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Weekly News Published - April 4, 2017 by the Central Office

 

2017 Spring Fisheries and Wildlife rules hearing set for April 10

Hearings and Conservation Congress meetings held in each county of the state

MADISON - Hearings that offer citizens and stakeholders the opportunity to help guide natural resource management in Wisconsin get underway in all 72 Wisconsin counties [PDF] at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 10.

The spring fish and wildlife hearings are held in conjunction with annual county Conservation Congress meetings and feature nonbinding votes and testimony on proposed rule changes as well as advisory topics relating to fish and wildlife management. The spring hearing questionnaire [PDF] and details on all county meeting locations can be found by searching the Department of Natural Resources website for keywords "spring hearings."

This year, the ballot contains 88 questions regarding new hunting season dates for some game species, revised daily bag and length limits for some sportfish and new options for deer herd management. Six proposals focus on simplifying historic and likely outdated regulations. There are also questions related to invasive or exotic species, refuges and more.

Key DNR fisheries proposed rule changes include:

Key DNR wildlife proposed rule changes include:

The questionnaire also includes Wisconsin Conservation Congress advisory items, with questions 85-88 focused on additional management tools to help County Deer Advisory Councils in maintaining or decreasing the deer population in their counties.

In addition to answering the spring hearing questions, county residents have the option to run for a seat on the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, or elect other delegates from their county to represent local views regarding natural resources on the Conservation Congress. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress is the only advisory body in the state where citizens elect delegates to represent their interests on natural resources issues on a local and statewide level to the Natural Resources Board and the Department of Natural Resources.

The meeting format allows individuals the opportunity to raise new conservation ideas or issues through the citizen resolution process.

Meeting results, along with written comments on the evening's questions and DNR recommendations are used to advise the state Natural Resources Board. Votes are nonbinding and are presented to the Natural Resources Board as advisory.

Learn more by visiting dnr.wi.gov and searching "spring hearings."

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County Deer Advisory Councils to finalize 2017 deer season recommendations at April meetings

Preliminary CDAC recommendations open for public review and comment through April 13

MADISON -- Preliminary recommendations developed by each County Deer Advisory Council at their March meetings are now available for public review and comment.

To provide feedback, use the online survey tool found on the Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, searching keyword "CDAC." The survey is open through April 13, and all results will be provided to council members prior to April meetings.

County Deer Advisory Councils will prepare final antlerless quota, permit level and season structure recommendations during the last round of spring meetings April 17-20. Councils will consider online public input responses, other public comments and assessments from DNR biologists, foresters and law enforcement staff as they develop final recommendations.

April CDAC meetings will be open to the public for any additional comments -- a meeting schedule and other helpful information can be found at keyword "CDAC" or via email by contacting DNRCDACWebMail@Wisconsin.gov.

Following April 2017 meetings, final deer season recommendations will be presented to the department and then sent to the Natural Resources Board for approval in May. Approved recommendations will be implemented during the 2017 deer hunting seasons.

Councils use annual quotas and permit levels to manage deer in order to achieve county-specific 2015 - 2017 population objectives (increase, decrease or maintain the deer herd).

New Wisconsin deer metrics system places important data at your fingertips

A new deer metrics system provides for a unique opportunity to take a detailed look at how County Deer Advisory Councils and the Department of Natural Resources work closely with the public to manage Wisconsin's deer herd.


This totorial video will help anyone interested in learning more about the deer herd in their areas.
Video Credit: DNR

Metrics provided in the system include deer harvest figures, population trends, deer impacts on agriculture and forest resources, herd history, deer herd health, deer hunter surveys and more. To check out this new webpage and learn more about Wisconsin's deer herd, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "deer metrics."

This deer metrics system is unlike any other in the country and will provide anyone interested in deer management the opportunity to be better informed on their local deer herd. Users are encouraged to get more involved in local deer management through participation in County Deer Advisory Councils or the Deer Management Assistance Program.

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Make final preparations now to ensure a great spring turkey hunt

MADISON -- The 2017 spring turkey hunt is almost here, and hunters are reminded to check out the regulations and other helpful information on the Department of Natural Resources website to make sure they are ready for another year in the woods.

Spring turkey hunting regulations can be found within the 2016 Small Game Hunting Regulations, 2016 Fall Turkey Regulations, and 2017 Spring Turkey Regulations [PDF]. For more general information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword "turkey."

