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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published May 11, 2010

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Forty years of cleaner air and Clean Air Month

MADISON - With each breath of air, Wisconsin residents have good reason to celebrate the accomplishments of 40 years of cleaner air, according to state environmental officials. May is Clean Air Month and 2010 is the 40th anniversary of the landmark Clean Air Act of 1970.

"We breathe cleaner air today because of 40 years of action on air pollution -- a success story for all of us," noted Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank.

Governments and industries throughout the United States have addressed high, peak levels of air pollution in areas that caused acute health effects. But the scientific understanding of air pollution and its health effects has grown and health researchers say people would benefit from even lower levels of air pollution. Technology to further reduce air pollution levels is also improving.

Wisconsin has taken a number of steps to reduce air pollution, including:

"Emissions from all sources contributing to ozone and fine particle pollution declined more than 30 percent between 1990 and 2005 alone." Frank said. "Businesses, home owners, local governments, commuters and others are committed to become more energy efficient in order to further reduce emissions and benefit from the savings."

During the month of May and throughout the rest of 2010, the DNR will be celebrating Clean Air Month and the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act. Highlights include:

More information on the DNR Air Management Program is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: John Melby, DNR (608) 264-8884

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Catch and release fishing yielding larger muskies from Wisconsin waters

MADISON - Big muskies - really big muskies - await Wisconsin anglers this fishing season, based on what anglers reported catching and releasing last year.

"This tells you what is coming," says Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist Tim Simonson, referring to a graph he prepared showing that Muskies Inc. members reported catching and releasing 105 muskies 48 inches and longer in Wisconsin in 2009.

"The 48-inch-plus fish have been increasing every year and in 2009 was the highest ever in their 40 years of record-keeping," says Simonson, co-leader of DNR's musky management team.

48-inch-plus musky have been increasing every year.
48-inch-plus musky have been increasing every year.

This year, those fish are now a year older and about an inch longer, based on average growth rates among older muskies in Wisconsin.

Musky populations, heavily fished in Wisconsin in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s after four world record catches triggered a musky fishing frenzy, are now recovering and the young fish are allowed to grow bigger. (Learn more in the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article "Long Live the Kings.").

Mendota musky
The last cast of opening day of the 2010 inland season was the best for the Nelson family of Madison. Conrad, 9, caught and released a 44-inch musky off the dock while his dad, Dan, was bringing the trailer to take the boat out after 8 hours of fishing. The crowd gathered in line to take their boats out broke into applause as the boys brought the fish to the dock.

"What we're seeing is a combination of higher size limits and increased voluntary release of legal size fish over the years," Simonson says. "The growth rate of muskies is slow so it's taken a long time to produce 48-inch and larger fish."

Wisconsin records suggest that it takes 18 years on average for a musky to reach 50 inches, with the fish growing faster when they're young and slower later in life, Simonson says. Before age 10, they grow about 4 inches a year. After about age nine or 10, they grow about 1 inch per year.

The growing popularity of catch-and-release has given Wisconsin muskies time to grow. Wisconsin anglers reported releasing 96 percent of the 223,101 muskies they caught during the 2006-07 license year, the most recent statewide mail survey of anglers.

This catch-and-release ethic also has helped to make this fabled "fish of 10,000 casts," more like the fish of 3,000 casts, Simonson says.

"Our goal is to maintain catch rates of one musky every 25 hours," he says. "That means that two anglers in a boat would spend about 12 hours to boat a fish."

Musky densities are generally very low, even in the best waters, because muskies are large top predators with low reproduction. Good musky waters average 1 adult fish for 3 surface acres, compared to up to 20 adults per 3 surface acres in good walleye lakes.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Simonson (608) 266-5222

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Changes proposed for the use of antlerless deer permits by archery hunters

MADISON - Archery deer hunters would be restricted to using the antlerless deer carcass tag that is issued with each archery hunting license to only those deer management units with an established antlerless deer harvest quota, under a proposal that is the topic of upcoming public hearings around the state.

"Under current rules, the antlerless tag that comes with every archery deer license can be used in any deer management unit in the state, including regular units where gun harvest of antlerless deer is carefully controlled through a separate permit system," said Scott Loomans, wildlife rules coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.

