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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published July 19, 2011

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Report: 96 percent of public water systems met health standards for drinking water

MADISON - Ninety-six percent of Wisconsin's public water systems served drinking water that met all health-based standards in 2010, exceeding the federal goal, according to a recently released report.

On average, Wisconsin residents pay $4 for 1,000 gallons of tap water; 10,990 of the 11,444 systems, or 96 percent, did not have a single drinking water sample that exceeded health-based standards for monitored contaminants. That equals 96 percent of the systems, and compares to the national performance goal of 95 percent.

"Water utilities, laboratory staff, state staff, water associations, and others deserve our recognition and appreciation for maintaining a strong performance despite shrinking budgets and increasing regulations," says Jill Jonas, who leads the DNR drinking water and groundwater program.

However, Jonas cautioned that emerging concerns with viruses in drinking water and contaminants such as chromium 6 coupled with an increasing need to replace aging infrastructure limit the ability of many smaller utilities to improve the quality of their drinking water.

DNR submitted "Safe Water on Tap: 2010 Annual Drinking Water Report" (pdf) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to meet requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The report summarizes Wisconsin's public water systems' performance as a whole between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2010, according to Jonas.

Wisconsin has more public water systems than any other state but Michigan, ranging from utilities serving the state's largest communities, to churches, restaurants and taverns. About 4.9 million of Wisconsin's 5.6 million residents get their drinking water from community public water systems while the rest tap private wells.

Of the 4 percent of Wisconsin public water systems reporting at least one violation of health-based standards, their elevated contaminant levels did not mean that people who drank the water got sick. However, bacterial contamination remained the top concern: 399 systems, or 3.5 percent, had violations, potentially exposing at one time or another an estimated 165,696 Wisconsinites to contaminants that can cause sudden illness.

The second most common violation was elevated levels of arsenic, with 15 systems with violations, followed by nitrate with 13 systems reporting violations. Arsenic can be a naturally occurring contaminant stemming from Wisconsin's geology or can be caused by runoff. Nitrate is a pollutant largely from fertilizer application.

The report details the efforts made by water utilities themselves, laboratories, DNR staff and water associations to help public water systems serve safe drinking water. Those efforts include reviewing hundreds of thousands of water sample results, inspecting all municipal systems to short-circuit problems, providing training, reviewing construction plans for new water systems and improvements to existing facilities, and providing more than $18 million in low-interest loans to 14 communities to complete those construction and improvement projects. Among those communities receiving loans were Oak Creek, Chippewa Falls, Altoona, Reedsburg and Stoughton.

"Wisconsin public water systems provide a great value," Jonas says. "But we're going to have to remain diligent over coming years to make sure that limited resources are focused more and more on preventing contamination because it's the least expensive way of protecting everyone's drinking water."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Lee Boushon (608) 266-0857; Mark Nelson (608) 267-4230

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August 1 deadline approaches for many hunting seasons

MADISON - August 1 is an important harvest permit application deadline for hunters and trappers. Applications are due for the following seasons: fall wild turkey, Canada geese in the Horicon Zone, sharp-tailed grouse, bobcat, fisher and otter. Any fall turkey permits remaining after the initial drawing will go on sale beginning at noon on Saturday, August 27, and will be sold by zone until sold out or the season ends.

2011 Fall Season Dates:

Permits can be applied for through the Online Licensing Center on the Department of Natural Resources website, at all license sales agents, and 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). A bobcat permit application costs $6; all other permit applications cost $3.

"Our DNR Call Center staff can also help answer any questions folks may have about the permit application process," said Dave Argall, DNR permit sales coordinator." The DNR Call Center is staffed by live operators from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, and can be reached at (888) WDNR-INFo (1-888-936-7463).

Fall Turkey

There will be 95,700 wild turkey permits available to hunters for the fall 2011 turkey hunting season, the same number that was available during the 2010 fall season. While the 16 percent decline in harvest during the spring 2011 season has elicited some concern among some hunters, turkey numbers rise and fall largely in response to weather conditions that influence winter survival and poult production. As well, the reduced harvest was partly the result of poor weather conditions during portions of the spring season, which reduced hunter effort and success, and altered turkey behavior. The limited hen harvest that has characterized recent fall turkey seasons does not have a large impact on turkey populations in the state. Turkey numbers will recover given mild winters and warm, dry conditions during the critical June brood-rearing period. Turkey hunters can therefore still expect excellent opportunities to pursue turkeys during the fall 2011 season.

The 2011 fall season will run from Sept. 17 through Nov. 17 for all seven of Wisconsin's turkey management zones. Pending legislative approval of a proposed rule change, an extended fall turkey season for Zones 1-5 ONLY will run from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31,. If the extended season is approved, hunters who receive a fall turkey permit in Zones 1-5 would be able to fill their unused permits during the extended season in the zone for which they were issued. Hunters may use dogs to hunt wild turkeys during the fall season throughout the state of Wisconsin. The bag limit is one turkey of any age or sex per fall turkey hunting permit (also known as a carcass tag).