Tagging, transport and possession- if you leave it, tag it!

For tag species such as wild turkey, in 2017 hunters must again possess their carcass tags while hunting. Upon killing a turkey, hunters must immediately validate the carcass tag by writing the date and circling AM or PM in the space provided. No hunter may leave the turkey carcass unless the validated carcass tag has been attached to it.

All harvested turkeys must be registered either online at GameReg.Wi.Gov or via phone at 1-844-GAME-REG (1-844-426-3734) by 5 p.m. the day after harvest. Hunters will need the carcass tag number from their carcass tag to begin harvest registration process. Again this year, there are no in-person registration stations are available. Following the registration process, hunters will be given a harvest registration confirmation number which must be recorded on their carcass tag at the time of registration.

Spring turkey periods run for seven days

The 2017 spring turkey season will run from April 19 through May 30, with six seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday. A total of seven zones will be open for hunting.

Youth turkey hunt set for April 15-16

Youth hunters ages 12-15 who have completed hunter education may hunt during the youth turkey hunt on April 15 and 16 while accompanied by an adult over the age of 18. In addition, thanks to the Mentored Hunting Program, turkey hunters ages 10 and 11 may also participate in the 2017 youth turkey hunt without first having completed hunter education, as long as they do so with a qualified adult mentor and follow program rules.

Wisconsin's public lands are the perfect place to pursue birds this spring

Each year, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts use Wisconsin's public lands for a variety of activities, ranging from birdwatching to hunting. For those interested in exploring all Wisconsin has to offer, the department has a number of tools available to help users find a new favorite spot in the wild.

Public lands are the perfect place to pursue turkeys this spring.
Public lands are the perfect place to pursue turkeys this spring.
Photo Credit: DNR

Spring turkey permits are no longer available in any of the previous state park hunting zones following a 2014 rule change. While these permits have been eliminated, state parks will remain open for spring turkey hunting during select periods, and have been absorbed into surrounding turkey management zones. For example, a hunter wishing to hunt within Governor Dodge State Park, previously Zone 1A, may still do so with a Zone 1 permit. For more information regarding hunting within state parks, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "state park hunting."

Hunters are reminded that the Fort McCoy spring turkey hunting season is managed separately from the State of Wisconsin spring turkey hunt. Hunters who do not receive approval to hunt turkeys through the state drawing in a Wisconsin turkey hunting zone for the 2017 spring season are eligible to apply for a spring permit at Fort McCoy. Applications can be obtained from Fort McCoy by calling 608-388-3337 or visiting www.mccoy.army.mil (exit DNR).

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Skamania steelhead will add to diverse fishery in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan

MADISON -- As they begin to swim up and gulp down their first few meals after hatching, the young Skamania steelhead at Kettle Moraine Springs State Fish Hatchery are making important progress toward Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources goals of ensuring a diverse Lake Michigan fishery.

The fish, hatched from eggs provided by the state of Indiana as part of cooperative interstate management efforts, represent the first batch of Skamania steelhead to be reared in the state hatchery system since 2008. Over the next three to five years, DNR fisheries managers intend to continue collecting eggs from Indiana to stock the Kewaunee and Root rivers with some 35,000 fish each.

Recently hatched Skamania strain steelhead swim in their temporary home at the Kettle Moraine Springs State Fish Hatchery.
Recently hatched Skamania strain steelhead swim in their temporary home at the Kettle Moraine Springs State Fish Hatchery.
Photo Credit: DNR

These rivers will then serve as collection points for a population of steelhead that will provide enough genetic diversity for Wisconsin to sustain its own egg collection and rearing efforts.

Dave Giehtbrock, DNR fisheries propagation section chief, said the Skamania strain is particularly prized because the fish may reach 32 inches and 12 pounds at age five - larger than either the Ganaraska or Chambers Creek strains. Skamania also extend in-stream and nearshore fishing opportunities because they become more active when the water starts to cool in mid‐September and spawn from mid‐December through mid‐March with the peak occurring in January and February. In addition, late summer rains in July and August can pull Skamania in from the lake, providing unique fishing opportunities in late summer.

"We appreciate the mutual support from the state of Indiana and over the years, the exchanges of Indiana steelhead eggs and Wisconsin chinook and coho eggs have created new opportunities for all Lake Michigan anglers," Giehtbrock said. "By reactivating the Skamania program now, we're hoping to establish sufficient populations in the two broodstock rivers to allow for egg collection and rearing when the Kettle Moraine Springs hatchery is fully rebuilt."