Gun deer hunters can shoot an antlerless deer in regular units only if they have purchased a unit-specific antlerless deer carcass tag, if they are available for the unit. Gun hunters may use the antlerless permit that comes with their license only in units that are designated as either herd control or chronic wasting disease management.

Each of the state's 134 deer management units (DMU) has an established deer population goal. Wildlife biologists set antlerless deer harvest quotas for DMUs that are intended to keep populations at the established goals. In 2010, 18 DMUs will have no antlerless permits available to gun hunters in an effort to increase deer populations in the fastest possible way. Under this proposed rule (pdf), archery deer hunters also would not be able to kill an antlerless deer in these units.

"The number of antlerless deer killed by archers is relatively low, compared to the gun harvest," said Keith Warnke, DNR big game ecologist. "However eliminating the archery hunter's ability to harvest antlerless deer in zero quota units will make regulations more consistent between the firearm and archery seasons and will contribute to herd growth."

Bow hunting groups and other hunting stakeholders have indicated support for the rule according to DNR wildlife managers.

"If this rule is adopted, the earliest it could be in effect would be the 2011 hunting season due the time necessary for the rule making process," Loomans said. "However, if the rule proposal is generally acceptable to the public the department may ask the Natural Resources Board to adopt a similar emergency rule which could be in effect in time for the 2010 season."

The public hearings will begin at 7 p.m. at the locations listed below. Following a brief informational presentation, public comments and statements will be accepted.

Text of the rule is available for review on the Department of Natural Resources website or by contacting Scott Loomans, DNR wildlife rules coordinator, 101 S. Webster St. Madison, WI 53707 (608) 267-2452 scottloomans@wisconsin.gov. Written or email comments may be sent to Loomans. The proposed rule, fiscal estimate and hearing notice are also available and comments may also be submitted electronically through the Wisconsin Administrative Rules website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Loomans - (608) 267-2452

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State ramps up efforts to deter illegal drug activity in remote areas

MADISON - State and local officials are using law enforcement surveillance flights, foot patrols, and a public awareness campaign to stop illegal drug growing operations in remote areas of Wisconsin. In recent years, illegal marijuana growing operations have been found on a number of remote public and private lands.

"Local, state and federal law enforcement authorities are teaming up to prevent criminals from trying to use wild public lands to grow marijuana," said Wisconsin Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark. "These illegal drug operations disrupt the landscape, leave a costly mess to clean up, deprive the public of the intended use of their lands, and potentially put the public in danger. The best way to stop them is to shine a bright light on places they may plant and make it too risky for them to plant."

Illegal drug operations poster.Efforts to stop attempts at illegal grows are teamed with a enforcement program coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice known as CEASE (Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Effort). Posters going up in parks, forests and other locations alert the public to what to look for and how to report suspicious activity.

Part of a national trend, in recent years, Wisconsin authorities have come across some carefully hidden, sophisticated marijuana grow operations. Two major illegal grows last year were in Shawano County and in Buffalo County on public lands. Some of these were sighted and reported by an alert public - out hunting, hiking and enjoying nature.

"Wisconsin is blessed with great public lands and wild places, and the public traverses and enjoys them throughout the year. We are grateful that law abiding citizens care enough about their public lands to be aware and report problems," says Stark.

"Hikers, anglers and hunters should be alert, and if they see something that doesn't look right, they should report the find to local law enforcement authorities," said Stark.

Some things to look for include signs of summer habitation such as huts, tents or other makeshift structures; equipment such as rakes and shovels; watering jugs; chemical containers; or signs of disturbed vegetation including abnormal cuttings or clearing of small areas.

The Department of Natural Resources operates a 24/7 confidential tip line for reporting suspected or observed illegal activity. The number is easy to remember, 1-800-TIP-WDNR(1-800-847-9367 or cell #367.)" Anyone with a cell phone with texting service can now send an anonymous tip to Wisconsin DNR from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. by texting the word TIPWDNR and the tip information to 847-411 (tip411).You can also call the Wisconsin Drug Tip Line at 1-800-NAB-DRUG (1-800-622-3784.) If problems are found on private land, notify local law enforcement authorities.

"Don't put yourself in danger. Don't try to investigate the site yourself. You could inadvertently disturb clues to the perpetrators," Stark says.

