NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 3,594 days

ARCHIVED Weekly News Published October 16, 2012

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Musky fishing gaining in popularity with Wisconsin anglers

EAU CLAIRE - Musky fishing keeps growing in popularity in Wisconsin and fall is a good time to chase the state's official fish because there are fewer boaters and other anglers to compete with and the fish are active, state fisheries officials say.

"We estimate that about 25 percent of anglers fish for muskellunge and that has been steadily increasing over the years," says Tim Simonson, a fisheries biologist and co-leader of the Department of Natural Resources musky committee.

Ted Williams
Musky fishing in Wisconsin in the fall is a home run! Here Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox baseball star, and Jack Eckl, Hayward guide, hold a 21-pound musky on South Twin Lake, October 20, 1948.
Staber W. Reese Photo

That's about 480,000 people, and those people notch about 5.3 million angler-days fishing for muskellunge each year. They spend $425 million directly on muskellunge fishing, according to the recently published 2012 Muskellunge Management Update [PDF].

"More anglers are discovering the fun and the challenge of musky fishing," Simonson says, a statement backed up by this year's National Championship Musky Open in Eagle River, billed as the nation's largest amateur event for the species.

A record number of anglers representing 15 states entered the August tournament and caught a record 198 muskies. And there were more records -- more husband and wife teams than ever, and the most fish and most inches of fish caught and released by one person. Jeff Van Remortel of Minocqua won with a catch of six muskies totaling 223.25 inches, according to a press release by the event coordinator.

Simonson says the increased interest in musky fishing reflects in large part the recovery of the musky fishery in the last generation. "By all measures, the fishing just keeps getting better and there are good waters to fish in most parts of the state."

Ninety percent of musky waters occur in northern Wisconsin, but populations of the state's official fish are found in almost every corner of the state and anglers can even find good fishing from shore in some places.

"For those anglers who do not have boats, ample shore-fishing opportunities are present on the free flowing portions of the lower Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers in downtown Eau Claire," says Heath Benike, DNR fisheries biologist in Eau Claire.

New online resources for 2012 aid musky anglers

The Wisconsin Muskellunge Waters book [PDF] has been updated in 2012 and can help lead anglers to the waters offering the potential to catch a monster musky or the prospect of lots of action, Simonson says.

The book lists waters where musky fisheries are found and updates the status of waters as far as whether they are Class A, the premier musky waters providing the best musky fishing, Class B, waters that provide good fishing, or Class C, waters with musky present but not of major importance to the overall fishery.

About half of the 667 classified musky lakes in Wisconsin are Class A Waters and 29 of the 100 classified river segments are Class A.

The 35-page booklet is available online and can be downloaded and printed off. Hard copy versions are available by contacting a local DNR service center and asking for a copy of publication FH 515 (2012).

The printing of the booklet was paid for by the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin, along with its individual member clubs. Funding was also provided by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration program.

New size limit and quick strike rig requirement in effect

A new 40-inch size limit is in effect statewide and applies to 94 percent of musky waters in Wisconsin, Simonson says. There are 41 waters that continue to have either lower size limits or higher size limits. Waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan north of Highway 10 carry a 50-inch minimum size limit. The daily bag limit for muskellunge is 1 on all waters statewide, except Yellowstone Lake, Lafayette County (daily bag limit is 0), and Escanaba Lake, Vilas County (no daily bag limit).

The vast majority -- 98 percent -- of avid musky anglers reported using "quick-strike" rigs, which are designed to reduce hooking mortality, compared to using single-hook rigs, which have been shown to result in greater than 80 percent mortality in hooked muskies, Simonson says.

Effective this season, the use of single-hook rigs (other than non-offset circle hooks) are prohibited when fishing with live minnows 8 inches and larger. Single-hook rigs have been shown to result in greater than 80 percent mortality in hooked muskies. Quick strike rigs, which most avid anglers report already using, are designed to reduce hooking mortality.

