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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published September 27, 2011

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Southern duck zone opens Oct. 1

MADISON - Hunters looking forward to the opening of the duck season in southern Wisconsin should have good prospects, with continental breeding surveys showing record number of ducks this spring, according to state wildlife officials.

Mississippi River subzone

"However, even with excellent early season indications, local conditions and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall," says Kent Van Horn, migratory game bird ecologist for the state Department of Natural Resources. "This September has been relatively dry so areas that were wet during the summer are now drying up. Hunters need to spend time in the field before opening day to know where the water and ducks are as conditions change. Wisconsin has a wide range of different habitats and locations to hunt waterfowl that are not always used very heavily, so take the time to seek out new areas this fall for your best chance of success."

The first Saturday in October marks the opening of duck hunting in the Southern Zone. This season will open at 9 a.m. Oct. 1 and run through Oct. 9, and then closes for a five-day split, reopening on Saturday Oct. 15 and running through Dec. 4.

Waterfowl hunters should note that the goose season in the south portion of the Exterior Zone will also be closed during the five-day split. This season closure does not affect goose hunting in the Horicon Zone.

Hunters along the Mississippi River, which was traditionally part of the Southern Zone, are reminded that the Mississippi River is now a separate zone with differing season dates. This new zone has a longer split, so hunting in the Mississippi River Zone will be closed from Oct. 3 until it reopens on Oct. 15. A Mississippi River zone hunting factsheet (pdf) is available on the waterfowl in Wisconsin pages of the DNR website.

The daily bag limit for the full 60 days is six ducks, not to include more than four mallards of which only one may be a hen, three wood ducks, one black duck, two redheads, two scaup, two pintail, and one canvasback. In addition, the bag limit includes five mergansers to include not more than two hooded mergansers. Coot daily bag is 15.

Duck and other migratory game bird hunters are reminded to make sure they are registered for the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) if they did not do so when purchasing a license. It takes only a minute and is free of charge at any license vendor or online.

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



Youth gun deer hunt Oct. 8-9

MADISON - The annual Wisconsin Youth Gun Deer Hunt will take place statewide on Oct. 8-9, for youth ages 10 -15.

Under Wisconsin's Mentored Hunting Law, now in its third season, hunters as young as 10 years of age may participate - with or without hunter education certification - in the youth gun deer hunt with a mentor. The mentored hunting law also allows deer hunting during later seasons.

The early date of the hunt offers milder weather and allows more time in the field under more comfortable conditions for young hunters and their mentors. In addition to giving youths their own opportunity to experience the traditions of deer hunting in Wisconsin, the focus is on the youth and allows more time for the mentor to share skills and teach their charges how to hunt safely and ethically.

There are several changes from last year's youth gun deer hunt. The junior antlerless gun deer carcass tag will now be valid statewide for youth hunters, allowing them to use it in "buck only" units. A separate, unit specific, antlerless tag will not be required in these units.

The hunt will be held in all deer management units (DMUs) statewide, except state park units, Ft. McCoy, Chambers Island, Menominee County and the Apostle Islands other than Madeline Island.

Wisconsin has two programs designed to introduce youths to deer hunting under controlled conditions and under close supervision of an adult hunter:

  1. Youth hunters 12 through 15 years of age (resident and non-resident) who possess a hunter education certificate of accomplishment and a gun deer hunting license may hunt deer Oct. 8-9 accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. "Accompany" means the adult is within both visual and voice contact of the youth. The adult does not have to be a licensed hunter or a hunter education graduate to accompany one or two youth who are at least 12 years of age and have completed a hunter education course.

    Adults accompanying youth hunters:

    • may not "gun hunt" for deer during the youth hunt, but may possess a bow or gun and hunt for another game species that is open for them to hunt at that time; and
    • may not accompany more than two youth hunters during the youth gun deer hunt at any given time.
  2. Youth hunters 10-11 years of age, or youth hunters 12-15 years of age who do not possess a hunter education certificate, but possess a mentored gun deer hunting license may hunt while "mentored" by an adult who is within arm's reach at all times during the hunt.
  3. Qualified adult mentors:

    • must be at least 18 years of age and have the youth's parent or guardian's permission to mentor the youth hunter;
    • must possess a valid hunting license for the current year (any type of game), unless they are mentoring a youth on land that the mentor owns;
    • must be a graduate of a hunter education course or have completed basic training with the U.S. Armed Force if the mentor was born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, they;
    • may only mentor one youth hunter who is age 10 or 11, or who has not completed hunter education at any given time; and
    • may not accompany more than two youth hunters. If one youth is hunting under "mentored hunter" rules, the adult may "accompany" no more than one other youth at the same time and only if the second youth is at least 12 to 15 years of age and has completed hunter education.

