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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published September 21, 2010

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Steps underway to protect Wisconsin's bats from deadly disease

MADISON -- Wisconsin's four species of cave bats are under imminent threat from the always deadly disease known as white-nose syndrome. The state Department of Natural Resources will ask the state Natural Resources Board on Wednesday to approve measures aimed at protecting bats before the disease gets a foothold in the state. (See agenda items 3.B 12 and 13.)

Link to Video

Wisconsin bats are threatened by a new disease called white-nose syndrom. Click on the photo for a new public service video. For more information see
"Saving Wisconsin Bats."  [VIDEO Length 0:35]

"If we act quickly, we can meet this extinction threat head on and deal with it," says DNR Secretary Matt Frank. "White-nose syndrome in Wisconsin is likely, so we need to take action now to slow the spread and to conserve as many bats as possible."

Wisconsin has the largest concentration of bats in the upper Midwest. The most common Wisconsin bat - the little brown - is particularly susceptible to the disease and faces extinction.

"Bats are critical to our ecosystems and our economy," Frank says. "A single little brown bat eats up to 1,000 insects per hour, consuming large numbers of agricultural pests which nationally would cost farmers and foresters billions of dollars a year."

Bats also keep mosquitoes in check, minimizing mosquito borne diseases such as West Nile virus.

White-nose syndrome has spread across 14 states and two Canadian provinces in just three years, killing as much as 90 to 100 percent of bats in infected hibernacula. The disease is currently 200 to 300 miles from Wisconsin's borders, well within the 280-mile migrating range of bats. The disease could be in detected in Wisconsin caves this winter.

DNR is proposing two actions to protect bats, which currently have no protections in Wisconsin. DNR will ask the Natural Resources Board for an emergency order and for permission to hold public meetings:

"We are already working with cave and mine owners, recreational cavers, businesses, farmers, and others to identify hibernacula to protect from disease introduction, but with the disease so close, we need to rapidly ramp up protections," Frank says.

White-nose syndrome is a devastating disease of bats. It gets its name from a white fungus that grows on nose, ears, muzzles and wings. Scientists say the disease can be transmitted from bat to bat or to bats from a cave that has been infected, likely from a human introduction on shoes or equipment. It kills up to 75 percent of bats in the hibernaculum the first year; 90 to 100 percent the second. Scientists believe the syndrome causes bats to act abnormally and use up reserves when they should be hibernating, causing death. All four of Wisconsin's cave bat species (little brown, northern long-eared, eastern pipistrelle, and big brown bats) are mortally susceptible to the disease.

For more information see the Saving Wisconsin Bats page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurel Steffes, (608)266-8109



Seven reasons to keep fishing later this fall

MADISON -- Buck fever is building in Wisconsin but anglers may want to hold off on packing away their fishing rods just yet. Fall offers some of the best fishing the year has to offer, state fish biologists say.

"Many species tend to congregate more as winter approaches. With winter approaching and the prospects of food becoming limited, fish actively feed during much of the day compared to an evening or morning bite during the summer months," says Brian Brecka, Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist stationed in Alma.

Here are seven reasons to keep the fishing rod out a little later into the fall:

