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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 12, 2012

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A decade of progress to prevent, control and contain invasive species


EDITOR'S NOTE: June is Invasive Species Awareness Month (exit DNR). To learn more about invasive species, special events and ways to get involved locally, go to the DNR website and search for invasives.


MADISON - A decade after lawmakers recognized in statute the threat that invasive, nonnative plant and animal species pose to the environment, economy and quality of life, Wisconsin has increased awareness, adopted comprehensive regulations and built partnerships to try to prevent the invaders from getting introduced or spread within the state, state natural resources officials say.

"Wisconsin has made a lot of progress on many fronts," says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "We've made important gains in increasing public awareness, in preventing the spread of invasive species already here, and in building the capacity to quickly detect and control new invaders.

"Most importantly, we've worked hard to keep our native ecosystems healthy and to build the cooperation, partnerships and volunteer networks crucial to prevent, contain and control these threats to our natural resources and our economy," she says. "There is still more work to be done but Wisconsin has a lot to be proud of."

Weed removal from boat trailer
More than 90 percent of Wisconsin boaters say they remove invasive plants from boats and trailers before leaving a landing.
WDNR Photo

The result of such work is seen in statistics like these: 20 years after zebra mussels were found in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan harbors, less than 3 percent of lakes suitable for zebra mussels have them; two-thirds of lakes with public access are free of Eurasian water-milfoil and zebra mussels; and more than 90 percent of boaters and anglers say they take steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Or stats like these: DNR and partners have identified 59 species of terrestrial invasive plants that are not yet widespread or are not yet in the state and hundreds of trained volunteers are actively looking for these plants so they can be eradicated once they are found; 93 percent of campers in a 2010 survey said that stopping the use of firewood at a state campground from outside a 25-mile radius to prevent the potential spread of forest pests was important, and 85 percent said they comply with firewood laws at state parks and forests, up from 73 percent just two years earlier.

Kelly Kearns, a DNR conservation biologist who has worked for more than 20 years on terrestrial invasive species issues, says that invasive species remain a serious and growing threat due to increased global trade and climate change that allows more invasive species to survive Wisconsin winters. "More people are looking for invasive species so they're being found more frequently."

The good news, says Kearns and Jeff Bode, who has led Wisconsin's lakes and aquatic invasive species efforts for the past 20 years, is that Wisconsin is slowing the spread of some species and is in a better position to prevent future invaders from getting established than in 2002, when lawmakers passed a law to create an advisory council to help guide state policy.

Comprehensive rules are now in place to help prevent more invasive species being introduced. Wisconsin's Invasive Species Rule now regulates the sale, transport, possession and introduction of listed invasive species. DNR's ballast water regulations require vessels arriving in Wisconsin ports to use best management practices including exchanging or flushing ballast water in the ocean before entering the Great Lakes, a practice that nationally has helped cut to zero the number of new invasive species documented to have arrived in the Great Lakes via ballast water. And a suite of laws has been enacted to prevent boaters, anglers and other water users from accidentally spreading invasive species and fish diseases from lake to lake, Bode says.

Strong state-local partnerships leverage scarce resources to tackle invasive species problems. Fifty counties actively network with DNR to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species; regional invasive species groups and Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) groups provide trainings, watch for pioneering invasive species and respond to new infestations around the state; and state and federal agencies cooperatively enforce quarantine areas to prevent the spread invasive insects that may harm trees or crops, Bode says.

Kearns says that education efforts by government agencies, local conservation groups and lake associations, educators and individuals have helped greatly increase awareness about the problems caused by invasive plants, aquatic invasive species and forest pests. Knowledge is especially high among specific groups such as park visitors, gardeners, rural landowners, and boaters and anglers of the steps they can take to prevent accidentally spreading a host of invasive species, Bode and Kearns say.

Best Management Practices, or BMPs, to prevent the spread of invasives are in place and well utilized by some industries, such as forestry and utility companies, Kearns says. "Many roadside managers are adjusting their mowing schedules to cut back the weeds before they begin to produce seed, thereby minimizing the spread of seed," she says.

