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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published December 7, 2010

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Comprehensive clean water rules go into effect

Aim to cut water pollution cost-effectively, cooperatively

MADISON - Wisconsin has taken an important step in reining in the phosphorus pollution that fuels toxic algae, excessive weed growth and murky water in many lakes and rivers as comprehensive pollution measures go into effect this month, the state's top natural resources official says. The phosphorus rules were passed by the Natural Resources Board in June, 2010.

"Wisconsin's lakes and rivers are the foundation for our economy, our environment and our quality of life," says DNR Secretary Matt Frank. "Stakeholder groups came together to preserve that foundation by addressing phosphorus pollution comprehensively. Under this rule, Wisconsin can look forward to cleaner beaches, more swimmable lakes, improved public health, healthier fisheries and wildlife habitat."

"Cleaning up waters polluted by excessive phosphorus is crucial to protecting our $12 billion tourism economy and our $2.75 billion fishing industry. Reducing phosphorus will protect private property values and local tax base, as shown by state and national research linking higher property values with water clarity," Frank says.

"Cleaning up phosphorous pollution is good for the environment and the economy," Frank says. "We have designed an innovative, cost-effective and flexible approach that will allow us to meet federal requirements for phosphorus reductions and deliver the clean, healthy lakes and rivers that Wisconsin citizens expect."

Frank notes that the rules were developed after years of research and public input, including extensive stakeholder input from farmers, municipal water treatment systems, manufacturers, food processors, local governments and environmental groups. Organizations that supported passage of the rules included the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, the Dairy Business Association, the Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, the Wisconsin Pork Association, the Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association, the Municipal Environmental Group (representing local wastewater systems), Clean Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Associates, the Wisconsin Association of Lakes, the Wisconsin River Alliance, Wisconsin Environment, and the Sierra Club.

Frank added, "We are currently working with all stakeholders on implementation guidelines as well as the design of a pollutant trading system that will lower the cost of compliance even further."

Comprehensive approach, state and federal funding help key to solution

Changes to Chapters NR 102 and NR 217 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code that apply to wastewater dischargers go into effect Dec. 1, 2010. Changes to Chapters NR 151 and 153 that apply to farms and construction sites go into effect Jan. 1, 2011.

Central to the rule package are numerical levels set for the amount of phosphorus that can be allowed in different categories of waterbodies and still support fish and other aquatic life. Different numerical levels are set for five categories of lakes and reservoirs, for rivers and streams, and for the Great Lakes.

For wastewater dischargers, those numerical levels will be reflected in permits issued in 2011. Many industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants may not need additional efforts because they've already done a good job reducing phosphorus. Other plants may need to make upgrades, but the rule includes flexible options to give dischargers longer than usual compliance schedules, and modified limits for dischargers who work with upstream nonpoint sources to reduce larger sources of phosphorus pollution.

For farmers, the rule changes mean they must limit phosphorus potentially coming off their fields to an eight-year average that factors in land slope, phosphorus levels in their soil and average precipitation levels. An estimated 80 percent of cropland already meets this standard, based on UW-Madison research. The rule changes -- and new technology developed by UW-Madison -- give the state the tools necessary to identify and address those farms contributing excess phosphorus and leave the rest alone.

Wisconsin will become the first state to put in place an adaptive management approach that promotes cooperation among point (end-of-pipe or stack) and non-point (run-off) pollution sources to find the most cost-effective means to reduce phosphorus and other pollutants on individual watersheds.

Changes to related rules, Natural Resources Chapter 153, now allow DNR to steer grant money to those farms that need to make changes. Clean Water loan funds are available to municipal wastewater treatment systems. And the rules provide for variances in those cases where surrounding communities would suffer undue economic hardship in meeting the phosphorus limits.