New arrivals at Wild Rose good news for musky anglers

There are some new temporary residents at the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery. In town from Lake St. Claire near Detroit, Michigan, 3,200 Great Lakes spotted musky are now calling the hatchery home and before long will become an important part of the successful fishery in Green Bay and the Fox River.

musky fry
Spotted musky at the Wild Rose hatchery.
WDNR Photo

Their arrival is the result of a cooperative effort with Michigan DNR and Wisconsin DNR to improve the genetic diversity of our state's Great Lakes spotted musky population. These fingerlings were raised from eggs taken from musky which were captured in Lake St. Claire this spring. When they arrived at Wild Rose they were about six inches long.

During their stay, they will be measured, fin clipped, PIT tagged and fed until they grow to about12 inches. They will spend the winter months in the outdoor ponds at the hatchery, and will then be stocked in three inland lakes come springtime.

The goal is to create a disease-free, broodstock of Great Lakes spotted muskies here in Wisconsin where eggs and milt can be collected. Then, DNR fisheries staff can rear these fish from eggs taken within the state while continuing to improve the genetic diversity. In Wisconsin, the Great Lakes spotted muskies were native to the Lake Michigan watershed before poor water quality, habitat destruction and over fishing wiped them out in the early nineteen hundreds. Since 1989, the Wisconsin DNR, along with the Musky Clubs Alliance and its member clubs, has worked to restore these fish to at least part of their native range.

The eggs collected in Michigan went through rigorous disinfections and the fingerlings underwent extensive testing at Michigan's Wolf Lake Hatchery to reduce the possibility of diseases being brought into the Wild Rose Hatchery.

For the last three years, DNR staff has used outdoor ponds in Kewaunee to raise musky taken from feral (wild) parents out of the Fox River.

Fishing forecasts give a line on where to go

Here are some fishing forecasts from some Wisconsin fish biologists with musky waters within their assignment areas.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Simonson, 608-266-5222

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Winnebago systems sturgeon spearing license deadline Oct. 31

New opportunities for young spearers, big fish on tap for season

OSHKOSH - The deadline to buy sturgeon spearing licenses for the 2013 Lake Winnebago System seasons is Oct. 31, with new licensing options giving more people the opportunity to join in a tradition that brings together family, friends and big fish.

For the first time in modern history, 12-year-olds can participate in the lake sturgeon spearing season if they buy a license. Also, adults whose names were drawn in the Upriver Lakes sturgeon spearing lottery can transfer their 2013 tags to youngsters, allowing youngsters a chance to spear on the lakes, where success rates have historically been higher.

Lake Winnebago sturgeon
The 2013 Lake Winnebago System lake sturgeon season promises spearers a record number of big fish in the fishery, including this 87.5 inch, 240-pound sturgeon DNR fish crews captured and tagged in April below the Shawano Dam.
WDNR Photo

There are separate seasons for Lake Winnebago and for the Upriver Lakes that begin at the same time, with participation in the Upriver Lakes season determined by lottery. The 2013 season open on Saturday, Feb. 9.

Spearers of all ages will find a healthy fishery that boasts a record number of big fish, including the 87.5 inch, 240-pound sturgeon DNR fish crews captured and tagged on April 10, 2012, below the Shawano Dam.

"Sturgeon spearers have a lot to look forward to for the upcoming 2013 spear fishery," says Ryan Koenigs, sturgeon biologist stationed in Oshkosh. "The population is robust with a large percentage of trophy-fish. Last year, we had the fifth and sixth largest fish ever recorded and more than 6 percent of the fish harvested were trophy-sized and weighed more than 100 pounds."

The trend in trophy-size fish has been increasing significantly over the last decade due to the distribution of age classes currently in the population and the impact of harvest regulations implemented over the last 20 years to increase survival of these larger fish, Koenigs says. "The fish are starting to show us their true growth potential, and I expect to continue to see larger fish in our harvest and population assessments."

How and where to get spearing licenses

Licenses are $20 for residents and $65 for non-residents and can be purchased at any license sales location; over the Internet by going to DNR's home page dnr.wi.gov and clicking on the online license center or by calling toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236.)

