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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published July 24, 2012

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DNR Park offers learning and fun at Wisconsin State Fair

WEST ALLIS—If it's August in West Allis that means it's time for the Wisconsin State Fair, and for more than 60 years the Natural Resources Park has provided fair visitors a bit of respite from the hustle and bustle of the Midway, cream puff lines, animal barns and exposition hall hawkers.

Located on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds, the Natural Resources Park offers fair visitors a mix of family-friendly activities where they can learn more about Wisconsin's fish, forests and other natural resources through live displays, and participate in hands-on activities that are fun for all ages.

"We really love having people visit us in the Natural Resources Park. Our staff looks forward to it all year and is eager to talk about our resources and our work. We especially hope to interest kids in Wisconsin's wonderful outdoors, a great place for fun year around," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Visit our state park at the fair! We're looking forward to seeing you!"

Again this year, the department will focus on youth with the National Archery in the Schools program activity area. Kids and adults of all ages and physical abilities will use state-of-the-art equipment to learn about the sport of target-style archery.

A traditional State Fair activity for many families is T-shirt printing at the Natural Resources Park activities tent. Coordinated by the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, each day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Artists of all ages can decorate a T-shirt or other piece of material. The printing is free. T-shirts and reusable tote bags are available for $5 or you can bring your own.

In the south building, a variety of Wisconsin fish species will be on display at the aquarium exhibit. Fisheries staff will be available to answer questions and provide information on Wisconsin's premier fishery and offer casting lessons each day from 3 to 5 p.m.

People wondering what it would be like to work for a nationally recognized environmental and natural resources agency can stop by the career booth in the North Building and talk with staff about careers with the DNR.

Havenwoods State Forest will transport some of their resident reptiles and amphibians to the fair. Visitors can spin the Wondrous Wildlife Wheel and answer questions on Wisconsin's wildlife and learn about places to go to observe and appreciate the diversity of life.

These are just a few of the highlights that you will find at the Natural Resources Park at the 2012 Wisconsin State Fair. The fair opens Thursday, August 2 through Monday, August 13. More information is available on the Wisconsin State Fair website (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Marcus Smith, DNR Southeast Region public affairs - 414-263-8516 or Paul Heinen, DNR state fair coordinator - 608-266-2120



Despite drought, Karner blue butterflies recovery making progress

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Listen to DNR Karner Recovery Coordinator Bob Hess on The Larry Meiller Show live from 11-11:45 July 25 on the WPR Ideas Network stations or online. If you miss the show, you can still listen to the archives (all links exit DNR).]

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- The drought has been challenging for the federally endangered Karner blue butterflies in Wisconsin, but recent surveys are showing they've weathered it well so far and are showing signs of the recovery making progress in some sites.

They also are benefitting from an expanded group of allies - 25 volunteers trained this summer under a new program to help look for the butterflies and assess their habitat - and from other work to help protect and restore the butterfly, the leader of the recovery effort says.

The Karner blue butterfly was listed in 1992 as a federally endangered species. It's relatively common in Wisconsin, which has the largest population of these diminutive blue butterflies in the world. The Karner blue butterfly range in Wisconsin runs from Waupaca and Waushara counties west to the Black River Falls area, and then northwest to Grantsburg.

Since 1999, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and 40 other partners have implemented a statewide Habitat Conservation Plan that allows certain activities - such as roadside maintenance and timber harvests in Karner habitat - but makes sure those activities are carried out in ways that conserve and restore the butterfly and its habitat.

The DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources initiated a Karner blue butterfly recovery effort in 2007 that is working to restore Karner habitat and populations in five areas of the state. The goal of the recovery program is to establish 11 independent Karner populations of 3,000 to 6,000 butterflies each, on different state-owned properties that include wildlife areas, fishery areas, state natural areas, state parks, and state forests. There is also one cooperating private landowner involved in the effort and two others considering becoming involved in the recovery program.

This is the fifth year of official Karner population surveys, but the first year of a citizen scientist volunteer program. Thanks to a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, the program was able to recruit and train 25 volunteers to do Karner abundance surveys and vegetation surveys on new and developing Karner sites.

"We are almost at the end of the second of two flights of the butterflies," says Bob Hess, DNR Karner recovery coordinator. "It's a bit early to predict results for this year, but in spite of the intense heat, field data suggest that numbers are up on the south and east edges of the range, but somewhat down everywhere else.