Additionally, only one firearm or bow may be possessed jointly between the mentor and youth who is age 10 or 11, or who has not completed hunter education.

Qualified youth hunters may harvest one buck deer using their gun buck deer carcass tag and additional antlerless deer with the appropriate carcass tag valid in the unit in which they are hunting.

Earn-a-buck (EAB) restrictions do not apply to the hunter's one green "gun buck deer carcass tag" in CWD EAB units. Following EAB rules, a youth may harvest and tag bucks or antlerless deer using the free 2011-12 or 2012-13 "CWD Deer Carcass Tags" in CWD units. Further details on EAB rules and CWD tags is available on page 15 of 2011 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations.

All hunters and their mentors must observe blaze orange clothing requirements.

All deer, bear, turkey and small game hunters, with the exception of waterfowl hunters, are also required to meet blaze orange requirements on these two days.

More information on the youth deer hunt and Mentored Hunting Law is available on the DNR Web site and in the 2011 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Hirchert (608) 264-6023 or Adam Collins (608) 264-6282



DNR and Wisconsin congressional delegation team up on wolf delisting comments

MADISON - Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp announced today that the DNR and members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation are teaming up to present comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on the issue of gray wolf delisting in the Upper Great Lakes. Members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation have signed onto a letter presenting concerns about the USFWS proposal to reclassify the gray wolf in the eastern United States as a new species.

The delegation, echoing concerns raised by the department, asked the USFWS to suspend it status review of the "eastern gray wolf" from its efforts to delist the gray wolf in Wisconsin. The members of Congress also offered their support for the delisting of the gray wolf in Wisconsin, calling the recovery of the gray wolf in Wisconsin a success story under the Endangered Species Act.

"The department appreciates the support of these members of Congress in supporting our belief that clouding the delisting process by recognizing two physically indistinguishable species of wolves in Wisconsin is neither practical nor defensible," Stepp said.

Currently, Wisconsin has more wolves than any state other than Alaska and Minnesota. Population estimates range from 782 to 824 wolves, far exceeding both the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan goal of 350 and the federal recovery goal of 100.

"The gray wolf population has improved in our state beyond multiple recovery standards, and is a remarkable success story of endangered species management," Stepp said.

The USFWS will be taking comments through today, September 26. A decision by the USFWS on the two species issue is expected by the end of 2011.

Secretary Stepp's letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Delegation Letter (both links pdf)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Cosh - (608) 267-2773



$1.9 million available for hunting, fishing, trapping, viewing leases

MADISON - With $1.9 million federal dollars available for leasing, the Department of Natural Resources is seeking landowners interested in opening their lands for public access to hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife observation.

The funds are available through the Voluntary Public Access (VPA) Program of the 2008 Farm Bill.

"VPA provides incentive payments to private landowners who voluntarily open up their land for public access," said Melissa Keenan, VPA program coordinator. "Eligible land types include grassland, wetland, forestland, and in some cases agriculture land in select geographic areas of the state."

Land enrolled in conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), and Managed Forest Law (MFL) may also be eligible for enrollment.

Annual payment rates are based on the offered land type with agricultural land at $3 per acre, Grassland/Wetland at $10 per acre and Forestland at $15 per acre. Lease lengths are up to three years and an upfront lump sum payment would be made at the beginning of the contract. Interested participants should contact Melissa Keenan, VPA Program Coordinator at 608-266-5560 to enroll

Priority will be given to parcels greater than 40 acres in size with at least 25 percent usable cover and located near properties currently open to public hunting and/or fishing. Stream and fishing access will be a priority in the southwest focus area.

