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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published September 4, 2012

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Fall color season set to unfold beautifully

MADISON -- Many Wisconsin residents and visitors enjoy the beauty of state forests, especially during the cooler fall days when hills, valleys, farms and towns light up with showy fall colors. Fall is just around the corner and Wisconsin's 16 million acres of forest are ready for the show.

"Folks can expect to enjoy the fall colors as they always have," said Trent Marty who directs the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Forest Protection, "in fact colors are already starting to show in some areas which is a little ahead of schedule. The warm late summer days we're experiencing and the cooler nights really work to bring the color out."

Multiple factors - including weather during the growing season, just before the fall season as well as during the color show - influence color intensity. Wisconsin forests are noted for being among the best in the nation for fall color, and forest-based recreation - including viewing the fall beauty - is estimated to contribute $5.5 billion to the Wisconsin economy through travel-related and equipment expenditures.

"Even though the state experienced some record-setting weather in the south, forests there have come through it in good shape and northern forests experienced normal precipitation. Forest trees statewide are in excellent shape heading into the fall," explains Marty.

The intensity of the fall color season is really dependent on the weather that Wisconsin receives during September and October. To have the most brilliant and vibrant fall color display a series of fall days filled with bright sunshine and cool, but frost free, evenings are required. These weather conditions cause lots of sugars to be produced by the trees and trapped in the leaves, which ultimately leads to the intense red, orange and purple coloration in the leaves of certain species.

The duration of the fall color season is related to the wind intensity and rain occurring during late-September and October. High winds and driving rains during this time of the year cause significant numbers of the leaves to fall from the trees, which can prematurely shorten the fall color season.

"Now we just need good weather for the fall color viewing - sunshine to illuminate the leaves and no high winds so the leaves remain in place as long as possible," Marty said.

Some spectacular fall color viewing areas in Wisconsin include: the Lake Superior shoreline along the Bayfield Peninsula in far northern Wisconsin; Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Hayward; St. Croix National Scenic Riverway in northwestern Wisconsin; Rib Mountain State Park and the Wausau area in Central Wisconsin; Peninsula State Park and Potawatomi State Park in Door County in eastern Wisconsin; Kettle Moraine State Forest in southeastern Wisconsin; the Wisconsin River Valley, Baraboo Hills region (especially Devil's Lake State Park) and Wildcat Mountain State Park near Ontario in southwestern Wisconsin; and the Mississippi River Valley in western Wisconsin.

Wisconsin forestry officials are eager for citizens to get out and enjoy the fall colors but also ask that folks be careful with campfires and to buy firewood locally to avoid inadvertently moving forest pests or invasive species hiding under bark to new locations.

For an up-to-date status report visis the Wisconsin fall color report, on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's TravelWisconsin.com website (links exit DNR).

Also, the North Lakeland Discovery Center has a free trail guide app for iPhone or iPad for Wisconsin's most-visited state property - the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. The App will guide you along forest trails and provide useful and educational information along the way.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Trent Marty - 608-266-7978

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Black bear hunting season opens on Sept. 5

MADISON - The combination of a very mild winter and early spring conditions benefited black bears in Wisconsin, according to state wildlife officials, who say bears are abundant in the north and continue to expand their range into areas of central and western areas of the state. Prospects are good for the 2012 Wisconsin black bear hunting season that opens September 5, according to Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

There were 9,015 permits awarded for the 2012 season, a slight increase over the 9,005 permits issued in 2011. This year hunters not utilizing dogs will have the first week of the season to themselves. After the first week, all hunters including those using dogs will be allowed to pursue bears (except in Zone C where the use of dogs is not permitted). The last week of the season in zones A, B, and D is reserved for hunting with the aid of dogs only. The season runs through Oct. 9.

"Wisconsin ranks among the leaders in bear harvest in terms of both numbers and record-book entries," Wallenfang said. Increased permit levels in 2011 resulted in hunters registering 4,257 bears, the second highest harvest ever recorded in the state, following the record kill of 5,133 bears in 2010. In 2011 Wisconsin harvested more bears than any other state. Zone A led all zones with 1,592 bears harvested. Zones B and D had nearly identical harvests, with 969 and 975 bears harvested, respectively, while zone C was responsible for 715 bears. Overall, hunters were most successful in zones B and D (64 percent and 66 percent success rates, respectively) followed by zone A (46 percent) and zone C (28 percent). Bayfield, Price, and Sawyer counties were the leading counties in harvest totals.

Wallenfang says the bear population in southern Wisconsin continues to expand, with hunters harvesting bears as far south as Trempealeau, Monroe, Juneau, Portage, Waupaca, and Outagamie counties.

Hunters harvested 3,612 of the bears with a gun, while bow hunters accounted for 552 bears. Hunting bears with bait was the primary hunting method with 2,705 bears harvested with this method, while dog hunters harvested 1,446 bears. Fifty-seven bears were harvested without the aid of bait or dogs.

Again this year, successful hunters will be required to submit both a tooth and rib sample at the time of registration to aid wildlife managers in estimating the age of harvested bears and in estimating the size of the state's bear population.