  1. The Mississippi River. Wisconsin's waters of the Upper Mississippi River are home to more than 119 species of fish -- more than found in any of Wisconsin's inland lakes. Fish that spend the winter in river backwater habitat begin to make their move as the fall season proceeds. Bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass and northern pike can be caught around weeds and wood as water temperatures fall. Areas with slight current near backwaters can also be good for these species as some fish wait until just before ice blankets their wintering haunts to move. As fall proceeds, very basic presentations work for most backwater species. A bobber and worm for bluegill, a small jig or live minnow for crappie, and a spinnerbait or crankbait for largemouth bass and northern pike will likely put tussles on the end of your line. Try fishing in the following pools -- those stretches of river between navigation dams -- Lower Pool 4, Pool 5, Pool 5a and Pool 6. See the Mississippi River Boating Guide for information on navigating the Mississippi River. - Brian Brecka, fisheries biologist, Alma
  2. Lake Michigan tributaries. Coho, chinook and steelhead are starting to congregate in the mouths of Lake Michigan tributaries in advance of their fall spawning runs. Now's a good time to catch a fill of these Great Lakes trout and salmon. Check DNR's Lake Michigan Tributary Access and the Lake Michigan Outdoor Fishing Report and follow the fish. And find Fall Shore Fishing Close to Home], a special web page with information on the timing of spawning runs, regulations, license requirements and 50 great places to fish all within 60 miles of Wisconsin's biggest city. -- Brad Eggold, fisheries supervisor, Milwaukee
  3. Lake Superior. Fall is a great time to fish Lake Superior for trout and salmon, and this year, the fish are in top condition. Salmon are just beginning to congregate near the river mouths, but fishing will get better in the next few weeks. Coho salmon fishing has been exceptionally good since this spring and summer. A large year-class of coho salmon are coming back to spawn this year and are much larger than normal. They are so much bigger than usual -- 4 to 6 inches bigger -- that many anglers assume they are chinook salmon. They have benefited greatly from the tremendous number of small herring available. Anglers have been seeing more chinook so far this year also, again benefiting from increased forage in the lake in the last year or so. As we move into October brown trout will be showing up around the river mouths also. Anglers typically troll near the rivers or even wade near the mouths and cast for trout and salmon this time of year. Angler should start searching in deeper water but as the water temperatures drop the trout and salmon move shallower and shallower.- Mike Seider, fisheries biologist, Bayfield
  4. Bigger muskies later. In recent years, anglers have fished deep into the fall to land some of the year's biggest fish. Wisconsin has about 775 lakes and streams with thriving populations of the official state fish, but if size is the prize, try these musky waters with special regulations aimed at growing trophy fish.
  5. The bugs are going, going, gone. Wave after wave of mosquitoes chased some anglers inside this summer and kept others furiously swatting between casts. Repeated heavy rains in many parts of Wisconsin produced bumper crops of what Phil Pelliteri, UW entomologist, calls summer floodwater mosquitoes. These mosquitoes breed in temporary standing water, like that often found in ditches alongside roads or in abandoned tires. "These are the mosquitoes that make or break us," Pelliteri says. "We breed 90 percent of our mosquitoes from less than 10 percent of the water in Wisconsin." The good news is their breeding grounds are drying up, and the mosquitoes are not nearly as bad as they once were. Anglers are not out of the woods yet. "It takes three hard freezes before I consider it being over," Pelliteri says. But the cooler temperatures definitely slow mosquito activity. They have trouble flying when temperatures are below 50 degrees or winds exceed 10 miles per hour. The cooler fall temperatures also slow their development, which could be a saving grace if heavy rains arrive soon and allow one more crop of mosquitoes. Watch out for deer ticks, a problem 'til snow arrives.
  6. The days are cooler and the fishing more comfortable. A quick scan of average September temperatures for several Wisconsin weather stations shows a drop off of about 10 degrees from August. See the average for your favorite fall fishing hole. Check the Midwest Regional Climate Center's (exit DNR) summary of temperatures.
  7. Less competition for fish. It's not your imagination. There are fewer anglers out on the water in the fall. DNR fisheries researcher Brian Weigel analyzed numbers from the 2006-2007 statewide mail survey of anglers, the most recent such survey, and found that angler effort in the fall is much lower and less consistent in the fall before picking up with the start of ice fishing in December.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mississippi River, Brian Brecka - (608) 685-6221; Lake Michigan, Brad Eggold - (414) 382-7921; Lake Superior, Mike Seider - (715) 779-4035



Southern duck zone opens Oct. 2

MADISON - The first Saturday in October marks the opening of the southern duck zone season. This season will open at 9 a.m. Oct. 2 and run through Oct. 10, and then closes for a 5-day split, reopening on Saturday Oct. 16 and running through Dec. 5.

Waterfowl hunters should note that the goose season in the south Exterior zone will also be closed during this 5 day period from Oct. 11-15. This season closure, however, does not affect goose hunting in the Horicon or Collins zones which are also within the southern duck zone.

"Each year, we hear a wide range of desires among waterfowl hunters regarding the timing of duck and Canada goose seasons. This year was no exception, with some asking for an earlier season and others asking for a later season," notes Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist. "The 2010 season structure represents a compromise among hunter interests."

Abundant water in much of the south part of the state during the summer has made for good waterfowl habitat, according to biologists.