New turkey harvest registration procedures

Starting with the fall 2011 turkey season, hunters will be able to register their turkey by telephone or on-line. No in-person registration stations will be available. All harvested turkeys must be registered by telephone by calling the DNR's Harvest Registration System at 1-888-HUNT-WIS (1-888-486-8947) or on-line via the DNR website. The phone-in system will accept either touch tone entry or voice commands (e.g., press or say 1). Hunters will be asked to record a harvest registration confirmation number on their hunting permit at the end of the call or on-line session. Hunters will still have until 5 p.m. on the day after harvest to register their turkey. The wild turkey page of the DNR website will have updates regarding specific registration procedures.

Sharp-tailed Grouse

For 2011, 250 sharp-tailed grouse hunting permits will be available. This is a decrease from 2010 when 330 permits were available. The reduction in permits is the result of a combination of a variety of factors, including a decline in survey numbers throughout the sharp-tailed grouse range, continued habitat loss or conversion, increasingly isolated populations, and cyclical grouse population dynamics, according to wildlife biologists.

"A couple properties experienced either no change or a slight increase in observations of sharp-tailed grouse; however, survey numbers as a whole were down from 2010," said Sharon Fandel, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist.

Sharp-tailed grouse management units use the same boundaries and designations as deer management units (DMUs). In 2011, only one unit will have permits available. DMU 2 will have 250 permits. DMU 8, which was open in 2010, will be closed in 2011 due to low survey numbers observed at Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area, one of the focal sharp-tailed grouse properties in the unit.

"Although there were a few more birds observed this spring in a couple areas, some of our traditional sharp-tailed grouse dancing grounds and managed properties continue to decline, warranting a cautious and conservative approach in our harvest framework," said Fandel.

"Because sharp-tailed grouse occur at low densities across the landscape, it is often a challenge to locate these birds," she added. "Anticipating and allowing yourself to enjoy the experience of the hunt is encouraged and likely more realistic than the prospect of finding and harvesting a sharp-tail."

Hunters are reminded to carefully review the zone map and apply only for units that are open. Applying for closed units will result in an invalid application.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dave Argall, permit sales coordinator, at (608) 267-7699; Sharon Fandel, assistant upland wildlife ecologist - (608) 261-8458; James Christopoulos, assistant migratory bird ecologist - (608) 695-1220; or Shawn Rossler, assistant furbearer ecologist - (608) 220-8456

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Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing season application deadline August 1

OSHKOSH - Sturgeon spearers have until Aug. 1 to apply for a 2012 Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing lottery tag. Participation in the Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing season on Lakes Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan, is controlled through a lottery. Those people selected in the lottery will be notified by Oct. 1 that they are authorized to buy a license to participate in the Upriver season and must buy that tag by Oct. 31, 2011.

Applications can be made through the Online Licensing Center on the Department of Natural Resources website, at all license sales agents, and 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),

Group lottery applications of up to four people are also accepted, but can only be submitted through the DNR Online Licensing Center.

Spearers who applied for but were not authorized to purchase an Upriver Lakes license receive a preference point toward the following lottery, and they can still purchase a license to participate in the Lake Winnebago spearing season that runs at the same time.

DNR biologists are considering increasing the number of licenses authorized in 2012 and will be meeting to discuss a potential increase on Aug. 4 with the Winnebago Citizens Sturgeon Advisory Committee, according to Ron Bruch, DNR fisheries supervisor in Oshkosh. Any increase that may occur in the number of licenses authorized in the Upriver Lakes fishery will not change the harvest cap allocation there or on Lake Winnebago, according to Ron Bruch, senior sturgeon biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The Upriver Lakes sturgeon spear fishery receives a small portion of the overall Winnebago System lake sturgeon harvest cap - 20 percent of the juvenile female cap, 10 percent of the adult female cap, and 20 percent of the male cap. Due to sexually distinct physiology and migration patterns, nearly two out of three fish from the Upriver Lakes harvest are males, whereas two out of three fish harvested from Lake Winnebago during the February spearing season are females.

2011 license sales for the season set a new record at 12,423 (including the 490 sold for the Upriver Lakes fishery

A record number of fish weighing more than 100 pounds, a full 16-day season, and difficult travel conditions were the stories during the 2011 Winnebago System sturgeon spearing season that wrapped up Feb. 27.

Spearers harvested 1,426 fish, close to the average of 1,405 since the harvest cap started in 1999, but the fish were bigger than they've been since the 1950s, with 94 fish, or 6.6 percent of the harvest, exceeding 100 pounds. That compares to 1 percent a generation earlier.

The overall success rate was 9 percent for Lake Winnebago, below the average of 13 percent for that water body. Success rate on the Upriver Lakes was better, as it usually is, at 66 percent.

The growing popularity of the two seasons - there's been a 20 percent increase in spearing licenses in recent years --and recent research work showing that lake sturgeon mature more slowly than originally thought underscore the importance of using a lottery to manage the harvest on the Upriver Lakes, Bruch says.

