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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published July 10, 2012

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Get specific advice for specific waters online and with one search

New search feature debuts with updated 2012 fish consumption advice

MADISON - It's now easier than ever for anglers fishing Wisconsin waters to make sure their catch is safe to eat: Wisconsin's updated fish consumption advice for 2012 is available online and features a new search tool that delivers anglers simplified consumption advice for fish from specific waters to limit exposure to environmental contaminants that may be in the fish.

"Fish are a part of a healthy diet and fun to catch. Fishing gets us outdoors. We wanted to make it easier for anglers to get the right advice quickly and without having to look at different charts in our booklet," says Candy Schrank, the Department of Natural Resources toxicologist who coordinates fish consumption advice. "We hope people will use the query tool frequently to check advice for eating fish from their favorite fishing spot."

The new query tool can be found by going to the DNR website dnr.wi.gov and searching for "Eat Your Catch." Development of this tool was supported by the Department of Health Services' Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant. The grant also supported creation of Hmong and Spanish versions of a two-minute video about Wisconsin's fish consumption advice.

"Many people get information differently today than they did in the past," says Dr. Henry Anderson, Wisconsin's State Health Officer. "This grant will help us improve how we get advisory information to the people who need it in more effective ways and allow more people to choose safer species and sizes of fish and select places with lower contaminants."

DNR, in consultation with the Department of Health Services, examines new data, along with data from recent years to re-evaluate the fish consumption advice every year and issue an updated copy of Choose Wisely: A Health Guide for Eating Fish in Wisconsin" [PDF] [PUB-FH-824]. Printed copies will be available at DNR service centers and regional offices next week.

Wisconsin has one set of consumption guidelines covering all inland waters that recommends that women of childbearing age and children 15 and under limit their meals of panfish to one per week and game fish to one per month (with the exception of musky, which they should not eat). Men and older women are advised to limit their game fish meals to one per week with the exception of musky, which they should eat no more than once a month.

Recommendations to eat less of some species of fish apply to 155 waters because fish from those waters have been found to have higher levels of mercury or PCBs, Schrank says.

As in past years, the changes in recommended consumption are based on data collected by DNR and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Major changes this year include relaxing advice for Pools 7 and 8 of the Mississippi River due to declines in PCB levels in fish. The statewide general advice can be followed for fish caught in those pools.

Three lakes require more stringent advice: Moquah/Spider Lake in Ashland County and the Lower Park Falls Flowage in Price County due to higher levels of mercury in some species of fish. And yellow perch larger than 11 inches from Lake Michigan should be eaten only once per month compared to the previous advice of once per week.

Minor changes to advice were made for other species from several waters including Lake Michigan, the upper Menominee River, several northern lakes (English in Ashland County; Bearskull, Six, and North Bass in Iron County; Somo in Lincoln County; Musser in Price County; and Black Lake in Sawyer County), and Pools 9 to 12 of the Mississippi River.

No changes were made for other rivers including sections of the lower Fox, Kewaunee, Branch, St Croix Rivers and Pools 4 to 6 of the Mississippi River. Advice also remains the same for many locations including the Sheboygan River below Sheboygan Falls Dam where the advice is to not eat any of the resident fish (trout and salmon that migrate up the river from Lake Michigan fall under the Lake Michigan advice) and where sediment remediation is underway.

Male anglers 50 and over sought for online survey

More male anglers age 50 and older are needed to complete an online survey on fish eating and how best to reach this group that tends to eat more fish than others. A link to the survey can be found on the fish consumption page of the DNR website or at the University of Wisconsin's Wisconsin angler study (exit DNR) website.

Wisconsin research has shown that older men have higher mercury and PCB levels than any other group, a concern because some studies have linked higher mercury levels to heart disease in older men and higher PCB levels are associated with higher risk of cancer and immune system problems.

"We've gotten a good response so far to our online survey, but we need more anglers to weigh in," says Dr. Anderson. "We want to know if older anglers are aware of and follow fish consumption recommendations, how they decide where to fish and what fish to eat, and where they get their information about eating fish."