"This data are essential for us to properly manage Wisconsin's bear population," Wallenfang said.

All of the materials necessary to submit these samples will be available at registration stations.

People looking for a place to hunt bears, should visit the DNR website and search for "state lands." Wisconsin has an abundance of land open to hunting, including state, national, and county forests, state-owned wildlife areas, and private land enrolled in the Managed Forest Law (MFL) or Voluntary Public Access (VPA) programs. Combined, hunters have access to nearly seven million acres of land throughout Wisconsin!

Detailed information on bear hunting in Wisconsin, including the updated bear hunting regulations, is available on the DNR's bear hunting website.

The deadline to apply for the 2013 bear season is December 10, 2012. Applications can be submitted online, by telephone at 1-877-945-4236, at any DNR service center, or at a DNR licensing agent.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang - 608-261-7589

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Youth Waterfowl and regular season Canada goose hunts about to open

Early season goose hunting to close on Sept. 15 with the start of the regular season the following day

MADISON -Regular season Canada goose hunting in the Exterior and Horicon Zones opens Sunday Sept. 16. This weekend will also include the 2-day Youth Waterfowl hunt on Sept 15 and 16.

"As fall approaches, it brings with it the sounds of what famed conservationist Aldo Leopold referred to as 'goose music'", said James Christopoulos, assistant migratory game bird ecologist.

"With good Canada goose production here in Wisconsin and fair production of the birds that breed in Ontario, hunters should have ample opportunities this year, especially given the extra week of hunting in the Exterior zone."

Christopoulos reminds hunters in both the Exterior and Horicon zones that on opening day the 9 a.m. start of shooting hours for ducks also applies to goose hunters during the duck opener in each respective zone.

Exterior Zone Canada goose seasons

Hunters should note that the goose season is closed during the duck season split: North zone (closed Nov. 5-9) South zone (closed Oct 8-12) and Miss. subzone (closed Oct 1- 12). This year the Exterior zone goose season has been extended by 7 days and will run for 92 days with a 2 bird daily bag limit.

Horicon Canada goose season

The Horicon zone Canada goose season has two time periods:

Hunters who applied for the Horicon zone will receive 6 harvest tags. The daily bag limit is two Canada geese.

Youth Waterfowl Hunt

This year's Youth Waterfowl hunt will be held Sept. 15- 16. This special hunt offers youth age 12-15 (or those 10 or over hunting under the mentored hunting law) the opportunity to learn from an adult who can focus solely on developing the youth hunter's skills.

Normal season bag limits apply. All license and stamp requirements are waived, although participants are reminded that they need to be HIP registered (free of charge) and that for hunting geese they must possess a goose tag for the zone in which they wish to hunt. Those who may harvest geese should note that on Sept 15th a youth can harvest 5 geese and would require an Early season permit. Because Sept 16th falls during the regular goose season, in the Exterior goose zone a youth must possess an Exterior permit to hunt geese and in the Horicon zone would need a Horicon permit for either time period.

Christopoulos notes that while many youth enjoy this special hunt alongside a parent or relative, each year about one in seven youth are able to participate only because a family friend, neighbor, or volunteer mentor was generous enough to take the time to teach them the tradition of waterfowling. To find out more about how to get involved in a Learn to Hunt waterfowl clinic, search LTH on the DNR website.

For more information search for Waterfowl hunting on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: James Christopoulos, Assistant Migratory Game Bird Ecologist (608) 261-6458

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Fall wild turkey and ruffed grouse seasons open Sept. 15

MADISON - The 2012 fall wild turkey and ruffed grouse seasons are set to open, and state wildlife officials say that hunter prospects are good for both seasons. The turkey season will open statewide at the start of shooting hours on Sept. 15, as will the grouse season in Zone A. Grouse hunters interested in pursuing grouse in southeastern Wisconsin should be aware that the grouse season does not open until Oct. 20 in Zone B.

Overall, Wisconsin's statewide wild turkey population remains strong, and wildlife officials have set the number of fall turkey permits available at 96,700, a 1,000-permit increase over the number of permits offered during last year's fall turkey season. Permits were increased by 600 in Zone 2 and by 400 in Zone 7 in order to better accommodate demand by hunters.

After 30 years of sustained population growth and expansion across the state, turkeys are now found statewide, and local populations will likely nudge upward or downward from year to year as weather determines annual levels of survival and reproduction.

The spring 2012 turkey harvest showed a 6 percent increase in Wisconsin, largely due to the unseasonably warm, dry weather that made for comfortable hunting conditions during most of the season. The increased harvest may have also been influenced by the mild conditions during the winter of 2011-12, which likely allowed turkey populations to enter spring in good shape.