Garlic mustard bagged up
Volunteers have pulled literally tons of the invasive plant garlic mustard from public properties in recent years.
WDNR Photo

Hikers, mountain bikers, off-road vehicle users and others who play in Wisconsin's public lands are learning to clean off their gear before and after visiting an area to avoid inadvertently carrying pests or seeds from one area to another, she says. And campers and cabin owners are cooperating with efforts to avoid moving firewood and the pests that it may be harboring.

The nursery and landscape industry is helping by recognizing plants that are overly aggressive and eliminating them from their plantings and sales yards. "In general, people are understanding that they can be part of the solution by doing their part to avoid spreading invasives," Kearns says.

Perhaps the most encouraging development over the past decade, she says, is the legion of volunteers who have mobilized to pull literally tons of garlic mustard from forests they care about; have been trained as "weed watchers" to look for, identify and report new populations of invasives in their area; have raised and released biocontrol beetles that feed only on the invasive plant purple loosestrife, and who have spent countless weekend hours at boat landings, helping educate boaters about the steps they need to take to prevent accidentally spreading Eurasian water-milfoil and other invasive species to new waters.

"It is on-the-ground efforts such as these that will be critical to maintain our biodiversity and prevent invasive species from harming Wisconsin's environment and economy," she says.

Invasive species fast facts

In the water...

On the land...

Sources: 2010-2011Wisconsin Aquatic Invasive Species Progress Report [PDF].

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelly Kearns (608) 267-5066; Jeff Bode (608) 266-0502; or Mindy Wilkinson (608) 266-6437

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Have de-con unit, will travel: wardens launch statewide blitz to halt spread of aquatic invasive species

Outreach in Dane, Walworth, Oshkosh counties are just the start to protect fisheries and waters

DELAVAN LAKE, Wis. -- Water Guard Jonathan Kaiser saunters to the side of a fishing boat atop a hitched trailer where two anglers were quickly prepping their motorboat for the drive home after spending a chunk of Friday under a hot, strong sun on Walworth County's Delavan Lake.

"How did you do today?" Kaiser asks with a relaxed smile while the two busily tightened straps and pulled plugs to drain water from the hull. These two had more luck than most of the anglers that day. They were going home with dinner.

Kaiser gently eases into an introduction of why the anglers saw the Southeast Region Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens, himself and others donned in blue Clean Boats, Clean Waters t-shirts equipped with clip boards, pamphlets and a survey working the boat landing parking lot.

"We just want to make sure you know about aquatic invasive species," Kaiser says. And he prefaces each step a boater should complete before leaving the boat landing with a diplomatic "I'm sure you knew this, but..." These steps, he continues with a relaxed voice, are to prevent the spread of these invaders which can harm the fisheries and water quality. One of the anglers nods but doesn't stop his preparations.

Kaiser's last statement is a sales pitch - but it comes with no price. He offers the boaters a chance to make sure their boat is free of any invasive species and ready to be used without posing an environmental threat in any Wisconsin water. It's a free boat hot wash by Kaiser using the state's decontamination unit.

"It takes 10 to 15 minutes," Kaiser says of the chemical-free process that uses only hot water of at least 140 degrees delivered with high or low pressure inside and outside the boat and trailer. Any part of the boat, hitch or engine that may have had any contact with the water gets a spray.

The angler thanks Kaiser for his speedy, thorough explanation but declines. Kaiser thanks the anglers for their time and walks away.

Boat decontamination
Kaiser sprays the boat's hitch, engine and the underbody. Any part of the boat, engine or hitch that has had contact or may have had contact with the lake water gets a shot of hot water to kill any invader.
WDNR Photo

It's all about outreach and awareness

Defeat? Hardly. It was one of many successful exchanges Kaiser, the wardens and other volunteers had with the boaters leaving Delavan Lake during the four-hour Friday tour at this very busy boat launch.