172 lakes already listed as polluted by phosphorus

Phosphorus, a basic nutrient essential for human, plant and animal growth, has long been recognized as the controlling factor in plant and algae growth in Wisconsin lakes and streams; 172 Wisconsin lakes and streams are listed as impaired due to documented phosphorus pollution, decreasing their recreational use, waterfront property values and local business revenues; dozens of waters statewide experience harmful algal blooms fueled by the nutrient, and last year, 35 people in Wisconsin reported human health concerns and the death of at least two dogs due to blue-green algae to the state Department of Health Services.

In recent years, Wisconsin has enacted a ban on phosphorus-based lawn fertilizer, a new phosphate ban for dishwasher detergents, rules curbing urban stormwater, and rules to further reduce phosphorus runoff from large-scale farms and feedlots known as CAFOs, particularly during rain and melting snow. Those build on older measures that directly or indirectly cut phosphorus pollution.

For more information on the new phosphorus rules, including a timeline of phosphorus reduction efforts, see the Reducing Phosphorus to Clean Up Lakes and Rivers media kit on the DNR website.

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

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Cold weather kicks off Ice fishing season

MADISON - Cold weekend weather helped firm up ice in many parts of Wisconsin to kick off what is often some of the best fishing of the hard water season, state fish biologists say.

"Early ice fishing can be some of the best fishing for walleye, bigger game fish, for a lot of species," says Steve Avelallemant, fisheries supervisor for northern Wisconsin. "Especially on those lakes that are shallow and weedy. The fish seem to be accessible and biting more early in the hard water season. Any time before Christmas."

Fishing pressure nearly triples in December in Wisconsin after lakes freeze over, based on results from a 2006-7 statewide mail survey of anglers. Fully one-third of the state's 1.4 million licensed anglers reported ice fishing, and they spent about 1,589,000 hours in December alone, up from 624,000 hours in November of that year, according to Brian Weigel, the DNR fisheries researcher who analyzed the survey results.

Fishing friends
Ice fishing with your buddies, can anything beat it?
WDNR Photo

Across the entire ice fishing season, anglers caught 14 million fish in the survey year and released more than half of them during the survey year.

Avelallemant advises that ice anglers who want to maximize their chances of catching fish go to a lake with a good northern pike population. "Northern pike, when you look at their distribution worldwide, you'll find them all the way up into the Arctic Circle. They prefer cold water. Pike tend to get cranked up when it gets cold."

He advises that anglers check in with local bait shops to find out what the walleye are hitting on, and fish that. "A pike will take whatever you throw down," he says.

How to fish for panfish, pike and walleye

Panfish, northern pike and walleye are most frequently caught in the winter, with 11.7 million, 866,000, and 750,000, respectively, based on the mail survey results. Four northern Wisconsin fish biologists who are avid ice fishermen share their secrets for success in targeting the big three:

Panfish

"Panfish are creatures of habit and habitat. They tend to be in the same general areas every winter. Don't waste a lot of time looking for that secret honey hole away from the crowds. You're probably just moving away from the fish. Instead, getting out there at the crack of dawn may put you on a hot bite before ever-increasing crowd activity puts the fish off. Most any tackle works when panfish are in a biting mood but most of time they will be in a neutral or negative mood. Light tackle is a big advantage to tease out a bite from reluctant fish. Quality 2- or 3-pound test mono with a limber rod to absorb any sudden shocks will handle most panfish situations. The line should stay soft and supple in the cold. If your tear drop can't pull the kinks out you're not even going to detect bites that could have been a fish in the bucket. Bobbers are still popular bite detectors but the smallest one possible that barely holds the bait up is best. Even then bites won't always take the bobber down. It takes some experience to learn when to set a hook on a bobber wiggle. Wire or spring steel bite detectors on the end of the rod are the most sensitive. They also let you detect bites while you raise or lower your bait. Slowly pulling your bait up and away from a fish you spot on your fish finder often triggers a strike. On good bite days, fish are actively milling around and you can sit in one spot and wait for the fish. On slow days, the fish are pretty stationary. If you drop a bait right down on a resting school you'll often get one or two to bite right away and then nothing bites even if you can still see fish on your finder. Since fish aren't moving, you have to move from hole to hole picking up a few here and there for a meal." - Larry Damman, fisheries biologist, Spooner