Wisconsin also experienced warm and dry conditions during this year's critical June brood-rearing period, which should lead to good production and a better chance for hunters to encounter birds this fall. Biologists closely monitor harvest during the either-sex fall season, as excessive hen harvest can impact turkey populations. Recent hen harvests in Wisconsin have been very low, however, and hunters can enter the woods comfortable with the knowledge that current hen harvest rates do not play a significant role in the dynamics of Wisconsin's turkey flock. As during the 2011 fall season, hunters may use dogs statewide to hunt wild turkey this fall.

Hunters pursuing turkeys in Zones 1-5 during the fall 2012 hunt will again have additional opportunities to do so. During the 2009 and 2010 fall hunts, the season was extended on an experimental basis in these zones, from the day after the traditional 9-day gun deer season through Dec. 31. The proposal to make this extended season permanent was supported by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and the legislature, and was made permanent starting with the 2011 fall season. This year, the extended season will run from Nov. 26 through Dec. 31 in Turkey Management Zones 1-5 ONLY.

Ruffed grouse

Ruffed grouse populations in Wisconsin appear to be entering a downswing, according to this spring's drumming survey results. Ruffed grouse populations are known to boom and bust over an 8-11 year period, and the index that the state uses to track ruffed grouse numbers decreased statewide by 25 percent between 2011 and 2012. This decrease isn't a surprise, as Wisconsin was overdue for the expected downturn, but weather conditions in the spring were excellent for nesting and brood-rearing, and should mean a good year for reproduction. First-year birds may therefore help offset the cyclic downturn in numbers, and hunters can expect good hunting again during the 2012 season.

"A lot of factors may be involved in the grouse cycle, perhaps most importantly the periodic invasion of northern raptors during the winter months," said Scott Walter, WDNR upland wildlife ecologist. "Harvest does not play a role. Research has shown that over 30 percent of a grouse population can be harvested without impacting future numbers, as most of these grouse would not have survived to breed the following spring anyway. Hunters should enjoy their time in the field with friends, and look forward to the next upswing in the cycle."

Hunters are encouraged to explore new areas of good cover in order to enjoy a successful hunt. "In years of relatively lower grouse abundance, there are still birds out there, but they tend to be concentrated in the best cover available. Areas of marginal cover that may have held grouse the past couple of years may not in the near future. Exploring the best cover you can find - dense young aspen stands intermixed with conifers and berry-producing shrubs, for example - will really be the key to success during the next couple of years. You need to get out there and look for them. Walking the same trails you have in recent years may not yield the same results," added Walter.

Turkey hunters are reminded of the blaze orange requirement for ground blinds on DNR lands during any gun deer season (please see page 9 of the 2012 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations for more information). Ground blinds on DNR lands left unattended during legal hunting hours must also have the owner's name and address or DNR Customer ID Number attached near the door opening. Ground blinds may not be left out overnight and must be removed entirely from the property at the close of hunting hours each day. Please note that these ground blind rules do not apply to ground blinds being used for hunting waterfowl or to blinds built only out of natural vegetation found on the DNR property, except that all waterfowl blinds situated on state-owned property and used in hunting waterfowl must always bear the name of the owner affixed permanently to the blind in lettering one-inch square or larger, even when a person is using the blind.

Grouse and turkey hunters should also note that during any gun or muzzleloader deer season, including the October 6-7 youth deer hunt, antlerless hunts, and CWD hunts (see the 2012 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations for season dates), blaze orange clothing is required. A hat, if worn, must be at least 50 percent blaze orange.

Grouse hunters encouraged to "Be HIP!" if they also plan to pursue woodcock, mourning doves or other migratory game birds

Upland hunters that may harvest woodcock are reminded of the federal requirement to be registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) before hunting these and other migratory game birds. Registration is free and is available through all license vendors as well as online; hunters will only need to answer a few short questions. To learn more about HIP, visit http://dnr.wi.gov and search for "Harvest Information Program." Hunters who pursue both ruffed grouse and woodcock are also reminded that the woodcock season doesn't open until Sept. 22, although the ruffed grouse season in Zone A is open starting Sept. 15.

Though not a requirement for hunting ruffed grouse, federal rules do require that hunters use a plugged shotgun limited to holding 3 shells when hunting migratory game birds such as woodcock. These are both important points to remember even if you may only harvest woodcock opportunistically. Only non-toxic shot may be possessed for hunting game birds and animals, including grouse and wild turkeys, on federal Waterfowl Production Areas, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, and Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuges. Hunters are required to use non-toxic shot while hunting snipe and rail, and while hunting mourning dove on DNR-managed land. Hunters are encouraged to use non-toxic shot for mourning dove on private lands as well as for hunting woodcock.

Fall wild turkey and ruffed grouse season dates and reminders

2012 Fall Wild Turkey Season Dates (all zones):

2012 Fall Wild Turkey Extended Season Dates for Zones 1-5 ONLY:

2012 Ruffed Grouse Season Dates:

2012 Woodcock Season

For more information, see the Wisconsin wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and Harvest Information Program pages on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Scott Walter, upland wildlife ecologist: (608) 267-7861 or Krista McGinley, assistant upland wildlife ecologist: (608) 261-8458

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Turkey and grouse hunting have special safety concerns

MADISON -- Hunters need to keep safety in mind when hunting turkey and grouse.