Anyone who comes across a suspicious area is advised to leave the way you came in and to record anything you observed such as vehicle descriptions, license or registration numbers from vehicles, equipment or other tools, GPS coordinates if you have a unit with you.

"We want everyone to be safe and enjoy Wisconsin's outdoors and traditions, and we want to work with the public to ensure that public lands are used for their intended purpose," he says.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Engfer - Conservation Warden, DNR Homeland Security Coordinator (608) 266-0859

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$1 million earmarked for Lake Michigan habitat restoration work

MADISON - Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank announced a grant totaling nearly $1 million will be used for habitat restoration work along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin and Illinois. The $998,557 grant will be used by the DNR and its partners to restore and improve 690 acres of coastal lake plain at Chiwaukee Prairie in Kenosha County, and in Lake County, Illinois at Spring Bluff Nature Preserve and Illinois Beach State Park.

"This project is a unique opportunity for the Wisconsin DNR to partner with agencies and municipalities from both states to address ecological issues within the Lake Michigan basin and across state lines," Frank said.

The Wisconsin DNR will work with the Illinois DNR, Wisconsin Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Village of Pleasant Prairie, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Illinois State Geological Survey and the Lake County Illinois Forest Preserves, which submitted the grant proposal on behalf of all partners.

Chiwaukee Prairie is one of the largest prairie complexes in the state and the most intact coastal wetland in southeastern Wisconsin. The prairie has an exceptional diversity of plants and animals -- more than 400 species of plants have been found here and the site supports many species that have low or declining populations. Work that will be supported by the grant includes invasive species removal, controlled burns, and decommissioning roads that create a barrier for wildlife movement and plant dispersal.

"This grant is terrific news, not only for Chiwaukee Prairie and Lake Michigan but for the Great Lakes region, as well," said Frank.

He noted that the grant was awarded as part of the Sustain Our Great Lakes program, a public-private partnership coordinated by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This year, additional grant funding was provided through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a $475 million initiative to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Wisconsin also received a grant for $277,433 awarded to the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership and partners to improve wildlife habitat and water quality by restoring 18 acres and 2,500 feet of stream bank along Centerville Creek in Manitowoc County.

A total of 25 projects were selected to receive $7.6 million in funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Sustain Our Great Lakes program (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dawn Hinebaugh, 608-266-5243

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Wisconsin DNR and HSUS Join Forces to Keep Wildlife Wild

Educational PSAs to air on radio stations statewide

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Humane Society of the United States have joined forces on a public service announcement (PSA) campaign to educate Wisconsinites about the importance of allowing wild animals to remain in their natural habitat. The PSAs also inform citizens what to do when they find wildlife truly orphaned or injured. The radio announcements are airing from May 10 through June 13 on stations statewide.

Many wild animals give birth at this time of year in Wisconsin, and people frequently encounter young wildlife while outdoors. However, baby animals found alone are not necessarily orphans. Wildlife parents, like rabbits, foxes and deer, leave their young alone during the day, sometimes for long periods. If the babies are still dependent, the mother is often nearby, discreetly keeping an eye on them. Well-intentioned citizens often mistake these animals for orphans and remove them from their native habitat, often doing more harm than good.

Also problematic are people who intentionally keep young wildlife as pets, a practice that is illegal in Wisconsin and could potentially expose people to diseases carried by wildlife, as well as spread diseases among wildlife.

The public education PSAs are designed to remind people that "wild animals were born to be wild." The announcements direct listeners who want more information about orphaned or injured wildlife to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource's Call Center or webpage, where they can find species-specific information to help determine if human intervention is necessary and how to contact a local wildlife rehabilitator. "By doing this, we are conserving resources for animals that truly need it, while ensuring that healthy animals are raised as they should be -- by their own parents in their native habitat" mentions Jennifer Ahn, Wildlife Rehabilitation Liaison for the DNR.

"Everyone wins if healthy wildlife is left where it belongs in the wild," said Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark. "Each year, the DNR receives calls about well-intended people removing animals from the wild and illegally taking possession of the animals. These are time-consuming, emotionally charged situations where nobody wins - not the animal, the people involved, not our agency. Our goal is to avoid these situations through public education and providing the alternative of turning injured and truly orphaned animals over to licensed wildlife rehabilitators."