Such information can help DHS and the Department of Natural Resources advise people on how to enjoy the health benefits of eating their catch while reducing their exposure to environmental contaminants in the fish.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Candy Schrank (608) 267-7614; Dr. Henry Anderson (608) 266-1253

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Arctic shorebirds to stop over in Wisconsin over next six weeks

Wildlife managers put out the welcome mat at a dozen wildlife areas

MADISON -- Migratory birds are returning to Wisconsin from their Arctic summer homes for a good mud bath and a few good meals -- courtesy of state wildlife biologists and partners -- before taking to the skies again.

Red knot
A red knot is a shore bird that is rare in Wisconsin, but some lucky birder just may see it.
Ryan Brady Photo

Their stopover in the Badger state is critical for the birds - some of which will fly thousands of miles before they're done -- and a great opportunity for birders, state wildlife officials say.

"Arctic/boreal nesting shorebirds are starting to wing their way south and will be stopping over in Wisconsin in the next six weeks," says Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist. "It's a good birding opportunity and a good opportunity for birders to give back.

"We need people to report what they see and we encourage birders to buy a waterfowl habitat stamp to help pay for continuing important work to create habitat for migrating shorebirds."

DNR and partners work to provide stopover habitat for migratory shorebirds on more than a dozen wildlife management areas and other public lands across the state. An interactive map on Wisconsin eBird ebird.org/wi (exit DNR) shows the location of state lands where the partners manage water levels to create the exposed mudflats and shallow water the birds need.

Migratory shorebirds need such habitat from May through September as they travel to and from their breeding areas in the arctic and boreal forests, oftentimes completing journeys of 8,000 miles or more.

"The sheer amount of travel these shorebirds do requires them to build large fat stores at stopover areas," says Jason Fleener, assistant wetland habitat specialist. "Some of these birds might spend anywhere from three days to a week in one location and may increase their body weight by 50 to 100 percent."

Shorebirds forage in mud and shallow water, looking for small invertebrates attracted to the decaying and live plant material in shallow wetlands.

DNR wildlife biologists provide exposed shorelines and shallow water habitats by opening water control structures on public lands beginning in late April - early May to slowly reduce water levels in impoundments.

The goal is to expose new mudflats every week based on recent weather conditions and precipitation amounts. Mudflats also can be created naturally during dry periods as wetlands evaporate.

"By the end of summer, the water level management results in large, expansive mudflats and a flush of new annual plant growth," Fleener says.

An important benefit of this management is the large volume of seeds produced by these annual plants. These seeds are consumed en masse by waterfowl, wetland birds and sparrows during fall migration after many of the shorebirds are long gone. In addition, this water level management helps to regenerate bulrushes and other emergent plants that grebes, coots, rails, ducks and other wetland dependent species use for nesting habitat the following years.

Unseasonably dry weather in southern Wisconsin is creating natural mud conditions in many areas in the absence of water level manipulations by managers. Some sites that were wet in the spring may be too dry to attract shorebirds during the summer migration. DNR staff will update the interactive map regularly to account for changing conditions and additional viewing opportunities generated by the drought, Paulios says.

He says that while the shorebirds benefit tremendously from the mudflats and the food they provide, the public benefits as well.

The habitat work is paid for largely through hunter licenses and waterfowl habitat stamp fees. "If you value this type of habitat management birding opportunity, consider purchasing a waterfowl habitat stamp. Until then, enjoy the birds!"

2012 Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp
2012 Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp

"These wildlife areas are wonderful places to view the grand migration event," he says. "Most of these wildlife management areas have walking trails and parking areas that allow birders to view shorebirds and other water birds as they exploit these new food resources."

Birders can report the species and number of shorebirds they see on Wisconsin eBird. [ebird.org/wi.

"Contributions to the Wisconsin waterfowl habitat fund can be made by purchasing the $7 State Waterfowl stamp privilege at any authorized license agent; over the internet through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov; or by calling telephone sales at 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236). If you wish to receive the actual Wisconsin waterfowl collector stamp as part of your contribution, place an order on-line from dnr.wi.gov and use the search words, "Collector Stamps" or visit a DNR service center. To find the nearest service center, call the DNR call center at 1-888-936-7463. (1-888-WDNR-INFo)."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fleener - 608-264-7408; Andy Paulios - 608-264-6137

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Golden-winged warbler's appearance highlights importance of young forests

LANGLADE COUNTY - Hollywood couldn't have scripted it better: a rare songbird bird alights amidst private landowners on a field trip to see the benefits of managing for young forest to provide habitat for rare and declining bird species. The songbird is captured, fitted with a leg band and released by one of the landowners.

