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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published October 12, 2010

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Ring-necked pheasant season opens October 16 at noon

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release was previously issued to statewide media on Oct. 8.]

MADISON - The fall 2010 pheasant hunting season opens statewide at noon Oct. 16 and runs through Dec. 31.

In Wisconsin, research has shown that wetlands are one of the most important year-round cover types for pheasants. Areas within the pheasant management counties that contain adequate winter cover such as cattail and shrub-carr marshes, well-established native prairie fields, and areas with 15 percent or more of the landscape in idle grassland will have the highest pheasant densities. It will be important for hunters to identify areas with high-quality habitat, concentrating their hunting efforts in that area.

"Successful hunters will have a number of potential hunting spots lined up and be ready to move in order to find birds," says Sharon Fandel, acting upland wildlife ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

During the 2009 pheasant hunting season, more than 57,000 hunters went out in search of pheasants and reported harvesting 241,732 birds. The top counties for harvest included Dane, Fond du Lac, and Waukesha.

Pheasant stocking program

This fall, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists plan to release approximately 51,000 game farm pheasants on 71 public hunting grounds. This is an increase from 2009 when 45,000 game farm pheasants were stocked on 71 public hunting grounds.

Hunters can check the Pheasant Stocking on State Properties map on the DNR website or the 2010 Pheasant Stocking Information Sheet, identifying public hunting grounds slated for pheasant stocking. Stocked public hunting grounds are primarily located in the southern part of the state, in the core of the pheasant range. Hunters should carefully verify which public hunting grounds have a 2 p.m. closure and/or allow hen pheasant hunting.

More information on the 2010 pheasant population outlook is available as part of the 2010 Fall Hunting & Trapping Forecast (pdf). See the 2010 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations, available on the hunting and trapping regulations page, for additional details.

Wild Pheasant populations

Throughout much of the southern half of the state, winter conditions (2007-2008 and 2008-2009) were moderate to severe with heavy snow. Spring weather during the last three breeding seasons has also been a challenge with cool and/or wet conditions, resulting in decreased brood success.

"Two of the past three winters and springs have been very hard on Wisconsin's wild pheasant population," added Fandel. "Both major surveys used to gauge pheasant populations in the spring showed decreases in 2010, on top of decreases observed over the prior two years."

The spring crowing count survey showed a 3 percent decrease and the rural mail carrier pheasant survey showed a 14 percent decrease in the number of roosters counted compared to 2009.

In addition, brood survey information collected in July and August showed a 33 percent decrease in the number of broods seen per observer and a decrease in the average brood size, from 5.2 in 2009 to 4.3 in 2010.

Bag limits

On Oct. 16 and 17, the daily bag limit is one cock and the possession limit is two. For the remainder of the season the daily bag limit is two cocks and the possession limit is four. Some public hunting grounds offer both hen and rooster pheasant hunting, which requires a free permit and tags, and some properties also have 2 p.m. closure times. The 2 p.m. closure requirements are only in effect for the first two weeks of the pheasant season, from Oct. 18 through Nov. 3. A Pheasant Stamp is required to hunt pheasants statewide.

Pheasant hunting opportunities through the Mentored Hunting Program

2010 marks the second year of the Mentored Hunting Program , which allows hunters age 10 or older, born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, to obtain a hunting license and hunt without first completing Hunter Education, provided they hunt with a mentor and comply with all of the requirements under the program.

For additional information and the requirements of the program, visit the Mentored Hunting Program page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharon Fandel, acting upland wildlife ecologist: (608) 261-8458, Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist: (608) 264-8963, or Bob Manwell, Office of Communication: (608) 264-9248

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Polar Bears International commits $30,000 to its latest
'Tree Planting for Climate Change' efforts in Wisconsin

EAU CLAIRE - Polar Bears International, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving arctic sea ice, has announced $30,000 in donations to support tree planting in the city of Sparta and the Juneau county forest.

These two projects come as part of a 2008 pact between Polar Bears International and the state Department of Natural Resources that launched a 10-year effort to encourage Wisconsin residents to plant and care for trees on their land and in their communities.

