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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published March 8, 2011

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Volunteer instructors, hunters' dedication behind fatality-free gun-deer season

Remember to sign up for your hunter safety class

MADISON - Hunting history repeated itself in Wisconsin 2010 - and the head of the state's hunter education program is looking for a repeat performance in 2011.

"Wisconsin ended its 2010 gun-deer season free of hunter fatalities," Department of Natural Resources conservation warden and longtime hunter education program leader Tim Lawhern said. "This is a feat first -- and last -- seen in 1974.

Lawhern says the 2010 hunting success story has a lot to do with the effectiveness of the state's volunteer instructors of hunter safety education programs and hunters themselves for their dedication to safety.

"This also is a good reminder for hunters to sign up for their required hunter safety classes - now, " Lawhern said. "Classes fill very fast and very few are offered between October and December. That's when our volunteer instructors are hunting, too."

Overall, there were 12 hunting incidents during the nine-day gun season. For the families of the injured hunters, Lawhern says 2010 didn't feel like a success. "Any shooting incident is one too many," Lawhern said. "And we wish them all speedy recoveries."

The agency only tracks firearm-related incidents and does not keep track of deaths or injuries due to heart attacks, tree stand falls or other causes.

Lawhern, who also serves as the president of the International Hunter Education Association, says several factors were behind the successful 2010 hunt.

Classroom and technology big in the woods

High on Lawhern's list as big factors behind the second-only fatal-free season in Wisconsin's history of the gun-deer hunt is the participation in the DNR Hunter Education Program - which began as hunter safety classes in 1967.

"The year before hunter education began in Wisconsin, the incident rate was 44 injuries for every 100,000 hunters," Lawhern said, adding the 1967 course was six hours long and covered firearm safety only.

Things have changed since 1967.

"Since that time, we have seen things like the creation of opening and closing hours for hunting, mandatory blaze orange for hunters, full safety harnesses, firearm restrictions, global positioning satellite devices, cell phones and more," he said. "All of these have contributed to the increased safety for hunters."

Wisconsin's hunter education certification program became mandatory for all hunters born or after Jan. 1, 1973 in 1985. That meant any hunter 12, the youngest legal hunter, beginning in 1985 had to complete the hunter education program.

"We have certified almost one million graduates. Our program has led the way both nationally - and internationally - with improved delivery, curriculum and outreach regarding safe and responsible hunting," Lawhern said of the program taught by volunteer instructors statewide. Wisconsin's hunter education program has had many firsts, including the nation's first online course, instructor academy and a junior instructor program.

"The hunter education program also has evolved into more topics including knowledge, responsibility and ethics," he said.

While the fatal-free season is a victory for safety, Lawhern says it wasn't a complete surprise.

Predicting the fatal-free season, and the four rules of firearm safety

Lawhern says considering all the progress made in hunting, along with looking at the records behind every shooting incident of past seasons, made it easy to predict the fatal-free season was coming.

"We know a tremendous amount about hunting incidents. We can predict who is going to be shot. We can predict how many, where and what they are going to be doing at that moment," Lawhern said. "We just don't have the names and addresses."

Lawhern's analysis shows about one-third to one-half of all injuries is related to deer drives. The self-inflicted injuries will be one-third to one half of all the total of the gun-deer season.

"We also know the shooters younger than 18 will make up about 20 to 30 percent of the shooting injuries, though this past season it was less than that. The vast majority will occur on private land and half will happen on opening weekend," he said. "Ultimately, nearly all are linked to a violation of one or more of the four basic rules of firearm safety - treat every firearm as if it is loaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, be certain of your target and what's beyond, and keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot."

And, Lawhern says, the most significant contributors to hunting incidents are those 35 and older - the hunters not covered by the mandatory hunter education course rule. "All hunters should consider taking the hunter education certification course - no matter the age."

Safety doesn't take breaks

"Our hunter education program is revered as one of, if not the best in the country," Lawhern said, adding most of the volunteer instructors have never experienced a gun-deer season free of fatalities. "Those instructors, along with other factors, are major contributors to the success and safety of hunting."

The course helps all hunters to make safety a habit.

"Safety does not take a vacation. Either you are safe all the time, every time, or you are not. You are only as safe as your next hunt," he said.