"There's something very special about turkey and grouse hunting," says Jon King Department of Natural Resources hunter education program administrator. "And with the enthusiasm that goes along with this type of hunting, we should all be mindful of making sure we return home safe and sound at the end of each hunt."

Here are some things King says hunters need to keep in mind when going afield after ruffed grouse and fall turkey:

Follow the four basic rules of firearm safety: TAB+K.

King suggests that you advise someone else of where you will be hunting and when they should expect you back. If something should go wrong, at least someone will know where to start looking.

"Famed conservationist Aldo Leopold once wrote, 'There are two kinds of hunting: ordinary hunting, and ruffed grouse hunting,'" King says. "Don't let careless hunting practices spoil this special tradition."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jon King, hunter education program administrator, 608-575-2294

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Sandhill Wildlife Area celebrates 50th anniversary

BABCOCK, Wis. -- The Sandhill Wildlife Area achieves its 50th anniversary this year, but its roots stretch back to drought-stricken1930 when devastating wildfires scorched a half million acres of already badly damaged land in central Wisconsin.

The drought and fire ravaged lands of Wood County lay in smoldering ruin. From these ashes would rise a grand and unique experiment, a vast refuge for waterfowl and upland birds and one of the nation's greatest outdoor laboratories - 9,150 acres of woods, wetlands and prairie enclosed by a deer-proof fence.

Friends of Sandhill will host a low-key celebration the evening of Saturday Sept. 8, with a rare opportunity for a 6 p.m. driving tour of the property's northern waterfowl refuge, covering more than 3,000 acres and featuring a 250-acre pen on a patch of uplands where buffalo roam. A small number of historic photos and artifacts will be on display at 7 p.m., and retired wildlife biologist John Kubisiak, a nationally recognized deer researcher, will talk about Sandhill's storied past beginning at 8 p.m.

Once a mix of wetlands, stands of oak and great pine forests, rich with wildlife, this part of the state was logged over after settlement and in the early 1900s its wetlands were ditched and drained in a failed effort to farm acidic soils.

By 1930, most of the farms had failed. It was the time of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Across central Wisconsin, tax delinquent properties were falling into the ownership of bankrupt counties. It was, by many accounts, a wasteland.

In that same year, Wallace Grange, Wisconsin's first superintendent of game management, purchased nearly 2,000 acres of tax delinquent land for 77 cents an acre. Grange would later serve for two years with the U.S. Biological Survey, precursor to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, but he was impatient with bureaucracy and his career in government was brief.

By 1937, Grange and his wife, Hazel, had acquired more than 7,000 acres of land, which they enclosed in a not-entirely deer-proof fence. They obtained licenses to operate a game farm for deer, upland game birds and furbearing mammals. An avid birder, Grange named it the Sandhill Game Farm because of his affection for the handful of sandhill cranes that visited the property during their annual migration.

There wasn't much for wildlife. Deer were scarce or entirely absent in many counties. There were no wild turkeys. Fishers and American martens had ceased to exist in Wisconsin and wolves were on their way out.

Dick Thiel a retired Department of Natural Resources wildlife educator, said the "new" idea behind game management back then was to establish game farms and "produce" animals that could be sold and distributed across the landscape.

But Grange, a pioneer of conservation science and a friend of famed naturalists Aldo Leopold and Sigurd Olson, possessed a curious and inventive mind, and he tinkered with ecology.

"He played with habitat inside that fence," said Thiel. "He manipulated the landscape to see how it affected vegetation and wildlife."

Grange sold live deer to states like Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana that were trying to re-establish extirpated herds, and he sold field-dressed deer to fancy restaurants in New York where "exotic" foods like venison were all the rage.

By 1949, Sandhill had expanded to its current size of 9,150 acres. But as deer populations -- taking advantage of new growth forests -- expanded rapidly nationwide, business dwindled in the 1950s.

"He ran himself out of business," Thiel said.

In 1962, the Granges sold the Sandhill property to the state. The deed contained a provision that the 3,000 acre Gallagher marsh would be maintained as a preserve, barred to hunters, for the next 50 years.

"He wanted a quiet place for those migrating cranes," Thiel said. "Wallace loved cranes. He'd counted 200 cranes in the marsh and he was ecstatic. We now estimate that between 8,000 and 10,000 cranes visit Sandhill during peak migration."

Although the state is now free of that deed restriction, the property's recently updated master plan calls for the preserve to be maintained. Grange also insisted the state maintain the small herd of bison.

Management fell to the Wisconsin Conservation Department (which would become the Department of Natural Resources later in the decade) whose managers and biologists were thrilled about the potential offered by 14.5 square miles of wildlife habitat enclosed by a deer-proof fence, which they immediately rebuilt.

Browse surveys started in 1963 to analyze how deer affected ground level vegetation. More formal research began in 1966. Deer management then, as now, was controversial. For the first time, scientists had an opportunity in a controlled environment to study the interaction between deer and grouse, their habitats and the hunters that pursued them.