Planting trees reduces carbon in the atmosphere, creating better conditions for retaining arctic ice and improving polar bear habitat and survival.

The DNR is the first state agency in the nation to form a reforestation partnership with Polar Bears International, offering the agency's expertise, its knowledge of the land and its relationships with a network of private woodland owners. DNR foresters are helping PBI design pilot projects to be used as templates in other states.

The city of Sparta, already faced with a dwindling tree canopy due to budget constraints, is now facing catastrophic canopy loss - up to 50 percent of its public trees - because of the emerald ash borer, a tree-killing insect less than 35 miles away. The borer infestation could overwhelm staff and budgets, requiring the city to divert resources to tree removal and disposal.

PBI is donating $24,000 toward the restoration of Sparta's tree canopy with a diverse mixture of tree species. Approximately 240 trees, 1.5 inches in diameter, will be planted in city parks and street rights-of-way next spring. Maintenance will be performed by city staff and local partners. A secondary goal is to increase awareness of the climate benefits of the urban tree canopy and to stimulate tree planting by residents on their own properties.

Patricia Murphy, DNR regional forestry supervisor in Eau Claire, was instrumental in forging the partnership. She is scheduled to be in the arctic in November, working with polar bear scientists.

"We're hoping this endeavor will generate a lot of local interest in Sparta and motivate residents to plant additional trees on their own property," Murphy said. "For homeowners, each sapling planted reduces summer cooling costs and winter heating costs, increases property values and benefits wildlife. People are starting to understand that planting trees offsets their carbon footprint."

The city plans to continue preemptive ash removal for the next six to eight years unless the appearance of EAB forces accelerated removal. This allows replacement planting to begin right away, giving new trees more time to reach canopy size before EAB appears.

Replacement trees planted in parks and on the golf course will be maintained by staff; adjacent property owners will be encouraged to water and mulch right-of-way trees to relieve the cost to the city and to increase their investment in the project's success.

PBI also announced a grant of $7,600 to the Juneau County Forestry and Parks Department. The county will plant 33 acres of red and white pine in the Town of Armenia next spring. PBI funding will pay for the cost of site preparation and machine tree planting. The county will provide the tree seedlings. The goal is to reforest land currently dominated by hazel. The planting will establish a dense young forest that will improve wildlife corridors, aesthetics and county forest timber resources.

More information on Polar Bears International (exit DNR) is available on their website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia Murphy, DNR regional forestry supervisor, 715-839-3760 or Ed Culhane, DNR communications, Eau Claire, 715-839-3715

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Scopes on muzzleloaders now legal in Wisconsin

Rule change opens season to more

MADISON - When the 10-day muzzleloader deer season was created nearly 20 years ago, state natural resources officials say supporters wanted a more traditional hunt.

Hunters have seen a lot of changes since 1991, including the development of scopes, which officials say were long deemed unlawful for muzzleloader hunters in the Wisconsin woods. But muzzleloader hunters can now add that to the list of changes.

Starting this deer season, muzzleloaders hunting in Wisconsin may legally use a scope. The push for this change started last year when the Wisconsin Conservation Congress voted in favor of the idea. Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank signed the rule change putting it into effect for this muzzleloader-only season - Nov. 29 through Dec. 8.

DNR Hunter Education Administrator Tim Lawhern, also a conservation warden, says the change in scopes is good news for those hunters whose eyesight is not sharp.

"In the past, it was illegal to use anything other than a true 1 power telescopic device atop any muzzleloader during the season," Lawhern said, adding that may have caused some hunters to bypass the seasons. "We all know eye sight deteriorates with years. The ability to use scopes during this season will offer the opportunity to more hunters who can benefit from the scopes to add these 10 days to their annual deer hunt."

Lawhern says a 3X9, 2X7 or any other magnification is legal to use under the recent rule change.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Lawhern - (608) 266-1317

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Use ATVs safely and responsibly while hunting

MADISON - Several hunting seasons are currently open in Wisconsin, and state recreational safety specialists say many hunters are using all-terrain vehicles to assist them with accessing hunting areas, carrying game out of the field and transporting hunting equipment.

