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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 26, 2012

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New DNR activities database helps people find fun in the Wisconsin outdoors

MADISON - Finding fun in Wisconsin just got a whole lot easier with the launch today of a new activities locator that can be found on the Department of Natural Resources website by searching for "Explore Outdoors."

This new interactive tool allows users to search millions of acres of public lands by county, by proximity to a city, by type of property or by one of 22 listed outdoor activities. For example, search terms can be combined to find dog training areas where you can also ride horseback within a specific county or near a listed city.

"Wisconsin has so much to offer in the way of outdoor recreation opportunities," said Kurt Thiede, DNR Lands Division administrator. "There are countless possibilities, and to make it easy for residents we've created this Web page to help them find the kind of place and activity they're looking for."

By clicking the property link from the search results, people can get more detail on the property, including maps. Theide notes that one search covers opportunities on all of the following DNR properties: state parks and trails, state forests, natural areas, wildlife areas, fisheries areas and wild rivers. Searches can be done statewide, by county or by proximity to a city.

"Most, if not all, of these properties offer multiple recreational opportunities, and that's what we're trying to do here, to make all the opportunities to engage in an outdoor recreation open and available to folks," explains Thiede.

The page also links directly to the DNR customer call center, which operates 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days per week, and includes a feedback survey so customers can provide input on how to improve the new service.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Cynthia Hoffland, 608-266-7758; Steve Miller, DNR facilities and lands director 608-266-5782 or Sanjay Olson - 608-261-6453

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Work underway this summer to keep osprey populations soaring

[EDITOR'S NOTE: DNR avian ecologist Patricia Manthey and retired wildlife biologist Ron Eckstein will talk and take questions about ospreys on The Larry Meiller Show June 27. The radio show is live from 11-11:45 a.m. and can be found on these WPR Ideas Network stations or online during that time or later via their audio archives. (links exit DNR)]

MADISON - Work continues this summer to help assure that osprey, the diving, fishing raptor that flew off the state threatened species list in 2009, continue to thrive in Wisconsin and return to other states, state endangered species officials say.

Osprey chick
Osprey, a raptor that summers and nests in Wisconsin, have been restored to Wisconsin skies and removed from the state's endangered and threatened species list.
Patricia Manthey photo

"Osprey have been a great success story for Wisconsin, and we continue to work with partners to keep the good news coming and to help other states, where we can, restore this majestic bird to their skies," says Patricia Manthey, Department of Natural Resources avian ecologist.

More information about this success story and a live Web cam trained on an osprey nest in Collins Marsh Wildlife Area are found on the osprey feature page in DNR's year-long web series, "Celebrating 40 years of protecting Wisconsin's natural heritage."

Osprey, a fish-eating raptor that summers and nests in Wisconsin, were placed on the state's original endangered species list in 1972 after indiscriminant shooting, lakeshore development and pesticide use eliminated the bird from southern Wisconsin, according to Ron Eckstein, a retired DNR wildlife biologist who continues to work with the species.

Wisconsin's 1969 ban on the pesticide DDT and the national ban that followed helped get the recovery started; DNR management plans that restricted activities near nesting areas on public lands during nesting times, and cooperation with landowners to protect osprey nests on private lands, protected more than 80 percent of all known eagle and osprey nests.

Installation of more than 200 osprey nest platforms between 1972 and 1993 by DNR biologists and in more recent years by various power and transmission companies also played a critical role.

Osprey populations reached 300 pairs and the species improved from endangered to threatened status in 1989; their numbers grew past 400 breeding pairs and the bird was removed from the state threatened list in 2009.

Osprey remain a "species of concern" in Wisconsin and are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which makes it illegal to hunt, capture, kill or offer for sale any migratory bird. Concerns remain about adequate nesting habitat because of the condition of many of the platforms, Manthey says.

DNR and partners continue to monitor the bird's populations and work with partners to protect nesting habitat, efforts that in 2011 yielded 527 breeding pairs in 57 of the state's 72 counties. The largest number of birds are in Oneida County, where there were 85 pairs.

Preliminary results from aerial surveys just completed this month suggest that about 500 nests are active.

Follow up aerial surveys will be done of some of those nests; due to limited resources, the surveys will be mainly focused on identifying nests with multiple chicks to help continue a partnership program with Iowa, Manthey says.