Under a law passed earlier this year, the minimum spearing age has changed to 12 years of age, and youth who turn 12 between Nov. 1, 2013, and the last day of the 2013 spearing season can still buy a spearing license after Oct. 31. Military personnel home on leave can also purchase a license after Oct. 31.

There are unlimited license sales on Lake Winnebago, while the Upriver Lakes fishery is managed by a lottery and limited to 500 permitted spearers. A record number of applicants (4,894) put in for a 2013 Upriver Lakes spear license before the Aug 1, 2012 deadline, 500 of which were authorized to purchase a 2013 upriver lakes permit.

Once a person is authorized to buy an Upriver Lakes license for a season, they are not able to buy a license for Lake Winnebago. Spearers are now able to transfer Upriver Lakes spear licenses to youth spearers (age 12-17), and can do so by filling a transfer of license form at least 15 days before the 2013 sturgeon spear fishery. Spearers who applied for an Upriver Lakes license in the lottery but were not authorized received a preference point and can still buy a Lake Winnebago license before Oct. 31.

A record 12,680 spearing licenses were sold for the 2012 spear fisheries on either Lake Winnebago or the Upriver Lakes. The 2012 Lake Winnebago season ran the full 16-days allowed by law; the Upriver Lakes season closed at the end of the second day, when the number of female sturgeon speared exceeded the trigger to close the season. Across both seasons, spearers harvested 566 fish, with 36 of them weighing more than 100 pounds, considered trophy size.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ryan Koenigs, 920-303-5450

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More than 150 people attend public meetings on elk management plan revision

MADISON -- More than 150 people attended five public meetings throughout the state to hear proposals to boost the Clam Lake elk herd and start a new herd in the Black River State Forest.

The Department of Natural Resources along with several tribal and private partners have been formulating proposals to address current conditions that were not anticipated when elk were introduced to the Clam Lake area in 1995.

"We've learned a great deal in the past 18 years," said Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the DNR. "Species management plans need to be dusted off every now and then to address new knowledge that will benefit the species."

Specifically, biologists want to amend the elk management plan to: expand the current Clam Lake elk range; allow the importation of wild elk from outside Wisconsin to establish an elk herd in the Black River Falls area; and to add additional elk to the current Clam Lake elk herd.

Wallenfang says because eastern elk don't travel great distances like they do in western states, the plan also acknowledges the value of capturing and moving existing elk to areas of suitable habitat.

"Finally, partnerships have and will continue to be important to carrying out future management, and the plan recognize those relationships as an integral part of a successful program," Wallenfang says.

Each of the five public meetings included a presentation on the proposed amendment followed by a question and answer session. DNR staff was on hand to answer questions and address concerns.

"Support was high and a very broad range of interests were represented," Wallenfang said.

Department staff is using the comments voiced at the meetings to make changes to the plan amendment before it is presented to the Natural Resources Board in December. Anyone still interested in reading the elk management plan and providing input may do so by completing an online survey on the elk reintroduction by searching the DNR website for "elk reintroduction." The survey will be available through Friday, Oct. 19.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT; Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, at 608-261-7589

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Halloween and fall festival events at Wisconsin state parks

MADISON - From pumpkin carving and hiking along trails lit by jack-o-lanterns to visits from costumed wild creatures, haunted hayrides and trick-or-treating at historic building and enjoying hot cider and other treats around bonfires, visitors to a number Wisconsin State Park properties can enjoy a variety of Halloween and fall activities over the next two weekends.

pumpkin carving
Carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns at Kohler-Andrea State Park.
WDNR Photo

Halloween comes to life at Heritage Hill State Park in Green Bay from 5-8 p.m. on the Friday and Saturday nights, Oct. 19-20 and Oct. 26-27. Little ghosts and goblins can experience safe trick or treating at the many historical buildings throughout the park where they will be greeted by people in period dress. There is also a costume contest, Halloween craft, scary storytelling, s 'more making around the campfire, a shadow play and Mad Scientist Laboratory. New this year is one of the area's largest corn mazes, more children's activities and the Headless Horseman. Heritage Hill is managed by the Heritage Hill Foundation and different admission fees apply. For more information, please see the Heritage Hill website.