Under state statutes, landowners are generally immune from liability for injuries received by individuals recreating on their lands. Landowners would be eligible for compensation if they could demonstrate that the public caused damage to their property, crops or fences.

More information on the VPA program and VPA properties open to public access is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Keenan - (608) 266-5560



Tree stand safety - harness your odds of standing this hunting season

MADISON - Climbing a tree is not like riding a bike -- and this is why hunters need to think about refreshing or learning skills to maneuver in tree stands.

"If you scaled trees as a child but haven't done it as an adult, it will not come back to you with that first leg up the branch in search of the keen hunting spot," says Tim Lawhern, Division of Enforcement and Science Administrator for the Department of Natural Resources. "This is why Wisconsin hunter education specialists urge all hunters to become professionals in tree stand safety."

Lawhern says statistics show about one-third of all hunters who use tree stands fall from that stand in their hunting careers.

"Being an amateur when it comes to using stands can be a deadly mistake," he says. "One third of hunters will be involved in a tree stand safety incident at some point in their lives, history show."

Lawhern urges all hunters who use tree stands to complete an online tree stand safety course. "It's free, fun and the information could save your life," Lawhern said. "You must know how to use the equipment necessary for tree stand use. That includes a body harness and knowing well your physical limitations."

Hunters who wonder what professionals say about tree stand safety should take the course, Lawhern said.

"Amateurs practice until they get things right," Lawhern said. "This method could cause you a broken bone - or your life. Professionals practice until they can't get them wrong. Become a professional in tree stand safety."

More information about tree stand safety is available on the DNR website, along with a link to take the free online tree safety course.

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



Four Wisconsin State Parks featured in national state parks film contest

MADISON -- Films featuring four Wisconsin State Parks are finalists in a national filmmaker competition, and the public now has an opportunity to vote for their favorite film.

Films about Devil's Lake State Park, Kohler Andrae State Park, Mirror Lake State Park and Perrot State Park are among 19 finalists in the America's State Parks Filmmaker Challenge.

"We are extremely proud that four of the 19 finalist films feature Wisconsin State Parks and feel it reflects the outstanding resources that are protected and maintained by the Wisconsin State Parks system," said Dan Schuller, director of Wisconsin State Parks for the Department of Natural Resources.

The America's State Parks alliance was established by the National Association of State Park Directors to mobilize and educate the public and policy makers on the positive impact state parks have on public health and local economies.

The film contest was sponsored by Sony Creative Software, and is designed to promote awareness of the value of America's state park system. All finalist videos can be viewed at [] (exit DNR).

The Devil's Lake State Park film is by Christopher Pitts of Baraboo. The Kohler Andrae State Park film is by Brad Reuber of Baraboo. The Mirror Lake State Park film is by by Erin Isenring of Sauk City.The Perrot State Park film is by Linda O'Connell.

Anyone can vote for a finalist through Nov. 1, 2011. The finalist having the two highest overall votes will be Grand Prize Winners, the third and fourth highest vote getters receive honorable mention.

The finalists were selected by the contest judges based on creative elements such as cinematography, editing, and use of special effects, as well as technical elements such as film concept and originality.

For more information on this promotion or America's State Parks, visit [] (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Biermeier - (608) 264-6136



Join a healthy hunting discussion with Wisconsin Natural Resources

MADISON - The October issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine invites readers to be vocal about what's important to them.

The cover story, When gaggles meet giggles, takes a look at a goose banding operation at Horicon Marsh that is highly dependant on volunteer determination. Data collected from bands of harvested geese help state and federal agencies set hunting seasons and daily harvest limits.

October Wisconsin Natural Resources
October Wisconsin Natural Resources

A feature, Let's talk hunting, invites readers to engage in a dialogue about one of Wisconsin's greatest traditions. Hunters and nonhunters alike need to put aside their differences to ensure that the public has the opportunity to not only hunt and fish, but to hike and watch wildlife. Find out if the term "eco redneck" fits you. A companion feature, Locavore, meet hunter, shows how hunter recruitment is taking a new turn to connect young adults with the source of their food.

A gift that spawns Great Lakes fisheries follows the legacy of Bayfield pioneer R.D. Pike. A founding father of the City of Bayfield, Pike gave his family homestead containing rare coastal wetlands along the shoreline of Lake Superior and his private fish hatchery on Pikes Creek to the State of Wisconsin.

