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Weekly News Published - May 21, 2013
- Northern zone musky season opens May 25
- ATVs: A work vehicle that always requires safety -- including for trail fun
- Boating season opens in the wake of good news about aquatic invasive species
- Online tools helps people located wetlands on their property
- Spring cleaning a great time to reuse and recycle
- Great Lakes Photo Contest winners announced
- Applications to host deer hunt for those with disabilities due June 1
- Peninsula State Park seeks to increase water efficiency
Northern zone musky season opens May 25
Anglers will find ice off, spawn likely done, fish ready to bite
MINOCQUA, Wis. -- The northern zone musky season opens May 25 and, despite a late start, the fish are likely to be done spawning in most waters and ready to feed, state fisheries experts say.
“I think the musky will be largely done spawning by the weekend,” says Steve Avelallemant, longtime Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor for northern Wisconsin. “It took a while in coming but we went pretty much from winter to summer. The water temps bounced up nicely and it was an accelerated spawn.”
Avelallemant expects the musky action to be good for anglers because the fish, post-spawn, will be looking to feed and because the water temperature has warmed up and the fish are getting more active.
A 40-inch size limit is in effect statewide and applies to 94 percent of musky waters in Wisconsin. There are 41 waters that continue to have either lower size limits or higher size limits. Waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan north of Highway 10 carry a 50-inch minimum size limit. The bag limit is 1.
Check the Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations for specific waters or check DNR's online regulation database to find size limits on the inland lake you plan to fish for musky.
Find where to fish for trophy musky or fast action waters, along with information on musky management in Wisconsin, by searching the DNR website for for “musky.”
Musky forecasts in Wisconsin
Musky Fast Facts
- Wisconsin lawmakers named the muskellunge the official state fish in 1955.
- More world records have been landed in Wisconsin than anywhere else. The state and world record is a 69 pound, 11 ounce fish taken from the Chippewa Flowage. Also credited to Wisconsin is the world record hybrid musky, 51 pounds, 3 ounces from Lac Vieux Desert.
- Fishable populations of musky are found in 667 lakes and 100 rivers in 48 counties. The heaviest concentration of lakes with musky is found in the head water regions of the Chippewa, Flambeau, and Wisconsin rivers.
- Musky densities are very low, even in the best waters, because muskies are large top predators that tend to choose vulnerable spawning sites. Good musky waters average one adult fish for 3 surface acres, compared to up to 20 adults per 3 surface acres in good walleye lakes.
- Musky fishing continues to grow in popularity. The number of participants has more than quadrupled over the last 50 years. An estimated 456,000 anglers pursued muskellunge in Wisconsin in 2001, the latest year for which survey results are available.
- Catch-and-release, protective regulations and DNR’s stocking program have helped turn the famed fighter from the “fish of 10,000 casts” into the fish of “3,000 casts” in Wisconsin. It used to take two guys in a boat 25 hours to catch a fish. Now it is closer to 12 hours and 3,000 casts each.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Avelallemant 715-365-8987 or local fish biologists
ATVs: A work vehicle that always requires safety -- including for trail fun
Free Fun weekend coming June 1 – 2; prepare now to enjoy your ride
MADISON – For people thinking of joining the fun on June 1-2 when registration and trail fees for all-terrain vehicles and utility-terrain vehicles are waived in Wisconsin, now is the time they should review safety tips so they can enjoy the trail time.
Department of Natural Resources Conservation Warden Gary Eddy, who also serves as the administrator of the Bureau of Law Enforcement’s ATV safety program, said the ATV-UTV sport is growing in the state, thanks to a system of trails maintained by citizen groups also dedicated to ensuring its safety for all.
“One person operating recklessly or in an unsafe manner can ruin the experience for a lot of people,” Eddy said. “If you have never ridden before, or it’s been a while since you’ve been on the trail, June 1-2 is a great opportunity for you and a good reason to review these safety tips.”
- Complete an ATV safety course. These courses establish a safety mindset and provide basic knowledge in the safe, legal and ethical operation of ATVs. The ATV Safety Institute (ASI) Certification is not valid in Wisconsin. Safety education certification is required for all UTV and ATV operators born on or after January 1, 1988. DNR recreational safety specialists recommend all ATV and UTV operators complete a safety course
- Always wear an approved helmet. Adults need to set a good example for younger riders. Over 90 percent of the fatal crash victims last year were not wearing helmets.
- Limit your travel on roadways and use caution when operating on roads. ATVs have a high center of gravity and are equipped with soft, low pressure tires that make them unstable on roadways. Only operate on roads posted with the green and white "ATV Route" signs. All other roads are off limits to recreational ATV operators.
- Don’t drink and ride. Even a small amount of alcohol will affect a person’s reaction time. Wait until you’re done riding for the day before consuming alcoholic beverages; 40 percent of the fatal ATV crashes last year were alcohol involved.