Northern pike

Northern pike
Early ice offers some nice rewards, like this 22-inch pike caught on Butternut Lake in Price County Dec. 5, 2010.
Skip Sommerfeldt photo

"When pike are active during early ice there is really no best time to fish. That's one of the reasons pike are so popular during winter - morning, mid-day, or afternoon can all be excellent times to catch pike. My advice? Keep it simple. Don't out-think your opponent. Pike are low on the evolutionary scale and supposedly have a brain that is 1/1305 of its body weight (Becker 1983). No need to get too fancy. Also, split the difference. Many anglers when setting tip-ups place their bait a certain distance off the bottom. For example, say water depth is 12 feet. Find bottom and set your bait one or two feet off bottom. If you are fishing in vegetation, my general rule is to think in halves. Twelve feet of water -put your bait at six feet. This serves two purposes. First, vegetation is still occupying a fair portion of the water column at early ice. If you place you bait based on x feet from the bottom there is a good chance it's in the vegetation. No sight - no bite. Second, predators like northern pike cruise the water column. Even if they are near the bottom they can find prey above them. The opposite is less likely to be true." - Terry Margenau, fisheries supervisor, Spooner.

Walleye

"Our surveys show that this is the best time all winter to put a walleye on the ice. Caution should be used at this time of year as ice thickness can very greatly even on the same body of water.

Skip Sommerfeldt
Walleye fishing can be fantastic during the early hard water season, as this 23-inch walleye caught and released in 2010 shows.

Walleye will be on the feed during this time period and frequenting the same places they were looking for a meal in late summer and fall. Deep weed flats and outside edges are the key sites to look for. Once ice and snow are on a lake finding these sites on your favorite lake may be difficult. Open water scouting and a GPS make finding these spots much easier and saves a lot of hole drilling. Walk softly on the ice and set up and wait away from your tip ups. Too much commotion on only a few inches of clear ice will spook fish.

Most anglers use tip ups, though jigging can also be very effective, baited with small sucker or medium golden shiners. Set some tip ups with each because on some lakes walleye sometimes show a preference for one over the other. Use light monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders (6- to 10-pound test) that are 2-plus feet long. Also try to use smaller sharp #10 or #8 (even #12) treble hooks because this makes the bait look more natural." - Steve Gilbert, fisheries biologist, Woodruff.

"My trick for walleye fishing . . . . just go fishing a lot! Actually, the key for me is that I mostly fish at prime time (the hour before dark), and I concentrate on break lines and substrate edges in 8 feet to 12 feet of water. As for bait, I mostly use medium-size suckers and fish them 4 inches to 6 inches off the bottom with my tip-ups." Skip Sommerfeldt, fisheries biologist, Park Falls.

Check out his predictions for ice fishing in 2010-11 and the daily diary Skip Sommerfeldt kept last hard water season, when he fished 68 days in a row. And learn how to make ice fishing fun for kids and the adults who bring them.

ice claws
Ice claws: nail heads are ground off to a point and then covered with corks to prevent injury. The cord, made to the correct length, can be worn inside the jacket with each claw inside a sleeve. Or they can be draped over the shoulder and inside the coat. The wooden dowels and nylon cord will float, so they are accessible in an emergency.
WDNR Photo

Take steps to prevent going through the ice

Early ice can also be treacherous ice, so it's important to take a few basic safety precautions, warns DNR Recreation Safety Chief Todd Schaller.

"Check in with local bait shops so you know ice conditions before you go," Schaller says. "Tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back, and then go prepared with some basic equipment to help yourself or others should something happen, like wearing a float coat or carrying picks and a rope."

Follow rules to prevent spreading fish diseases

Ice anglers eager to start the hard water season are reminded to take steps to prevent spreading VHS and other fish diseases and aquatic invasive species.