Giehtbrock said staff from DNR's Nevin Hatchery and central office traveled to Indiana in late January to help collect egg with the Indiana DNR. Together, the team spawned 40 females that provided about 164,000 "green" or fertilized eggs. DNR staff then drove the eggs back to the Kettle Moraine Springs Annex where they were incubated and fish health paperwork was completed.

"The drive back was a bit nerve-wracking for staff because the water had to be kept very cold and there are always concerns about traffic, but in the end everything went smoothly," Giehtbrock said. "The fish hatched out at 93 percent and at this point, they are looking good."

In the past, because of the unique biology of the Skamania, broodstock were captured in September and held at the Kettle Moraine Springs hatchery prior to spawning. The need to hold fish prior to spawning presented a biosecurity problem that put all of the yearling fish production at risk due to diseases such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia or VHS.

In 2008, DNR made the decision to discontinue the production of Skamania until a biosecure area to hold the brood could be designed and built at the Kettle Moraine location. The effort to stock the brood collection rivers with this strain of fish is underway now so that gametes will be available to maximize the production of fish once renovations are complete at Kettle Moraine Springs.

Giehtbrock said DNR fisheries managers believe the additional effort is a good investment in the future of the Lake Michigan fishery. Skamania, Ganaraska and Chambers Creek steelhead were all stocked continuously from 1988 to 2008 and provided an excellent, nearly year-round fishery in Lake Michigan and its tributaries thanks to the different spawning times of the strains.

A redesign of the Kettle Moraine Springs hatchery is currently underway with plans calling for a biosecure area large enough to rear all three strains of steelhead. The fish now being raised are scheduled for stocking in the spring of 2018 with anticipated maturity ranging from 2020 to 2022.

Steelhead and rainbow trout are the same species of fish, but those living in Great Lakes tributaries undergo a process called smoltification to prepare for life after leaving their natal streams and entering the larger lake environment. Steelhead were introduced into the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan as early as 1884 but the program gained support as the recreational fishery grew in importance following the introduction of coho and chinook salmon in the 1960s.

Steelhead are native to the western U.S. where they inhabit the coastal waters. Skamania were developed at the Skamania hatchery in the state of Washington while Chambers Creek originated at Washington's South Tacoma hatchery and Ganaraska have become naturalized in Lake Ontario.

As with other strains of steelhead, Skamania have the capacity to spawn more than once; unlike chinook and coho salmon, they do not die after spawning. For more information about the different strains of steelhead, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search "steelhead" [PDF].

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Keep Wildlife Wild, enjoy view of wildlife from afar

MADISON -- Get out the binoculars! There's excitement in Wisconsin's woods, fields and backyards as young wild animals emerge, making spring a fun time to observe wildlife from a distance.

Dianne Robinson, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist who chairs a multi-agency Keep Wildlife Wild committee, reminds observers to watch the fun of the young animals from afar.

Young wildlife like this raccoon are often left alone by their mothers but are not abandoned.
Young wildlife like this raccoon are often left alone by their mothers but are not abandoned.
Photo Credit: DNR

"We need to resist our well-intentioned temptation to interact with a young animal we perceive to be on its own," Robinson said. "Human interaction often does more harm than good in these situations."

Licensed wildlife rehabilitator and Keep Wildlife Wild committee member Cheryl Diehl says never assume an animal is orphaned.

"Some wildlife mothers leave their young unattended to gather food or to protect them from predators," she said. "It may seem to the human eye the young are not being cared for because you can't see the mother. Chances are she knows you're there."

Experts suggest watching the animal through binoculars during the day. If the animal is genuinely orphaned or injured, don't touch or feed the animal and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator by calling the DNR Customer Service at 1-888-DNRINFO (1-888-936-7463) or by visiting the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword: rehab.

DNR Wildlife Biologist Michelle Carlisle says the care of young animals varies for wildlife species.

"This is why this is an interesting time to learn more about Wisconsin's animals. Fawns are born with spots and very little scent to hide them from predators. A fawn found lying still and by itself should be left alone," Carlisle said. "Young raccoons are often seen playing in trees or yards without their mother, but she is nearby."