"This is all about outreach - public awareness of the laws and aquatic invasive species," Southeast Region Warden Kevin Mickelberg said. Several boaters did accept Kaiser's offer for a free complete boat wash before pulling out of the lot. But the message delivered Friday went beyond the use of the decontamination unit.

"Most boaters are not going to be able to have a state decontamination unit handy to clean their boats. But there are steps every boater can do when it comes to stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species. And that's what this is all about," Mickelberg said between his informative visits with boaters.

The wardens and Kaiser weren't alone in their mission. They were joined in the effort by several members of the Clean Boats, Clean Waters crew.

"This is all about partnership," Robert Wakeman, DNR aquatic invasive species coordinator, said of the blue-shirted Clean Water, Clean Boats crew who are not agency employees. "The Clean Boats, Clean Waters members come from lake associations, lake districts, county staff, University of Wisconsin Sea Grant program and interns. They are not DNR staff. We rely upon volunteers."

Boaters should expect to see Kaiser and more conservation wardens at boat landings statewide this summer, working to increase public awareness and boater actions to stop the spread of destructive aquatic invasive species.

Kaiser headed to Lake Winnebago in the Oshkosh area for another AIS outreach effort on June 9. And, later this month, Wakeman said he hopes to have another outreach event at Peninsula State Park in Door County.

Entire warden service involved in AIS events

Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark says this year the entire warden service has joined the effort to stop transporting these unwanted species from lake to lake. Accordingly, wardens are joining deputy warden water guards, local agencies and local volunteers to hold regional education and enforcement checks.

"These regional events highlight the importance of stopping these species -- and how to do it," Stark said. "We have good compliance in Wisconsin, but if there's one person who doesn't follow the law and knowingly transports AIS, it undermines everyone else's efforts. We are working to detect those situations that undermine the work of everyone in protecting our lakes and rivers from invasive species."

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native species such as Eurasian water milfoil, zebra mussels, Asian carp and the fish disease, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). These AIS collectively harm outdoor recreation and local businesses whose economic vitality is connected to our lakes and rivers. Aquatic invasive species also can hurt Wisconsin's fishing industry by outcompeting native fish and ruining native habitat. Fishing generates $2.75 billion annually and supports 30,000 jobs, a 2006 study by Southwick Associates for the American Sportfishing Association.

It is unlawful to transport boating equipment on a highway with aquatic plants or animals attached. The regulations area available by searching the DNR website for "boat."

Boaters have a role to protect waters

Flushing live well
Conservation Warden Kaiser flushes the live well in the front of the boat.
WDNR Photo

The aquatic invaders spread when people transport plants, animals and water between water bodies. Wisconsin law requires before leaving a waterway users remove all attached plants and animals from their boats and equipment and drain all water, including in live wells and buckets, so that smaller organisms like zebra mussel larvae are not transported. There are some exceptions for bait transport.

Greg Stacey, conservation warden and Water Guard coordinator, says some regional events will include courtesy boat cleaning with a decontamination unit.

"We want to be sure people on lakes and rivers understand the seriousness of AIS and know what's necessary on their part to protect Wisconsin's waters," Stacey said. "If someone is knowingly disregarding the law, wardens will issue citations when needed to achieve compliance with laws designed to protect our waterways."

Stacey says the expanded effort follows years of invasive species education efforts.

Dane County Conservation Warden Supervisor Jeremy Plautz, who led a county effort on Memorial Day, says local boaters already have a high awareness about the aquatic invasives and the laws. "Increasing checks and enforcement is the next step in the process we've taken with education," Plautz said. "People want to stop the spread and want us to enforce the laws to protect their lakes -- and they understand the need for the laws."

More information about invasive species, special events, and ways to get involved, can be found by searching the DNR website for "invasive species," or visit the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council Invasive Species Awareness Month website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Wakeman - 206-266-, Greg Stacey - 608-576-9123, or Kevin Mickelberg - 414-263-8540

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Invasive species awareness month honors given

"Invader Crusaders," poster contest winners feted at ceremony

MADISON - Renowned University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension insect expert Phil Pellitteri, a Vilas County invasive species coordinator, a Sauk County youth group and several southeastern Wisconsin residents are among those honored this year as "Invader Crusaders" for their work to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive non-native plants and animals in Wisconsin.

