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Weekly News Published - October 21, 2014 by the Central Office

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Michigan muskies getting fit to fight in Wisconsin

WILD ROSE, Wis. -- Standing sentinel around artificial weeds in the rearing pond at the Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery, newly arrived spotted musky fingerlings from Michigan leave little doubt about their predatory instincts.

When a minnow strays too close, the fish dart quickly from the artificial cover, showing off their ultimate potential to make a strong Wisconsin fishery even better. With a few months of steady feeding ahead, these fingerlings will soon gain the weight and size they need for a successful introduction into brood-stock lakes managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as well as the waters of Green Bay.

Great Lakes spotted musky
This Great Lakes spotted musky fingerling is every inch the fighter. The fish are gaining size and weight thanks to a steady diet of minnows at Wild Rose.
WDNR Photo

"These Great Lakes spotted muskies represent an important step forward in our efforts to restore a strong and naturally reproducing population to the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan," said Steve Fajfer, supervisor of the Wild Rose hatchery. "In recent years, the waters of Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay and area tributaries including the Lower Fox and Menominee rivers have become known as great destinations for musky fishing -- particularly in the fall. This strain of fish from Lake Huron should help us create even more exciting opportunities in the years ahead."

Tim Simonson, a DNR fisheries biologist and expert on muskies, said the productive waters of the region offer optimal conditions for the fish to grow, with current data predicting an average adult size of nearly 53 inches for female fish and 47 inches for males.

"The muskellunge in Green Bay grow relatively quickly and we also see high rates of catch-and-release fishing in the area. These factors really contribute to the area's reputation for trophy fish," Simonson said. "As we continue to diversify the genetics with the addition of these latest fish, we are looking at truly world-class opportunities in the years ahead."

Although spotted muskies are native to Green Bay and other Lake Michigan waters, overfishing, loss of habitat and diminished water quality extinguished local populations by the mid-1900s. DNR began a reintroduction program by obtaining spawn from a Lake Huron tributary in Michigan 1989. Additional genetics and fingerlings have come from Lake St. Clair in Michigan as well as Lake Huron's Georgian Bay in Canada.

Artificial weed bed
Great Lakes spotted musky fingerlings stake out positions around an artificial weed bed in one of the rearing ponds at Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery.
WDNR Photo

The establishment of brood-stock lakes in Wisconsin starting with Long Lake in 1989 has allowed for more efficient production of spotted musky fingerlings and stocking volume has ranged from 2,000 fish to as many as 30,000 per year in the early 2000s. However, the number of original wild fish that contributed to the brood stock was relatively small and the 2012 Green Bay Great Lakes Spotted Musky Management Plan [] pointed to the need for continued expansion of the source population.

PDF

"We've been pleased to see that some natural reproduction is occurring in Green Bay and we are finding a limited number of young, wild Great Lakes spotted musky," Simonson said. "However, we believe that with the introduction of a more diverse breeding population and an expanded number of stocking locations, we'll ultimately increase the chances for successful natural reproduction in the region."

The new batch of 12,000 fingerlings from Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Michigan is part of a cooperative effort to improve musky genetics in both states. While Michigan recently has focused on the Great Lakes spotted strain, Wisconsin's highly successful inland lake musky breeding program is contributing fish to help expand the inland strain stocking program there.

Fajfer and Simonson said prominent Wisconsin musky clubs including C & R Musky Club, Dave's Musky Club, Packerland Musky Club, Musky Club Alliance of Wisconsin, Titletown Muskies and Winnebagoland Musky Club deserve particular credit for supporting the spotted musky stocking effort through the years with donations of time, talent and funds. Residents of Elkhart Lake in Sheboygan County and Anderson and Archibald lakes in Oconto County also deserve recognition for agreeing to serve as brood lakes from which DNR is able to raise fish for spawning purposes.

If all goes as planned, some 2,000 of the fierce fingerlings now stalking the ponds at Wild Rose will be transferred to the three brood-stock lakes in summer 2015. The remaining fish are destined for a variety of locations throughout Green Bay in an effort to maximize the use of potential habitat.