Other events at state parks are free (with the exception of hay rides), but all vehicles entering parks are required to have a current Wisconsin State Parks admission sticker.

Other activities include:

Friday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 20

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact the parks listed above or Paul Holtan, state parks, forest and trails recreation public affairs manager 608-267-7517

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Friends of Wisconsin State Parks 2012 Gold Seal Awards

GREEN BAY - It would probably not be a big surprise to the many visitors to Peninsula State Park that the park has laid claim to the best naturalist program. And few cross-country skiers would be surprised that the only state property with its own snowmaking equipment for Nordic skiers - the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest -- took top honors in the best ski trail category. But who would have guessed that the Cadiz Spring State Recreation Area had the "best pond for aquatic viewing?"

Those are among the results of the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks 2012 Gold Seal Awards. The statewide friends group conducts the Gold Seal Award Contest each year. The friends group board selects the 10 Gold Seal Categories each year and then opens the contest to the public to nominate their favorite park in that category and then the property with the most votes in each category wins the award. They also take nominations for "Hero Awards" for the outstanding individual park friends group member, outstanding friends group; and the outstanding Department of Natural Resources land manager.

This year the organization received 137 nominations for the Gold Seal Awards and 19 nominations for the Hero Awards, according to Patty Loosen, Friends of Wisconsin State Parks coordinator. The friends group board then selected the top 10 list for Gold Seal awards and invites anyone who hikes, bikes, camps, skis or otherwise recreates in state parks, forest and recreation areas to vote online. Voters select their favorite park offers for the best opportunities in the selected contest categories.

Categories and winners of the 2012 Gold Seal Awards, announced at the organization's annual meeting and banquet Oct. 12 at Heritage Hill State Park, were:

  1. Best Naturalist Program - Peninsula State Park
  2. Best Americans with Disabilities Act Accessible Park - Mirror Lake State Park
  3. . Best Non-Traditional Trail - Newport Wilderness State Park
  4. Best Park for Geocaching -- Gov. Thompson State Park
  5. Best Halloween Hike -- Heritage Hill State Park
  6. Best Cross Country Ski Trail-Lapham Peak State Park
  7. Best Playground for kids -- Gov. Dodge State Park
  8. Best Picnic area -- Devils Lake State Park
  9. Best Pond for aquatic viewing -- Cadiz Springs State Recreation Area
  10. . Best Electric Campsite -- Wyalusing State Park
2012 Hero Awards

Hero Awards showcase the leadership and exemplary service of individuals and groups that selflessly supported the Wisconsin State Park System in 2012.

The 2012 Outstanding Individual Friends group member was Louise Borzynski, who has been President of the Friends of Lapham Peak for 12 years and has been on the board since its inception. Her latest efforts have been with the renovation and opening of the Hausmann Nature Center at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

The 2012 Outstanding Friends Group was Friends of High Cliff State Park for their efforts to raise more than $150,000 for the restoration and improvements to the park's Butterfly Pond, which was damaged when a spillway sprung a leak, damaging the integrity of the structure.

The Outstanding DNR Land Manager was Jerry Leiterman, who has been superintendent of the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit since 1997, and with the DNR since 1980 in various assignments. The 30,000-acre unit is managed for multiple uses, including recreation, sustainable forest products, water quality and soil protection, wildlife, biological diversity and aesthetics. He is currently acting operations section chief in the Bureau of Parks and Recreation.

More information about Friends of Wisconsin State Parks is available on their website [friendswiparks.blogspot.com (exit DNR). For more information about Wisconsin State Parks, Forests, Trails and Recreation Areas, search for "parks" on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Patty Loosen 608-264-8994 or Paul Holtan, state parks and forest recreation public affairs manager - 608-267-7517

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Public meeting set to review High Cliff State Park master plan

SHERWOOD, Wis. - The public has an opportunity to review and comment on draft plan concepts for the High Cliff State Park master plan at an upcoming open house meeting. The meeting will provide an opportunity to review and comment on future land and recreation management for the park. Master plans guide management activity on Department of Natural Resource's owned lands and are updated every 15 years.

This meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 23, at the Sherwood Community Center, W489 Clifton Rd, Sherwood.

Established in 1954, High Cliff State Park in Calumet County consists of more than 1,100 acres of parkland located upon the Nigeria Escarpment and Lake Winnebago offering camping, hiking, boating, fishing, biking, skiing, nature and snowmobile trails.

The draft plan concepts show a number of improvements to park facilities that will advance recreation experiences. Other concepts include the expansion of the state natural area and park boundary.

Anyone may provide comments on the draft plan concepts online, by U.S. mail or during the public meeting. The comment deadline is Nov. 15, 2012. The draft plan concepts and related documents are available on the High Cliff State Park master plan page of the DNR website. Search for "master planning," and then click on the link for High Cliff State Park.

For information or to obtain print copies of documents people can contact: Carolyn Morgen, High Cliff State Park, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, N7630 State Park Road, Sherwood WI 54169 (920) 989-1106, carolyn.morgen@wisconsin.gov

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carlyon Morgen, (920) 989-1106

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Furbearer hunting, trapping seasons begin to open Oct. 20

MADISON - A number of furbearer hunting and trapping seasons open Oct. 20 in Wisconsin, with additional opportunities opening later in October and early November.

"Wisconsin has a wonderful diversity of common, unique, and rare furbearer species," says John Olson, furbearer specialist with the Department of Natural Resources. "Beaver, coyote, raccoon, and muskrat are good examples of the more abundant and common species across our large region. In contrast, the more secretive bobcat, fisher, and river otter are present in the northern one-half of the state and are expanding southward to the pleasure of most. American marten is a native, endangered furbearer of northern Wisconsin."

Raccoon

Raccoons are found in a wide variety of both rural and urban habitats. Those areas close to a wetland or farmland mosaic have the highest populations, with even the northern forests now being home to raccoons.

"We have large populations of raccoons with the highest densities in southern and western portions of the state," reports Geriann Albers, assistant DNR furbearer specialist, "Raccoons are still very abundant in all counties in a wide variety of habitats, often to nuisance levels."

The raccoon season opens statewide for residents on Oct. 20, 2012 with the exception of the Mississippi River Zone where the season opens with the muskrat and mink season. The non-resident raccoon trapping season is from Nov. 3, 2012 to Feb. 15, 2013.

Beaver

Sluggish fur prices and poor ice at the start of the 2011 season, followed by a steady decline in spring pelt values may have affected trapper interest. Statewide, the beaver population estimate is around 82,000 animals, based on helicopter surveys in 2011. This is an increase from 2008, the lowest statewide population estimate since these surveys began in 1992. Concerns over this decline are being addressed by fish and wildlife biologists, fishermen, trappers, user groups, and interested citizens.

Because beaver populations are now at or below acceptable levels, the trapping season in Wisconsin opens Nov. 3, rather than mid-October, with a southern Wisconsin zone closing at the end of March rather than the end of April. A Beaver Task Force, comprised of citizens and agency personnel is currently reviewing overall beaver management in Wisconsin with initial recommendations expected in late 2012.

Otter

Current statewide otter populations are below management goals of approximately 13,000 animals. Although a majority of the population is found in the north, otter numbers in southern Wisconsin are increasing. They're now present in many of our major river systems of the south and southwest, namely the Kickapoo, Black, Chippewa, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Mississippi, and Wisconsin rivers and tributaries.

"The otter harvest is highly regulated, which helps to control harvest pressure at a time when recent fur prices have strongly fluctuated," says Todd Naas, wildlife biologist for Ashland County. Permits are issued based on annually adjusted quotas, estimated fall populations, and expected success rates. In 2012-13 harvest quotas will continue to remain conservative, at 900 statewide.