- Slow down, especially when in close proximity to other people and ATV operators. ATVs typically operate on off-road terrains and higher speeds could cause operators to easily lose control. Speed also increases the amount of distance needed to stop or avoid a hazard.
On June 1-2, ATV/UTV owners can ride free; you do not need to have your machine registered in Wisconsin. Nonresident ATV/UTV owners do not need to have a trail pass on these days. The free ride is part of Free Fun weekend in Wisconsin’s great outdoors. In addition to free ATV/UTV riding, fishing is free everywhere in Wisconsin and state hiking and biking trails are free. On June 2, admission is free to state parks and forests.
“Safety rules will be enforced for the benefit of all,” Eddy says of the Free Wheeling Weekend.
Learn more about ATV/UTV safety and registration policies, and where to find safety classes, search the DNR website for keyword” “ATV.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Eddy – 608-267-7455
Boating season opens in the wake of good news about aquatic invasive species
MADISON – Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the boating season, arrives with good news for efforts to keep aquatic invasive species from ruining outdoor fun on the water and Wisconsin’s beautiful lakes and rivers, state invasive species experts say.
- The flood of new aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes appears to have stopped as federal regulations (and now state regulations) that require ocean-going ships to exchange their ballast water in the open water are proving effective, according to a recent report from the International Joint Commission.
- Wisconsin research is confirming that boaters, not ducks or other birds, are the main carriers of invasive species to new waters, and that simple steps by boaters to avoid spreading the aquatic invaders can make a big difference.
“Memorial Day arrives this year with some of the best news we’ve had about aquatic invasive species in a long time,” says Bob Wakeman, who coordinates aquatic invasive species efforts for the Department of Natural Resources. “Cutting off the flow of new invaders is incredibly important, as is the news confirming that boaters can indeed make a difference.
“By taking a few minutes to makes sure their boats are clean and they drain their bilge, live wells and the bucket holding their catch, boaters and anglers can keep their favorite lakes, rivers and fish healthy.”
Earlier this month, the International Joint Commission released a report (exit DNR) on how the health of the Great Lakes has changed over the past 25 years. Recent regulations to stop the flow of new invasive species to the region appear to have worked, according to the commission, a joint U.S.-Canadian agency set up in 1909 to oversee the management of shared water resources, especially the Great Lakes-St Lawrence River system.
From 1987 to 2006, 34 new non-native species became established in the Great Lakes, causing extensive and costly damage to the ecosystem, the commission reports. However, no new invasive species are known to have been introduced through ballast water since modifications in ballast water management regulations were implemented in 2006, though two species were established via other routes. Federal law and Wisconsin law requires ocean-going ships to flush ballast water in the open water, away from shore.
Wakeman says the news that the ballast water exchange is working is particularly important in Wisconsin, since many of the aquatic invasive species entering the Great Lakes have subsequently been spread to inland waters.
Research by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012 confirms that boaters, not ducks, are the main way that aquatic invaders are spreading to new lakes.
UW researchers said the fact that accessible lakes are the ones that are invaded indicates that the invasive species are being moved by boaters.
“Boaters and anglers hold the key,” Wakeman says. “They have done a good job in recent years in taking steps to prevent spreading invasive species,” he says. “By continuing to take a few minutes before they leave the landing, boaters can keep Wisconsin fish and lakes healthy, and know that ducks and other birds are not going to undo their work!”
Here are the steps for boaters, paddlers, and anglers to take to prevent accidentally spreading invasive species:
- INSPECT your boat, trailer, and equipment.
- REMOVE any attached aquatic plants or animals (before launching, after loading, and before transporting on a public highway)
- DRAIN all water from boats, motors and all equipment
- NEVER MOVE live fish away from a waterbody.
- DISPOSE of unwanted bait in the trash.
- BUY minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer. Use leftover minnows on the same water, or you may use leftover minnows on other waters only if no lake or river water or other fish were added to their container.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman 262-574-2149; Christal Campbell 608-266-0061
Online tools helps people located wetlands on their property
Know before you buy or build
MADISON - As Wisconsin’s housing industry recovers, people looking to buy land for a new home or to build on property they already own can turn to some online tools to help them understand if the property has wetlands that may affect what they can do on the land.
“Because laws limit development in wetlands, it’s important to know before you buy or build,” says Pat Trochlell, wetland ecologist with the Department of Natural Resources. “Knowing if wetlands are present can help people buy property that meets their needs and future plans.”
Wetlands are protected by federal, state, and sometimes local laws because they are critical natural resources that provide wildlife habitat, store flood waters, keep lakes, rivers and groundwater clean, and provide recreation, Trochlell says. But wetlands aren’t always obvious, and many of Wisconsin’s more than a dozen different types don’t have the cattails, open water and ducks people often associate with them, she says.