DNR Wildlife Biologist Julie Widholm says geese and ducks will sit on their nest for a month. "A stationary goose is likely not injured, but incubating her eggs," Widholm said. "Fledgling songbirds leave nests without parental supervision and before they are capable of flight."

Robinson says the committee works to help prevent orphaned or injured wildlife situations. Here are additional tips from the Keep Wildlife Wild experts:

For more tips and facts about how wildlife care for their young search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "keep wildlife wild."

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First bald eagle nest documented in Kenosha County

Discovery means 70 of 72 counties have active nests

MADISON -- Kenosha County has its first documented active bald eagle nest in 45 years of surveying, bringing to 70 the number of Wisconsin counties where the nation's symbol has made a comeback.

The discovery leaves Milwaukee and Walworth counties as the only remaining counties with no confirmed active bald eagle nests, but conservation biologists believe it is only a matter of time before the nation's symbol sets up housekeeping there too.

"It's great to see the continued expansion of their range and the numbers of nests continuing to rise," says Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist Sharon Fandel, who last week confirmed the bald eagle nest after receiving a call from a landowner.

She drove to Kenosha County March 28 and used a spotting scope to identify a bald eagle incubating on a nest in a large tree along the edge of an agricultural field.

A view through a spotting scope of the first documented bald eagle nest in Kenosha County.
A view through a spotting scope of the first documented bald eagle nest in Kenosha County.
Photo Credit: DNR

"I congratulated the landowner on getting the first documented eagle nest in Kenosha County," Fandel says.

"I thought it was pretty cool," the landowner said. "It's kind of inspiring and surprising to have it on my land."

Fandel is excited as well about the confirmation of an active eagle nest. "It tells of a great success story in terms of how we were able to react to issues that were negatively impacting bald eagle populations and turn it around by changing our behavior to benefit them in the long run."

Bald eagle populations have gradually recovered in Wisconsin and nationally as a result of the banning of the pesticide DDT nationally in 1972 (and in Wisconsin in 1969), a prohibition on killing of eagles, improved water quality in lakes and rivers, nest protection, and reintroduction of eagles in some areas. Bald eagles were removed from Wisconsin's endangered species list in 1997 and from the federal list in 2007.

Wisconsin aerial surveys in 2016 confirmed 1,504 occupied eagle nests, nearly 15 times as many as the 108 documented nests found in the 1970s. Aerial surveys to determine if nests are occupied are underway now for 2017 and results will be compiled later this spring.


People who see an active bald eagle nest, with adults incubating eggs or exhibiting other breeding behaviors, are encouraged to report their 2017 observations through the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. Reporting helps inform the comprehensive, 5-year breeding bird survey as well as the aerial surveys to monitor eagle nests.

Celebrate eagles' comeback by buying a license plate to fund the next conservation success


Wisconsin residents can celebrate and contribute to the continuing comeback of bald eagles and rare species by buying a bald eagle license plate. License plate sales and donations to the Endangered Resources Fund are a critical source of funding for work by DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation staff with endangered species and natural areas.

The $25 annual donation to keep the plate helps fund work including the bald eagle nest occupancy survey, which is one of the longest running surveys of its kind in North America and provides important information to help monitor eagle populations and protect nests. Learn more about the work funded by the Endangered Resources fund by reading the annual report of DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program [PDF].

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Natural Resources Board to meet April 12 in Madison

MADISON - A proposed emergency board order to set the 2017 Wisconsin waterfowl season structure and bag limits is among the items the state Natural Resources Board will address when it meets April 12 in Madison.

The regular business meeting will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 12, in Room G09 of the State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 South Webster St., Madison. Some board members will be participating in the meeting via conference call.

The proposal for the 2017 waterfowl season structure would eliminate the two periods for the Horicon zone and establish one Canada goose hunting season allowing hunters to hunt on any day of the continuous 92-day season.

The agenda also includes a number of donations being made to Devil's Lake and Whitefish Dunes state parks and for grouse habitat projects on eight properties.

The complete board agenda is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "NRB" and clicking on the button for "view agendas."

The public must pre-register with Laurie Ross, board liaison, to testify at the board meeting. The deadline to register to testify or submit written comments for this business meeting is 11 a.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017. Registration information is available on the agenda on the DNR website.

Board meetings are webcast live. People can watch the meeting over the internet by going to the NRB agenda page of the DNR website and clicking on webcasts in the Related Links column on the right. Then click on this month's meeting. After each meeting, the webcast will be permanently available on demand.

