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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published December 6, 2011

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Eight Wisconsin State Parks invite public to New Years day hikes

Events part of national "First Day Hikes" initiative

MADISON - People looking to start the new year off on the right foot can attend any of eight free, guided hikes on New Year's Day being offered by Wisconsin state parks as part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes, an initiative in all 50 states.

America's State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a hike on January 1, 2012.

"First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family," said Dan Schuller, director of the Wisconsin State Parks program. "We are excited to host First Day Hikes to get people outdoors and into our parks. First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks."

Vehicle admission stickers and trail passes will be waived at all state parks and DNR properties that are holding First Day Hikes on New Years Day. Participating properties include:

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average 1 to 2 miles or longer depending on the state park. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America's State Parks website. Visit www.americasstateparks.org/first-day-hikes (exit DNR) or the DNR events calendar to find First Day Hike details.

Visitors can listen to birds, breathe in the fresh air, discover wildlife tracks, feel the wind and the warmth of the sun or the coldness of the snow. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, experience spectacular views and vistas and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable state park guide.

"Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit." stated Phil McNelly, Executive Director of the National Association of State Park Directors. "We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual's or family's regular exercise routine."

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks. Many other states have offered outdoor recreation programs on New Year's Day, however, this is the first time all 50 state park systems have joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Wisconsin State Parks - (608) 266-2621

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DNR launches YouTube channel to showcase outdoor videos

MADISON - Wake up to Wild Wednesdays!

The Department of Natural Resources has launched a YouTube channel, WIDNRTV, and plans to post stories Wednesday mornings.

The videos will showcase Wisconsin's wildlife, outdoor recreation and natural resources and the DNR staff, organizations, citizens and businesses who protect, restore and enhance those resources.

"There are so many compelling stories to tell about the great outdoors, our economy and our environment," says Laurel Steffes, director of DNR's communications program. "We're excited to share these stories with more people through YouTube."

People with YouTube accounts can subscribe to the channel to have the videos automatically show up in their YouTube account on Wild Wednesdays.

People who don't have or want an account can search for WIDNRTV on YouTube or a search engine to reach the channel. Or go to DNR's home page, dnr.wi.gov, and click on the YouTube logo in the upper left-hand corner.

The YouTube channel is DNR's latest tool to connect with Wisconsin residents and visitors. Last month, DNR launched its first Facebook page [www.facebook.com/WIDNR] and Twitter account twitter.com/WDNR and laid out plans for special coverage on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurel Steffes (608) 266-8109

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Public asked to be aware of and help protect whooping cranes and trumpeter swans

MADISON - The illegal shooting of two whooping cranes last month in Louisiana and the accidental and intentional shootings of trumpeter swans last month in Wisconsin highlight the need for citizens to be vigilant in helping to protect these rare birds, according to state endangered resources officials.

Due to the mild fall so far this year, both cranes and swans have been slow to begin migration, and both species are still widely dispersed across the landscape.

Standing 5 feet tall, whooping cranes (Grus americana) are the tallest and one of the largest birds in North America. They are also one of the most endangered. With fewer than 500 left in the wild, whooping cranes continue to teeter on the verge of extinction.

Since 1999, Wisconsin has played a major role in efforts to restore a migratory whooping crane population in eastern North America, with a core breeding area in Wisconsin. Prior to these restoration efforts, only one migratory population of whooping cranes existed in the wild. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is a founding member of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, a large group of nine government and private sector organizations, with the mission of restoring a second self-sustaining migratory population.

There are approximately 96 whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population, with plans for 25 to 30 birds to be added to the population each year until it becomes self-sustaining, perhaps by 2020.

"Already threatened by power-line collisions and other accidents on their annual migration routes, the cranes face a potentially deadlier threat from human poaching and thrill killing," said Davin Lopez, a DNR conservation biologist working with the crane reintroduction.

Whooping cranes are protected under the Federal Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts, as well as state wildlife laws. Disturbing, harassing or killing whooping cranes or other non-game wildlife is a crime, punishable by jail time, fines, and other penalties.

In late November, two adult trumpeters were shot and found in garbage bags north of Shawano Lake in Shawano County. The perpetrators have not been caught. And in early November, a young trumpeter swan, known as a cygnet, was accidentally shot and killed at a wildlife area in St. Croix County. The hunter who shot the swan turned himself in and a conservation warden retrieved the carcass.

Trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) -- named for their resonant, trumpet-like call -- are the largest waterfowl species in North America. They were present in Wisconsin until the 1880s, but disappeared due to market hunting and feather collecting.

Under a 1986 trumpeter swan recovery plan, Wisconsin biologists flew to Alaska for nine consecutive years to collect surplus swan eggs that were then hatched in incubators at the Milwaukee County Zoo and then placed in a captive-rearing program or decoy-rearing program until they were released to the wild.

Efforts to restore trumpeter swans have been dramatic, with the number of breeding pairs doubling from 98 to around 200 over the last five years, according to Sumner Matteson, a DNR avian ecologist who has directed the swan recovery program since 1987. In 2009, the trumpeter swan was removed from the state endangered species list due to the successful recovery efforts. Matteson says there were are now more than 1,000 trumpeter swans statewide, including many juvenile cygnets, which have grayish plumage and are smaller, but are still are significantly larger than Canada geese, with which they are sometimes confused.

People are asked to report any suspected illegal activity involving wildlife in Wisconsin to the DNR at 1-800-TIP-WDNR.

For additional information and a short public service announcement, please see the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership website here: www.bringbackthecranes.org (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Davin Lopez, Conservation Biologist, Madison: 608-266-0837 (whooping cranes); Sumner Matteson, Avian Ecologist, Madison: 608-266-1571 (trumpeter swans).

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Online survey looks at angler's fish-eating habits

Healthy fish recipes being collected for online cookbook

MADISON -- Anglers' fish-eating habits -- and favorite recipes for their catch -- are the focus of new state efforts aimed at increasing awareness about the health benefits of eating fish while reducing exposure to environmental contaminants.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is seeking male anglers 50 years and older to complete an online survey about their fish consumption (exit DNR). Previous surveys have shown that some older men eat more fish than younger men or women. And while those most vulnerable to the effects of environmental contaminants are pregnant women, their developing fetuses and young children -- older adults also can be affected, according to Pamela Imm, with the DHS Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health.

The online survey, found at study.uwsc.wisc.edu/anglers (exit DNR), seeks information on where this group fishes, how much and what type of fish they eat, and where they get information about consumption advice.

At the same time, the Department of Natural Resources is seeking favorite recipes for fish caught from Wisconsin waters. A selection of recipes from entrants will be included in an online cookbook, Healthy Dishes With Wisconsin's Fishes.

The survey and outreach are funded by federal dollars targeted at improving fish advisory programs throughout the Great Lakes, says Candy Schrank, a DNR toxicologist who coordinates the fish consumption advisory DNR jointly issues every year with the state health services department.

"Wisconsin and other Great Lakes states want to know more about people who eat fish and how to get information to them on the health benefits and risks of eating fish," she says.

The data that DNR collected over the past 40 years on mercury and PCBs in fish show contaminant levels at some locations have dropped, supporting assertions that fish respond to sediment cleanup and mercury emission reductions. However, mercury levels are still high enough that most waters carry a statewide consumption advisory with about 149 having more stringent advice due to higher levels of mercury, PCBs or other chemicals.

More information about Wisconsin's fish consumption advice and contaminant levels in state residents who frequently eat fish, can be found in "Give in to Fish Fervor" in the December 2011 issue of Natural Resources Magazine or on the Fish Consumption Advisories page of the DNR website.

Entries sought for Healthy Dishes with Wisconsin Fishes cookbook

DNR is seeking recipes for an online cookbook, "Healthy Dishes with Wisconsin Fishes." "We hope to collect healthy recipes for a wide variety of Wisconsin species," says Sonya Rowe, a DNR communications specialist for the fish contaminant program. "We want to draw more attention to the health benefits of safely eating Wisconsin fish."

Recipes must be the entrant's own, feature Wisconsin fish species and be cooked (not smoked or pickled). The contest is limited to one entry per household, and people can submit their entry using the form found on the Healthy Dishes with Wisconsin Fishes contest web page. The deadline is April 1, 2012.

Recipes will be judged on originality and creativity, healthiness, ease of preparation, species of fish and added details on the recipe's origin and how or where it was caught, Rowe says.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Pamela Imm (608) 267-3565, DHS or Sonya Rowe (608) 267-9665 DNR.