"A major feature of Sandhill was having a known number of deer, grouse and hunters," said deer researcher John Kubisiak. "We could study the relationship between hunter effort and the harvest. That's really hard to do on the open landscape."

Not that it was easy inside the fence. For years, biologists conducted intensive spring surveys of drumming grouse and followed deer hunts with grid searches for dead deer (to determine wounding mortality and other statistical factors) regardless of weather. The mosquitos were ferocious in the marsh.

"You'd be walking in the marsh and hit a log and go down head first and a swarm of bees would come out of the log," Kubisiak said. "We'd come back in looking like drowned rats. Part of our work was being able to withstand the elements."

DNR research into deer management at Sandhill was conducted from 1966 to 1989 and it led to management strategies employed across North America. It was at Sandhill that the emerging philosophy of "variable deer management" (managing deer within prescribed deer management units rather than applying one set of quotas and rules across the entire state) was validated.

Deer hunting with high-caliber handguns was first tested at Sandhill as was hunting with muzzleloaders and trophy deer management. University of Wisconsin researchers led by Tom Heberlein studied hunter satisfaction. Researchers determined that hunters begin to feel crowded when their density exceeds 23 hunters per square mile of deer range.

Deer Search
This photograph, taken either in the late 1960s, or perhaps in 1972, shows searchers lining up along the old, 9-foot deer fence to perform a grid search for any unrecovered dead deer at the Sandhill Wildlife Area following a gun deer hunt.
WDNR Photo

In 1972, an effort was made to eliminate all deer on the property, in part to test deer population estimates, but also to determine if it could be done. While the hunt was scheduled to last more than 40 days, it took hunters less than 30 to harvest all 591 deer on the property. Biologists had estimated a population of 600 to 650 deer.

The idea was to wait several years before repopulating the property with deer, but a storm damaged fence and a gate briefly left open allowed 23 deer to re-enter the property within a few months. Bears that dug under the fence allowed other deer to re-enter.

In 1991, the Outdoor Skills Center was opened and intense training was offered to young hunters and first-time adult hunters. A full weekend of outdoors skill training was followed after several weeks by a two-day hunt with hunters assigned to one of four quadrants and each hunter accompanied by a skilled and unarmed mentor.

Other educational programs were developed and Sandhill, which has dorms for students, is still used for research by university students and others.

The 9-foot-high fence surrounding Sandhill was recently rebuilt, reaffirming the DNR's commitment to this unique resource.

"It's been a tremendous asset," said Thiel. "It's a special place and it was an honor for me to work there."

Resources: While Sandhill is unique it is not alone. There are 178 state wildlife areas scattered around the state encompassing more than 590,000 acres. All are managed by the DNR to sustain wildlife and natural communities and to provide a full range of recreational uses including hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, nature study and berry picking. For more information, including maps, can be found on the wildlife management area pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ed Culhane, DNR West Central Region public affairs manager, 715-839-3715

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2013 wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamp design contest winners announced

MADISON - More than 40 pieces of wildlife artwork were on display for the combined judging of the designs to be featured on the 2013 Wisconsin Wild Turkey, Pheasant, and Waterfowl Stamps. The judging took place on Saturday, August 25, at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo. There were 10 entries for the Wild Turkey Stamp, 11 for the Pheasant Stamp, and 21 for the Waterfowl Stamp, all submitted by artists from around the state of Wisconsin.

2013 turkey stamp
2013 Wild Turkey Stamp by Craig Fairbert of Ladysmith

2013 pheasant stamp
2013 Pheasant Stamp by Craig Fairbert of Ladysmith

2013 waterfowl stamp
2013 Waterfowl Stamp by William Millonig of Campbellsport











A nighttime scene of a gobbler perched on a tree branch, submitted by Craig Fairbert of Ladysmith, took the top prize for the 2013 Wisconsin Wild Turkey Stamp design contest.

Fairbert also won the 2013 Wisconsin Pheasant Stamp design contest with his painting of a rooster set in a Wisconsin farmland landscape.

William Millonig of Campbellsport won 1st place in the 2013 Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp design contest with his painting of two Long-tailed Ducks flying over Lake Michigan.

The judging panel for the three contests included Cory Catlin, president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation; Bruce Urben, secretary for the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association board of directors; Jim Shurts, Wisconsin Conservation Congress delegate for Dane County; and Tim Eisele, a freelance outdoor journalist.

2013 wild turkey & pheasant stamp design contests

Craig Fairbert, an avid hunter and fisherman, resides in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, with his family. He's been drawing since kindergarten, giving him four decades of experience. Though his drawing skills are a gift which has always been with him, Fairbert attended the University of Wisconsin - Madison in order to hone his skills in color theory, design, and layout. He enjoys painting in a variety of styles, both tightly detailed and more impressionistic, and lists Luke Frazier and Kyle Sims as inspirations. After graduating from UW-Madison in 1991, Fairbert took a position with Adams Outdoor Advertising and eventually painted over 700 billboards in the Madison area, something he considers a priceless experience.

