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Weekly News Published - July 18, 2017 by the Central Office

 

Third year of reintroduction effort provides 31 Kentucky elk to Wisconsin's Northwoods

WINTER, Wis. -- After another successful winter trapping effort, 31 elk are now roaming their new home in northern Wisconsin after being released from their acclimation and quarantine pen.



Video Credit: DNR

This year's class represents the third year of Wisconsin's elk translocation efforts and the first year that elk have been released into the Clam Lake elk range in over 20 years. Following two years of translocation efforts in Jackson County, focus shifted back to the original northern herd that resides primarily in Sawyer County, which originated from 25 Michigan elk released in 1995. Twenty-eight elk arrived at the holding pen in late March, but numbers grew slightly as pregnant cows gave birth this summer.

"Overall it was another great year, with many key partners including the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Flambeau River State Forest, U.S. Forest Service, and others all coming together to make these efforts a success," said Kevin Wallenfang, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources elk ecologist and elk reintroduction coordinator. "We experienced some new challenges this year, but overall things went well and we are excited to release these elk into the wild,"

Project goals include the addition of up to 75 elk to the northern population in an effort to supplement herd growth and add new genetics. Currently, the northern elk population is estimated at approximately 165 animals spread throughout several hundred square miles.

"The northern herd has grown steadily, but slower than desired over the years," said Wallenfang. "This current effort will give the herd a boost in overall numbers and hopefully provide a jump-start for herd growth -- an influx of new genetics will also benefit the herd moving forward."

Upon arrival from Kentucky, the elk received 24-hour care and monitoring during the required 120-day quarantine period, which concluded in early June. Final health testing, general animal condition, and calving determined when the elk were released. Each animal, including newborn calves, were fitted with a tracking collar to provide extremely useful movement, habitat preference, and survival data prior to release.

The public is being asked to avoid the general vicinity of the holding pen, and remain watchful when driving in the area to avoid vehicle collision with the elk.

"It's been a great effort getting them here, and now we want to do everything in our power to ensure the herd's success," says Lou George, northern regional director for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. "We ask for these first several weeks that folks give them their space until they settle in."

Elk in Jackson County adjusting well to life in Wisconsin

During the first two years of elk translocation efforts in eastern Jackson County, the Department of Natural Resources and a number of key partners released 73 elk.

The central Wisconsin herd is currently estimated at approximately 60 animals, with up to 20 calves expected to have been born this spring. Several have been confirmed and efforts are being made to confirm additional births through field searches, observations and trail cameras.

"You don't expect to see a lot of herd growth during the first couple years, but they are doing quite well and beginning to show their reproductive capabilities," said Wallenfang.

These elk are being observed and enjoyed by locals on a regular basis, and visitors from outside the area are traveling to Jackson County in hopes of viewing them in the wild.

To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "elk in Wisconsin" and "wildlife projects" distribution lists.

For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "elk."

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Wisconsin Bureau of Parks and Recreation Management Hiring Rangers

MADISON - People who are interested in a career where they will be surrounded by some of Wisconsin's most beautiful landscapes can apply for ranger positions that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is in the process of recruiting for at multiple locations throughout the state.

Rangers find themselves traversing a career path surrounded by the outdoors and rewarded by helping families create lasting memories.
Rangers find themselves traversing a career path surrounded by the outdoors and rewarded by helping families create lasting memories.
Photo Credit: DNR

"A Wisconsin park ranger is the face of the Wisconsin State Park system, providing outstanding customer service and public safety to millions of visitors from around the world that recreate each year in one of the premier state park systems in the nation," said Chris Madison, chief ranger for the park system. "Rangers find themselves traversing a career path surrounded by the outdoors and rewarded by helping families create lasting memories. They are experts at maintaining and managing outdoor recreation, natural resources, interpretation and providing high-quality customer service."

Madison said an ideal ranger candidate is one with a background and education in natural resources, with strong communication skills, the ability to problem-solve, and a passion for outdoor recreation. Rangers are often called upon to make decisions without immediate supervision, while providing consistent, impeccable visitor service.

Although not law enforcement officers, rangers are counted on to provide safe and memorable experiences for our visitors, from the bustling excitement of Devil's Lake State Park, to Wyalusing State Parks' bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, to extraordinary sand dunes of Lake Michigan at Kohler-Andrae State Park.

