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Weekly News Published - December 16, 2014 by the Central Office

 

Holiday Hunt provides opportunity for antlerless harvest in the Southern Farmland Zone

Deer Tales video gives viewers a look at some first-time hunters and seasoned veterans

MADISON - The Holiday Hunt will give hunters in the Southern Farmland Zone an opportunity to hunt antlerless deer from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2015.

This is the first year antlered bucks may not be harvested during the Holiday Hunt - this includes archery and crossbow hunters. However, any unfilled antlerless tag valid for this zone may be filled. All hunters, with the exception of those pursuing waterfowl, must wear blaze orange during this hunt.

The archery season continues statewide until Jan. 4, 2015, while the archery deer season for metro sub-units continues through Jan. 31.

For a map of deer management zones [PDF] in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov, search keyword "deer," and select the Deer Management Zones option from the "Maps" list.

And, be sure to check out this year's Deer Tales video and see what some hunters had to say about this year's nine-day gun deer hunt.

The department has provided a number of useful resources - all hunters are encouraged to review the 2014 deer hunting regulations [PDF] and FAQs, available at keyword "deer."

To ask specific questions before or during the hunt, hunters can also contact the DNR Call Center toll-free at 1-888-936-7463. Call center staff are on hand seven days per week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Spanish- and Hmong-speaking representatives are also available.

December County Deer Advisory Council meetings are currently underway, and provide an opportunity to give feedback regarding each county's deer population objectives before recommendations are advanced to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. To view a meeting schedule, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CDAC."

To view a meeting schedule and other informational materials, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CDAC."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589

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DNR surveillance efforts detect VHS virus in wild coho used for egg collection

Two batches of eggs destroyed as a precaution, but no impact expected on spring 2016 stocking

MADISON -- Ongoing surveillance efforts detected viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus in wild coho salmon processed this fall for egg collection at the Root River Steelhead Facility operated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The fish virus was detected in ovarian fluid samples taken from coho salmon used to produce eggs for DNR's ongoing Lake Michigan stocking program. After receiving test results indicating the presence of VHS in females donating to two batches of eggs, these eggs and others that lacked complete data were destroyed as a precaution despite undergoing federally approved disinfection procedures as part of the department's established biosecurity measures.

Ron Bruch, DNR fisheries chief, said no impact is expected on spring 2016 stocking plans. This year's successful spawning run resulted in the collection of approximately 25 percent more coho eggs than anticipated and this additional volume should cover the number of eggs that were destroyed, providing for the 2016 stocking of 400,000 yearlings.

"Wisconsin DNR is committed to maintaining the integrity of our hatchery system, as well as the health of state fisheries, and our fish health surveillance work is a key part of that commitment," Bruch said. "Our testing and biosecurity protocols exceed state and federal standards and our operational firewalls prevent wild brood stock from coming in contact with young fish in our hatcheries. The conservative approach taken by destroying the eggs was implemented as an additional precaution."

The Root River facility serves as one of the state's two sources of wild steelhead or rainbow trout eggs and also serves as a collection point for coho eggs. VHS, which has been found in the Great Lakes since 2003 and, since 2007, in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan, Superior and Winnebago. The virus can kill fish by weakening their blood vessels, although no large scale die-offs of game fish have been observed in these waters since the disease was first detected.

DNR officials credited a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for providing an efficient means of laboratory sample processing and disease detection. As part of the fall egg collection procedures at Root River, as well as at Strawberry Creek Chinook Facility in Sturgeon Bay and the C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility near Kewaunee, ovarian fluid samples are sent to the La Crosse Fish Health Center for analysis. The lab uses cell culture testing to detect VHS, a process that takes 30 days to complete and the only process recognized by the USDA for confirmation of the presence or absence of the virus in a sample.

"We are applying the best scientific practices to monitor and ensure the health of the fishery," Bruch said. "I am not surprised we found VHS in Lake Michigan coho salmon, given the presence of the disease in other game fish such as brown trout and chinook. The finding validates our proactive disease surveillance program to protect our hatchery system as well as our wild fish stocks."

DNR has been in communication with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection regarding the VHS detection and preventive actions. DATCP is responsible for regulating the health of fish that are found on private fish farms and DNR hatcheries while USDA has oversight on trade restrictions involving VHS.

"The DNR is very thorough in its efforts to ensure fish health beyond state and federal requirements and we are working with the department's fisheries management team to ensure the health of fish being raised in Wisconsin," said state Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel. "We appreciate DNR's surveillance efforts as a way to further understanding of VHS and its impact."

To learn more search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov and for "VHS." More information about actions to limit the spread of VHS can be found by searching "preventing VHS."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron Bruch, DNR fisheries chief, (920) 427-9831, Ronald.Bruch@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, (608) 770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

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Need for additional community support, long-term monitoring identified as DNR sets aside proposal to stock Big Green Lake with landlocked Atlantic salmon

GREEN LAKE, Wis. - After reviewing more than 50 submitted comments on a draft environmental impact statement, studying testimony presented at a public hearing and considering a wide variety of fisheries data, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has tabled a proposal to stock Big Green Lake with landlocked Atlantic salmon until additional data on the fish community, specifically cisco, can be gathered.

Cisco are part of the salmon family and provide food for many of Green Lake's game fish, including the outstanding population of lake trout. Atlantic salmon could potentially compete with lake trout for cisco as a common prey item but little is currently known about the status of the lake's cisco population.

The proposal to stock the landlocked Atlantic salmon -- a freshwater salmon species sought by some anglers for its fight, flavor and "catchability" -- was developed by the Green Lake Coldwater Fishery Advisory Committee, a group of anglers and community leaders interested in adding a new dimension to the area's sport fishery.

Dave Bartz, the local DNR fisheries biologist assisting with the evaluation, said the proposal contained a number of exciting elements and presented an important opportunity for DNR to work in partnership with the Green Lake group and other stakeholders throughout the review process.

"The innovative ideas and leadership demonstrated by the Green Lake Coldwater Fishery Advisory Committee brought a variety of stakeholders together for an important discussion about the future of the fishery," Bartz said. "We appreciated the excellent attendance at our community meeting and the thoughtful comments we received both for and against the proposal. Clearly, we have an extremely well-educated community of anglers and we appreciate everyone's thoughtful contributions to the process."

Bartz noted many of those stating opposition to the project were concerned about Atlantic salmon having a negative impact on the lake's forage fish population, particularly the native cisco; and the lack of a monitoring program to tell if the cisco population was to decline.

Steve Siders, a representative of the Green Lake Coldwater Fishery Advisory Committee, said the group appreciated the opportunity to hear what the public had to say about the proposal.

"We discussed their comments within the committee and with the DNR, Siders said. "We now would like to take some time and see if we can help develop a meaningful cisco monitoring program; and, at the same time, more thoroughly discuss this project with those who expressed concerns."

Siders added his group is excited about getting involved in a cisco monitoring project because "it is important for the Lake we care so much about -- Atlantic salmon or not."

Those in favor of the group's proposal noted it would strengthen sport fishing opportunities and draw anglers interested in a new challenge - benefits that have been seen in other states where the landlocked Atlantic salmon have been stocked. The low initial proposed stocking rate of 15,000 and the fact that the fish most likely would not naturally reproduce would allow fisheries biologists to study the results and avoid adverse impacts, supporters said.

To learn more about the Green Lake group's proposal, read the public comments and review the final environmental impact statement, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for "landlocked Atlantic salmon [PDF]."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: David Bartz, fisheries biologist, 920-787-3016, david.bartz@Wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

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The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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