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia, a virus that can infect several dozen fish species and cause them to bleed to death, was confirmed in 2010 in fish from Lake Superior. The disease has now been confirmed in all of the Great Lakes.

Avelallemant credits anglers for helping contain the disease -- it has not been detected in new inland waters since it was confirmed in the Lake Winnebago system in 2007 -- and says that the VHS prevention steps are helping keep Wisconsin fish healthy from other invasive diseases and species.

"Our lakes are under constant threat from invasive species. There's over 200 invasive species in the Great Lakes alone," he says. "The same tactics for preventing VHS will also help prevent the next one."

They are:

Following these rules will protect Wisconsin lakes and rivers and anglers' pocketbooks: a citation for carrying live fish away from a water runs $343.50, while the penalty for failing to drain the water from fishing equipment is $243.

Online fishing resource for the hard water season

Visit Ice Fishing Wisconsin for reports on what's biting where, tips for great fishing and for successful outings with kids, lists of places to go fishing, and more.

Wisconsin Ice Fishing Fast Facts

Source: DNR statewide mail survey of anglers during 2006-7 license year; SCORP 2010

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Go green with holiday recycling tips

MADISON - The holiday season is a time of giving and sharing with family and friends. While enjoying these traditions, you can also take steps to reduce waste, save money and be creative while making the holidays green.

An average Wisconsin resident generates 1,259 pounds of solid waste each year. This amounts to nearly three-and-a-half pounds per day, including both household waste and an individual's share of commercial waste. During the holidays, waste can increase with extra packaging, gift wrap, disposable dishes, leftover food and more.

A variety of tips on reducing holiday waste, giving green gifts and reducing energy consumption is available on the Department of Natural Resources website.

"From using less packaging and buying environmentally friendly gifts, to creative reuse of materials in decorations, the holiday season offers many opportunities to reduce waste, help the environment and save money," says Cynthia Moore, DNR recycling manager.

The DNR's holiday waste reduction tips can be found on the DNR's EEK! Environmental Education for Kids website. Some suggestions include:

Holiday Preparation Tips
Gift-Giving Tips
After-holiday Tips

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kathleen Kiefaber, (608) 267-2463

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2011 Wisconsin state park admission stickers and trail passes available

MADISON - The 2011 admission stickers to Wisconsin State Parks and Forests are now available at park and forest offices and at Department of Natural Resources service centers.

Winning Design by Stephanie Cuzner
2011 Wisconsin State Parks & Forests admission sticker designed by Stephanie Cuzner, a senior at Waukesha South High School.

"If you know someone who enjoys camping, swimming, hiking, biking, skiing, or wildlife watching, Wisconsin state park admission stickers and trail passes make excellent holiday gifts for those that enjoy being outdoors," says Kimberly Currie of the DNR Bureau of Parks and Recreation.

The stickers and trail passes give outdoor enthusiasts access to thousands of miles of trails, hundreds of nature hike opportunities, dozens of beaches, and some of the most scenic areas found in Wisconsin, Currie says.

"Park stickers are also the perfect gift for those just interested in absorbing simple solitude and the natural beauty of Wisconsin's outdoors," she adds.

The sticker provides vehicle admission to 60 state parks and forests across Wisconsin. There is no increase in sticker or trail pass fees for 2011. Admission stickers cost is $25 for Wisconsin residents or $35 for nonresidents. A family with more than one vehicle registered to the same household may purchase additional state park stickers at half price. A senior citizen annual sticker for $10 is available for Wisconsin Residents 65 years of age and older. Annual trail passes are $20 for residents and nonresidents.

A state trail pass is required for all people age 16 or older biking, in-line skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, or off-highway motorcycling on certain state trails. A state trail pass is not required for walking or hiking.

Admission stickers and trail passes are valid from the date of sale through Dec. 31, 2011, so cross-country skiers can use a 2011 trail to enjoy the ski trails yet this December.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Customer and General Information 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463)

Correction: This article originally stated that park stickers were available through the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks website. Park stickers are no longer available through the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks website.