Again this year, DNR will take chicks from nests with multiple chicks and send the young birds to Iowa to jump-start populations there (exit DNR). Manthey says five chicks will be captured from nests with multiple offspring the week of July 9 and the birds transported to Iowa.

Companies recognized for work to erect and protect nesting platforms

American Transmission Company and the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation are the Comeback Champs for June for contributing materials, equipment, staff and funding to build and protect osprey nesting platforms so crucial to rebuilding the raptor's population.

The two companies are to be honored by DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp at the state Natural Resources Board meeting June 27 in Siren for their role in helping restore osprey populations in the state.

Osprey prefer to nest on top of the tallest tree around, and in many areas of the state these days, the tallest tree-like structure happens to be a power transmission pole, Manthey says. So, over the last 30 years, ospreys have selected power transmission poles for nesting. ATC and WPSC have actively secured and protected nests on power transmission poles. Today, more than 80 percent of osprey nests occur on human-made structures, and most of these are on platforms provided by DNR managers and partners.

ATC and WPSC's efforts, and those of electric power companies across the state, have helped Wisconsin's osprey population recover from fewer than 100 pairs in 1973 to more than 500 pairs in 2011 and removal from the state's endangered and threatened species list.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia Manthey (608) 792-7207; Ron Eckstein (715) 493-2823

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Fourth annual Landing Blitz for aquatic invasive species doubles coverage

MADISON - Citizen volunteers and aquatic invasive species experts will be teaming up to educate boaters at more than 200 landings across Wisconsin over the week of the Fourth of July. This is the fourth annual "Landing Blitz," where participants will provide free boat inspection and remind boaters how to avoid spreading Eurasian water-milfoil, zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species. The program has grown over the years, with the 200 landings staffed this year more than double last year's coverage of 90 landings staffed by boat inspectors.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) can crowd out native species, disrupt lake ecosystems and interfere with boating, fishing and other recreation. They create extra costs and lost value to homeowners and to state industries such as utilities, real estate, manufacturing, shipping, tourism, fishing and recreation. Invasives and fish diseases (such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia or VHS) spread to new waters primarily aboard boating and fishing equipment, or when live fish or water moved from one water body to another.

This year's Landing Blitz runs from June 29 to July 9 and has drawn volunteers from 40 counties trained through Wisconsin's Clean Boats, Clean Waters program. These inspectors will demonstrate the required prevention steps boaters must take before they leave a landing, provide reminder stickers for trailers and talk about Wisconsin aquatic invasive species laws. Boaters found practicing good boat hygiene can be rewarded with a free boating towel.

"We know that most folks on the water are aware of the aquatic invasive species laws and are concerned and want to take the steps to clean their boats and equipment," says Bob Wakeman, Wisconsin's Statewide Aquatic Invasive Species coordinator. "But until we have 100 percent compliance, the week of July Fourth is a great time for us to be on the water spreading the word, as well as show our appreciation for the boaters and anglers who are taking care of their lakes."

For many citizens, keeping invasive species out of their favorite lakes and rivers has come to mean not just cleaning their own gear, but getting active in community education as well.

"The level of support this year has been incredible. So has the diversity of participants. It's great to see people getting involved in protecting their lakes and rivers is on the rise," says Mike Putnam of DNR, Landing Blitz coordinator.

Oneida County has one such growing program. Aquatic invasive species staff and volunteers will cover 28 county lakes over the week, up from a total of 17 last year, with 23 of these staffed by lake association volunteers. Aquatic Invasive Species County Coordinator Michele Sadauskas says it's increased citizen involvement that's been getting the word out on invasive species prevention.

"Although we do put a lot of focus on the Landing Blitz, most lake associations will be out there anyway for the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program. We get great participation," explains Sadauskas. "For example, Three Lakes Waterfront Association has 800 members and a good volunteer base. This allows Oneida's AIS county staff to cover other areas. We're very grateful for their help."

Landing Blitz inspectors come from a diverse partnership that includes citizen volunteers, AIS county coordinators, UW-Extension interns, lake associations, resource conservation and development councils, nonprofit organizations, Boy Scout troops, the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant and DNR.