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Hunters can help the hungry through venison donation program during December hunt

Venison donation program assists thousands of needy families

MADISON -Wisconsin hunters can help those in need by participating in this year's early December Antlerless hunt, which will take place from Dec. 8 through 11.

"This is a wonderful opportunity where Wisconsin hunters can enjoy additional hunting opportunities with friends and family, while helping those in need," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp.

The Venison Donation program has provided high quality protein to thousands of needy families all across Wisconsin since 2000. In ten years more than 77,000 hunter-harvested deer have been processed into more than 3.4 million pounds of venison.

It's easy to donate> and costs nothing. Find a participating processor and go hunting! For donating in the CWD zone please view the CWD donation program.

"The program is a winner for families, hunters and wildlife conservation," said Stepp.

Hunters get to enjoy their sport knowing that the venison won't be wasted; food pantries say it literally flies out of the freezers; and wildlife managers welcome the effect antlerless harvest has on maintaining healthy and balanced deer populations in areas where the deer herd is well over established population goals.

The antlerless deer hunt from Dec. 8 to 11 in regular units is open to hunters with a valid antlerless deer tag for the unit in which they are hunting. Regular unit antlerless tags are still available for many units at $12 each. In heard control units, hunters can purchase as many $2 antlerless tags as they wish. Many deer management units still have antlerless deer carcass tags available.

More hunting opportunities!

The muzzleloader hunt, the December statewide antlerless deer hunt, the holiday hunt in the CWD management zone and the late archery hunt are going on right now or coming up soon.

"We understand there are parts of the state where hunters have seen fewer deer this year," said Kurt Thiede, DNR division of lands administrator. "This request is being made for areas where hunters are observing more deer, such as areas within the CWD and Herd Control Units."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Hirchert (608) 264-6023 or Bob Manwell - (608) 264-9248

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Sights stay on safety during 2011 season

Third fatality-free deer season one for the hunting history book

MADISON -- Wisconsin hunters who filled the woods for the nine-day gun-deer season did their part to play it safe, closing the season on Nov. 28 with no fatalities among the seven reported incidents for all 72 counties.

A shooting incident under investigation in Monroe County was declared a deer hunting incident on Nov. 29, bringing the total incidents for the season to seven. The Monroe County incident was confirmed after the DNR issued its preliminary season round-up showing a total of six incidents. The additional incident, which was a non-fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound, also changed the ranking of the season from tied with another year as the second safest to the third safest in Wisconsin's recorded history.

The safest season was in 2004 when there were four incidents and two were fatalities. The second safest was 2007 when the state had six incidents, of which three were fatalities.

"Hunting is as safe as it has ever been and getting safer - thanks to the efforts of the hunters themselves, the many volunteer Hunter Education instructors and our conservation warden force," DNR Law Enforcement Administrator Tim Lawhern said.

Lawhern also said the good news of the 2011 season does not diminish the pain and suffering endured by the victims in the seven incidents and the department wishes each a quick recovery.

"However, this is a milestone for safety in the hunting community - and we are pushing it become a trend that sticks for a long time," he said.

These seven incidents occurred in the counties of Shawano, Waukesha, Clark, Polk, Monroe and two in Iowa.

The specifics of the 2011 incidents are:

And, the average shooter in these seven incidents is 31 years old and the average victim in these events is 43 years old.

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.

"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, never point your firearm at a person, never put your finger in the trigger until you are ready to shoot and know what is behind your target," Lawhern said of one of the top themes of the Hunter Education Certification Course. Hunter education is required for anyone born on or after Jan 1, 1973, and Lawhern encourages "All hunters should take the hunter education certification course - no matter the age."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Shaller - (608) 267-2774 or Joanne Haas - (608) 267-0798

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Seven wolves illegally killed during the 2011 Wisconsin gun deer season

MADISON - At least seven wolves appear to have been illegally killed during the recently completed Nov. 19-27 gun deer hunt, according to state wildlife officials. The shootings are being investigated.

"It is unfortunate that some individuals have chosen to illegally kill these wolves. We understand that there is frustration with the slow response of the federal government that would allow us to actively manage our wolf population, but it is an illegal act and a federal offense," said Kurt Thiede, land division administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources. "What we need is federal authority to legally deal with problem animals and to provide relief to farmers experiencing wolf depredations on livestock."