When creating his entry for the 2013 Wild Turkey Stamp design contest, Fairbert decided to do something different and paint a turkey in a setting not typically seen on previous stamps, which usually feature a gobbler in full strut during the spring. In contrast, his approach when painting his 2013 Pheasant Stamp entry was to paint a classic scene of a rooster moving through a Wisconsin farmland setting. In both cases, it's clear that his approach paid off; judges were impressed by his attention to detail and the radiant qualities of his artwork.

Fairbert's advice to beginning artists is to practice, practice, practice. He urges novice artists to learn from their mistakes, noting that no painting can ever be perfect and that acknowledging this will allow you to grow as an artist.

Fairbert has had previous success in Wisconsin's wildlife stamp contests, taking first place in the contests for the 2009 Wild Turkey Stamp, 2008 Pheasant Stamp, and 2010 Waterfowl Stamp. He has also won first place for the 2005 and 2008 Wisconsin Great Lakes Trout Stamp and the 2007 and 2010 Wisconsin Inland Trout Stamp.

This year's first runner-up for the Wild Turkey Stamp contest was Robert Wilkens of Kiel, and the second runner-up was Virgil Beck of Stevens Point. For this year's Pheasant Stamp design contest, the first runner-up was Brian Kuether of Greenfield, and Robert Leum of Holmen tied with Caleb Metrich of Lake Tomahawk for second runner-up.

Sales of the Wild Turkey Stamp help provide future opportunities for turkey management and hunting in Wisconsin. All turkey hunters are required to purchase the $5.25 Wild Turkey Stamp to legally hunt turkeys in Wisconsin. Sales of the Wild Turkey Stamp bring in more than $750,000 annually for habitat management and restoration projects, education, research, equipment purchases and the management of the wild turkey program in our state.

Sales of the $10 Pheasant Stamp bring in more than $370,000 annually for the development, management, conservation and maintenance of wild pheasants and their habitat in the state and also help to support the stocking of pen-reared pheasants on Wisconsin's public hunting grounds. A Pheasant Stamp is required to hunt pheasants in the state of Wisconsin.

2013 Waterfowl Stamp design contest

William Millonig lives in Campbellsport, Wisconsin, on the edge of the northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. He has been painting since he was a young boy and can't remember a time when he didn't draw and paint under the tutelage of his mother, who was also an artist. Millonig began taking classes in art when he was young, and has had instruction from several different schools and artists. He counts Owen Gromme and Thomas Aquinas Daly among his inspirations, and has worked with Rockne Knuth and Dan Gerhartz. Millonig loves to hunt and fish, enjoys cross-country skiing and hiking, and appreciates any activity that gets him outdoors where he can experience the wonders of Wisconsin's diverse landscapes and natural areas.

Millonig drew from a variety of sources while designing his entry for the 2013 Waterfowl Stamp design contest. He remembers seeing Long-tailed Ducks while salmon fishing with his father-in-law on Lake Michigan, and used a photo from one of his many trips to Door County to create the background for this particular painting. He was also able to use reference photos from friends who do hunt ducks on the open waters of Lake Michigan, and borrowed mounts from another friend, when painting the pair of flying ducks.

Millonig has also enjoyed success in previous Wisconsin stamp design contests, taking first place for the 1986 and 1997 Wild Turkey Stamp contest, the 2010 Pheasant Stamp contest, the 1995, 2002, and 2009 Inland Trout Stamp, and the 1988 Great Lakes Trout Stamp.

The first runner-up for this year's Waterfowl Stamp contest was John Nemec, Jr. of Peshtigo, and the second runner-up was Brian Kuether of Greenfield.

Proceeds from the sale of the $7 Waterfowl Stamp are used for managing, restoring, and protecting habitat in Wisconsin and Canada for waterfowl and other wetland-associated species. Duck and goose hunters are required to purchase the Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp in order to hunt waterfowl in the state.

Please note that an electronic "stamp approval" is printed on the licenses of wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl hunters at the time of purchase. Hunters will not receive an actual stamp unless they request it. DNR Service Centers have the state stamps available free of charge for hunters with stamp approval. Anyone else interested in collecting the Wisconsin wildlife stamps may purchase one directly from the DNR. For more information, call the DNR Call Center at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) or use the online licensing center.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Krista McGinley, Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist, at (608) 261-8458 or Krista.McGinley@Wisconsin.gov.

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Pilot program to increase public access at shooting range

Law enforcement range will add weekend public access this fall for a fee

MADISON -- Thanks to a pilot project agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Dane County Sheriff's Office, the public will have weekend access to the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center Range near Waunakee on weekends this fall for a $10 fee.

This trial run is an expansion of the current public access arrangement, which allows the public to sight-in firearms for the two weeks prior to the 9-day gun-deer season.

DNR Hunting and Shooting Sports Coordinator Keith Warnke and Sergeant Dave Ritter of the Dane County Sheriff's Department called the market test good news for area hunters and shooters looking for a safe, convenient facility to prepare for the hunting seasons or simply to enjoy the sport.