"Talk about impeccable timing!" says Jeremy Holtz, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist based in Rhinelander. "One-third of my job is trying to recruit private landowners to manage for young forest to provide nesting habitat for rare and declining species, and here one of the stars shows up on cue."

Holtz pulled out his camera and started taking video of the scene that followed at Ackley Wildlife Area on June 23. Amber Roth, a researcher from Michigan Technological University who was helping conduct the field trip, banded the bird and talked to the group about its habits and habitat, and gave the bird to one of the field trip participants released it.

The golden-winged warbler is a very rare bird nationally and Wisconsin is a nursery for this species, Holtz says.

Over the last few years, biologists in the Upper Midwest region have documented a decline in golden-winged warblers and many other bird species that rely on what Holtz calls, "young forest." Young forest is another term for early successional forest, which is comprised of fast growing, sun loving tree species like aspen, tag alder, paper birch, and jack pine, he says.

Golden-winged warblers need aspen and other early successional species to nest in; research has shown that 1- to 10-year-old aspen stands harbor a higher abundance of golden-winged warblers than other early habitats in north-central Wisconsin, and are also home to ruffed grouse, Holtz says.

Historically, the golden-winged warbler had a broad distribution across Wisconsin. Extensive clear-cutting during the 19th century created ample suitable young forest habitat but the bird's breeding range has contracted northward and it is now largely extirpated from most historical breeding areas in southern Wisconsin. Loss of shrubby habitat to succession and development may play a role in this range shift, along with global climate change and genetic mixing with the northward-expanding blue-winged warbler, Holtz says.

To reverse the decline in bird numbers, several state and federal conservation agencies have joined to form the Upper Great Lakes Young Forest Initiative. In addition, several non-government organizations like the Ruffed Grouse Society, Wildlife Management Institute, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the American Bird Conservancy have joined in to help spread the word about the decline of young forest in Wisconsin and across the Midwest.

Wisconsin's first pilot project under that umbrella effort is known as the North Central Wisconsin Young Forest Initiative. It's focused on reaching out to landowners in Oneida, Lincoln, Langlade, Price, Taylor, and Rusk counties to help raise awareness of the need for young forest and to get landowners to manage for such habitat on their land.

"Our goal is to increase the number of young forest wildlife species, including woodcock, golden-winged warblers, brown thrashers, whip-poor-wills, and many others by increasing the amount of managed young forest habitat in these counties," Holtz says.

Golden-winged warbler
Golden-winged warbler.

The field trip where the golden-winged warbler made its appearance was the inaugural workshop of a series that DNR has received funding for from The Ruffed Grouse Society, Wildlife Management Institute, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the American Bird Conservancy. These groups have provided funds for Holtz to set up and run educational workshops for landowners interested in learning more about young forest management.

Holtz also works with cooperating partners and agencies to help find funding sources for landowners to do young forest management work at a reduced cost.

Landowners who are interested in learning more about young forest and how to manage for such habitat can contact Holtz at 715-365-8999 or Jeremy.Holtz@Wisconsin.gov

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeremy Holtz - 715-365-8999

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DNR Secretary Stepp names top West Central Wisconsin manager

MADISON - Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp has appointed 19-year DNR veteran Dan Baumann to direct the agency's West Central Region.

Dan Baumann
Dan Baumann
WDNR Photo

"Dan is a strong leader with a big picture outlook. He is extremely skilled at reaching out and bringing DNR staff and the public together to form partnerships," said Stepp. "His energy and can-do, positive attitude will serve the people of west central Wisconsin well. I am extremely proud to add him to DNR's management team," she said.