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Three new members inducted into Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame

Long-time Natural Resources Board member Christine Thomas among inductees

STEVENS POINT, Wis. -- A University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Dean of the College of Natural Resources who served for 11 years on the state Natural Resources Board is among three new members who will be inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame this year.

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
Contributed photo

Christine Thomas, along with Hugh Iltis, a distinguished UW-Madison professor of botany, and Milly Zantow, a pioneering recycling advocate for Wisconsin, will be inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22.

"Christine has been a tireless advocate for sound management of Wisconsin's natural resources," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "While serving on the Natural Resources Board, she was a strong voice for listening to the will of the people when implementing measures to carry out that management."

In 1991 Thomas founded the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, or BOW, program, now offered nationally, to promote the involvement of women in outdoor activities and conservation efforts.

The induction ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 22, at Sentry Theater in Stevens Point. A coffee reception at 9 a.m. will precede the ceremony and a luncheon follows at 12:30 p.m. at the nearby Sentry World Center. The ceremony will include tributes by invited speakers and presentation of recognition plaques that will be displayed in the hall of fame visitor center in UW-Stevens Point's Schmeeckle Reserve.

Thomas has been Dean of the College of Natural Resources since 2005. In addition to serving on the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board she has held leadership and advisory positions with national conservation organizations and governmental agencies.

Iltis and Zantow are both being inducted into the hall of fame posthumously.

In the 1960s, Itlis co-founded the Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, joined fellow citizen activists to ban DDT, and promoted all aspects of environmental quality. He is recognized internationally for his efforts to protect biosphere reserves in Mexico and South America and the discovery of rare plant species.

Zantow helped launch the Recycling Revolution in Wisconsin and the nation. In 1979 she co-founded the E-Z Recycling Center in Sauk County, one of the first in the nation. Working with communities, lawmakers, and the plastics industry, she helped invent the "Recycling Triangle," a system now used globally to identify different plastics. She also contributed to establishing the 1990 Wisconsin Recycling Law.

The induction ceremony and coffee reception are free and open to the public. Reservations for lunch are $25 per person and may be made online with Eventbrite at http://bit.ly/WCHF2017 (exit DNR) or by calling Schmeeckle Reserve at 715-346-4992.

More information about the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame is available on their website www.WCHF.org and additional details about the inductees and ceremony are available in a WCHF news release http://bit.ly/2njrx3A [PDF] (both links exit DNR).

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Foundation Field Trips are front and center in April issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

MADISON - Just in time for spring, the latest issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine is packed with information about the state's beautiful outdoors areas - and great ways to enjoy them.


Anchoring the April issue is a story highlighting some of the many field trips organized by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. "Unleash your wild side" includes trip dates and details, plus information on how to register for the excursions designed to accommodate a variety of interests and age groups.

"The Wonder of the Dunes" introduces readers to the Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve in Two Rivers. This Department of Natural Resources-designated "globally significant" 1,300-acre gem on the shores of Lake Michigan features diverse terrain and a variety of special habitats.

Readers will find out how a group of schoolchildren in the Middleton-Cross Plains district worked to help the bluebird of happiness stay that way. "The Wren-i-gade" spins a tale of bird bullies, creative kids and a unique nest box solution. "Learning rooted in place" also focuses on students, exploring how place-based learning connects kids to the natural world at schools in Montello and Highland.

"Greener pastures" examines the emerging practice of conservation grazing on public lands and its benefits to both ranchers and wildlife managers, with a case study from the Buena Vista Wildlife Area.

For something fun and fanciful, readers can check out the story of an unusual backyard visitor, "Hilda, the unmuffled grouch," a whimsical tale recalling a silly bird that stole one family's heart some six decades ago.

John Motoviloff's regular feature, "Keeping it wild: Outdoor food and forays," takes time for "Talking turkey, from field to fork," addressing everything from how to handle the bird after the hunt to tasty ways to enjoy it at the table.

In the magazine's other regular features, "Back in the day" uncovers the mystery behind an abandoned homestead in the woods of Crawford County, and Thomas A. Meyer's "Wisconsin, naturally" takes readers to Bradley Creek Swamp Conifers State Natural Area in Portage County.

And anglers won't want to miss the 2017 Spring Fishing Report insert. Like so much else in the April magazine, it's just in time to enjoy the season.

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 P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Contact information

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