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Snowmobile trail openings decided on a local level

MADISON - With a recent winter storm sweeping through most of Wisconsin last weekend tempting many snowmobilers to hit the trails, state recreational specialists are urging snowmobilers to get their sleds ready, but to put on the brakes until trails are ready and open.

"Ultimately, the decision to open trails is made at the local level," says Diane Conklin, snowmobile trails grants manager for the state Department of Natural Resources. "While most landowner agreements state that trails can open by Dec. 1, snow, standing crops and weather conditions can dictate the actual opening date, which is announced by county officials."

Factors that help determine trail openings include snow levels, frozen ground, temperature, and landowner agreements. Trail preparation and grooming, which is conducted by volunteers representing the snowmobile clubs across the state, is another important factor.

"Over anxious snowmobilers sometimes create problems by going out on the trails before they have been officially opened," says Gary Eddy, DNR snowmobile administrator. "This is highly irresponsible and illegal; it greatly threatens the landowner agreements that the club members have worked so hard to obtain."

Snowmobile trail information such as conditions and openings can be found through county snowmobile coordinators, park and recreation officials, local snowmobile clubs, local chambers of commerce, and on the Snow Conditions Report on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism Web site TravelWisconsin [exit DNR].

Wisconsin ranks among the top states in providing snowmobile trails. DNR provides $5.8 million in grants annually to maintain more than 18,700 miles of trails in the state, according to Conklin.

"We urge snowmobilers to stay on the trail and ride responsibly," said Eddy. "Snowmobilers may decide to ride on private property with permission -- which is okay, but a high degree of caution is needed as the terrain may be very rough and hazards such as ditches, farm equipment and rocks may be hidden by the snow."

More information on snowmobiling in Wisconsin can be found on the snowmobile safety education pages of the DNR Web site.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Eddy - (608) 267- 7455 or Diane Conklin - (715) 822-8583

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UW testimony: coal combustion byproducts are good for roads

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is showing the nation how the smart use of coal ash, bottom ash and gypsum from coal-burning operations in construction projects can save dollars and protect Wisconsin's air and water quality.

Coal ash, bottom ash and gypsum, the byproducts from burning coal to produce electricity, are under consideration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be classified as a special hazardous waste to be managed as a solid waste.

While Wisconsin strives to move from coal toward renewable energy sources, coal ash will be produced in the state for the foreseeable future. Rather than expanding landfills to dispose of these materials, they are largely being reused in construction projects.

"Thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ... Wisconsin's administrative code which addresses beneficial uses of industrial byproducts has become a national model," UW Professor Craig Benson told the U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Development, Entrepreneurship and Trade. "The regulations are practical and scientifically sound. It's thought of as the most forward-thinking rule-making on this anywhere in the United States."

At the Recycled Materials Resource Center at the UW-Madison, Benson tests coal combustion byproduct materials - such as coal ash, bottom ash and gypsum -- and develops guidelines for using those materials in construction applications.

Benson's research shows coal-combustion byproducts, when used correctly, do not release elements to the environment in significant amounts and are a valuable resource when beneficially used.

In 2007, the U.S. produced nearly 72 million tons of coal ash, bottom ash, and gypsum from coal-combustion processes. The majority of this material went to landfills, but 47 percent was used in construction projects such as road base, asphalt filler, roofing granules, and materials for snow and ice control. Using products in this way saves the country $5-10 billion annually and reduces emissions equivalent to removing 2 million vehicles from U.S. roadways.

Facilities in Wisconsin generate anywhere from 1.5 to 2 million tons of coal ash materials annually, approximately 85 percent or more of which are beneficially used.

Sound research leads to sound policy and Wisconsin continues to lead the nation in environmental policy.

The EPA has closed the public comment period for coal combustion residuals. The DNR did submit comments on the rule proposal supporting coal combustion product regulation as an industrial solid waste, with opportunities for coal combustion byproducts to be beneficially used when appropriate.