"There are several important rules hunters need to remember while operating ATVs," said Gary Eddy, ATV safety administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Some of the main complaints we receive involve ATVs being operated in unauthorized areas on public lands. Hunters need to know if they are on county, state or national forest lands, and they need to contact the appropriate office ahead of time to find out the rules and laws regarding ATV use."

Other important safety and law reminders from Eddy include:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Eddy - (608) 267-7455

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Highway project may result in Incidental Take of rare snake

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Wisconsin's endangered species law (s. 29.604, Wis. Stats.) requires the Department of Natural Resources to notify the public when it proposes to authorize the incidental taking of a state endangered or threatened species.]

MADISON -- The reconstruction of a county highway in the Village of Menomonee Falls, Waukesha County, may result in the incidental taking of the state threatened Butler's gartersnake under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes to grant for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.

Waukesha County proposes to expand County Trunk Highway VV (Silver Spring Road) from a two-lane rural to four-lane divided urban roadway from Marcy Road to Bette Drive in the Village of Menomonee Falls. Highway VV is an old narrow roadway in need of improvements to increase driver safety and accommodate increased traffic.

The roadway expansion includes suitable habitat for Butler's gartersnake (Thamnophis butleri) along a wetland patch on the north side of the road near the Marcy Road intersection. Wetland impacts were minimized during design by avoiding suitable habitat when possible and minimizing pavement and shoulder widths to the maximum extent possible. Wetlands in the site will be mitigated on a one-to-one basis in concurrence with an existing conservation easement. Ecological passage mitigation will be required as part of the next segment of construction to provide better connectivity to the Fox River habitat corridor at the CTH VV and CTH Y crossing. Snake fencing will be installed prior to the start of construction in areas of suitable habitat.

The department has determined that the proposed project will minimize the impacts to the snake; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the snake or the whole plant-animal community of which it is a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the actions.

The conservation measures to minimize adverse effects on the threatened species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment, conservation plan, and background information on the Butler's gartersnake are available on the Incidental Take page of the DNR website or upon request from Rori Paloski, Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Endangered Resources, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707, 608-264-6040. Public comments will be taken through Nov. 9, 2010 and should be sent to Rori Paloski at the above address.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rori Paloski, DNR, Bureau of Endangered Resources (608) 264-6040

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Tales from the outdoors fill October's Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

MADISON -- Tales from the outdoors fill the pages of October's Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

Al Cornell shares how a night of banding wood ducks led to some wet woodies warming up on the floorboards of his old pickup truck.

Readers go underground to stay on track with a UW-Milwaukee project that is using hair samples and sophisticated genetic analysis to monitor the movements and breeding habits of badgers. If you want to see a badger, just come along with us!

Join us on a visit to the new cool-water portion of the Wild Rose hatchery where the next generations of northern pike, walleye and lake sturgeon are getting a healthy start. See how innovations can raise quality fish while saving water, saving energy and cutting pollutants substantially.

Cast out nets and haul in a boatload of information on how lake trout are managed on Lake Superior. Learn how two remote fish refuges off the Apostle Islands were to sustaining wild fish stocks of native lakers.

Come celebrate the unique qualities of the Niagara Escarpment, the hard rock that shaped the physical character of east central and northeast Wisconsin. This formation that arcs from eastern Wisconsin towards the northeast all the way to Niagara Falls is a focus for future wind power exploration and provides some unique business opportunities. Escarpment rock areas create the right microclimate and soils to grow very fine red wines that could rival the best wine-growing conditions in France.

Subscribe now and you'll receive these stories and more in the October issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. Let us deliver six colorful issues to your door all year for less than $1.50 a copy. Year-round we share the hot spots at the hot times to enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors for only $8.97. Subscribe toll-free at 1-800-678-9472, online at [www.wnrmag.com] or by mail. Subscription blanks and single issues are also available from our circulation office at P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: David L. Sperling, editor, (608) 266-1510.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 12, 2010




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