They'll be reminding boaters, anglers and others enjoying Wisconsin waters that they are required to:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman, 262-574-2149, or Deborah Seiler, 608-267-3531

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Most fireworks illegal in state forests and parks

MADISON - Camping in a state park or forest for the Fourth of July? If so, enjoy fireworks displays in nearby communities - not at picnic areas, campsites or other areas within state parks and forests.

Fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests, according to Jason Fritz, chief ranger for the Wisconsin State Parks Program.

"For the safety of our guests and our resources, our rangers strictly enforce the no fireworks laws," Fritz said. "Fourth of July favorites, the sparkler and the snake, are not defined as 'fireworks' per Wisconsin state law, but most park and forest rangers and superintendents would rather not see them at all because they are a fire hazard."

Public land managers and fire control officials are watching the situation in 14 southern Wisconsin counties especially closely as the region is significantly below normal precipitation levels for this time of year. Without rain prior to the July Fourth holiday, wildfire risk is expected to remain in the High category. To view current fire danger, go to the DNR website and search "fire".

A citation for illegal fireworks in a state park or forest can cost up to $200 and parents could be liable for the full costs of putting out a fire started by their children playing with or setting off fireworks.

In fact, anyone responsible for starting a forest fire in Wisconsin is liable not only for the cost of putting the fire out but also for any damages, notes Catherine Koele, forest fire prevention specialist with the DNR Division of Forestry.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fritz, 608-266-2152, or Catherine Koele, 608-266-2359

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Natural Resources Board to meet July 17 on proposed Wisconsin wolf hunting season

Public encouraged to comment on board meeting agenda item

MADISON - The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, the policy-making body for the Department of Natural Resources, will meet at 9 a.m. on July 17 (PDF)in the Spruce/Sands room at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, 1001 Amber Ave., Stevens Point, to consider an emergency administrative rule setting the final parameters of a fall 2012 wolf hunting season in the state.

Information on the hunting season proposal can be found on the DNR website by searching for keyword "wolf."

A wolf hunting season was directed by the Wisconsin Legislature to start this fall. The legislature has set the season length and license fees, has approved hunting methods including use of hunting dogs and baiting, and has directed that both hunting and trapping be allowed and that hunting be allowed at night. Other aspects of the season, including quotas and permit levels, will be considered in the proposal before the board.

The public must pre-register to testify no later than 4 p.m., Thursday, July 12, 2012. For consideration by the board, written comments must be received by the same timeframe. To register to testify, please contact Laurie Ross at (608) 267-7420 or via email at laurie.ross@wisconsin.gov. Written comments must be e-mailed to the Natural Resources Board at DNRNRBcomments@wisconsin.gov, or mailed to Laurie Ross, NRB Liaison, Wisconsin DNR - AD/8, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

At the meeting, the Natural Resources Board will also hear an informational item on implementing wetland legislation in the state. As an informational item, no public input will be taken on the wetland item.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Laurie Ross, 608-267-7420

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DNR hiring conservation wardens, apply by July 27

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is looking for up to 15 exceptional men and women ready for a challenging and rewarding career as a conservation warden.

DNR Chief Warden Randy Stark says being a conservation warden is a very fulfilling career. "It is an opportunity to serve the public in a very meaningful way -- by protecting our natural resources and the people who enjoy them," Stark said. "Wardens also work in close partnership with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to achieve the mission. Conservation wardens have an incredibly diverse array of job responsibilities that require a unique combination of skills, knowledge and abilities."

Stark says the 15 wardens to be hired are needed in light of the current 38 warden service vacancies. "Like many employers, our age structure is creating some pretty significant turnover," he said, adding the turnover will continue for a few years.

The anticipated employment and training start date for the new wardens is March 11, 2013. Another round of hiring likely will begin in 2014.

The warden recruitment process is a competitive one. There are eligibility standards including college study, a valid state driver's license, a clean background and physical fitness requirements.

People interested in a career as a conservation warden can visit Wisc.Jobs (exit DNR) to learn about the hiring and required online exam. Those needing computer and Internet access can find these at public libraries or Wisconsin Job Service offices. Applicants must create a free account with Wisc.Jobs to complete the application and exam. The deadline to apply and to complete the exam is 11:59 p.m. on July 27, 2012.

To learn more about being a conservation warden, visit the DNR website at and search keywords "warden recruit."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff King, 608-219-4887; Joanne Haas, 608-267-0798

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New Lake Michigan fishing hotline, free updates now available

STURGEON BAY - Anglers now have beefed up information available to them on where the fish are biting and what's working on Lake Michigan, the state's most popular fishing destination.

