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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published May 10, 2011

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Federal officials announce renewed proposal to remove wolves from endangered species list

MADISON - Citizens will have an opportunity to testify on the federal government's most recent proposal to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the western Great Lakes including Wisconsin.

The U.S. Department of Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on May 4, 2011 the publication of a new proposed rule for delisting wolves. The Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a 60-day public comment period on the new rule from May 5 through July 5, 2011.

A public hearing will also be held on the proposed delisting rule on May 18, 2011 at the Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, Wisconsin. An informational meeting will be held from 6 to 7:15 p.m. and a public hearing will be held from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Wolves continue to be protected as a federally endangered species until the rule process is played out and that is expected to be sometime in fall or early winter 2011. Once removed from the federal endangered species list, also referred to as delisting, wolves will be managed as a state protected wild animal in Wisconsin, which means they may not be killed unless specially authorized by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

"We thank Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar for responding to our petition for delisting and for recognizing that the state of Wisconsin is ready to assume management of gray wolf populations in the state," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "We strongly believe it is time to return management authority to the Great Lakes states and Tribes. Gray wolves have made a terrific recovery within our region, and now need to join the list of species successfully managed by the state. The Wisconsin DNR and our tribal partners are committed to use sound science for managing the state's wolf population."

More information on the proposed wolf delisting rule and submitting comments on the rule people is available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf recovery website, [www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf] (exit DNR). More information about wolves in Wisconsin can be found on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven - (715) 762-1363

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Proposed waterfowl hunting changes altered after review of public comments

MADISON - After reviewing extensive feedback from thousands of waterfowl hunters collected through mail-in surveys, annual spring hearings and a waterfowl hunters' conference, wildlife officials are retooling proposed changes in waterfowl hunting zones and dates for 2011 and beyond. The Natural Resources Board will be asked to make a final decision on season structures at its August 9-10 meeting in Sauk City.

Details of the revised zone and season structure proposal can be reviewed on the waterfowl page of the Department of Natural Resources website. All citizens -- hunters and non-hunters alike -- will be able to comment over the next three months at public meetings. Meeting dates and locations for sharing comments will be announced following the May 25 Natural Resources Board meeting. Comments may also be submitted by emailing, writing or phone by contacting Kent Van Horn, DNR waterfowl biologist. (608) 266-8841.

"Input we've received over the years from waterfowl hunters shows a range of preference for season dates and hunting zones," Van Horn said. "Finding a season structure that meets everyone's desires and also fits within federal guidelines for waterfowl seasons is challenging. We're seeking comment on three new proposals and we hope that hunters will find one of these proposals as the best fit for our future duck hunting opportunities."

These latest season proposals take advantage of two new season configurations under consideration by federal waterfowl managers; either a three-zone option with season splits; or a four-zone option with no splits. A split, explained VanHorn, is a short break in a hunting season allowing waterfowl a rest from hunting pressure and an opportunity for additional waterfowl to move into a hunting zone as fall migrations progress.

"These new zone proposals keep the traditional Highway 10 boundary between north and south zones for waterfowl hunting purposes," says Van Horn. "That has proven to be a good dividing line for early and late season starting dates. But that framework doesn't work as well for the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan hunters. These proposals create a new zone or zones for those water bodies intended to better address migratory patterns on those waters."

Wisconsin is home to roughly 80,000 waterfowl hunters and a variety of waterfowl habitats from potholes and wetlands to river corridors to inland lakes and the coastal waters of Lakes Superior and Michigan. This diversity of hunters and habitats has produced a wide range of waterfowl hunter preferences for hunting season dates and hunting zones. Waterfowl are migratory and hence ultimately are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The service provides broad season frameworks that individual states can then tailor to their hunters, their habitat and migratory patterns. All season structures are subject to USFWS review for compliance with guidelines.

"These revamped zone proposals are being sent to USFWS for review but in the meantime we are moving ahead and gathering public input," said Van Horn. "Once a new duck zone structure is approved and adopted by the wildlife service, a state is locked into that structure for five years with annual flexibility for adjustments to opening dates and splits. We want to build a season structure that meets the desires of as many hunters as possible but also protects the resource and gives Wisconsin waterfowlers the best opportunity to hunt with the peaks in fall migration."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn (608) 266-8841 or Bob Manwell (608) 264-9248

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Explosive growth of invasive plants in '10 means more citizen help needed this year

Report sightings of invaders, grow special beetles

MADISON - Purple loosestrife and other invasive plants grew like gangbusters during last year's warm, wet summer, making citizen help in combating these invaders even more important this year, state officials say.

State invasive species control specialists are seeking groups to help raise special purple loosestrife eating beetles and to help report infestations of that and other invasive plants.

"The early wet, warm weather accelerated the germination, growth, flowering and spread of purple loosestrife, and other invasive plants last summer," says Brock Woods, the state's purple loosestrife biocontrol and wetland invasive plant coordinator. "We need citizens to help us roll back the gains invaders made last summer."

Purple loosestrife has been a serious exotic invader of Wisconsin wetlands for decades while nonnative Phragmites (giant reed grass) and Japanese knotweed are newer species of concern. All three grow taller than almost all other herbaceous plants, spread prolifically, and can quickly dominate large areas. They displace native wetland plants, degrade wildlife habitat, displace rare plants and animals and choke waterways.

An information sheet with photos of these and many other invasive wetland plants (pdf)] is available online, as is more detailed information about many invasive plant species.

