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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published November 15, 2011

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DNR prepares for deer hunt with launch of Facebook, Twitter and website changes

MADISON - With the opening day of the nine-day gun deer hunt right around the corner, the Department of Natural Resources is unveiling new tools it's using to keep in touch with hunters this year.

Just days ago, the DNR launched its first Facebook page and Twitter account and laid out plans for special coverage on the DNR website.

The Wisconsin DNR Facebook [www.facebook.com/WIDNR] page is an agency-wide page that has a focus on the fun experiences of recreating in Wisconsin's outdoors. It will cover a variety of seasonal subjects. So, in the most immediate future, visitors to the page will likely see many posts about the upcoming hunting season, fall fishing, and bird migration, to name a few.

People with Twitter accounts can follow DNR by typing @WDNR in the Twitter search bar and they will see the Wisconsin DNR account [twitter.com/WDNR] pop up on the right hand side of the screen, and then can click "follow" to receive Wisconsin DNR tweets.

As the gun-deer hunt gets underway Nov. 19, the DNR homepage will begin special coverage of the hunt. Each day visitors to the page will find new material on the main page. Topics will range from initial opening weekend numbers to special messages from DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to inside looks at special programs geared to getting more people involved in one of Wisconsin's greatest traditions. Make sure to stop by every day to see what's new!

"This is an energizing time for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and we look forward to having you a part of our new adventure," Stepp said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurel Steffes, Director, Office of Communications - (608) 266-8109 or Bill Cosh, DNR Spokesperson - (608) 267-2773

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Cougar hits Northwoods in time for annual gun deer hunt

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- A cougar ranging through west central and northern Wisconsin likely has tripped a trail camera for a third time, leading biologists to believe it is heading into the Northwoods just in time for the annual gun deer hunt.

State wildlife officials are asking hunters to report any sightings of the young, wild cougar. Based on the times and locations of the three photographs, it could be in the Flambeau State Forest or in heavily wooded Price County by now.

The state Department of Natural Resources also is reminding hunters that the cougar is a protected animal in Wisconsin. It can only be shot in self defense or to prevent harm to another human being, situations that would be considered extremely unlikely but not impossible.

Cougar trail cam photo
This cougar was photographed Nov. 8 by a trail camera located near the Rusk-Taylor county line.
Contributed Photo

The cougar, which appears to be a young male in search of territory and a mate, was photographed Nov. 8 by a trail camera located near the Rusk-Taylor county line, just east of Hawkins and south of U.S. Highway 8.

Previously, a young cougar was photographed Oct. 20 by a trail camera near the community of Pray in eastern Jackson County. Four days earlier, it was captured by a trail camera near Mauston in Juneau County. The two locations are about 42 miles apart. Cougar sightings are tracked on the DNR website.

Adrian Wydeven, DNR mammalian ecologist, said the pattern of spots and markings on the animal in the first and second photographs appears to be the same. From Pray to Hawkins, where the third photograph was taken 21 days after the second, is about 80 miles. Assuming it is the same animal - and it does have similar markings on its rear legs - it averaged about 3.8 miles a day.

To report a cougar sighting please contact the nearest DNR office or take advantage of the DNR's rare mammal observation form located online. This page can be easily located by going to the Cougars in Wisconsin page of the DNR website (type the word "cougar" in the search box).

Also, biologists would be interested in photographs of the cougar's tracks. Pictures of tracks should include a ruler or other measuring tool in the frame. Advice for gathering and protecting any biological samples can be found at the same location online. The DNR should be contacted before any samples are shipped.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven, DNR mammalian ecologist, 715-762-1363; Ed Culhane, DNR communications, Eau Claire, 715-781-1683

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Access to hunting lands expands through Voluntary Public Access Program

MADISON - A new program to provide additional land for public access has arrived just in time for the nine day deer gun hunting season. The Department of Natural Resources Voluntary Public Access (VPA) provides financial incentives to private landowners who open up their land to public hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife observation.

Wisconsin received $1.9 million dollars through a competitive grant authorized in the 2008 Federal Farm Bill to implement this program.

"We have 140 lease agreements signed in 24 counties totaling just over 25,000 acres," said program coordinator Melissa Keenan. "The land enrolled ranges from agriculture land to grassland, wetland, and forest."

A number of properties are nearby or adjacent to state wildlife areas while other properties are on their own, creating additional access areas where no public lands were available before. Properties are open year round to all hunting seasons.

"We treat these like state wildlife areas meaning access is limited to foot travel only and only portable stands are permitted," said Keenan.

Property boundaries are marked with white signs in green writing stating "Private Land Leased for Public Access." Users are asked to be respectful of landowners rights and be appreciative for the privilege they have been given. "The only way this program is going to be successful and available in the future is if landowners are satisfied with the program and are willing to continue opening up their land to the public," said Keenan.