"Partnering with Dane County to increase access to the range in this case is more effective than trying to build a new range," Warnke said. "However, the DNR and the Dane County Sheriff's office will evaluate the effectiveness of this pilot and decide whether it will be continued."

Ritter expects a positive response. "We believe that there will be strong attendance throughout the expanded period the range is open to the public."

Funding for this project comes from shooters and hunters through the Pittman-Robertson (PR) Wildlife Restoration grant program. The grant revenues are taxes paid by shooters and hunters on ammunition and firearms equipment. "This is an appropriate use of these dollars," Warnke said.

The Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center is equipped with five firearm shooting ranges. Each of the five ranges provides a different type of shooting environment. Its primary function is to provide Law Enforcement Officers with realistic and functional training.

Under the terms of the agreement, the range will be open the following dates and times:

Target stands will be provided at the range. Shooters should bring ear and eye protection, targets and their own ammunition.

Fees of $10 per person per day will be charged by the Dane County Sheriff's Department. During the hunter sight-in program, November 3-16, a fee of $5 for each additional gun will be charged. Fees must be paid with cash or personal check. Credit cards are not accepted.

Minors: Minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. A minor must be at least 12 years old and present proof of enrollment or completion of the DNR Hunter Safety Program in order to shoot at the range.

The Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center is located at 5184 Hwy 19 in the Town of Westport, one mile east of the intersection of Hwy 113 and County Trunk I.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke DNR 608 576 5243 or Sgt. Dave Ritter 608-849-2661

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Wisconsin bat ecologist receives prestigious national award

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service present DNR's David Redell with Silver Eagle Award

MADISON -David Redell, a bat ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and one of the nation's leading bat researchers and conservationists, was recently recognized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which presented him with their Silver Eagle Award. The award is the service's highest honor and is given in recognition to people and organizations that have made an impressive contribution to wildlife conservation and management.

Since beginning his graduate research in 1997, Redell has made significant contributions to bat conservation in Wisconsin. Redell identified major hibernacula, developed monitoring techniques and advanced our knowledge of basic bat ecology. In turn, his studies led to the development of appropriate management and protection of Wisconsin's hibernacula and bat population.

Redell has served as Wisconsin's lead bat ecologist for nearly a decade. Even before the threat of white-nose syndrome, Redell recognized the need to more actively manage bat populations and created the Wisconsin Bat Program. This program includes statewide data collection utilizing citizen scientists, white-nose syndrome surveillance, maternity roost monitoring and a comprehensive education and outreach effort. In addition, Redell personally established the Wisconsin Bat Conservation Fund, an endowment to support these bat conservation efforts into the future.

"David's leadership, innovation, willingness to engage the public, vision and passion for conservation is a model for us all," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

Redell's support of bat conservation has not been limited to Wisconsin. "David has been an active voice and presence in national research and decision-making groups regarding bat conservation and white-nose syndrome" said Kurt Thiede, DNR Division of Lands administrator. "David has truly dedicated his life to the conservation of bats at both the regional and national level."

USFWS representatives from the Washington DC office and Region 3 headquarters traveled to Madison to present the award in person.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kurt Thiede - 608-266-5833

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Wardens mark ninth year helping family survivors of officers killed on duty

Grief camp is a safe place for adults, children in search of peace and understanding

EAST TROY, Wis. -- Conservation Warden Tim Price of Eagle River calls it the most rewarding thing he's ever done as a law enforcement officer.

And while he says he cannot speak for any of the other 21 conservation wardens who served at this year's Concerns of Police Survivors Inc. (C.O.P.S.) Summer Camp for Kids at East Troy in early August, he knows the other wardens feel a deep connection to the children and parents they have come to know at this annual grief camp.

"The wardens are part of this camp. It is hard to explain unless you experience it for yourself. We have some of the same wardens who keep coming back year after year, and each warden has their own reason for it," Price says, pledging to return every year to work the early August camp for children from across the country linked by one thing. Each has lost a law enforcement parent in the line of duty. They come here to talk, to be readily understood and just to be together as who they are -- families rocked by the worst-case scenario in law enforcement and living in a society not sure how to handle it.

Price just finished his ninth year working at a grief camp for children and surviving parents of fallen law enforcement officers, where he is known affectionately as Uncle Tim. He's been there from the first year this national support group brought its annual camp for children ages 6 through 14 to the Salvation Army Camp in this southern Wisconsin village.

Created in 1984 with 110 members, C.O.P.S. supports the families, friends and co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty as well as trainings to law enforcement agencies on survivor victimization issues and public education. More than 15,000 families belong to C.O.P.S. There is no membership fee.

C.O.P.S. programs includes the National Police Survivors' Conference in May during National Police Week and specific camps and programs for kids, young adults, spouses, parents, siblings, adult children, in-laws, colleagues and more. The C.O.P.S. Summer Camp for Kids has been held at the Salvation Army Camp in East Troy since 2004.