"The trend on the population counts from the past four years leads me to believe that we are moving closer to recovery. Although overall numbers may not be increasing dramatically, certain key sites are getting closer to their recovery goals."

In addition to conducting surveys, the recovery program is also working to restore Karner blue habitat on state lands. Recent habitat restoration efforts took place at the Fish Lake State Wildlife Area, the Greenwood State Wildlife Area, at Hartman Creek State Park and on the Black River State Forest to thin out closed-canopy mixed hardwood and pine forests adjacent to known Karner blue sites. On the Emmons Creek Fishery area, fields of invasive spotted knapweed were eradicated, to be followed by planting of prairie grasses and wildflowers this fall. At the White River Wildlife area, summer mowing of brush was done to prepare sites for prairie restoration. In most cases Karner populations have increased within a few years of these kinds of barrens restoration activities.

"In the end," says Hess, "recovery of the Karner blue butterfly depends on habitat restoration and maintenance. Populations fluctuate from year to year depending weather, but the availability of lupine for the larvae and wild flowers for the adults is really the key to success,"

More information can be found on a new Karner blue butterfly feature page of the DNR website that is part of a year-long celebration of the Wisconsin endangered species law.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Hess, Karner Blue Butterfly Recovery Coordinator - 715-451-0149



Public informational hearings near on proposed waterfowl seasons

Wildlife officials expect a 60-day duck season and 92-day goose season

MADISON - While waterfowl hunters won't know the official season dates and bag limits until after federal wildlife officials set the annual framework and the season is approved by the State Natural Resources Board, state wildlife officials expect another 60-day season for ducks and possibly an additional seven days for Canada geese.

"We won't have a final waterfowl season proposal for the fall 2012 seasons until Monday, July 30," said Kent Van Horn, Wisconsin state waterfowl biologist who just returned from the Mississippi Flyway Council meetings. "However, much of the news this year is good. Although we saw average wetland conditions across most of North America at the time of breeding, waterfowl numbers remain high from last year. Late summer and early fall rains will be particularly important to providing fall waterfowl habitat this year."

State waterfowl hunting seasons are structured within the bounds of an annual framework decided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. With the overall picture on the 2012 waterfowl breeding populations being good, hunters can expect average to liberal season frameworks in 2012.

Season to be set by Natural Resources Board, August 8

Later this week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service be releasing the final frameworks within which the state agencies can set the fall 2012 waterfowl hunting seasons. However, based on available survey results and analysis, state wildlife officials expect the following season parameters:

The Natural Resources Board will set the 2012 season structure at its Aug. 8 meeting in Germantown. At that time, Wisconsin waterfowl hunters will know the final hunting season structure for 2012:

"We expect to post the season proposals on the waterfowl page of the DNR website early next week," said Van Horn.

Waterfowl hunters are reminded of upcoming public meetings and hearings on the 2012 duck and Canada goose hunting seasons. The latest information on the status of waterfowl and waterfowl management decisions in Wisconsin will be presented. Anyone interested in ducks and geese is encouraged to attend these meetings. Citizens can attend one of several hearings or submit comments to: James Christopoulos, assistant migratory game bird ecologist, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 (608) 261-6458 through midnight Aug. 2, 2012.

Post-Flyway meetings will be held July 28 at the Holiday Inn Wausau-Rothschild, 1000 Imperial Ave. with a Conservation Congress meeting at 9 a.m. and a Public Meeting at 1p.m. The public informational hearings will all be at 7 p.m. on the following dates:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn, (608) 266-8841



Public meetings to discuss Lake Michigan trout and salmon stocking reductions

MILWAUKEE - Another round of public meetings is set for August 7 in Green Bay and for August 9 in Milwaukee to discuss the results from online surveys conducted in April on potential stocking reductions in Lake Michigan that scientists say are necessary to balance game fish with the available food source. In addition, tentative information concerning the details of the reductions will also be discussed.

The meetings will both begin at 6:30 p.m. and be held:

"We want to go over the results from an online survey that anglers were asked to complete gauging their preferred option for salmon and trout reductions and discuss tentative details of how each state will implement those reductions slated to start in 2013." says Brad Eggold, the Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Fisheries Supervisor.