"Even so," adds Van Horn, "local fall water conditions, fall weather and time spent scouting are the most important factors to hunting success in the waterfowl season. Studies have shown that hunters who scout harvest 2.3 times more ducks than those who do not. Wisconsin has a wide range of different habitats and locations to hunt waterfowl that are not always used very heavily, so take the time to seek out new areas this fall for your best chance of success."

The daily bag limit for the full 60 days is six ducks, not to include more than four mallards of which only one may be a hen, three wood ducks, one black duck, two redheads, two scaup, two pintail, and one canvasback. In addition, the bag limit includes five mergansers to include not more than two hooded mergansers. Coot daily bag is 15.

Duck and other migratory game bird hunters are reminded to make sure they register for the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) if they did not do so when purchasing a license. It takes only a minute and is free of charge at any license vendor, by phone, 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236), or online through the Online Licensing Center. Bag checks will again be performed at select hunting locations in the state this fall, and avian influenza testing will also occur at these sites.

For more information see the Waterfowl in Wisconsin page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn - (608) 266-8841 or James Christopoulos - (608) 261-6458



2011 Wisconsin wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamp contest winners announced

MADISON - Nearly 50 entries of wildlife art were on display for the first combined judging for the stamp designs to be featured on the 2011 Wisconsin wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamps. This was the first year judging for all the stamps was conducted simultaneously in Wisconsin -- previously the contests were judged separately. The judging took place August 28 at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo. There were 16 wild turkey entries, 11 pheasant entries, and 21 waterfowl entries from artists around the state.

A painting of a wild tom turkey set in a Wisconsin woodland landscape, created by Vernon Javes of Appleton, is the winning entry of the 2011 Wisconsin Wild Turkey Stamp Design Contest.

The winning entry for the 2011 Wisconsin Pheasant Stamp Design Contest is a painting of a pair of pheasants set in a Wisconsin farmland landscape by Steven A. Hovel of DeForest.

A painting of a pair of Northern Shovelers by James Pieper of Iron Ridge is the winning entry in the 2011 Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp Design Contest.

The judging panel for all three contests included Cory Catlin, President of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation; Craig Schlender, President of the Sauk County Chapter of Pheasants Forever; Nels Swenson, State Chairman of Wisconsin Ducks Unlimited; Steve Swenson, an Ecologist with the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center; and Marsha Cannon, a grants administrator for the Madison Audubon Society.

2011 Wild Turkey Stamp Design Contest

2011 turkey stamp
2011 Wisconsin Wild Turkey Stamp

Vernon Javes resides in Appleton. Javes started his artistic career at 17, when he began decorating cakes for his mother at a New Jersey bakery. Since his retirement 25 years ago, he has devoted much of his time to creating the wildlife art that covers the walls of his residence. Javes has always loved wildlife, and enjoys woodworking as much as he does painting; he made the desk at which he does his artwork. At 89 years old, macular degeneration has left Vernon blind in his left eye, but he is still determined to stay active, going fishing several times a week. Javes also won the Wisconsin Wild Turkey Stamp Design Contest in 1999.

This year's first runner-up was John H. Nemec, Jr. of Peshtigo, and the second runner-up was Steven A. Hovel of DeForest.

Sales of the Wild Turkey Stamp help provide future opportunities for turkey management and hunting in Wisconsin. All turkey hunters are required to purchase the $5.25 Turkey Stamp to legally hunt turkeys in Wisconsin. Sales of the Turkey Stamp bring in more than $800,000 annually for habitat management and restoration projects, education, research, equipment, and the management of the wild turkey program in our state.

2011 Pheasant Stamp Design Contest

2011 pheasant stamp
2011 Wisconsin Pheasant Stamp

Steven A. Hovel resides in DeForest, where he works out of a studio he built himself from salvaged tobacco warehouse timbers. Hovel has been an artist for 45 years; he graduated from high school in 1965 and went into a summer scholarship program at the Minneapolis School of Art. Later, he worked as an Air Force artist in Vietnam, and went on to graduate with a B.A. in Printmaking from Indiana University.

In addition to winning the Pheasant Stamp Design Contest, Hovel took 3rd place in this year's Wild Turkey Stamp Design Contest. He is also the winning 2011 Commemorative Artist for Ducks Unlimited, with a painting depicting Northern Shovelers.