To learn more about muskies and to find the best spots for fishing this fall, visit DNR.wi.gov and search "musky." Wisconsin's musky season continues through November 30 for the state's boundary and outlying waters including Lake Michigan as well as northern inland lakes. For southern inland waters, the season continues through Dec. 31.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Fajfer, Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery supervisor, 920-622-3527 Ext. 201, steven.fajfer@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, communications, 608-770-8084, sereno,Jennifer@gmail.com

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Friends of Wisconsin State Parks announce the 2014 Gold Seal Awards

MADISON - Looking for the best state park venue for holding a wedding? The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks and supporters recommend Heritage Hill Historical Park, home to Green Bay's oldest standing church.

The East Side Moravian Church was disassembled from its original location in downtown Green Bay and reassembled at Heritage Hill in 1982.

The statewide Friends of Wisconsin State Parks organization runs the Gold Seal Award program each year to highlight Wisconsin's parks, trails, and forests. The award winners were presented October 11 at the annual Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Awards Banquet and annual meeting at the Monona Terrace and Convention Center in Madison.

Other award winners were

In addition to the gold seal awards, the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks also presented three "Hero awards" and two special awards to highlight contributions made to state parks in Wisconsin.

The Hero Award for the Outstanding Friends Group went to the Heritage Hill Foundation (exit DNR), which has partnered with the Department of Natural Resources for 39 years ago to establish Heritage Hill State Historical Park. The Foundation has provided more than $11 million in operating support and established $5 million in operation and maintenance endowments to secure the future of Heritage Hill.

Their work has assisted in assuring not only the ongoing operation of the park, but enabling, building acquisition and the significant preservation work on the various structures at Heritage Hill, including the major preservation of the Cotton House and the Education Center addition to the Visitor Center.

This year will mark the successful completion of a $2.1 million capital campaign for the Fort Howard Guard House restoration and Fort Howard area preservation projects. The campaign will provide project funding as well as endowment development and operational funding.

The Hero Award for the outstanding DNR land manager was presented to Bob Ramsey, currently park manager for Wildcat Mountain and Mill Bluff state parks and the La Crosse, Elroy/Sparta and Four Hundred state trails.

Ramsey joined the DNR in 1997 and held a number of positions at increasing levels of responsibility in visitor services, maintenance, and law enforcement as a park ranger. He previously worked at Devils Lake, Mirror Lake, Governor Nelson and Lake Kegonsa state parks.

Ramsey was awarded for his many goals as park manager, including; providing excellent customers service, safety for park visitors, continuous maintenance of park land and facilities, and promoting a positive work environment.

The Hero Award for Outstanding Individual Friends Member was presented to Kris Maki, who has been on the Friends of Lapham Peak (exit DNR) board of directors since its inception in 1989. Maki has been the director for all 26 Colorama fall Run/Walk events -- a large annual fund raiser for Friends of Lapham Peak -- and also directed the Wednesday night Ski League winter ski races for 14 years along with the Lapham Loppet winter ski race which is held in January every year.

The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks President's Award was presented to Tracey Schwalbe for all of her work on the organization's board since 2006, including time served as president in 2011 and 2012. She was instrumental in the organization's creating the HERO and Gold Seal awards.

The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks also presented its first Community Partner Award to the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine for its partnership over the last two years creating and issuing the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks calendar [PDF] and also featuring many parks articles in the magazine as well as featuring Friends of Wisconsin State Parks in one of the issues in 2013.

For more information on the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks, visit their website at friendswiparks.blogspot.com (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Patty Loosen, state friends coordinator, 608-264-8994

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Preliminary recommendations from County Deer Advisory Councils regarding deer population objectives will be made Nov. 3, with public comment due Dec. 5

MADISON -- County Deer Advisory Councils will release preliminary recommendations regarding deer population objectives Nov. 3. These early recommendations, made on a county-by-county basis, will be open for public comment Nov. 3 to Dec. 5.