Lawhern says he hopes those who haven't completed the hunter education certification course will make it a priority in 2011 to make the next gun-deer season the third fatal-free in the state's history.

"Let's not wait until 36 years. Let's repeat this safety success story in 2011," Lawhern said. "A good start on that goal is to make sure you have completed your hunter safety course now so you can enjoy the fall deer season."

More information about hunter safety education is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Lawhern - (608) 264-6133

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Fix a Leak Week a good time to save money, water

Plumbers offer free inspection for leaks

MADISON -- March is a good time to check for leaky toilets and faucets, which can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water a year. A free inspection by participating plumbers during "Fix a Leak Week" this month, and videos and other information, can help Wisconsin homeowners put an end to the drip and save water and money, state water officials say.

Fix a Leak Week, March 14-21, is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program, and the Department of Natural Resources, the Public Service Commission and the state Division of Safety and Buildings. These agencies are calling on all homeowners, renters and property managers to find and fix leaky toilets, faucets, shower heads and other fixtures.

"Leaks can add up to more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted in a home every year—that's enough to fill a backyard swimming pool," says Jeff Ripp, PSC water conservation coordinator. "We encourage all homeowners, renters and property managers to do some detective work to find and fix leaks."

Shaili Pfeiffer, who coordinates outreach for the DNR's water conservation efforts, says that taking a few simple steps can help protect Wisconsin's drinking water and groundwater now and for future generations. "It all adds up to help assure that future generations of Wisconsinites and our lakes, streams and springs have the water they need."

Plumbers from the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association of Wisconsin are also joining in the effort by offering a free leak detection home inspection during Fix a Leak week. Visit the PHCC website [www.phcc-wi.org] (exit DNR) to find a nearby participating plumber.

"Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day," says Safety and Buildings Division plumbing products reviewer Jerry Thompson. "Have your leaks fixed today by a licensed plumbing professional. You will save money in the long run."

March and other wintertime months are a good time to check for leaks because it's easier to detect them at this time of year. Lawn watering is not occurring, so the usage levels reflected on a water meter represent household use, and higher-than-normal readings can signal a problem.

To help save water for future generations consumers can "check, twist, and replace":

In many cases, fixture replacement parts pay for themselves quickly and can be installed by handy do-it-yourselfers, or contact your favorite plumbing professional. WaterSense also has partners with certified landscape professionals who can check irrigation systems for leaks. Visit [www.epa.gov/watersense] (exit DNR) to find WaterSense labeled products or an irrigation partner in your area.

State agencies are also sponsoring a Fix a Leak Week Challenge and encouraging people to pledge to check their home for leaks and tell us what you found and fixed. To sign up online for the challenge, see our fun Fix a Leak Week video and for more tips to stop your drips, visit Fix a Leak Week on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Shaili Pfeiffer, DNR (608) 267-7630; Jeff Ripp, PSC, (608) 267-9813; Jerry Thompson, Division of Safety and Buildings, (608) 266-6742

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Inner city kids get archery, hunting thanks to warden

Bowhunters tap Myles for annual statewide award

APPLETON, Wis. - The thrills of archery, scouting pheasants and simple fun outdoors have reached hundreds of inner city Milwaukee students thanks to the dedication and efforts of an honored state conservation warden.

The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association on March 5 named Gervis Myles as their Warden of the Year for 2011 during a ceremony at the group's weekend conference in Appleton.

Gervis Myles
Conservation Warden Gervis Myles receives Wisconsin Bowhunters Assoc. warden of the year award for 2011.
Contributed photo

"Gervis' service to the Milwaukee residents of all ages, but especially to the youth, has been outstanding," DNR Chief Warden Randy Stark said of Myles. "For his12 years as a conservation warden, Gervis has worked hard to get the entire community interested and involved in natural resources issues - and that includes enjoying outdoor recreation."

Myles became a warden in 1998 and has served his career to date in Milwaukee County.

"Gervis went to work immediately addressing concerns about the illegal taking of big bucks in Milwaukee-area parks," Stark said. "He spent hours answering complaints from concerned citizens about baiting, illegal stands and the illegal harvest."