"Despite an exceptional coho harvest and good size-at-age among chinook salmon in 2011, lake-wide forage assessments and computer modeling conducted by Michigan State University researchers suggest that the number of trout and salmon being stocked in Lake Michigan exceeds what can be supported by the available prey fish in the future," says Bill Horns, the Department of Natural Resources Great Lakes fisheries specialist.

"The computer modeling as well as forage and game fish survey data suggests that we risk a future collapse in both alewives and game fish if stocking levels stay the same," he says. "Concern about the stability of the Lake Michigan alewife population has increased in recent years as we have watched the dramatic declines in Chinook salmon harvest in Lake Huron after alewife populations there crashed."

Biologists in the four states bordering Lake Michigan have reviewed model results and consulted with interested anglers regarding future stocking policies. The Wisconsin meetings, as did the initial Benton Harbor, Michigan meeting, examined five options pulled together in workshops over the last year by the states' fisheries biologists and representatives of fishing and other interested groups.

The options include sticking with current stocking levels or implementing one of four reduced stocking patterns for chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout, and lake trout. According to the models, the probability of reducing alewife abundance to an unacceptable level can be reduced seven-fold, from 23 to 3 percent by implementing one of the stocking options.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold (414) 382-7921



Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing season application deadline August 1

OSHKOSH - Sturgeon spearers have until Aug. 1 to apply for a 2013 Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing lottery tag. Participation in the Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing season on Lakes Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan, is controlled through a lottery. Those people selected in the lottery will be notified by Oct. 1 that they are authorized to buy a license to participate in the Upriver season and must buy that tag by Oct. 31, 2012.

Applications can be made through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

Spearers who apply for but are not authorized to purchase an Upriver Lakes license receive a preference point toward the following lottery, and they can still purchase a license to participate in the Lake Winnebago spearing season that runs at the same time.

For the 2012 Upriver Lakes season 4,597 people applied for a tag in the lottery for the 500 available licenses, of which a record 498 were sold.

Spearers harvested 242 sturgeon during the 2012 Upriver Lakes season, which closed at the end of its second day after the number of female sturgeon speared exceeded the trigger to close the season. The 2012 Lake Winnebago season ran the full 16-days allowed by law, with a low harvest of 324 sturgeon due to poor ice conditions on Lake Winnebago.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Scheidegger - 608-267-9426



Bait shops help fight against aquatic invasive species

MADISON - Nearly 200 bait shop businesses in more than 30 counties are helping stop the spread of aquatic invasive species in Wisconsin lakes and rivers by sharing prevention steps with customers.

Customers at these shops can now find free floating key chains, pamphlets, and bait bucket stickers with reminders of how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species like Eurasian water milfoil, Asian carp and the fish disease VHS, and comply with laws aimed at preventing the spread.

"We're really pleased and appreciative that so many bait shops are helping get the word out on how to prevent invasive species from spreading," says Bob Wakeman, who coordinates aquatic invasive species efforts for the Department of Natural Resources.

"Bait shops are key stops for many anglers on their way to a lake or river, and anglers often ask shops for advice, so these bait vendors are in an excellent position to give their customers the right information at the right time."

An ad in the July 27 issue of Wisconsin Outdoor News lists the participating bait shops and encourages customers to support these and other bait vendors that promote protecting Wisconsin's lakes from aquatic invasive species. As outreach to bait shops by AIS specialists continues, customers can expect to see a growing army of supportive businesses, Wakeman says.

DNR, working with University of Wisconsin-Extension and UW-Madison Department of Life Science Communications, developed the outreach and materials tailored for bait shops this spring. County AIS coordinators have been working to enlist bait shops in distributing the information.

Scott Caven, AIS coordinator for Ashland County, has worked with several businesses already to help provide customers with information on aquatic invasive species, non-native species like Eurasian water milfoil, Asian Carp, and the fish disease VHS that harm native species, recreation and local businesses while decreasing the economic value of the state's water resources.

"Store owners are familiar with AIS related issues and understand the importance of preventing the spread," he says. "They also understand that having nearby lakes overrun by aquatic invasive species can really hurt their businesses. They are extremely supportive of preventing the spread of aquatic invasives."

Deborah Seiler, an AIS outreach specialist with DNR and UW Extension, emphasizes that the prevention steps take anglers only a few minutes to complete before they leave a lake or river.