Wisconsin has a wolf management plan and is ready to take on management of its wolf population, estimated at a minimum of 782 animals last winter. Gray wolves had once disappeared from Wisconsin, but gradually moved back into the state from Minnesota and Michigan and re-populated former wolf territory under protections of the federal and state Endangered Species Acts.

Wisconsin officials have called for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the wolf in Wisconsin, considering it has far exceeded its established delisting goal of 100 animals, as well as the state management goal of 350 wolves.

"Wolves are a part of our natural landscape and like all species we manage, we need to take into account ecological as well as social factors," added Thiede. "That is the basis for how we established our management plan and our management goal."

In addition to the department's call for removing federal wolf protections, Wisconsin's congressional delegation has also indicated support for delisting wolves in Wisconsin in a letter to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the federal Endangered Species Act. The wolf was removed from Wisconsin's threatened and endangered list in 2004

"Wolf depredations on livestock and hunting dogs have continued to increase as the wolf population expands. It is disappointing to see a species that has recovered, become devalued and viewed as a species that can be indiscriminately killed because it has exceeded some people's level of tolerance for wolves. This administration has done all we can to make the strong case for delisting, and we hope it will occur early next year," said Thiede. "DNR fully and adamantly supports delisting wolves in Wisconsin and returning management of the species to the state so that we can take steps to manage wolf populations and provide relief to farmers and pet owners through focused lethal control of problem animals."

The seven known kills are the third highest number of kills taking place during the gun deer hunt on record. Four of the dead wolves were actively being monitored with radio collars, and three others were not collared but were found dead in the field and reported by deer hunters. A total of 49 wolves were being monitored by radio-tracking by the DNR at the start of the gun deer season. One additional radio-collared wolf died from other causes, and three other radio-collared wolves went missing during the same time.

Nine wolves were killed during the 2006 hunt and eight for the same period in 2009; a total of 31 wolves have been illegally killed during November deer hunts between 2006 and 2011. Illegal kills also take place in summer months with 29 illegal kills between 2006 and 2011.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven (715) 762-1363 or Kurt Thiede (608) 266-5833

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Go green, save green with holiday waste reduction tips

MADISON - The holiday season is a time of giving and sharing with family and friends. While enjoying these traditions, you can also take steps to reduce waste, save money and be creative while making the holidays green.

An average Wisconsin resident generates three quarters of a ton of solid waste each year. This amounts to more than four pounds per day, including both household waste and an individual's share of commercial waste. During the holidays, waste can increase with extra packaging, gift wrap, disposable dishes, leftover food and more.

The Department of Natural Resources website provides a variety of tips on reducing holiday waste, giving green gifts and reducing energy consumption.

"From using less packaging, to buying environmentally friendly gifts, to creative reuse of materials in decorations, the holiday season offers many opportunities to reduce waste, help the environment and save money," says Elisabeth Olson, DNR recycling and waste reduction education and outreach coordinator.

The DNR's holiday waste reduction tips can be found on the DNR's EEK! Environmental Education for Kids website. Some suggestions include:

Holiday Preparation Tips
Gift-Giving Tips
After-holiday Tips

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Elisabeth Olson - (608) 264-9258

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Give a gift of green with seedlings from state tree nurseries

MADISON - Looking for a great Christmas gift and one that will leave a legacy?

Through the "Give a Gift of Green" program offered by the state nurseries gift givers can purchase packages of quality nursery stock designed for use as windbreaks, wildlife habitat or restoration.

Each package provides 300 seedlings ready for planting. Packages range in price from $126 to $221 depending on type. The tree seedlings will be available for pick up in 2012 in time for planting from a state nursery or can be delivered to a location in your county.

To purchase a "Gift of Green" packet today, call the Department of Natural Resources, Griffith State Nursery at 715 424-3700 or visit Division of Forestry pages of the DNR website and click on the "Give a Gift of Green" feature button.

State nursery stock may be used for conservation purposes only and may not be used for ornamental plantings or landscaping. Seedlings are distributed in April and May.

Add a new dimension to your gift this year and help grow a healthier and greener environment.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Storandt, 715-424-3702

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, December 06, 2011




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