The "Invader Crusaders" received their awards last week from the Wisconsin Council on Invasive Species in a ceremony at Madison's Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Winners of the student poster contest also were recognized, with Kohler fifth-grader Clara Montes taking home the grand prize for her design.

"It's important that we recognize and encourage all of the different individuals and organizations that are working tirelessly to keep Wisconsin's special places free of invasive species that choke out native plants and animals - both on land and water," said Paul Schumacher, chair of the council and a member of the Wisconsin Lakes Board of Directors.

"The fight to reduce invasive species' impact and keep them out of Wisconsin will be a long and hard battle for many years to come," he said. "We would not be able to do it without these and many other Invader Crusaders, and the poster contest winners who represent our next generation of crusaders."

Invasive species are nonnative plants, animals and pathogens that can damage habitats and outcompete native species in Wisconsin's forests, lakes, rivers, wetlands and grasslands. Garlic mustard, honeysuckle, zebra mussels, Eurasian water-milfoil and rusty crayfish are all examples of invasive species in Wisconsin.

Since 2005, June has been designated in Wisconsin as Invasive Species Awareness Month and the Wisconsin Council on Invasive Species has honored people and organizations for their work to address invasive species. It has promoted events in which hundreds of people help remove invasive species and participate in educational events at botanic gardens, natural areas, lakes, rivers, agricultural fields, parks, schools, and more.

Invader Crusader Awards

Invader Crusader Awards have honored Wisconsin citizens and organizations - both volunteer and professional -- for their significant contributions to the prevention, management, education, or research of invasive species that harm Wisconsin's land and waters.

The 2012 recipients are listed below; more information on their contributions can be found online on the Wisconsin Council on Invasive Species website.

Poster contest winners

Poster contest winner
Winning 2012 Invasive Species Awareness Month Poster by Clara Montes, Kohler Elementary School, Kohler

Clara Montes, a student at Kohler Elementary School in Kohler, took the grand prize with her design in the council's 2012 poster contest for Wisconsin fourth and fifth graders. This year's theme was "Slow the Spread By Boat and Tread!"

The goal of the poster contest was to increase awareness of shoreline and wetland invasive species and to teach people how to prevent the spread of invasive species in these habitats while people are enjoying these places by canoe, while hunting, when walking from trails to shorelines, and much more, according to Chrystal Schreck, DNR invasive species outreach coordinator.

Other award winners were Ben Kangas, of Magee Elementary School in Genesee Depot, who was named first runner up in the fifth grade division; Anna Carper, a fourth grader at Argyle School District in Argyle, was first runner up in that division. Ali DeLadi, of Shell Lake School in Shell Lake was second runner up.

A Special Mention award was given to teacher Rob Suhr's fifth-grade classroom at Magee Elementary School in Genesee Depot.

Other honorable mentions were awarded to Melissa Zeinert, Elcho School District, in Bower; Jordan Herzog, Shell Lake School, in Shell Lake; Olivia Cannestra, Woodside Elementary School, in Sussex; Dawson Quint, Grace Kostreva, Ava Brown and Willie Blue, of Magee Elementary School, in Genesee Depot.

Paul Schumacher, chair of the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council, said that Montes and other poster contest winners and entrants "inspire people of all ages to keep Wisconsin's special places free of invasive species that choke out native plants and animals on land and water."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chrystal Schreck (608) 264-8590; Kelly Kearns (608) 267-5066

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Visitors flocking to Wisconsin State Parks

Reservations 9 percent ahead of previous year - electrification improvements underway

MADISON - The attraction of Wisconsin State Parks as family friendly, affordable and fun places to visit for a day, a weekend, a week or longer continues to grow with advanced camping reservations up 9.3 percent over the same period in 2011.