More information about the beneficial use of industrial byproducts can be found on the Waste and Materials Management pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ann Coakley - 608-261-8449

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Dec. 30 deadline for Urban Forestry Council Award nominations

MADISON - The Dec. 30 deadline to recognize an individual, organization, community and/or tribe for activities promoting urban and community forestry in Wisconsin with a Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Award is fast-approaching.

"The Urban Forestry Council presents these awards to outstanding individuals, organizations, communities, and tribes for their work and commitment to supporting the state's urban forest resources," according to Laura Wyatt, Forestry Division liaison to the Urban Forestry Council, which advises the Department of Natural Resources. "Council members are especially interested in nominations from the general public, from people who know about creative and interesting projects that have been undertaken in their communities."

The Urban Forestry Council annually presents awards in the following categories:

Last year's award winners included agencies involved in the preparation of Dane County's Emerald Ash Borer Readiness Plan; the Cities of Mequon and Milwaukee and We Energies for a cooperative effort to use a type of imaging to develop a comprehensive ash tree canopy map for use in emerald ash borer readiness planning; former State Sen. Judy Robison of Beloit and State Rep. Fred Clark of Baraboo for elected official distinguished service in recognition of leadership in the protection of Wisconsin's urban forests and the reinstatement of state Urban Forestry Grants to communities; and a Town of Mosinee resident who helped establish (and continues to coordinate) his community's oak wilt awareness, management, and control programs.

Wyatt said the Urban Forestry Council Awards nomination process is very user-friendly and can be submitted by e-mail (to Laura.Wyatt@wisconsin.gov) or by U.S. mail (to the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council, P.O. Box 7921, Madison WI 53707. A nomination should include the following: the award category; the name(s), address(es), and phone number(s) of the individual, organization, group, or project being nominated (including a project name, if applicable); the contact information of the person(s) to be contacted if additional information is needed; and a description of the merits of the nominee.

Nominations should include information on why is the individual or project or partnership worthy of this award along with information on the outcome and impact on the community. "Supporting letters and statements and other documents such as news clippings and photographs - anything that strengthens the nomination - are welcomed," according to Wyatt.

All materials need to be received by the Dec. 30 deadline.

The names of award winners are announced at the Wisconsin Arborist Association-Wisconsin DNR Annual Urban Forestry Conference and Trade Show, held Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Green Bay.

Details about the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Annual Awards the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council and regional urban forestry coordinators working throughout the state can be found on the Urban and Community Forestry pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Wyatt, 608.267-0568

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REMINDER: Deadline to apply for 2011 spring turkey, bear permits Friday, Dec. 10

MADISON - Wild turkey and black bear hunters are reminded that they have until the close of business this Friday, Dec. 10, to apply for available permits for the 2011 Spring Turkey Season and the 2011 Black Bear Season.

Preliminary permit levels for the Spring Turkey Hunting Season are set at 225,420 total permits (not including Ft. McCoy or State Park & Disabled Only Hunting Zones). This is the same number of permits that were available for the 2010 spring season.

Total permit availability for the 2011 Black Bear Hunt has not yet been determined. The Natural Resources Board will take up the proposed black bear quotas and harvest permit levels at a meeting to be held in January.

Applications for each of these two permit drawings cost $3 and may be purchased at all authorized license agents, through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at Wisconsin DNR Service Centers, or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236). Applications postmarked after the December 10th deadline, or filled out incorrectly, will not be considered for the drawings.

Applications for Special Turkey Hunts for Hunters with Disabilities are also due Dec. 10.

Permits remaining after the initial drawing for the 2011 spring turkey season will be issued for sale one zone per day on a first-come, first-served basis in late March, at a date to be specified later.

More detailed information is available in a previous news release on the permit application deadline and on the Wisconsin's wild turkey page and the Wisconsin bear hunting pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on spring turkey permits Krista McGinley, (608) 264-8963; on bear permits contact Linda Olver, (608) 261-7588

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, December 07, 2010




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