In order to evaluate the success of the program, Keenan urges users to fill out a survey located at each VPA property entrance. "We're hoping to find out how people found out about the properties, how far they traveled, and if they were successful with harvesting fish or game on the properties," said Keenan.

Maps and additional information on individual properties can be found on the VPA webpage by visiting dnr.wi.gov and searching "VPA." Any questions can be directed to Keenan at or melissa.keenan@wisconsin.gov.

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

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CWD surveillance plans for 2011

MADISON - State wildlife officials will conduct sampling and testing of hunter-harvested deer for chronic wasting disease primarily within the disease management zone of in southern Wisconsin during the 2011 deer season.

Map of surveillance Areas for 2011
Surveillance Areas for 2011 [PDF 4.8MB] The CWD-Management Zone covers all or parts of 18 counties and 22 deer management units (DMU) in southern Wisconsin.

"Our goal is to continue to track trends in disease prevalence and distribution and to assess the impacts of CWD management," said CWD Assistant Coordinator Tim Marien.

Mandatory sampling of adult deer will take place in the western (parts of Dane and Iowa counties) and eastern (parts of Rock and Walworth counties) monitoring areas, and within an 84 square-mile area that encompasses Devil's Lake State Park. Active surveillance utilizing solicited but voluntary sampling will also be conducted in the area surrounding the western monitoring area in parts of Dane, Iowa, Richland, and Sauk counties.

Surveillance a tool in disease management

Surveillance - the sampling and testing of deer for disease - is one of the key components of DNR's disease management strategy, according to agency biologists and researchers.

"It is important that we know where the disease is and what it is doing for containment efforts to be effective," Marien said.

This year, DNR biologists will implement new strategies aimed at optimizing the "efficiency and efficacy of detecting changes in the location and trends in prevalence of this disease" in the management zone, Marien said.

Additionally, DNR will be implementing a pilot program to potentially replace the current system of regional, intensive-surveillance sweeps conducted statewide every five years with a new low-level annual surveillance plan. This plan will focus surveillance on adult deer because, if CWD is in an area, adult deer are the ones most likely to have it. This pilot program will take place in Waupaca, Waushara, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Buffalo, and Burnett counties.

Wildlife biologists will also be asking hunters to submit deer for sampling from areas around two former deer farms in Portage County where CWD has previously been found in captive cervids.

The Hunt.Harvest.Help CWD outreach campaign is now in full swing. Working with landowners and hunters from the CWD-MZ and a professional communications firm, the DNR developed this campaign to help inform Wisconsin residents about the details of Wisconsin's CWD Response Plan and what they can do to help. Hunt.Harvest.Help is focused on promoting the fact that in order to successfully manage CWD, DNR, hunters, and landowners will have to work together as a team. Learn more about these efforts, about what CWD is doing out west, and more at [www.knowcwd.com] (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Marien, assistant CWD coordinator - 608-264-6046

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Attention deer hunters: DNR Customer Service is there for you!

MADISON -- Last minute questions from hunters at deer camp and from deer stands day or night is routine. It's all in a day's work for the Department of Natural Resources Call Center. The highly trained representatives located across the state respond to a wide variety of DNR issues, from clarifying regulations on hunting and fishing to restrictions on firewood transportation.

The expanded hours Call Center - unique among state natural resources agencies -- is on pace to receive more than 370,000 contacts this year, with more than 20 percent of these coming during nights and weekends. More than 14,800 customers have also taken advantage of their on-line chat feature. The Call Center's motto is "We're here for you!" Give them a call.

The call center is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week, and can be reached in three convenient ways:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: DNR Call Center 1-888-936-7463

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Great Lakes photo contest underway

Written Entries Also Accepted by Feb. 1, 2012

MADISON -- Amateur and professional photographers have until Feb. 1, 2012, to submit their entries for the state's Great Lakes photo contest, with winning images featured in a calendar handed out at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The Department of Natural Resources' Office of the Great Lakes is holding its fourth annual photo contest and is seeking photos in all seasons and in the following categories: Natural Features and Wildlife; Cultural and Historic Features; People Enjoying Wisconsin's Great Lakes; and Lake Protection Activities.

Photos of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior as well as their tributaries, wetlands and harbor towns are eligible. Photos must be taken in Wisconsin.

"Every year we receive beautiful images of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The contest is a great way to showcase these outstanding natural resources and how much they mean to people," says Steve Galarneau, who directs the Office of the Great Lakes.

The Office of the Great Lakes is also accepting writings about Lake Superior or Lake Michigan. Statements, short essays, stories, poems and songs can be submitted to the Office of the Great Lakes. Photos and writings may be used in the calendar and other Great Lakes publications as well as on the DNR website and in displays and presentations, according to Jo Temte, DNR water resources management specialist.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kim Walz - (608) 264-9220 or Jo Temte - (608) 267-0555

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 15, 2011




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