Myles added to his warden portfolio by earning his certification in the National Archery in the Schools Program in 2006. Equipped with his instructor credentials, Myles worked with the Milwaukee-areas schools to introduce the sport to more than 700 students. When 60 middle school students wanted to give archery a try but didn't have an adequate space, Myles converted the DNR headquarters main conference room in Milwaukee into an archery range for an afternoon.

Myles also was key in helping 32 individuals earn their archery instructor credentials in recent years to get even more children exposed to the sport.

This past year, Myles also organized a "Learn to Hunt Pheasant" outing for several Milwaukee inner city children at the DNR's McKenzie Center in Poynette.

And, with an eye on the future, Myles also has spent time talking about natural resources careers with Milwaukee youth.

"We thank the Wisconsin Bowhunters for recognizing Gervis for his years of outstanding service to the community and the resources," Stark said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick Reed, Conservation Warden Supervisor, Waukesha - 262-574-2160 or Joanne Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement, Madison - 608-267-0798

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Hunting and fishing licenses go on sale March 9

Licenses for current year expire on March 31

MADISON - 2011-12 Wisconsin hunting, fishing, trapping and other licenses for fish and wildlife activities in Wisconsin go on sale Wednesday, March 9. Annual licenses are valid from April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012. Hunting and fishing licenses for the 2010-11 license year expire on March 31, 2011.

Hunting and fishing licenses can be purchased over the Internet through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

Department of Natural Resources customer service staff is available to assist the public by phone and online from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Spanish and Hmong bilingual customer service representatives are also available. Customers may reach Customer Service at 1-888-WDNR INFo (1-888-936-7463) or by e-mail at csweb@wisconsin.gov. An online chat link is also available on the DNR website.

Information on renewing a Conservation Patrons License, which offers many different privileges, including licenses, stamps, applications, park admission and more, was included in the February issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, along with a bonus pamphlet showing how fish and wildlife license and permit fees are spent to bolster outdoor recreation.

New one-day fishing license offered

New this year, people can purchase a one-day fishing license. The one-day license is $8 for residents and$10 for non-residents. The one-day license purchaser can select any date they choose, and their license is good until midnight of the day they select.

Customers who purchase the one day license are eligible to purchase a reduced rate annual fishing license ($12.75 for a resident and $40.75 for a nonresident) during the same license year.

"People can buy a one-day license and then -- if they decide they want to fish some more -- trade up to the annual license," says Diane Brookbank, director of DNR licensing and customer service,

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bureau of Customer Service and Licensing, (608) 266-2621

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Sandhill "learn to deer hunt" applications available

BABCOCK, Wis. - Youth and beginning hunters who want to learn the basics of deer hunting in Wisconsin can sign up for learn to hunt workshops at the Sandhill Wildlife Area near Babcock,

The one-day workshops include information on deer biology and management, scouting, firearm safety, hunt rules and regulations, and hunter ethics. Those who complete the workshops return to Sandhill for a special hunt on Nov. 5-6.

A youth workshop is offered to young hunters, 12 to 15 years old. Each child must be accompanied by an adult, 21 years or older, who acts as chaperon and teacher. One-day youth workshops will be held on August 4, 6 and 8.

A one-day beginner adult workshop is offered to people 16 or older who have never hunted deer with a gun before. Beginner adults must also be accompanied by an adult chaperone. The Beginner Adult workshop will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24.

To qualify for the program, all participants must either be enrolled in a Hunter Safety course or must possess a valid Hunter Safety Certificate. Students will be required to have a license by the time of the hunt. Previous participants are ineligible.

Chaperones should have some deer hunting experience and are expected to attend the workshop as well as the hunt with the student. Their primary role is to assist the beginner in developing the skills necessary to become a responsible hunter and outdoors person. The chaperone will not be allowed to carry a firearm during the hunt.

Applications for the Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center's learn to hunt deer workshops and hunt for youth and beginner adults are available on the DNR website and at DNR Service Centers. Applications must be postmarked on or before May 31, 2011. Enrollment is limited to a total of 100 students. Applicants will be randomly selected and successful applicants will be notified by June 22. A fee of $40 will be charged to enter program. Fee waivers are available for those unable to afford the fee.

Visit the Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center page of the DNR website for information on other activities.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Britt Searles - 715-884-6335

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 08, 2011




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