This year's camp, July 30-August 5, served about 160 survivor children and about 100 surviving spouses, grandparents and other adults. In addition, 40 support staff worked to provide the daily counseling sessions and area law enforcement agencies sent mentors. There is no charge to attend the camp. C.O.P.S. covers the costs through fund-raising efforts. Camp attendees only cover their travel costs.

The wardens work the various afternoon outdoor stations at the camp. These include fishing, canoeing, .22-caliber rifle shooting, pellet guns, boating safety, archery and T-shirt making. This year, in addition to leading the afternoon fishing trips, Price also helped at some counseling sessions in the morning.

The camp is growing every year and is fast approaching being too big for the current location. The group is considering alternatives. "We would really like to stay in Wisconsin because we have such a great relationship with the Wisconsin DNR," C.O.P.S. National Outreach Director Jennifer Thacker says. "Not only coming out and being here, they really engage with our children well. This is a special group of children who have some special unique grief issues and losses. They do a great job with our kids."

Mickelberg says wardens are honored and blessed to have the kids' summer camp in Wisconsin. "Our wardens understand that many of these kids no longer have the opportunity to be exposed to the outdoor world since their father was taken from them. For many of these children, it is the first time that they have been taken fishing, boating or shooting a gun or bow. This is one small way to support these families that have made the ultimate sacrifice."

Like Price, Mickelberg says what he gets in return has made him a better person in every way. "These survivors ground and instill in me what is truly important as we live out our lives. Each day that I worked at the camp I would look forward to being inspired by these survivors."

Read the entire story: C.O.P.S. Camp & Wardens: A week for kids in search of peace

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Joanne M. Haas, public affairs manager, Division of Enforcement and Science Services, 608-267-0798

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State drinking water official appointed to national advisory council

MADISON - The state's top drinking water official has been appointed to serve on the prestigious National Drinking Water Advisory Council (exit DNR).

Jill Jonas will serve a three-year term on the council, which provides practical and independent advice to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on matters and policies related to drinking water, including regulations and guidance required by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Jil Jonas
Jil Jonas
WDNR Photo

Jonas said her appointment is a reflection of all the work of the staff in Wisconsin and for the Department of Natural Resources drinking water program. "I am honored by, and excited about the opportunity to advise EPA on a national level regarding the Safe Drinking Water Act and also on issues overlapping other government agencies and the public."

Her appointment follows her service in 2011 as president of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, a group comprised of counterparts that lead safe drinking water programs in the other 49 states, U.S. territories, the Navajo Nation, and the District of Columbia.

In 2009, Jonas' served on the State-EPA Nutrient Innovations Task Group that concluded that the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen entering U.S. groundwater and surface waters has significantly escalated over the past 50 years, and now pose expanding water quality and public health concerns across the United States.

In Wisconsin, Jonas directs the state's drinking water and groundwater programs. DNR oversees the 11,439 public water supply systems in Wisconsin, which range from small restaurants and gas stations up to the largest cities such as Madison and Milwaukee. These systems have had an enviable track record of providing clean drinking water to their customers, with more than 96 percent meeting all health-based standards in 2011, the latest year for which figures are available.

In addition, DNR drinking water and groundwater program is responsible for helping assure the safety of the drinking water for the nearly 1 million households in Wisconsin that rely on private wells by overseeing private well and water system construction, operation and maintenance, and groundwater standard development and resource protection. DNR also runs Wisconsin's relatively new water use program, which includes implementing the Great Lakes Compact, Wisconsin's water conservation and efficiency program and groundwater quantity regulations.

Jonas' past professional experience includes assisting the former Soviet bloc countries of Latvia and Lithuania develop groundwater and drinking water regulations and source water protection strategies, along with assisting surrounding Baltic/European officials on water issues and laws. She holds a master's degree in natural resources with research in aquatic toxicology and a Bachelor of Science degree in education.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jill Jonas - 608-267-7545

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Deer observations can be reported through Sept. 30

MADISON - The public can continue to report deer observations in Wisconsin online through Sept. 30, to help state wildlife managers estimate the annual production in the state's deer herd.

"Perhaps you catch them nibbling on your backyard plants in the morning or maybe they've become a familiar sight along your route to work, deer sightings are a part of our everyday routine' say Brian Dhuey, wildlife surveys database manager for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Through the Operation Deer Watch survey, people are asked when they spot a deer, to write down the date, what type of deer it was (buck, doe, or fawn), and the deer management unit (map provided with tally sheet).

Since August 1, more than 3,402 deer have been reported by 365 participants who have spotted 467 bucks, 1,560 does, 1,031 fawns, and 344 unknowns.

"Deer seem to have an unnerving habit of just suddenly being there, so you might want to keep your tally sheet nearby - good places are your car or wallet," says Brian Dhuey.

To enter your observations from your tally sheet online, go to the Wisconsin DNR homepage [wi.dnr.gov] and search FOR "deer watch."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey (608) 221-6342 or Jes Rees (608) 221-6360

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 04, 2012




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