Following an extensive military career, Dan Baumann started his DNR career in 1992 as an engineering intern. The next year, he landed a permanent job as water regulation and zoning engineer. He was promoted to basin leader for the Bad Ax Basin in La Crosse in 2000. And in November 2003, was promoted to regional Water Leader.

Baumann attended UW-Center Richland and UW-Madison where he earned a degree in civil and environmental engineering and has had extensive training in the military in leadership, planning, counseling, equal opportunity and affirmative action. Baumann is a native of Muscoda, where he grew up working on a dairy farm and spent lots of time on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway.

In his spare time, Baumann enjoys hunting, fishing, and trapping as well as spending time doing anything outdoors. Dan, his wife Sarah and three girls, Ellie, Katie and Abby reside in Eau Claire.

"It is a privilege to be able to serve the public, DNR staff and the resource in this new capacity. I appreciate the confidence that Secretary Stepp and her staff have shown in selecting me for this position, and I'm committed to filling the large shoes left by Scott Humrickhouse. The West Central Region is filled with special places and special people, and I am honored to be working for both of them in this new role," Baumann said.

DNR's West Central Region includes Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Portage, St. Croix, Trempealeau, Vernon, and Wood counties. Former regional director Scott Humrickhouse retired earlier this year after 31 years of service to the state of Wisconsin.

Regional directors represent DNR with local government and organizations play a key role in consistently applying laws and DNR policies. Stepp notes that whenever regional directors hear businesses thinking of expanding or locating in Wisconsin, they are charged with leading a team to assist the business through permitting, assuring environmental concerns are addressed early on in the planning process to avoid delays and unnecessary costs.

FORM MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Baumann - 715-839-3722 or Bill Cosh - 608-267-2773

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Second statewide urban forest inventory underway

MADISON - Residents of more than 85 communities across Wisconsin answering their doorbell may find someone on the doorstep asking permission to measure the trees on their lot as part of a statewide survey to determine the composition and value of urban trees across Wisconsin.

The Department of Natural Resources has contracted with the Lumberjack Resource Conservation & Development Council to repeat a statewide inventory of Wisconsin's urban and community forests that was first piloted in 2002. Information on the first inventory of Wisconsin's urban forests is available in a U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service report [PDF] (exit DNR). Survey crews are expected to complete their field work by mid-September.

Wisconsin's first inventory determined that there were more than 26.9 million trees in Wisconsin's communities valued at $10.9 billion and quantified the value urban trees have in removing air pollutants and storing carbon. The inventory also showed that urban trees reduce heating and cooling costs to Wisconsin homeowners by $24.3 million annually.

"These urban forest values could be multiplied up to three times by raising the average tree canopy cover over our communities," said Dick Rideout, DNR urban forestry coordinator. "The statewide average is currently estimated at 14 percent, which gives us lots of opportunity to grow the benefits of urban forests in our cities."

A very timely discovery was that about 20 percent of all trees in Wisconsin communities are ash. With emerald ash borer gaining a foothold in the state, this insect threatens 5.4 million public and private ash trees valued at $1.5 billion which could cost $3 to 4 billion to remove and replace.

The information gathered is used to project the composition, condition and value of trees and the services they provide. The inventory is funded through a grant from the Forest Service and is the first time urban forest inventory plots have been re-measured anywhere in the nation.

The new 2012 data will help managers, businesses and property owners determine what trees to grow and plant, what care is needed to protect their tree investment and what pests may threaten that investment. Data gathered this summer will be analyzed by Forest Service and DNR staff in the coming year and reported back in 2013.

The survey will cover all cities in Dane, Milwaukee and Waukesha counties and the following other communities: Altoona, Antigo, Appleton, Ashland, Beaver Dam, Beloit, Berlin, Bloomer, Burlington, Caledonia, Chippewa Falls, Clintonville, Delavan, Dodgeville, Eau Claire, Evansville, Farmington, Fond du Lac, Fontana, Germantown, Green Bay, Grand Rapids, Greenville, Hobart, Horicon, Howard's Grove, Janesville, Jefferson, Kaukauna, Kenosha, Kimberly, La Crosse, Lake Geneva, Lake Mills, Manitowoc, Mayville, Marshfield, Medford, Menasha, Menomonie, Mequon, Monroe, Mount Pleasant, Neenah, Onalaska, Oshkosh, Paddock Lake, Pleasant Prairie, Plover, Plymouth, Port Edwards, Portage, Prairie du Chien, Prescott, Racine, Rhinelander, Ripon, River Falls, Saratoga, Schofield, Seneca, Shawano, Sheboygan, Somers, Sparta, Spooner, Stevens Point, Sturgeon Bay, Suamico, Superior, Two Rivers, Union Grove, Waterford, Watertown, Wausau, West Bend, Wheatland, Whitewater, Wisconsin Rapids

