deer management. Their on-the-ground efforts will seek to improve habitat for deer and other wildlife, monitor disease outbreaks and deer mortality events, support deer research efforts, and engage the public in local deer management recommendations."

Matt Esser
Matt Esser

Esser graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a Bachelor of Science in wildlife and a minor in biology. He was employed as a wildlife technician by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission before moving back to Wisconsin to work as a wildlife biologist and forestry technician in the private sector. Subsequently, Esser founded and operated a wildlife management and forestry consulting company serving 17 counties in west-central Wisconsin. Most recently, he obtained his teaching license and worked as the Agricultural Science Instructor for the school district of Alma Center-Humbird-Merrillan.

Curt Rollman
Curt Rollman

Rollman received his undergraduate degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison in wildlife ecology and his graduate degree from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, completing a thesis on deer browse and snow behavior in a northern hardwoods forest near Crandon. Prior to his graduate work, Rollman worked for seven field seasons with the U. S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services as a nuisance bear and beaver specialist in Rhinelander and Ashland. He then started working for the DNR out of Rhinelander, with the last year spent as a working as a wildlife technician and a habitat coordinator for the Wisconsin Young Forest Partnership.

Esser and Rollman are avid deer hunters and experienced habitat managers. They started in their new positions on July 27. Rollman's area of responsibility will cover northern and eastern Wisconsin and Esser will cover the western and southern part of the state. Contact information for the new deer biologists can be found on the DNR website, keyword: contact.

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Landowner Incentive Program now accepting project proposals for Driftless Area private lands restoration

MADISON - Private landowners, conservation organizations, and land trusts can now apply for funding and technical help through the Landowner Incentive Program to create and manage habitat for rare plants and animals in Wisconsin's Driftless Area.

Since these grants were first awarded in 2006, the Landowner Incentive Program has helped improve nearly 8,000 acres of habitat for more than 240 at-risk species, including red-headed woodpeckers, bullsnakes and pickerel frogs to Hill's thistle and purple milkweed.

The program is competitive, and landowners should visit the Landowner Incentive Program website to review project ranking criteria, eligible work and costs for details. For application information and more helpful tools, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "LIP."

Any privately-owned land located within the Driftless Area is eligible for the program, including traditional private parcels and land trust holdings. Projects must clearly provide benefits to at-risk species and their habitat, but often benefit other species as well.

Eligible work includes, but is not limited to, prescribed burns, planting native vegetation, and invasive and woody species removal.

"We're very pleased to be able to offer property owners technical and financial help that will benefit rare and declining plant and animal species in the Driftless area," says Drew Feldkirchner, who leads the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation that runs the Landowner Incentive Program. "Landowners play a key role in helping conserve our natural heritage for future generations and we appreciate that the work is not always easy but brings great benefits to all of us."

The Department of Natural Resources recently received a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's competitive State Wildlife Grants program - these funds will help support the Landowner Incentive Program. Portions of the grant will also be used to conduct inventories of priority species and manage public lands within the region and can cover up to 75 percent of total project costs.

Funding is provided to highly ranked projects on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants may request funding between $2,500 and $25,000; however, most awards are around $4,000 to $6,000. Projects generally last one year but may be extended for reasons such as weather complications.

How to apply

Landowners who have received LIP funding in the past can contact DNR program staff directly to receive a project application, while new applicants must complete an online pre-proposal form. A site visit by an LIP biologist may also be required to assess a project proposal. If the pre-proposal is approved, landowners are invited to submit a more detailed full project proposal - this includes a comprehensive budget, project objectives, work schedule and evaluation benchmarks.

As a cost-share program, the department will reimburse a landowner for up to 75 percent of the cost for on-the-ground practices. Landowners are required to contribute the remaining 25 percent share through out-of-pocket costs (cash match), or as an in-kind labor and equipment match.

To learn how some Dane County landowners are putting LIP money to work to benefit rare species, check out the Swamplovers [PDF] story in the June issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine.

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Archery among free opportunities at Horicon Marsh Outdoor Skills Day

HORICON, Wis. - Archery, birding, cooking, hunting and fishing are among the fun things to be taught by Department of Natural Resources staff and expert volunteers during the free and family-friendly August Horicon Marsh Outdoor Skills Day.

Horicon Wildlife Educator Liz Herzmann says no registration is required for the August 6 event for all ages. It will run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

"There will be something for everyone at this hands-on, family-friendly event," Herzmann said. "Even if you have a pretty good idea of which activities appeal to you, it can be a great learning experience for anyone with an interest in the outdoors."

How's your aim?

The Horicon Bowmen and the DNR are proud to offer the archery camp at this year's event. People of all ages can try archery using the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) equipment. Herzmann says this is the same easy-to-use equipment dozens of schools all across Wisconsin use in their physical education programs.

Campfire meals, birds and binoculars -- and safety, too!

Watch a cast iron cook in action and taste delicious treats, all prepared over the campfire. Members of the Wisconsin Trappers Association will have a booth with pelts, traps and information for anyone who is interested in learning more about regulated trapping. Certified Hunter Safety Instructors will be available with firearm action sets to demonstrate proper firearm use and safety.

Expert birders will be on hand to show the basics of binocular use. Then, you can put those skills to action on a bird scavenger hunt. Try your hand at tying your own fly as well!

Reel on in

New this year is a fishing station that will take interested people on a mock fishing trip. You get to choose the lake and species you want to fish, and then learn how to plan and execute a successful fishing trip. An instructor will assist on choosing and preparing the proper gear for the excursion. There will be a fish identification primer that will be accompanied with the pertinent rules and regulations. Finally, the participants will get to put their knowledge to the test as they get to fish with rods and plastic fish. Skills to be taught include map reading, knot tying, fish identification, regulations and casting.

The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located between Horicon and Mayville on Highway 28. For a detailed list of all Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center special events, please visit the Friends of Horicon Marsh website at www.horiconmarsh.org [EXIT DNR].

For more information regarding Horicon Marsh education programs, contact Liz Herzmann, DNR educator, at 920-387-7893.

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Wildlife artists have until July 22 to enter wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamp design contest

MADISON - The submission deadline for the 2017 Wisconsin Wild Turkey, Pheasant, and Waterfowl Stamp design contests is drawing near. Artists have until July 22 to submit their artwork for judging, which will take place in a closed session on July 28. The top three pieces of artwork for each stamp will be displayed at the 2016 Wisconsin State Fair from August 4-14.

Close to 30 pieces of artwork were submitted for last year's contest. Robert B. Andrea of Spooner took first place in the 2016 wild turkey stamp contest, and Terry Doughty of Colgate won the 2016 pheasant and waterfowl stamp contests.

The first, second, and third-place entries will be viewable in the Natural Resources Park in the southwest end of the state fairgrounds in West Allis. Visitors are encouraged to explore the many other exciting exhibits offered by the Wisconsin DNR.

The purchase of wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamps is required for hunters pursuing these species, but anyone who appreciates wildlife and wildlife art and wishes to contribute to habitat conservation can purchase the electronic stamp privilege at any license vendor. Those wishing to receive a physical copy of the stamp should ask for Form 9400-567 if they are collectors, or Form 9400-599 if they are hunters who have already purchased the stamp privilege. Collectively, these stamps raise about $1.5 million each year for habitat conservation in Wisconsin.

The contest was first announced last May. For more information about Wisconsin's wildlife stamps, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "wildlife stamps." For more information about the Wisconsin State Fair, visit wistatefair.com.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773