Wildness incarnate documents the sandhill crane conservation success story. Photos show the cranes engaged in a courtship ritual, painting their feathers to camouflage themselves and gathering in staging areas by the several thousand. Link to a video of cranes dancing and hear a podcast of their calls.

Paying attention to composition is key advice for taking excellent photos in the field. Hunting for outdoor photo hints challenges photographers to fill the frame and get out and practice.

Finally, Creature Comforts confronts a formidable flea problem and Traveler offers advice for finding autumn festival fare from apples and cranberries to giant pumpkins.

Remember to consider the magazine as a thoughtful, inexpensive gift that can share what you value about the outdoors with family, friends and professional colleagues. Six colorful issues are delivered to reader's doors all year for less than $1.50 a copy. Year-round the magazine shares ways and place to enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors for only $8.97. Subscribe toll-free at 1-800-678-9472, online at 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: Natasha Kassulke, editorial, at (608) 261-8446 or Karen Ecklund, circulation editor, at (608) 267-7410.



Owl banding, crane watching clinics offered at Sandhill

BABCOCK, Wis. - Bird enthusiasts have an opportunity to explore one of Wisconsin's smallest and one of its largest migratory visitors in two upcoming clinics being offered at the Sandhill Outdoor Skills center.

Saw-whet owl banding Oct. 15

Participants can accompany staff biologists and students from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as the mist-net saw-whet owls - Wisconsin's tiniest owls -- as they migrate. Witness how biological information is collected, and how these birds are banded.

The clinic will be held Oct. 15 and participants should arrive no later than 7 p.m. and plan on leaving by 10 p.m. Registration is limited to 15 people, ages 12 and up, on a first-come, first-served basis. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. The registration fee is $15 per person and must be received by Oct. 6. People may stay overnight in the dorm following the event for a donation of $15 per person per night.

Crane-watch clinic

People can join biologists for a unique evening on Saturday, October 22, viewing the daily return of thousands of sandhill cranes to the Gallagher Marsh on Sandhill Wildlife Area, following a day of feeding in surrounding agricultural fields. These majestic birds, once nearly extinct in Wisconsin, have rebounded and now number in the tens of thousands.

Participants should arrive by 3 p.m. and expect to leave around 7 p.m. Dress warmly in neutral colored clothes (camouflage preferred) and waterproof boots. Cameras, binoculars or spotting scopes are also helpful. Participants should expect to be here rain or shine because it doesn't matter to the birds!

Registration is limited to 25 people on a first-come, first-served basis and is confirmed by mailing in a registration fee of $15 per person by Oct. 14.

Checks for either clinic should be made out to DNR-Skills Center. Include the name of each participant, and the address and daytime phone number of one person in each party and send the registration fee to: Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center, Box 156, Babcock, WI 54413.

The Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center is located 20 miles west of Wisconsin Rapids on County Highway X, 1 mile north of Highway 80 near Babcock, Wisconsin on the 9,000 acre Department of Natural Resources Sandhill Wildlife Area.

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



End of Operation Deer Watch survey period

MADISON -- September 30 marks the end of the Operation Deer Watch survey. While the survey period is over, wildlife watchers still have until Oct. 15 to report their deer observations. Observations can be reported by going to the Operation Deer Watch page of the Department of Natural Resources website.

People without access to a computer and the web, can send tally sheets to: Wildlife Surveys, Attn: Brian Dhuey, 2801 Progress Road, Madison, WI 53716

Data from the survey will be combined with similar data collected from DNR personnel. These data, along with harvest and age information, will be used in estimating deer densities in most of the state's deer management units at the end of the hunting season.

Observations have come in from 96 of 139 deer management units in the state. DMU 35 has the greatest number of observations (57), followed by DMU 60M with 35 observations.

To date, observers have reported 370 bucks, 295 unknowns, 855 does without fawns, 327 fawns without does, 391 does with one fawn, 314 does with two fawns, and 62 does with three fawns. Preliminary data shows the statewide fawn-to-doe ratio at 0.94.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey (608) 221-6342 or Jes Rees (608) 221-6360.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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