People who are interested in an adventure, can review the full job announcement on the State of Wisconsin jobs website at:

wisc.jobs/public/job_view.asp?annoid=92060&jobid=91574&org=370&class=65400&index=true (exit DNR).

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August 1 deadline approaches for fall hunting and trapping seasons

MADISON - Aug. 1 is an important deadline for hunters and trappers who wish to pursue wild turkey, sharp-tailed grouse, bobcat, fisher and otter this fall.

Permit applications for fall hunting can be purchased for $3 ($6 for bobcat applications) online at GoWild.wi.gov, at Department of Natural Resources service centers, and at all license agents.

License sales are not available by phone, but live operators at the DNR Call Center are available to answer any questions hunters may have about the permit application process. The call center is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, at 888-WDNR-INFo (1-888-936-7463).

2017 fall season dates are as follows:

*Fall turkey (Zone 1-5) and fisher seasons may extend to Jan 7, 2018 - visit dnr.wi.gov, keywords "hunting regulations" for updates.

Wild Turkey

For fall 2017, 102,100 wild turkey permits are available to hunters, an 800-permit increase from the 2016 levels. Permit availability was increased by 200 in Zone 5 and by 300 in zones 6 and 7 in order to better meet hunter demand and maintain sustainable levels of harvest. Any fall turkey permits remaining after the initial drawing will be available for purchase beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26. Leftover fall turkey permits will be sold by zone until sold out or the season ends.

The 2017 fall season will run from Sept. 16 through Dec. 31 in zones 1-5, with the possibility of an extension through Jan. 7, 2018, pending legislation. For important updates, be sure to search keywords "hunting regulations."

The fall season in zones 6 and 7 will run from Sept. 16 to Nov. 17. Turkey hunting is allowed on the Friday before the opening of the nine day gun deer season in all zones, and throughout the gun deer season in zones 1-5 only. Hunters may use dogs to hunt wild turkeys throughout Wisconsin during the fall hunting season. The bag limit is one turkey of any age or sex per fall turkey hunting permit (also known as a carcass tag)

Sharp-tailed Grouse

No sharp-tailed grouse permits or applications will be made available for the 2017 season based on current population data. For more information, search keywords "sharp-tail."

Bobcat, Fisher and River Otter

The statewide harvest quota for bobcat has been approved and set at 750 for the 2017-18 season, which mark the fourth year of statewide bobcat harvest. Hunters and trappers successful in receiving a harvest permit for the 2017-18 season will be notified by mid-September.

The statewide fisher quota for 2017 is 985 (the same level as last season), and a combined 3,535 fisher permits are available within the six Fisher Management Zones. A statewide river otter quota has been set at 2,000, with 9,800 permits available for trappers this season.

Quotas and specific permit levels for each bobcat, fisher and river otter zone are available at keyword "trap."

All permit levels for bobcat, fisher, and otter are based on success rates from previous years. Drawings will take place in August, with permits issued in September. Applicants can check their online account in mid-September to see if they've been awarded a permit by visiting GoWild.wi.gov.

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August public meetings will gather input for Recreation Opportunities analysis process

MADISON - In August, Department of Natural Resources staff will gather input at five public open houses to shape future planning regarding outdoor recreation opportunities in northern and northeastern Wisconsin.

In spring 2017, the DNR staff began the Recreation Opportunities Analysis process to collect information regarding existing outdoor-based recreation opportunities and identify future recreation needs in eight regions throughout Wisconsin. This process will identify future opportunities for providing high-quality recreation experiences and the potential role of DNR properties in helping to meet those needs.

Gathering public input is an extremely important step in the ROA process, and meetings in northern and northeastern Wisconsin will give anyone interested in outdoor recreation a great opportunity to provide feedback.

Each meeting will be held from 4-7 p.m. - DNR staff will provide a brief project overview at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Public meetings for the Upper Lake Michigan Coastal region (Marinette, Oconto, Manitowoc, Brown, Kewaunee and Door counties) are as follows:

Public meetings for the Great Northwest Region (Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Polk, Barron and Rusk counties) are as follows:

While the ROA process has begun in these regions, additional regional public meetings will be held as the process moves forward. The analysis process will generally describe recreation opportunities for each region.

To receive email updates regarding the ROA process, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select "Recreation opportunities analysis," found within the list titled "outdoor recreation."

For more information regarding the recreational opportunities analysis, search keyword "ROA."