The suite of online tools – found by searching the DNR website for Locating Wetlands -- can help people know where there is a wetland when there aren’t obvious signs that wetlands are present, Trochlell says. Online maps show wetlands and potential wetlands, a checklist and photos help people look for clues on a property that wetlands may be present, and a video takes a lighthearted look at the simple steps people can take to understand if they have a wetland on their property.
The interactive online maps indicate wetlands and potential wetlands by essentially bringing together and displaying wetlands formally mapped and officially recorded through the Wisconsin Wetland Inventory, and soil types from county soil surveys from the Natural Resources Conservation Service maps. The maps are to be used as a guide only, says Lois Simon, Wisconsin wetland inventory coordinator.
Other tools available online include a real estate addendum that DNR developed with the Wisconsin REALTORS Association and the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. This legal document allows buyers an opportunity to verify that wetlands are present on a property and to negotiate a mutual remedy with the seller, which might include the ability to rescind or modify the offer terms, if wetlands are confirmed.
“The wetland maps are a great resource to use as an initial first step in determining whether wetlands may be present on a site you are interested in purchasing,” Simon says.
Starting next month, DNR will begin a pilot project in southeastern Wisconsin to provide interested citizens with a wetland identification service for a fee. The landowner or prospective landowner can ask DNR to review up to five acres of a property to give them a definite “yes” or “no” whether wetlands are present on that area, and if so, the general location. The wetland identification service, created by the legislature last year, would cost $300 per acre and would require DNR to provide an answer within 60 days, according to Tom Nedland, one of the DNR wetland specialists that will be providing the service. The plan is to expand the program beyond southeastern Wisconsin the following year, Nedland says.
The Wisconsin Wetland Association also provides a clearinghouse of online resources aimed at helping people understand if there are wetlands on a property, what that means, and resources for protecting and enhancing those wetlands. Their My Healthy Wetlands resources can be found on their website at www.wisconsinwetlands.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Pat Trochlell 608-267-2453; Lois Simon 608-266-8852
Spring cleaning a great time to reuse and recycle
MADISON – Spring cleaning offers a great opportunity to reduce waste, save money and make a positive impact on the environment.
As people are cleaning out the basement or garage, the Department of Natural Resources offers a number of helpful hints on their website to recycle old materials and keep waste out of our landfills:
- organize a swap with friends, family or coworkers to trade books, clothing, games and other household items;
- start a compost pile of yard materials that accumulate from spring yard cleanup;
- donate items in usable condition, such as clothing, appliances, books and home construction and renovation materials;
- create a designated “to recycle” pile where you can collect all recyclables, including retired electronics, old magazines, junk mail, cardboard boxes and other items;
- contact your local recycling program to see what large or bulky items you may be able to bring to a drop-off for recycling, such as Styrofoam packaging, appliances, large cardboard boxes, and yard debris; and
- check if your community or county is hosting a Clean Sweep (exit DNR) collection where you can bring unwanted household chemicals or leftover prescription drugs.
For more reuse and recycling ideas to use during spring cleaning, visit the DNR website and search “recycling for all seasons.”
Other tips from the DNR include:
- going through your child’s school supplies from this year and sort out what can be reused around the house or in the next school year, including notebooks, tape, crayons and colored pencils;
- organizing a swap with other families to trade books, clothing for growing children, age-appropriate games and school supplies; college students can donate unwanted furniture, appliances, household goods and clothing to local resale stores, and can also; return old textbooks to a university bookstore or sell them to an independent reseller to avoid sending them to a landfill.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Elisabeth Olson, 608-264-9258
Great Lakes Photo Contest winners announced
MADISON -- Nine photographers from Wisconsin and Michigan earned top honors for their entries in the Department of Natural Resources’ Wisconsin’s Great Lakes” photography contest.
Their photos will be featured in a calendar available this summer at the Wisconsin State Fair, Aug. 1-11 in West Allis. A video of the winning photos can be seen on DNR’s YouTube channel.
Michael DeWitt of Ashland, Gervase Thompson of Brule, Rachel Hodges of Janesville, Priscilla Farrell of Milwaukee, and Scott Pearson of Iron River, Mich., each won first place in the contest’s five categories.
Mary Lee Agnew of Milwaukee, Mark David Zahn of Green Bay and Linda Kurtz of Green Bay won second place for their photographs. Mark Straub of New Berlin and Rus Hurt of Port Wing also won second place honors for their photographs as well, and both also received honorable mention awards for other photos they submitted.
This year’s winning photos will be featured in the 2013-2014 sixteen-month calendar that the DNR Office of the Great Lakes will give out at the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair, according to Jo Temte, the Great Lakes office water specialist who coordinates the contest.
Photographers from across Wisconsin as well as 12 other states and Mexico submitted nearly 500 photos of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, including 46 photos in this year’s special category of Wisconsin’s Working Lakes.