Raising biocontrol beetles

Free equipment and starter beetles are available to anyone interested in helping raise special beetles that target only purple loosestrife.

"Raising and releasing these safe and effective beetles is a fascinating and easy project, but projects must start as early in spring as possible to be effective," Woods says. "We need some citizen cooperators who have released beetles in the past to put more of them out on old release sites, and new cooperators to help release them into new loosestrife patches."

People interested in raising the beetles can learn more about the project on the purple loosestrife biocontrol page of the DNR website, and can contact Woods at (608) 221-6349 or brock.woods@wisconsin.gov for details.

Careful research over two decades has shown that these insects feed on purple loosestrife and are not a threat to other plants, Woods says. Insect releases monitored in Wisconsin and elsewhere have also shown that these beetles can effectively decrease purple loosestrife's size and seed output, thus letting native plants reduce its numbers naturally through increased competition.

DNR and UWEX, along with hundreds of citizen cooperators, have been introducing natural insect enemies of purple loosestrife, from its home in Europe, to infested wetlands in the state since 1994.

Report sightings of invasive plants

Now is a good time to report patches of Japanese knotweed [http://dnr.wi.gov/invasives/publications/pdfs/japanese_knotweed_brochure.pdf] and nonnative Phragmites and other plants that appear to be invasive and are just moving into an area.

Japanese knotweed is an upright, semi-woody herb with stems that resemble bamboo. Phragmites is spreading in wetlands near the Great Lakes and is moving inland along highway ditches. It has large, dark, fluffy flower tops and should be distinguished from the native strain by using information at [www.invasiveplants.net/phragmites/morphology.htm] (exit DNR).

Report populations of these invasive species by emailing exact location, land ownership if known, population size, your contact information, and a photo or voucher specimen to Invasive.Species@wi.gov, or by calling by 608-266-6437. Details on reporting can be found on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brock Woods (608) 221-6349; Kelly Kearns (608) 267-5066

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Locating new fawns is next step in deer research project; volunteers needed

Locating new fawns is next step in deer research project; volunteers needed

MADISON - Dozens of volunteers assisted state wildlife researchers in capturing and placing radio-collars on 204 deer in February and March. Now the call is going out again for volunteers to help locate fawns born to does that were fitted with implant radio transmitters designed to signal when fawns have been born in late May and early June.

"With the whitetail birthing season coming up fast, volunteers are again needed to sweep the woods looking for the newborns," said Chris Jacques, Department of Natural Resources research scientist. "When located, fawns will be fitted with expandable radio collars so we can follow them through their first year of life to determine causes of death whether it be due to nutrition, environment, vehicle, hunters or predators. This is real hands-on field research."

Some hunters have questioned assumptions about fawn recruitment used by wildlife biologists for estimating deer populations. Recruitment is the net addition of new individuals (fawns) to a population each year and is an important input in estimating deer population numbers. At the end of this three-year effort to monitor fawns, researchers hope to fine tune their inputs based on real-world data collected in this research effort.

Volunteers will be assigned to search teams working in the vicinity of Shiocton in Shawano County and Winter in Sawyer County. When transmitters have been expelled (presumably when a fawn has been born), a search team will form a line and comb the woods, somewhat similar to a deer drive, in search of bedded fawns. Newborns will be quickly fitted with a radio collar of their own and left for the doe to raise normally.

If the fawn dies, the collar will emit a unique signal that researchers will again use to locate the animal to determine cause of death. The collars are designed to expand as the deer grows and eventually drop off as the animal approaches its first birthday.

"Determining causes of death in fawns is vital to the accuracy of our deer population estimates," said Jacques. "Of special interest is the impact of predators on fawn deaths. We have a suite of predators in Wisconsin that we suspect impact yearly fawn production, including black bear, bobcat, coyote and gray wolves. What we are less certain of are the relative roles that each of those predators plays on fawn recruitment over the course of an entire year."

He stresses this work is possible only with the assistance of dozens of volunteers representing hunting groups such as the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Safari Club International and Whitetails Unlimited, the University of Wisconsin- Madison and UW-Stevens Point, the AFL-CIO Union Sportsmans Alliance, and hundreds of Wisconsin citizens.

"Anyone who has looked for newborn fawns or been startled to discover a fawn lying motionless in the forest or field next to them knows what a challenge it is to find them," says Jacques. "They have excellent natural camouflage and instinct to remain absolutely still when approached. The transmitters will give us a better idea of where they are but it will still take time on the ground to locate them."

For more information and to sign up as a volunteer go to the Deer Research page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Jacques - (608) 221-6358 or Bob Manwell - (608) 264-9248

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May is Clean Air Month

MADISON -- May is Clean Air Month and the state's top environmental official says it is an important time to celebrate the major steps that have been taken to improve the quality of the air in Wisconsin.

"Cleaner air is a tremendous benefit to families, businesses and government," Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said. "Our clean air and water are one of the reasons businesses and families want to be in Wisconsin and an important component of the high quality of life we enjoy here."

Public health officials and organizations say improving air quality is imperative for public safety. Chronic air pollution and high, peak levels of air pollution can cause acute health effects. There is growing recognition of health value of addressing air pollution, and accordingly, the technology to further reduce air pollution is rapidly developing.

The Clean Air Act, enacted in 1970 and amended in 1990, reshaped the way this country views clean air. Over the years, Wisconsin has had many success stories regarding air quality, including:

During the month of May, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will be celebrating Clean Air Month. Highlights include:

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

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 10, 2011




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