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After a 50-year absence, endangered frogs call again in Trempealeau County

Volunteer's discovery of Blanchard's cricket frogs confirmed

MADISON -- For the first time in half a century, the unique clicking call of the Blanchard's cricket frog has been documented in the marshes of Trempealeau County.

In June 2017, Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist Andrew Badje confirmed that what Wisconsin Frog and Toad Volunteer John Collison heard in Trempealeau County was indeed Blanchard's cricket frogs making their characteristic call. The call sounds like two ball bearings clicking together at increasing speed and was last reported in 1965.

Blanchard's cricke frog.
Blanchard's cricke frog.
Photo Credit: DNR

While Blanchard's cricket frogs were historically abundant in southern Wisconsin in the early 1900s, they have always been rare in the northern edge of their range including in Buffalo, La Crosse, and Trempealeau counties. In those counties and statewide, Blanchard's cricket frog populations took a precipitous decline somewhere between the 1950s-1980s, and were found only in a handful of sites in southwest Wisconsin by the early 1990s. Explanations for the dramatic decrease include harsh winters, environmental pollutants, and habitat losses. The frog was added to the state endangered species list in 1982.

The frogs were also confirmed in Buffalo County in June, the first documented occurrence in that county in more than 35 years. And earlier this month, Badje documented a Blanchard's cricket frog population in La Crosse County, nearly 30 years after it was last documented.



Video Credit: DNR

"For frog-lovers, these are very welcome discoveries," says Badje, who works for the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation program.

"They also show how important volunteer involvement in the Wisconsin Frog and Toad survey is to helping DNR detect population trends over time for frogs and to document the possible re-occurrence of species like the Blanchard's cricket frog 30-plus years later."

The Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey is the longest running amphibian monitoring project in North America and relies largely on volunteers to collect data on the abundance, distribution and population trends of Wisconsin frogs. The survey marked its 35th anniversary in 2016 and was described in this Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article along with a summary of frog trends over time.

"We really rely on citizen scientists to not only help monitor our frog populations but to also provide rare species reports and other natural history observations," says Rori Paloski, a DNR conservation biologist who leads the reptile and amphibian team for DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation program.

Badje says it is still too early to tell if the Trempealeau, La Crosse, and Buffalo County discoveries are signs the Blanchard's frogs are making a comeback in Wisconsin. Their re-discovery, however, suggests the frogs may have expanded into those areas from a nearby Minnesota population.

"Continued surveying on Wisconsin routes nearby will continue to tell if the species is expanding its range here," he says. "They certainly weren't here back when we completed surveys in the region in 2012, and didn't show up on the radar here until 2015 on a Wisconsin Frog and Toad survey."

People interested in helping fund work to monitor Blanchard's cricket frogs over the long-term now have a new option. The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin recently launched the Wisconsin Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Fund (exit DNR), an endowment fund that provides sustainable support to protect Wisconsin's frogs, turtles, snakes, lizards, and salamanders. Find more information at WisConservation.org (exit DNR).

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Applicants sought for Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Council

MADISON - People with experience in wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife health and the captive wildlife industry are encouraged to apply to serve on the Wisconsin Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Council before Aug. 31, 2017.

The council was established in 2013 to assist the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff with recommendations pertaining to decisions regarding wildlife rehabilitation and captive wildlife matters. Council members will also identify and implement education and training opportunities and assist department staff with inspections of licensed wildlife rehabilitation facilities.

DNR is accepting applications for up to nine voting member vacancies, who will be appointed to the council for three-year terms by DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. Those who are actively engaged in wildlife rehabilitation (including licensed rehabilitators), experts in topics related to rehabilitation, and members of the captive cervid industry are strongly encouraged to apply.

"The council will be made up of diverse stakeholders who provide valuable insights and recommendations in a sector of conservation important to both the department and the public, said Stepp. "They will be an essential voice to provide assistance to DNR staff, educate the public and develop consistent standards as we broaden the scope of wildlife rehabilitation to include legal and illegal captive wildlife matters."

Currently, the council is seeking to fill the following positions:

To learn more about this opportunity or submit an application, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "rehab."

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Applications available for general permits for small-scale dredging projects in public waters

MADISON - A new general permit that streamlines approvals for small-scale dredging in the state's lakes, rivers and streams has been finalized after a public comment period and is now available for applications. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources received and considered over 700 comments related to the draft general permit before issuing the final permit.

The new general permit outlines standards and conditions for the dredging of lakes and streams that have to be met in order be considered for coverage under a general permit and replaces the current small-scale dredging general permit for rivers and streams that was promulgated under Administrative Rule in 2005.