A new telephone hotline with fishing reports covering northern Lake Michigan waters and Green Bay waters is now available at 920-746-2873. That hotline complements a longstanding call-in report for southern Lake Michigan waters 414-382-7920.

trout
Trout and salmon fishing has been strong on Lake Michigan, as this Father's Day catch shows; a new hotline and updates can help steer anglers to what's biting where.

Anglers can get similar, more detailed fishing reports for the entire Lake Michigan coast delivered to their smartphones and computers by signing up to receive free Department of Natural Resources' Lake Michigan Outdoor Reports.

To sign up, enter an email address and look for "Fisheries Updates" and check that box to get a listing of DNR fisheries topics to receive updates for, including for "Lake Michigan Outdoor Report."

The reports are updated every week with information primarily from DNR creel clerks who interview willing anglers at boat landings and shore fishing areas about what the anglers caught, where and with what methods and baits. The creel clerks gather such fishing information while they are collecting information that helps DNR estimate fishing effort, catch rates and harvest rates to help manage the Lake Michigan fisheries.

Brad Eggold, fisheries supervisor for the DNR southern Lake Michigan unit, says the new northern Lake Michigan hotline, beefed up reports and new communications methods will help stakeholders get accurate and timely information on the state of the fishery in Lake Michigan.

"DNR's Lake Michigan fisheries team is committed to providing the latest fishing information to the public, which includes not only fishing reports but information on our recent surveys and assessments," Eggold says.

David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor in Sturgeon Bay, hopes the information can help reach a wider audience with information that might help them try fishing Lake Michigan for the first time or help better familiarize them with different parts of the lake to fish.

A 2006-07 statewide survey of Wisconsin anglers revealed that Lake Michigan was the most frequently visited fishing destination, and statistics from the American Sportfishing Association estimate that 235,000 anglers fish 3.7 million days every year for fish in Wisconsin's Great Lakes waters, the bulk of that spent on Lake Michigan.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold (414) 382-7921; David Boyarski (920) 746-2865

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Operation Dry Water helps keep state waterways safe

MADISON -- More than 20 law enforcement agencies statewide contacted 2,600 boaters and arrested 10 for operating while intoxicated during last weekend's Operation Dry Water, preliminary reports released June 26 by the Department of Natural Resources show.

The early reports also show the June 22-24 campaign to rid the waters of impaired boat operators involved 132 Wisconsin state and local officers who logged nearly 1,500 hours and had contacts with 1,285 vessels.

Charles Horn of the DNR Boat Safety program says the goal of the weekend, as well as the entire boating season, is to enhance safety by removing intoxicated boat operators. "Our wardens and other law enforcement agencies also made educating as many boaters as possible about the hazards of impaired driving part of this weekend," he said.

The preliminary reports show there were 10 arrests for operating while intoxicated and the highest record blood alcohol level of the weekend was 0.18. The state's legal limit is 0.08 percent. There also were 141 other boating citations issued and 429 warnings, along with 29 other citations for violations including fishing, drugs and warrants.

Last year's final reports show Wisconsin's conservation warden service and local water patrols dedicated 1,684 hours and contacted 1,870 boaters during Operation Dry Water. There were 14 arrests of boating under the influence and 162 other boating citations issued along with 599 boating-related warnings.

"Operating while intoxicated is a primary contributing factor in nearly one in five boating fatalities nationwide," Horn said. "When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more likely and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard."

A significant public awareness campaign was launched in the days before Operation Dry Water to alert the boating community about the special weekend. Some wardens learned from boaters that the advance message did reach many, but it didn't reach everyone.

Warden Mike Stahl of Oconto Falls said he had a number of boaters remark about hearing the Operation Dry Water message all week and wondered how many drunken boaters had been arrested.

Warden Ryan Volenberg of Two Rivers said while he had a suspected intoxicated operator at the hospital for a blood draw, the operator said he saw the news reports about Operation Dry Water.

Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide the last weekend in June to give operating while intoxicated enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chuck Horn, DNR Boat Safety Program, (608) 822-5145 or 608-822-6574; Joanne Haas, DNR Public Affairs Manager, 608-267-0798

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 26, 2012




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