"Each county's council will review deer herd metrics, work with stakeholders, and weigh comments and concerns from the public in order to develop preliminary population objective recommendations," said Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "CDACs will help make sure anyone with an interest in deer management has an opportunity to provide input before final recommendations are submitted."

Through coordination and public involvement, councils will recommend an increase, decrease or stabilization of the deer herd. Those interested in providing comment will have an opportunity to do so through a web-based survey found on the CDAC page beginning Nov. 3.

Preliminary population objective recommendations for each CDAC will be posted online. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CDAC."

Once the public comment period has closed, councils will incorporate feedback from survey responses into final recommendations. Public comments are also welcome as the department reviews the recommendations Dec. 8-18. These comments can be submitted via email to DNRCDACWebMail@Wisconsin.gov.

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

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Wisconsin water use declined in 2013

MADISON -- Wisconsin's use of surface and groundwater declined 6 percent in 2013 from prior year levels as cooler temperatures and a return to normal rainfall patterns reduced demand for power plant cooling water, municipal drinking water and irrigation.

The details are featured in the 2013 Wisconsin Water Use Withdrawal Summary [PDF], a report that highlights the ways in which Wisconsin's waters contribute to the state's quality of life while powering the economy. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources prepares the report as part of its role to monitor and protect the state's groundwater and surface water resources.

"Power generation continues to account for about 74 percent of Wisconsin's water use, so when cooler temperatures returned in 2013, demand for cooling water from Wisconsin power plants dropped as well. This contributed to an overall reduction of power plant withdrawals in 2013 by about 4 percent," said Bob Smail, DNR water supply specialist. "Municipal public water withdrawals represent the second largest category, accounting for about 8 percent of overall use. Municipal water withdrawals also declined in 2013, falling by nearly 12 percent."

Agricultural irrigation, the third largest category, accounts for about 5 percent of the state's total water use and those levels declined by about 25 percent during 2013. This contributed to significant reductions of groundwater withdrawals in Portage, Waushara and Adams counties.

For 2013, water withdrawals from all surface and groundwater sources were at a three-year low of 2.12 trillion gallons. This was down from 2.25 trillion gallons in 2012 and 2.16 trillion gallons in 2011. Other categories contributing to the decreased use of water included golf course irrigation, down 39 percent; cranberry production, down 15 percent; and aquaculture, down 9 percent.

"Water is an invaluable resource to nearly every aspect of Wisconsin's environment, culture and economy. By continuing to track the locations, size and use of water withdrawals, we are ensuring that water management in Wisconsin is based on the best data available." Smail said.

To learn more about water use in Wisconsin, search the DNR website for keywords "Water Use" and click on the link for Wisconsin water use.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Smail, DNR water supply specialist, 608-267-4581, Robert.Smail@Wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

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State pursues additional testing after silver carp environmental DNA detected in Lower Fox River

MADISON -- Continued surveillance to protect Wisconsin waters against invasive species has turned up a single positive environmental DNA, or eDNA, sample for silver carp in the Lower Fox River.

The sample, among hundreds taken statewide in recent months, does not necessarily signal the presence of live fish. To determine the source of the eDNA found in the river, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is collaborating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has asked the federal agency for its help to collect additional samples from the Fox River in the next two weeks.

Asian carp pose significant ecological and economic threats to the Great Lakes region and its fishery because they eat voraciously and compete directly with valuable native fish for food.

"The tests for environmental DNA are extremely sensitive and can detect genetic material shed in mucus or excrement from fish as well as from birds that have eaten the fish elsewhere," said Bob Wakeman, aquatic invasive species coordinator for DNR. "Bilge water from boats also can carry traces of the fish. While these genetic fingerprints are clear enough to help us identify specific invasive carp species, the eDNA testing program relies on multiple positive samples over time to indicate the likelihood of live fish."

For example, more than 100 additional samples following a single positive detection for silver carp DNA in Sturgeon Bay in late 2013 did not turn up further evidence of the fish. In the latest case, the single positive sample from the Lower Fox River was among 200 samples collected from the river in June and July. The monitoring was part of a coordinated program that included drawing some 1,950 samples from tributaries to Lake Michigan during the summer months.