"After meeting with stakeholders, it was discovered there was a need to expand the process we currently have in place for streams and make it applicable to lakes and streams," said Martin Griffin, Section Chief of DNR's waterway and wetland protection program.

"The main motivation for expanding the dredging general permit to lakes was to allow waterfront property owners, who are experiencing siltation and are unable to get their boats in and out from their piers and docks, the ability to remove small volume amounts of bed material for the purpose of improving navigation or recreation," said Griffin.

The general permit is valid for five years and will allow applicants to apply for coverage under the permit to remove up to 25 cubic yards from streams and inland lakes and up to 100 cubic yards from the Great Lakes cumulatively within the 5-year period if the project meets all eligibility criteria and conditions.

In order to ensure the activities authorized under the new general permit do not result in significant effects on the environment, the permit is not eligible to be used in environmentally sensitive locations that are designated and mapped as such by the department. These areas include Areas of Special Natural Resource Interest and mapped Sensitive Areas, which are areas of aquatic vegetation identified by the department as offering critical or unique fish and wildlife habitat.

Previously approved dredging statewide general permits cover projects for: maintenance dredging of a previously dredged area and for removal of accumulated plant and animal nuisance deposits.

To apply for a dredging permit or get information about the waterway general permit for small-scale dredging, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "dredging "or "water permit."

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Applications available for general permits for projects with wetlands associated with certain construction sites

MADISON - A new general permit that addresses impacts to wetlands that formed in depressions created as a result of grading and construction activities within uplands has been finalized after a public comment period and is now available for applications.

The new general permit outlines standards and conditions for certain discharges of dredged and/or fill material into wetlands that formed as a result of grading and construction activities. These standards and conditions in the new general permit have to be met in order be considered for coverage under a general permit.

This general permit creates a clear path forward for applicants who started a project in the past and weren't able to finish which, during the down time at the project site, developed wetlands that were not part of the original wetland delineation that identified wetlands on the site.

"After meeting with stakeholders, it was discovered that the previous guidance given to customers on how the department was going to treat these newly formed wetlands needed to be clarified. This unveiled a need to provide a specific general permit to provide clarity and certainty to applicants and to help streamline the permit process, said Martin Griffin, Section Chief of the waterway and wetland protection program.

The general permit is valid for five years and will allow applicants to apply for coverage under the permit for up to 2 acres of wetland fill if the project meets all eligibility criteria and conditions.

The department does not anticipate this general permit to result in significant effects on the environment. Previously approved general permits for discharge of fill material into wetlands covered projects for residential, commercial and industrial development.

A copy of the wetland general permit for certain construction sites is available on the wetlands page of the DNR website, which describes permitting requirements for activities known to impact wetlands. To apply for a wetland permit, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "water permit."

Go to Wisconsin Wetlands for general information about wetlands including the functions and values of wetlands, wetland types, wetland mapping and restoration and management.

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Public comments sought on process to streamline fish habitat projects in public waters

MADISON -- A new general permit that streamlines approvals for stream fish habitat projects has been drafted and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on the language. The public comment period on the general permit runs until the close of business August 11, 2017.

The proposed general permit, once in place, is valid for five years. It will allow the DNR, Land Conservation Department, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and their partners to apply for coverage under the permit. The permit allows parties to place in-stream fish habitat structures and work on stream banks that may impact wetlands for the purpose of restoring stream habitats if the project meets all eligibility criteria and conditions.

Before the creation of this new general permit, many of these beneficial stream habitat projects that had multiple facets, ranging from stream bank sloping to riffle and pool habitat creation, were authorized under an Individual Permit adding time and cost to these projects.

The DNR does not anticipate this general permit to result in significant effects on the environment. Issuance of statewide waterway and wetland general permits is an integrated analysis action under Chapter NR 150, Wis. Admin. Code, and is in compliance with Chapter NR 150, Section 1.11, Stats., and the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act. In addition, previous waterway and wetland general permits have included environmental analysis of impacts from actions similar to those proposed under this new general permit. The previous permits included placement of fish habitat in lakes and wetland impacts for recreational structures.

To view a copy of the draft permit, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for fish habitat improvement.

For more information or to submit written comments on the draft waterway general permit via email, send to dnrwywrzguidance@wisconsin.gov, or via U. S. mail, send to Waterway and Wetland Policy Coordinator, DNR-WT/3, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Contact information

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