"Look over your boat, trailer and equipment when you're finished on the water for any attached plants and animals," says Seiler. "Wisconsin law requires you to remove any plants, animals or mud, to drain your boats and livewells, and make sure you aren't transporting live fish.

"Once your fish are out of water or on ice, they're considered dead, and you can still take away live bait and use it again if you follow bait laws," she said.

For more details on live bait search the DNR website [] for "bait laws."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Deborah Seiler - 608-267-3531



Emergency burning restrictions, campfire bans remain in place in some areas

MADISON - While areas of Wisconsin have received rain in the last week, emergency burning restrictions remain in place in all or parts of 17 Wisconsin counties and campfires continue to be banned at a number of Wisconsin State Parks system properties.

The Emergency burning restrictions are in effect in all of Columbia, Crawford, Green Lake, Marquette, Portage, Richland, Sauk, Waupaca, and Waushara counties and portions of Adams, Dane, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, Juneau, Monroe and Wood counties. The restrictions apply to Department of Natural Resources organized protection areas that are outside incorporated cities and villages in these counties.

View a map of the areas under emergency burning restrictions [PDF].

Under Emergency Burning Restrictions, burning of any combustible material outdoors is prohibited until further notice. This includes:

State park property campfire bans

In addition, all campfires are currently banned within the Southern and Lapham Peak units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Big Foot Beach State Park, and at the two walk-in campgrounds of the Elroy-Sparta State Trail, located near both Elroy and Sparta.

For the most current fire danger information throughout Wisconsin and a detailed look at the areas under Emergency Burning Restrictions, visit keyword "fire" and select the county of interest. Otherwise, residents and tourists are encouraged to contact their local DNR office or local fire department, town or municipal officials for more information on local fire restrictions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerry Leiterman, State Parks, 608-264-6042; Robert Manwell, Office of Communications, 608-264-9248



A 'wild' new Madison College course serving free-range protein

Hunting for Sustainability: A course for novice hunters open for enrollment

If you like to eat good food, support the environment and learn something about the state you call home, Hunting for Sustainability is the course for you.

Natural resources conservation, sustainability and hunting naturally fit hand in hand. In addition to learning about and trying hunting, the course includes sampling several different species of wild game all from Wisconsin. Hunting is critical to conservation and a large portion of conservation funding comes from hunters and anglers. Most importantly it gives you a participatory link with nature and your food.

Madison College, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, is offering this continuing education course that aims to show how hunting plays into conservation and healthy living. You'll also learn hunting skills, ethics, tools, and techniques from experienced hunters. And, you'll be able to participate in a mentored deer or pheasant hunting experience. Become a more sustainable omnivore. Learn from experienced hunters.

Hunting is an integral part of the fabric of Wisconsin life and a great source for locally produced food.

Our objective is to make sure it stays that way, but there are barriers in knowledge and equipment needed to get started if you weren't raised a hunter. This course is an opportunity for adults to get started with guidance from experienced hunters.

The program is the result of a few pilot events aimed at recruiting adult hunters. Learn to Hunt events have proven popular with kids and in particular with the children of hunters. But when we offer them to adults, interest is through the roof. In particular, young adults have jumped at the opportunity, so we realize there is a demand to learn to hunt.

Adults also have discretion in their free time, the financial ability to explore new hobbies, and many have outdoor skills and ethics which can be enhanced by learning to hunt.

Telephone registration is available through Madison College at (608) 246-6210 or by visiting (exit DNR)search for course number 37511. It will run on Tuesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at the college's west campus on Mineral Point Road.

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



Some DNR offices closed July 30

Services available on line or by phone

MADISON -- Several Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources satellite offices will not have counter service on Monday, July 30 so that staff can receive training for this fall's hunting seasons. The following locations are affected: Ashland, Cumberland, Dodgeville, Ladysmith and Peshtigo. All other DNR service center locations will be open, but with limited services.

Customers who wish to purchase fishing or hunting licenses, register their recreational vehicles or obtain burn permits can use the Online Licensing Center at under Quick Tasks, or call the DNR Call Center at 1-888-WDNR-INFo (1-888-936-7463) between the shortened hours of 7 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Sunday and Monday for information on local authorized license agents who provide these services.

All DNR service locations and the DNR Call Center will resume their normal business hours on Tuesday, July 31. Monday was selected as the staff training day because it is typically a slower day at the offices. The call center will resume daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. hours on Tuesday, July 31.

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


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 24, 2012

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