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dick Rideout, state urban forestry coordinator - 608-267-0843

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Hunters called to protect state's hunting heritage

Survey: hunter numbers dropping

We had 11 hunters, including five kids, at our deer camp last year. Sleeping arrangements were a bit complex, but we made it work. In the moments before dawn, all 11 were up and dressed ready to venture out to their posts to play an assigned role in the group hunt.

That's hunting in Wisconsin -- steeped in tradition and family values. There are hunting families and camps that have persisted for generations. Others, like ours, can only claim a decade or two of fun stories. If you only talk with hunting friends - in person or electronically - it's easy to get the feeling there will always be as many hunters as there are today.

A look at statistics gives a different picture, however. The total number of hunters the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported to the federal government has declined from 770,000 in 2000 to about 704,000 in 2010. A recent demographic analysis published in Population and Environment predicts the number of resident male deer hunters will decline by more than 25 percent in the next 18 years. The figures predict an average decline of 1.6 percent per year with the drop off accelerating in the later years.

Moreover, DNR surveys reveal the number of small game hunters has declined by an average 2 percent per year for the past eleven years and attendance at Hunter Education courses has dropped by an average of 2 percent per year since 2000.

The evidence indicates we are at the beginning of a long, steady decline in number of hunters in Wisconsin. With more than 700,000 still hunting in the Badger State, should we respond now? Yes.

Yes, because we still have a lot of hunters. And, hunters are the only ones who will be able to ensure our future by mentoring new hunters. Further, there's no successful model to follow for recruiting new hunters and hunter numbers are declining around the nation. We need time to learn what works for hunter recruitment in the 21st century.

Efforts to slow the decline have been growing in popularity recently. Groups and partners around the state have offered the Learn to Hunt program where anyone 10 years old or older (including adults) can try hunting with a mentor, without passing hunter education. In addition, people participating in an organized Learn to Hunt event are not required to have a hunting license. Licenses are required for youth hunts and for mentored hunting outside of Learn to Hunt events. More than 10,000 people have participated in a Learn to Hunt program around the state since the first one occurred in 1997. Last year participation increased by more than 10 percent -- a great sign.

Change is in the air as we continue to grow the hunter recruitment and retention program. We are actively recruiting more and more adults and families to learn to hunt events using the DNR website to open up registration to anyone looking for an event. (Search keyword "LTH" at dnr.wi.gov to find an event near you.) Streamlined access to hunter education courses will be made available for adults who are interested in starting up. We can track the successful recruitment of a new hunter over time and hopefully identify the factors that lead to lifelong interest. And, finally, we are piloting a course designed to teach interested adults to hunt and provide the first-time hunting experience at Madison College this fall.

Now comes the hard part: Sacrifice is required to make a new hunter. Maintaining our hunting heritage will only be successful if we all take it on. We can all increase the focus on mentoring adults and families into hunting. It takes time and commitment and I believe we have enough of both. Stay tuned for more information on what you can do and how you can be involved in protecting your hunting heritage.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - 608-576-5243

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Want to know more about the conservation warden hiring process? Join the chat Monday

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The Department of Natural Resources this Monday will host a two-hour afternoon online chat with Assistant Training Director Jeff King of the Bureau of Law Enforcement. King will be online from 1 - 3 p.m. July 16 to answer questions about being a conservation warden for the state's outdoor law enforcement agency. Just visit the DNR home page, dnr.wi.gov, and look for the link to the warden recruitment chat to join the conversation. You will be able to see the questions and answers as they happen.]

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 10, 2012




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