"State parks and trails have always offered a great experience at a great value and we welcome the surge in visitors," said Kimberly Currie, of the Wisconsin State Parks program.

Overall advance registrations are up and the number of campers taking advantage of Wisconsin's online campsite reservation continues to grow also. Advanced online reservations are up 11.5 percent over 2011. The online reservation service allows camper to reserve a site up to 11 months in advance making vacation planning a little less stressful and makes it possible, with a little luck, to reserve that special campsite you love.

Another area of great growth officials saw was from walk-in campers who did not have reservations, which were up more than 78 percent over 2011.

"We're seeing growth in demand across the entire park system," said Currie, "but one of the areas of greatest increased demand is for electrified campsites. This summer we are launching a major project to upgrade numerous existing electric sites to a higher amperage service and we are bringing electricity to additional sites all across the parks system.

"The upgrades and additions force us to take some campsites out of use while work is underway both for visitor safety and for project efficiency. We extend our sincere apologies to customers who may not be able to book a favorite site while this work is underway but we promise that when it is done they are going to like the improvements."

Campsite availability will be updated through the online reservation system with sites being added to the reservable inventory as soon as work is complete. The reservation system contractor has operators available at 1-888-947-2757 from 9 a.m. till 5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday, 9 a.m. till 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m on Saturday and Sunday to help customers find available campsites. Customers may also access our on line reservation system at . http://wisconsinstateparks.reserveamerica.com/

"I think the saying, 'pardon our dust' is fitting in this case," says Currie. "We'll keep all parks and trails open except for a short time those areas under active construction. All the traditional activities parks offer from hiking to swimming, picnicking to fishing, interpretive talks and walks and our newest initiative, 'Read to Lead' are humming along."

Read to Lead in Wisconsin State Parks

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is teaming with Wisconsin's statewide Read to Lead initiative to encourage kids and families to read everywhere—including the great outdoors! Each week in 2012 a new pairing of a state park and nature book will be featured. These books, geared towards ages 5 to 9, are available for reading at the parks or local libraries.

Kids, read (or have someone read to you) the book of the week and see how it relates to the state park! Read 20 or more books in 2012 and enter to win a Kindle Fire® or other prizes! Enjoy special nature programs at some parks during their "Read to Lead" week

To find participating parks, the reading list and how to enter for the prize drawings go to dnr.wi.gov and search for the keywords "read to lead".

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dave Benish 608-264-8960 or Bob Manwell - 608-264-9248

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Draft statewide outdoor recreation plan available for review and comment

MADISON - More than 85 percent of Wisconsin residents report they are involved with some type of outdoor recreation in the state, according to the most recent data compiled as part of a regular five-year review of outdoor recreation participation and demand in Wisconsin.

However, societal changes are also changing the recreational landscape, according to the report. Changes in demographics, the economy, user preferences, and availability of recreation venues are all influencing the demand for different recreational activities.

The Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, or SCORP, is intended to serve as a blueprint for state and local outdoor recreation planning as required by the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides funds to state and local agencies for acquisition, development and maintenance of outdoor recreational land and facilities. The draft 2011-2016 Wisconsin SCORP is now available for review and comment.

"High quality and accessible outdoor recreation builds communities, provides numerous health benefits to citizens, and allows Wisconsinites to enjoy the state's many natural resources," says Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Providing access to outdoor recreation, however, is often a challenge. Conservation and recreation development need a web of community and government support. This plan highlights the importance of governments working together with other government and private organizations to provide high quality outdoor recreation to the citizens of Wisconsin."

By identifying outdoor recreation demand by demographics, and by projecting outdoor recreation activity trends relevant to the immediate future, SCORP helps Wisconsin communities plan. Fifteen combined federal and state outdoor recreation funding programs require projects applying for funds to use the SCORP's implementation program. This includes thing like recreational trails, snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle facilities, recreational boating facilities and aid to local government through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

The report projects increasing trends in a number of activities, These were being driven in part by an aging baby boomer population and continued drop in rural northern Wisconsin population while counties adjacent to major metro areas grew in population, including:

The public can review the 2011-16 Wisconsin State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan by searching for "SCORP" on the DNR website.