The Upriver Lakes have had exceptionally high success rates: 2 of every 3 spearers get their fish compared to Lake Winnebago, where only 1 of 8 get their fish; Bruch says.

In 2009, 4,031 people applied for the Upriver Lakes lottery, and the DNR sold 10,239 licenses for spearing on both Winnebago and Upriver lakes. The 2009 Upriver season ran five days, and the Winnebago system season was open three additional days.]

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Scheidegger (608) Ron Bruch (920) 424-3059

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Public hearings set on the status of waterfowl and season framework

Hearings will also address possible changes to our duck hunting zones

MADISON - Waterfowl hunters are reminded of upcoming public meetings and hearings on the 2011 duck and Canada goose hunting seasons. Department of Natural Resources wildlife staff will provide the latest information on the status of waterfowl and waterfowl management decisions in Wisconsin.

State waterfowl hunting seasons are structured within an annual framework set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. With the overall picture on the 2011 waterfowl breeding populations looking very promising, hunters can expect a liberal season framework in 2011, according to Kent Van Horn, state Migratory Game Bird Ecologist.

Across the traditional survey area of the Dakotas, Canada and Alaska, total duck numbers were estimated at more than 45 million prior to breeding, which is a record high and 35 percent above the long-term average.

Canada goose breeding conditions in northern Ontario, where about 50 percent of the Wisconsin harvest originates, were average. However, breeding bird counts were still relatively low in 2011 due to several previous years of poor production. In Wisconsin the resident Canada goose breeding population estimate was up 12 percent at 176,095 geese, so Van Horn says hunters can still expect an abundant goose population this fall.

Seasons to be set by Natural Resources Board, Aug 10

The Natural Resources Board will set the 2011 season structure at its Aug. 10 meeting in Spring Green. At this time, the federal season framework has not been announced, but with excellent wetland conditions and record high continental duck numbers, waterfowl hunters will likely be seeing a liberal 60-day duck season with bag limits similar to 2010. The proposed season framework should be available on the DNR website on August 1.

Comments also sought on duck zone change proposals

"2011 is a very important year because we will be deciding the configuration of new duck hunting zones that will remain for the next five years," Van Horn says.

There are currently four options out for pubic comment: the current two zone structure; a three zone structure with the Mississippi River as the third zone with a split in the season; a three-zone structure with Lake Michigan as the third zone and a split season structure; or four zones without season splits. A split means there would be two separate hunting periods with a break in between.

"We need to hear from duck hunters at these meetings as to what their preference for duck hunting zones and season dates," Van Horn says. "Although the Fish and Wildlife Service may delay these potential changes until 2012, we are continuing to request public input on this topic. We expect final word from the Service on July 29."

Citizens can attend one of several public hearings or submit comments through midnight on Aug. 4 to James Christopoulos, assistant migratory ecologist, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921; by phone at (608) 261-6458 or email to james.christopoulos@wisconsin.gov. More information can be found on the waterfowl in Wisconsin page of the DNR website.

Post-Flyway Meetings

Public Hearing Locations

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

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"Weekend with Wolves" ecology workshop offered

MANITOWOSH WATERS, Wis. - People can learn more about gray wolf ecology, wolf monitoring techniques and the latest wolf issues in Wisconsin by attending an upcoming "Weekend with Wolves" workshop.

Weekend with wolves
Weekend With Wolves will offer a variety of field programs including telemetry. Pictured here, Adrian Wydeven, DNR Wildlife Ecologist, assists a participant in the art of tracking wolves via radio-collared telemetry.
Contributed photo

The Timber Wolf Alliance (exit DNR) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are offering the educational "Weekend with Wolves" workshop Friday August 5 through Sunday, August 7 at the North Lakeland Discovery Center, in Manitowish Waters.

Participants will spend time indoors as well as in the field surveying wolf pack territories. Activities will include assisting with wolf howling surveys and learning techniques related to wolf tracking identification and telemetry. The workshop also fulfills one of the required training for people planning to participate in volunteer wolf track surveys.

The workshop will feature some of the latest in the field research and population monitoring, including a Michigan Predator / Prey Study by Mississippi State University PhD student Nathan Svoboda. Adrian Wydeven and Ron Schultz, wildlife ecologists for the Wisconsin DNR; Brian Roell wildlife ecologist from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, and Zach Wilson, Discovery Center naturalist and educator will lead the workshop.

The workshop is $100 for students, $125 for Timber Wolf Alliance or North Lakeland Discovery Center members and $140 for nonmembers. Fees include registration, meals, and two nights lodging in a comfortable bunkhouse style cabin. The workshop begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and ends at 1 p.m. Sunday. Contact the Discovery Center and Timber Wolf Alliance by calling 877-543-2085 or register online through the North Lakeland Discovery Center website www.discoverycenter.net (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carrie Stiegler, North Lakeland Discovery Center - (715) 543-2085

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 19, 2011




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