MADISON -- Wisconsin spring waterfowl breeding population surveys in 2016 indicate quality waterfowl production, despite relatively dry conditions experienced during the survey. For all species, population counts showed no significant change from 2015 estimates.
This survey information, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continental duck survey and the Ontario Canada goose survey provides information regarding yearly waterfowl breeding conditions and is used to determine the fall season structure for Wisconsin. The full Waterfowl breeding population survey for Wisconsin, 1973-2016 [PDF] [PDF] can be found at dnr.wi.gov, keywords "waterfowl management."
In 2016, warm weather arrived in March, which was earlier than conditions seen the previous two years - this triggered migration and breeding activity by mallards and Canada geese. However, cold temperatures in April and early May stalled migration for blue-winged teal and several diving duck species. These changing weather and migration factors make it difficult to schedule the breeding survey to effectively survey all species.
With considerable precipitation in May following the survey, wetland conditions improved in time for brood rearing, and Wisconsin is expected to provide good duck production in 2016.
A very mild winter in 2015-16, combined with below normal rainfall in March and April, led to dry wetland conditions throughout Wisconsin. Counts indicated drier conditions than in 2015 in the southern and central areas of the state. According to Van Horn, considerable rainfall in May following the survey has helped Wisconsin remain at average wetland conditions for the year during the important brood-rearing period.
The Wisconsin breeding duck population estimate of 390,498 represents an increase of five percent compared to 2015, but 12 percent below the long-term (43-year) average. None of the species-specific population estimates for the three top breeding ducks in Wisconsin (mallard, blue-winged teal and wood duck) were statistically different compared to 2015.
"Each duck species population estimate normally varies from year to year, so I urge hunters and other conservationists to interpret this information over several years and in the continental context," said Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory bird ecologist. "For example, the blue-winged teal breeding population in Wisconsin is lower than historic levels, but continental estimates the last few years have reached all-time highs, and two-thirds of Wisconsin regular duck season blue-winged teal harvest comes from out of state."
Roughly 70 percent of mallard harvest in Wisconsin is supported by locally hatched ducks, and the average mallard population in the last few years has been lower than the previous decade. This observation suggests that continued efforts aimed at controlling mallard harvest impacts and support for grassland nesting habitat conservation are important to the future of Wisconsin's local mallard population.
Wisconsin Canada goose harvest is supported by Canada geese breeding in northern Ontario, as well as those breeding locally in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin breeding estimate for Canada geese is similar to 2015 and consistent with a stable population of roughly 120,000. Estimates from Ontario will be available in July, and continental breeding waterfowl population estimates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey are expected to arrive in July.
In August, Wisconsin will join Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan as the Mississippi Flyway Council to analyze survey data and provide recommendations to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding waterfowl hunting regulations for 2017 seasons. These recommendations will help determine the framework under which states and provinces set waterfowl hunting seasons.
Under new federal framework, Wisconsin conducted its annual waterfowl season hearings this spring, and the Natural Resources Board approved department proposals for season structure at its April 12 meeting.
"Since this new federal framework is using data based on the prior year's breeding survey estimates, we can now propose and approve the waterfowl season several months before we have in the past," said Van Horn.
With earlier approval dates, 2016 migratory bird season regulations [PDF] are currently available online and at many license vendors throughout Wisconsin.
With the department's transition to Go Wild, the Canada goose harvest registration phone number is now consistent with all other species registered in Wisconsin, and this new system provides for online registration. Hunters will now register online at gamereg.wi.gov or via phone at 844-426-3734 (844 GAME-REG). Registration within 48 hours of harvest is mandatory for all Canada geese harvested.
Canada Goose Hunting Permits are now printed on paper. Immediately upon killing a goose, the hunter who killed the goose must validate their Canada Goose Hunting Permit. Validation is accomplished by crossing off one date for each Canada goose taken. Failure to follow validation procedure makes the possession of the goose illegal. Hunters are responsible for keeping their permits legible and may wish to consider protecting their permit in a plastic zip-top bag.
For more information regarding migratory birds in Wisconsin, search keyword "waterfowl."
MADISON - The Adopt a Wildlife Area program uses strong partnerships to improve Wisconsin's outdoors, and the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Natural Heritage Land Trust, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have joined forces to manage two wildlife areas in Jefferson and Dane counties.
Adopt a Wildlife Area has provided a positive impact to the environment while giving people of all ages and interests an opportunity to participate in hands-on conservation work. Moving forward, these partner groups and the department will work to improve the landscape for all types of users - including the wildlife that call these properties home.
The Waukesha County and Twin Rivers chapters of the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association became involved in the Adopt a Wildlife Area program in 2016 with an interest in preserving and improving the great wetland habitat Rome Pond has to offer. Association members worked closely with department staff to develop objectives this spring. With safety in mind, they removed manmade obstacles and obstructions, disassembled leftover waterfowl hunting structures, identified and marked hazards that cannot be removed.
"Partnering with the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association at Rome Pond Wildlife Area is going to be a huge benefit, not only for the department and wildlife in this area, but for all members of the public who enjoy spending time at Rome Pond," said Sam Jonas, Jefferson County wildlife biologist. "I'm excited to see this program flourish so other organizations and individuals adopt wildlife areas throughout the state - it's a win-win for everyone involved."
Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area was adopted by The Natural Heritage Land Trust in 2015. Through this partnership, the trust has committed to assisting the department with oak savanna and prairie habitat restoration and management, in addition to recreational facility maintenance.
Adopt a Wildlife Area activities at Patrick Marsh will provide for enhanced nesting habitat for waterfowl and grassland and savanna birds, as well as increased diversity of prairie forbs for important pollinators like monarch butterflies and rusty-patched bumblebees. These efforts will complement 80 acres of restored prairie and savanna adjacent to the wildlife area.
"Located on Sun Prairie's door step, Patrick Marsh is lucky to have strong community support and so many enthusiastic visitors," said Natural Heritage Land Trust Executive Director Jim Welsh. "The wildlife viewing platform, an improved trail system, and new signage we installed came to fruition through collaboration with Sun Prairie Rotary, Patrick Marsh Conservancy, Patrick Marsh Middle School, and DNR. We are looking forward to accomplishing more great things at Patrick Marsh."
Recreational and habitat enhancements at this wildlife area have resulted in high recreational usage by thousands of consumptive and non-consumptive users over the past five years. A light trail system through the area and a high-quality overlook make this area highly attractive to hikers, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts of all sorts. Habitat improvements have also led to increased waterfowl hunting opportunities within portions of the property open to hunting.
"Department staff and the citizens of Wisconsin are extremely grateful for the time, effort and funding these partner groups have contributed to Patrick Marsh," said Andy Paulios, DNR wildlife biologist for Dane County. "This level of investment has allowed for an incredible transformation, and we're excited to do even more over the next three years, including a wonderful new overlook on the west shore of the marsh.
Wisconsin State Fisheries Areas, Wildlife Areas, Flowages, Wild Rivers and Riverways provide critical fish and wildlife habitat along with outstanding nature based recreation. Adopt a Wildlife Area Participants receive a first-hand look at how the department uses management goals to maintain thousands of acres of property throughout Wisconsin and play a key role in enhancing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for others to enjoy.
"The Department would like to express our sincere thanks to WWA and NHLT for adopting these Wildlife Areas," said Tim Lizotte, Adopt a Wildlife Area program coordinator. "Their commitment exemplifies the strong partnership between WWA, NHLT, and the department in conserving and improving wildlife habitat along with improving public recreational opportunities."
Key adoption activities include habitat enhancements, invasive species control, nest box construction, trail and facility maintenance, and more. All safety and maintenance equipment, training, and certification is provided by the department.
MADISON - Wisconsin is known far and wide for the quality of its hunting and wildlife viewing, and the Farm Bill wildlife biologist program continues to play a key role in habitat management and restoration statewide.
Pheasants Forever Farm Bill wildlife biologists, built through partnerships between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Pheasants Forever (all links exit DNR) chapters, work one-on-one with private landowners to prescribe site-specific wildlife management recommendations. Since the inception of this partnership in 2007, Pheasants Forever biologists have helped 8,285 landowners manage 49,550 acres.
Farm Bill wildlife biologists also assist in finding funding for habitat projects on private lands through assisting landowners with voluntary Farm Bill conservation program enrollment. These diverse conservation programs address a wide range of natural resource issues, including the creation and maintenance of wildlife habitat and implementation of ecologically friendly farming practices.
Farm Bill wildlife biologists also collaborate with DNR staff through wildlife monitoring activities and state programs like Adopt a Wildlife Area, the Voluntary Public Access program, and the Deer Management Assistance Program. Wisconsin Farm Bill wildlife biologist positions are funded in part by DNR wildlife stamp funds, generated through the sale of hunting stamps.
"The Farm Bill Biologists play a critical role in helping all three of the partners meet their common missions by helping private landowners put conservation practices on the ground." Greg Kidd, NRCS assistant state conservationist.
Currently, seven Farm Bill wildlife biologists serve the following counties:
For more information regarding Farm Bill conservation programs in Wisconsin, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/wi/programs. To learn more about Farm Bill wildlife biologists and for contact information, visit www.pheasantsforever.org/Habitat/findBiologist [both links exit DNR].
GLENDALE, WIS - The public has an opportunity to comment on an application from STRATTEC Security Corporation for Wisconsin's Green Tier program.
The company is applying for Tier 1 of the Green Tier program, which is designed to encourage, recognize and reward companies that are committed to superior environmental performance. Green Tier businesses voluntarily collaborate with the Department of Natural Resources, and applicants must have a good environmental record, as well as implement an environmental management system.
The DNR will accept public comments on STRATTEC Security Corporation's Green Tier application through July 21, 2016. Comments may be directed to Tom Eggert, Wisconsin DNR, OB/7, PO BOX 7921, Madison, WI, 53703, by email to Thomas.Eggert@wisconsin.gov or by calling 608-267-2761.
STRATTEC Security Corporation designs and manufactures mechanical and electro-mechanical locks and related products for vehicle manufacturers as well as precision zinc die castings for transportation, security and other industries.
STRATTEC and its predecessor, Briggs & Stratton Technologies, have been in the vehicle lock manufacturing business for more than 80 years. STRATTEC's record of environmental performance is guided by an environmental management system that outlines the company's commitment to preventing pollution and continual improvement. STRATTEC's environmental achievements to date include:
Future sustainability goals include:
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