Public comments on the plan are being accepted through July 6, 2012, and should be sent to: Jeff Prey, Wisconsin State Parks, PO Box 7921, PR/6, Madison, WI 53707

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Prey - 608-266-2182

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Take Dad Fishing with this printable certificate

Family fishing
Land a big smile from dad this Father's Day by giving to him a certificate for a future fishing trip.

MADISON - Kids of all ages who are still looking for that meaningful gift for dear old dad can print off and fill out a certificate for a time together at a future fishing trip.

The fishing certificate can be downloaded and printed from the Department of Natural Resources website by searching for "fishing." The certificate was created by DNR's fisheries management program and EEK!, DNR's website designed for children in grades 4-8.

Once dad claims his trip, kids are invited to send in a picture and a Big Fish story to EEK! for posting on the website. Licenses are still needed for participants aged 16 and over.

Older kids can share their stories and photos of their fishing trip with dad on DNR's Facebook page.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Scheidegger - 608-267-9426 or Carrie Morgan - 608-267-5239

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Ruffed grouse numbers entering downside of population cycle

MADISON - Ruffed grouse populations in Wisconsin appear to be entering a downswing, according to a recently completed roadside ruffed grouse survey.

Ruffed grouse populations are known to boom and bust over a nine- to 11-year cycle, according to Brian Dhuey, wildlife surveys coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. The index that Wisconsin uses to track ruffed grouse decreased 25 percent between 2011 and 2012.

"While this is a bit of bad news for grouse hunters, it should not be too big of a surprise," Dhuey said. "We were overdue for the expected downturn."

A roadside survey to monitor the number of breeding grouse has been conducted by staff from the DNR and U.S. Forest Service, tribal employees, and numerous grouse enthusiasts and volunteers since 1964. Surveyors begin 30 minutes before sun rise and drive along established routes, making 10 stops at assigned points and listening for four minutes for the distinctive "thump, thump, thump" drumming sounds made by male grouse. Results from this survey have helped DNR biologists monitor the cyclic population dynamics of ruffed grouse in the state.

"Spring arrived early in Wisconsin in 2012, and conditions for the survey were rated 'excellent' on 60 percent of the routes. This was about the same as last year's 62 percent and above the long-term average," Dhuey said.

The number of drums heard per stop was down 25 percent in 2012 from the previous year. Both of the primary regions for grouse in the state, the central and northern forest areas, showed declines of 21 and 26 percent respectively. The only area to show an increase was the southeast, where grouse exist in only isolated areas of suitable young forest habitat and are not common.

The number of routes that showed a decline in the number of drums heard outpaced those that showed an increase by better than 2:1 margin. Results from the survey matched declines seen on two research areas, with the Sandhill Wildlife Area showing a decline of 11 percent and the Stone Lake Experimental Area showing a decline of 18 percent. Complete survey results can be found on the DNR website (search Wildlife Reports).

"This drop in breeding grouse was not unexpected, as grouse populations tend to be at their peak in years ending in a 9 or 0 in Wisconsin. Last year we had an increase in grouse and were probably at the cyclic peak, a decline was inevitable," Dhuey said.

"Early weather conditions are excellent for nesting and brood rearing, if we can stay normal or above for temperatures and have a bit of dry weather, we should have a pretty good brood year. I would expect that hunters will see a decline in the number of birds they see afield this fall, but areas of good cover should still hold birds. In years with low grouse numbers, hunters who find success are generally those willing to explore new coverts, as grouse will tend to occupy only the best habitat available and may not be found in the same areas where hunters found them in recent years," he said.

For more information search for ruffed grouse hunting on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey - 608-221-6342) or Scott Walter - 608-267-7861

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Another Wisconsin original: The green lifestyle of hunting

State's tradition a modern answer to environmental concerns

I always knew that one of my primary reasons for hunting is to obtain food. I enjoy everything about using wild game as food -- all the way from processing to preparation to eating it. In fact, I really prefer wild game to all other meats, and the same is true for my family.