"We are thrilled to join forces with Wisconsin DNR to educate the public about keeping wildlife in the wild, and to provide resources for those who want to help orphaned or injured animals," said HSUS Wisconsin state director Alyson Bodai. "The Humane Society of the United States commends the Wisconsin DNR for allocating resources to this important effort."

Audio recordings of the public service announcements are available upon request. For more information about orphaned wildlife, visit [www.humanesociety.org/injuredwildlife] (exit DNR) or the wildlife rehabilitation pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: DNR Jennifer Haverty, Wildlife Rehabilitation Liaison, (608) 267-6751 HSUS Media Contact: Liz Bergstrom, (301) 258-1455, ebergstrom@humanesociety.org

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New materials help pier owners determine whether they need a permit

MADISON - Pier owners will find new materials online to help them more quickly and easily determine if their pier is large enough to require them to complete a free, one-time registration.

A 2008 law set size standards for piers, and created the registration process that grandfathered-in most existing piers larger than the size standards.

A factsheet, video and revamped registration form are among the materials available on the Department of Natural Resources website, " Waterway & Wetland Permits: Piers, Docks and Wharves."

"We've updated and improved the information and tools on our web page to make it easier for pier owners to know if they need to register their pier," says Martye Griffin, DNR waterway policy leader coordinating the pier registration process. "The vast majority of pier owners won't need to register their pier. If their pier needs to be registered, we hope these improvements make the process quicker and easier."

Under the law, most existing piers meet the size standards and their owners won't have to do anything. Owners of piers that are larger than the standards have until April 1, 2011, to determine if they qualify to be grandfathered in, and to complete the registration process. A very small number of owners of extremely large existing piers will need to go through the individual permit and review process, but the normal fee permit will be waived.

Piers that are too big can shade out aquatic plants that are important to fish and can interfere with boaters, swimmers, and others enjoying Wisconsin lakes and rivers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Martye Griffin - (608) 266-2997

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2011 Wisconsin waterfowl, turkey and pheasant stamp design contests open

All three contests to be judged together for first time at new venue

MADISON - Artists entering designs in the 2011 Wisconsin waterfowl, turkey or pheasants stamp contests will enjoy a new and highly appropriate change of venue for the judging competition: the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo. And for the first time, the judging for all three contests will be held together.

"The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center [www.aldoleopold.org/legacycenter] and the surrounding 1,500-acre Leopold Memorial Reserve offer the perfect setting in which to explore and appreciate the earliest attempts at habitat restoration in Wisconsin and to celebrate the contributions of wildlife art to habitat conservation," says Tom Hauge, director of wildlife management for the Department of Natural Resources.

The winning entries will appear on the 2011 Wisconsin Waterfowl, Turkey, and Pheasant stamps.

Artists can submit entries from May 15 through August 6, 2010. The contest judging will take place on Saturday, August 28, at 1 p.m. at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, and will be followed by a small reception for the artists and public from 3 to 5 p.m. Those attending the event will have the opportunity to view about 60 pieces of wildlife artwork by artists from across the state and will get a "sneak peek" of the winning designs for the 2011 stamps.

DNR wildlife staff will be available to discuss the history and accomplishments of the Waterfowl, Turkey and Pheasant Stamp programs and how wildlife artwork has been central to our habitat conservation efforts.

All stamp contest applicants should review the contest rules carefully to ensure the eligibility of their entries. Artwork must meet the technical requirements specified in these rules in order to be properly processed and prepared for display at the Leopold Center. The 2011 contest rules, entry forms, and Reproduction Rights Agreement for the Waterfowl, Turkey, and Pheasant Stamp are now available at the DNR website:

Artists should note that because judging for the turkey stamp contest was originally planned for January of this year, turkey designs are no longer being accepted. Judging for the 2011 Turkey Stamp will be based on the artwork we received prior to the original December 2009 deadline.

Contest forms will be sent out in the next few weeks to all artists who are already on the DNR's waterfowl, turkey, and pheasant stamp contest mailing lists.

FOR MORE INFORMATION or to request contest information contact: Waterfowl Stamp: Michele Kille, assistant wetland specialist - (608) 266-7408, Pheasant and Turkey Stamp: Krista McGinley, assistant upland ecologist - (608) 264-8963 or Sharon Fandel, Acting Upland Ecologist - (608) 261-8458

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 11, 2010




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