In addition to the federal eDNA monitoring, DNR fisheries team members conduct a variety of netting, electroshocking and trawling operations in state waters as part of the ongoing monitoring effort. To date, these efforts have not captured any Asian carp in any waters of the Lower Fox River, Green Bay or Lake Michigan.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appreciates Wisconsin's commitment to our shared fight against these invaders," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley. "At the state's request, we are providing all the resources and technical expertise we have available as part of a multistate effort to prevent the establishment of self-sustaining populations of Asian carp in the Great Lakes."

Asian carp species including bighead and silver carp were introduced into the southern United States in the 1970s and eDNA has been found upstream of the electric dispersal barriers in Lake Calumet, seven miles from Lake Michigan on the Indiana-Illinois border as well as in Lake Erie. DNR encourages anglers and others to review Asian carp identification materials, to report any sightings of Asian carp and to make sure that bait buckets don't inadvertently contain the fish because young Asian carp resemble popular bait species. Photo identification tools and more information on Asian carp can be found on DNR's website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching "Asian carp."

More information on eDNA is available from the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee: www.asiancarp.us/edna.htm. Results of eDNA monitoring from the Midwest region are posted here: www.fws.gov/midwest/fisheries/eDNA.html (both links exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman, aquatic invasive species coordinator, 262-574-2149, Robert.Wakeman@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov.

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DNR publishes most recent wildlife surveys with help from citizens

MADISON -- As part of a regular annual monitoring of wildlife in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources published the latest wildlife reports focusing on different species around the state.

"These surveys are part of our yearly efforts to keep track of wildlife and to use that data to inform management decisions," said Brian Dhuey, database and survey manager for the DNR. "The different surveys look at a variety of wildlife such as deer, bear, grouse and other non-game species to monitor how the populations are doing."

Many of these surveys are a direct result from citizens who report wildlife sightings and record their observations online. The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is one of the more popular surveys for citizen input. The website lets hunters and nature observers alike to record the location, time and quantity of deer and other Wisconsin wildlife they see. At the end of each survey season, participants are emailed a personal report detailing all recorded wildlife sightings that year.

Other annual surveys focus on eagles, winter severity on deer, spring and fall turkey hunts and even rare carnivore observations.

The full list of all wildlife reports along with the 27 updated surveys for 2014 can be found by searching the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "wildlife reports."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey, wildlife database and survey manager, 608-221-6342 brian.dhuey@wisconsin.gov

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Public comments sought on environmental contractor's Green Tier application

GERMANTOWN, Wis. -- North Shore Environmental Construction, Inc., an environmental contractor specializing in hazardous materials management, emergency response and environmental site remediation, has applied to Wisconsin's Green Tier program for its Germantown facility.

Since 1989, North Shore Environmental Construction has been working to protect the environment by providing clients with services in hazardous materials response and remediation.

In their Green Tier Application the company plans to further increase their environmental performance by: developing mercury chemical decontamination technology, using enhanced high efficiency LED lighting and installing light sensors and implementing an Environmental Management System, which will provide baseline data to compare with future results.

North Shore's latest environmental improvements include: removing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlorinated solvents from contaminated groundwater through on-site waste-water treatment prior to discharge, implementing beneficial reuse practices, recycling treated wastewater, converting waste to energy at designated facilities, reducing carbon emissions with the addition of flex fuel vehicles and purchasing stone, sawdust and other supplies locally.

Green Tier is designed to encourage, recognize and reward companies that are committed to superior environmental performance. North Shore Environmental Construction is applying for Tier 1 of the program.

The DNR will accept public comments on North Shore Environmental Construction's Green Tier application through November 21, 2014. Comments may be directed to Kimberly Ake, Wisconsin DNR, OB/7, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707, by email to Kimberly.ake@wisconsin.gov, or by calling 608-267-6743.

More details about the company can be found on North Shore Environmental Construction (exit DNR) website or on the North Shore Green Tier page on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kimberly Ake, 608-267-6743

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The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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Last Revised: Tuesday, October 21, 2014