Lately, the terms "green, sustainable, free-range and organic" have gained greater prominence in society. People care about their environment. They care about where their food comes from and how it got to their table.

Looking around, I see a generation of young adults working to live with lower impact on the environment, to live more "green." It got me thinking; modern hunting has always been a green activity. What better way to get ethically raised sustainable protein?

As hunters, we recognize the fact that unregulated market gunning the 18th and 19th centuries was in part responsible for the decline of game populations. In fact, hunting without limits threatened many species with extinction. But everyone needs to be aware that modern hunters were the original agents of change. They demanded regulations to protect game populations, provide bag limits and closed seasons and developed a system that protected habitat for all species.

Hunters' and conservationists' leadership led to revolutionary changes in wildlife conservation in North America and resulted in a system that is envied around the world. Our system of wildlife conservation in North America also provides for sustainable harvest of "green" protein.

The key principles that make up conservation in North America are:

Hunting is critical to conservation in the following ways.

First, the revenue from hunting and fishing license sales and excise taxes on equipment make up the vast majority of the Wisconsin conservation budget. These funds are earmarked solely for conservation spending and are used for species management, research, and to manage, and restore tens of thousands of acres of habitat annually in Wisconsin. In short, a large portion of conservation funding comes from hunters and anglers.

Second, regulated hunting has been an effective, low-cost method for maintaining wildlife populations at levels that are socially acceptable and within habitat carrying capacity.

Third, hunting is a great way to obtain free-range, ethically raised food in a highly sustainable system.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, hunting promotes a deep physical and spiritual connection with the natural world. It is an activity that shapes a culture and lifestyle around the importance of learning the intricate details of how nature works and how wildlife interacts with their environment. Hunting gives humans a participatory, hands-fully-on, sustainable link with nature and conservation.

Hunting for food is a perfect fit in an increasingly conservation-oriented "green" world. Today's young adults have demonstrated strong interest in lower impact living, food co-ops, farmer's markets, and sustainability, and invented the term "locavore," meaning you gather your food as close to home as possible. Hunting is, and has always been, a natural part of this movement.

Our challenge, as active hunters, is to provide the opportunity for these people to get involved. How many of us know someone in this age group who shares these interests? How many of us are members of a club or chapter that is looking to reach this generation? Perhaps your rod and gun club is looking for younger members, or new members.

The tools exist to introduce adults to hunting. How about hosting a Learn to Hunt event for adults? Use your website and/or Facebook page to announce your event and invite adults and families in the area to attend. Make contact with your neighbors and friends, or maybe the friends of your children, offer to mentor them into hunting this year and in the future. You can find more information and tools by searching the DNR website for Learn to Hunt or by contacting me at keith.warnke@wisconsin.gov.

The next generation of hunters is out there. It's our responsibility to reach out to them.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - 608-266-5243

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Air, Air Everywhere 2012 Poetry Contest - winners announced

MADISON - Two Eagle River Elementary School students were the winners of a poetry contest this May to celebrate Clean Air Month.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sponsors the contest for third through fifth grade students across Wisconsin. As part of the Air, Air Everywhere air education activity guide, students wrote poems and riddles on what they learned about air and how air quality affects peoples' health and the health of the environment.

"We received many excellent entries and appreciate the creativity and hard work of all the students that participated," said Lindsay Haas, DNR air education specialist.

Abby Ahlborn and Morgan Phillipich took first place in the competition with their winning riddle:

Can You Guess?

I'm usually very quiet but not always.
Nobody can live without me.
I'm one of nature's best friends,
but cars and gas hurt me,
we are like enemies.
Plants keep me going and I keep you going.
Can you guess what I am?

Answer: Air

More information on the Air, Air Everywhere guide and the contest runners up area available on the DNR's Environmental Education for Kids -- EEK! website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Lindsay Haas, 262-574-2113

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 12, 2012




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