The first runner-up for this year's Pheasant Stamp Contest was Caleb Metrich of Lake Tomahawk. Third place went to Robert Leum of Holmen.

Sales of the $10 Pheasant Stamp bring in more than $370,000 annually for the development, management, conservation, and maintenance of the wild pheasant population in the state, with an additional contribution to the stocking of put-and-take pheasants on Wisconsin's public hunting grounds. A pheasant stamp is required to hunt pheasants in the state of Wisconsin.

2011 Waterfowl Stamp Design Contest

2011 Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp

James Pieper resides in Iron Ridge. Pieper's lifelong relationship with art has been greatly influenced by the works of artist Owen Gromme, especially Gromme's winning 1945 Federal Duck Stamp design depicting a pair of Northern Shovelers. In fact, there's a good chance that the taxidermy mount Pieper used while working on his painting was one used by Gromme to make that 1945 stamp, as it had a tag listing the specimen's collection by "O. J. Gromme at Lake Puckaway, 1932." Pieper's paintings have been selected for Wisconsin's Pheasant and Turkey Stamps in the past and his waterfowl paintings have placed in the Top 20 of the Federal Duck Stamp Competition. His education in art includes two years of graphic design study at the Milwaukee Technical College, which allowed him to work in graphic design for advertising and as a graphic artist for a laser engraving company.

The second-place winner of this year's Waterfowl Stamp Contest was Caleb Metrich, with his painting of a pair of Canada Geese. Third place went to a painting of a Blue-winged Teal by James Jungbauer.

Proceeds from the sale of the $7 Waterfowl Stamp are used for developing, managing, preserving, restoring, and maintaining wetland habitat in Wisconsin and Canada for waterfowl and other wetland-associated species. Wisconsin duck and goose hunters are required to purchase "stamp approval" through the Automated License Issuance System (ALIS) in order to have a valid license, but will not receive an actual stamp unless they request it. DNR Service Centers will have the stamps available for free to everyone with stamp approval. Anyone else interest in collecting the stamp may purchase one directly from the DNR. For information contact the DNR call center 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) or online service center.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on wild turkey or pheasant stamps contact Krista McGinley, (608) 264-8963 or Sharon Fandel, (608) 261-8458; on waterfowl stamp contact Michele Kille, (608) 266-7408



2011 Wisconsin State Park and Forest admission sticker to feature silhouette of kayaker

Entries now being sought for 2012 sticker design contest

MADISON - A design featuring the silhouette of a kayaker on the water by Stephanie Cuzner, a senior last year at Waukesha South High School was the winning entry in the contest for the 2011 Wisconsin state park and forest annual vehicle admission sticker. The 2011 stickers will be available at park, forest and other Department of Natural Resources offices in December.

Winning Design by Stephanie Cuzner
2011 Winning Design for Wisconsin State Park and Forest admission sticker

Runners-up in the 2011 sticker design contest were: Second Place - Owen Monsma, Madison Memorial High School and Third Place - Makenzie Flom from Cedarburg High School. The winning design is displayed on more than 150,000 vehicles. There were more than 300 entiries received for the 2011 contest.

In addition to seeing their design proudly displayed on more than 100,000 vehicles, the contest winner receives an engraved plaque, an annual vehicle admission sticker featuring their design and a state trail pass. The design contest, sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is open to all high school age students attending public, private, or parochial schools in Wisconsin.

2012 admission sticker design contest now open

Aspiring artists in Wisconsin high schools can now begin submitting entries for the contest to have their original artwork selected as the design for the 2012 Wisconsin state park and forest vehicle admission sticker.

The contest is open to all high school age students attending public, private, or parochial schools in Wisconsin. The design must be the artist's own original creation and not copied or duplicated from previously published art, including photographs. Entries are accepted for the design contest through March 28, 2011.

Contest information and winning and honorable mention entry designs are available on the Department of Natural Resources Web site, along with past winning entries.

Annual stickers are $25 for a Wisconsin resident, $10 for a Wisconsin resident 65 years of age and older, and $35 for a nonresident. Residency is determined by the license plate of the vehicle.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Wisconsin State Parks - (608)266-2181


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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