“That’s a new record for our photo contest,” says Steve Galarneau, Office of the Great Lakes director. “We were especially pleased to see the interest in this year’s special category which focused on businesses and industries that rely on our Great Lakes and their tributaries.”
DNR also coordinates a “Wisconsin’s Great Lakes” Writing Project and this year received 11 submissions, which can also be found on the Office of the Great Lakes website. Writings by Marilyn Zelke-Windau of Sheboygan Falls, Karen Gersonde of Milwaukee and Adrienne S. Wallner of Kiel will be featured in this year’s calendar.
The Office of the Great Lakes is now accepting photos of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior for next year’s contest. Contest information and instructions for submitting photos and writings can be found by searching the DNR website for Great Lakes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jo Temte, 608-267-0555
Applications to host deer hunt for those with disabilities due June 1
MADISON -- Sponsors and landowners interested in hosting a gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities are encouraged to apply by June 1. Applications can now be submitted to the Department of Natural Resources online.
“Submitting applications by June 1 allows us to compile a list of sponsors in plenty of time for sponsors, landowners, and hunters to start planning their hunts,” said Scott Roepke, assistant big game ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.
Sponsors are encouraged to submit their applications using the new online process which can be found at dnr.wi.gov, search keywords “disabled deer hunt.” If sponsors do not have access to the online application, hard copies are available at DNR service centers or by calling Scott Roepke at 608-261-7588.
“The online application streamlines the process for both the hunt sponsors and allows interested hunters to see which properties are enrolled in the hunt sooner than in previous years,” said Roepke.
In 2012, 93 sponsors worked with landowners to make nearly 75,000 acres of land open to hunters with disabilities. These sponsors and landowners provided opportunities for more than 450 hunters.
“The Gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities Program first began in 1990 to provide an opportunity to hunt deer while mild temperatures persist and mobility is relatively unhampered,” said Roepke. “These hunts are sponsored by private individuals or organizations and almost entirely take place on privately-owned lands.”
This year’s gun hunt for hunters with disabilities will occur Oct. 5 to 13.Landowners and sponsors have the option to limit the hunt to certain days within that time period.
Hunters interested in participating in the hunt can find a list of sponsors on the DNR website after June 1. Hunters are encouraged to contact sponsors as soon as possible so that the sponsors can begin to plan for the hunt. Sponsors are required to submit a list of participating hunters no later than Sept. 1. The list of participating hunters can also be submitted online, similar to the sponsor application.
“We would like to thank all of the hunt sponsors, landowners, and volunteers for their dedication to this great event. Without them, this hunt would not be possible,” Roepke said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Roepke, DNR assistant big game ecologist, 608-261-7588; Sam Jonas, DNR assistant big game ecologist, 608-264-6023
Peninsula State Park seeks to increase water efficiency
“Water audit” a pilot for Wisconsin State Parks System
FISH CREEK, Wis. – Peninsula State Park, which has cut its water use by half in recent years, is taking steps to improve its water efficiency even more.
The park is testing toilets, pipes, and other plumbing to check for leaks and to gauge the plumbing’s water efficiency. This “water audit” is part of a pilot project aimed at developing recommendations that can help cut water use and associated costs at this park and others throughout the state system.
“We’ve reduced the amount of water pumped from the ground by nearly 47 percent in the last five years while our park attendance remained above one million annual visitors,” says Chuck Smrz, the park’s utilities specialist. “The reduction in water use represents a significant financial savings and is good for the park’s natural resources, too. I think we can do even better, and the water audit can help us do that.”
The Department of Natural Resources received a grant from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program to audit and retrofit the water infrastructure at the park as a pilot to improve water efficiency across the state parks. “We’re asking municipalities, industrial facilities and farms to all evaluate their water use for efficiency, so it only makes sense that the state do this as well,” says Shaili Pfeiffer, a DNR water specialist.
Once the contractor conducting the water audit has filed his report, DNR staff will decide which improvements to make immediately at the park and which to add to the long-term facilities plan. The project includes a follow up audit in May 2014 to verify the water savings, Pfeiffer says.
The experience gained at Peninsula State Park, one of the three most visited parks in the state, will be used to help reduce water use at other state parks, says Missy VanLanduyt, DNR state park capital improvements coordinator. Wisconsin has 52 state parks that in 2012 drew a record 14 million visits.
“State park facilities managers are dedicated stewards of Wisconsin’s resources,” she says. “This audit is a great way to give them a new tool to evaluate water use and information about what kinds of efficient fixtures will work in an intensive use environment like Wisconsin’s state park campgrounds.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Shaili Pfeiffer 608-267-7630 or Steve Elmore 608-264-9246; Contact Peninsula State Park: Kelli Bruns (920) 868-3258
The Weekly News is updated every Tuesday at noon.
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