The statewide opening date for otter is the same as beaver, Nov. 3, and continues until March 31, 2013 in the Central and South Zones, and April 30, 2013 in the North Zone. Anyone interested in trapping otter must apply for a permit by August 1."

Fisher

Fishers may only be taken by trapping and by permit only. People must also apply for a permit for fisher trapping by August 1. Strong interest in fisher harvest has resulted in more applicants than permits. There are six fisher management zones in Wisconsin. Permit numbers are down in northern zones and the same or slightly higher in southern zones, but the number of applications received for each zone will determine whether a trapper receives a permit in their zone of choice or is awarded a preference point.

Bobcat

The northern forest bobcat population increased through the early 2000s, stabilized, and may now be on a decline.

"Even though we're on the northern edge of bobcat range, we do have relatively good habitat and mild winters compared to regions north of Lake Superior," states Robert Rolley, DNR wildlife researcher who studied bobcats as his doctoral thesis. "The population apparently peaked at over 3,000 animals in the early 2000s, but is now likely at the low end of our population goal of 2,000 to 3,000 bobcats north of U.S. Highway 64. Due to a combination of reduced reproduction and a decline in the winter track survey index, a significant reduction in the harvest quota will occur in 2012-13."

A preference system allows the continuous applicant a bobcat tag about every six to seven years. Beginning in 2010, a $3 fee increase on bobcat permit applications has earmarked funds specifically for bobcat research in Wisconsin.

As with fisher and otter, bobcat must be tagged at the point of harvest and registered with the department. The bobcat season has a new structure this year. The bobcat harvest season is split between two time periods: early, Oct. 15 through Dec. 25, and late: Dec. 26 through Jan. 31, 2013, with permits valid for the season selected.

Also, in addition to registering bobcat harvest with a conservation warden, successful hunters and trappers are required to report their bobcat harvest using a call-in system. Within 24 hours of a kill, successful permit holders need to call 1-800-994-6673.

Coyotes, foxes, and wolves

Coyotes, the second largest of Wisconsin's native canids, have expanded their range throughout southern and western Wisconsin. In the remainder of the state they continue to do well with their greatest challenge being in established gray wolf territories, where coyotes have bounced back, having learned to be less vocal and avoid their larger cousin!

An adaptable animal, coyotes seem to fair equally well in rural, urban, and suburban settings. Wildlife managers and conservation officers across much of central and southern Wisconsin are reporting a marked increase in coyotes. The same is being observed for both gray and red fox, with 'reds' closer to human dwellings and grays in the brush land and woods.

"There is an abundance of coyotes on the landscape in south-western and west-central Wisconsin," according to Area Wildlife Supervisor, Kris Johansen. "Trappers in southern Wisconsin will be able to start trapping two weeks earlier as this year the north and south coyote and fox season dates are combined. This will provide trappers south of highway 64 additional days during a pleasant time of year to be afield with coyote and fox sets."

Also, new this year, the coyote season will no longer be closed in the northern zone during the gun deer season.

Red fox numbers have increased across many areas of the north, with mange and coyote competition impacting populations in western and southern portions of the state. Gray fox have fewer cases of mange and appear to be doing well in southern and central Wisconsin.

Muskrat and Mink

Mink and muskrat populations appear to be doing relatively well in most of the state, with pockets of good numbers and other spots with low numbers.

On a statewide basis, opportunities to trap these species are quite good, as they exist in most areas where permanent water can be found. Brian Glenzinski, wildlife biologist in Southern Wisconsin observes that, "Muskrats are doing really well and it should be a great year for them."

Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Trapping

In a progressive effort to improve the science of furbearer management, the State of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Trappers Association, Wisconsin Conservation Congress, and individual trappers have been actively involved in an international effort to develop BMPs for Trapping. This is one of the largest collective trap research efforts ever undertaken, with the final product being information and suggestions that each state and their trappers can use to improve on animal welfare and trapping in general, but specifically, in their trapper education programs. There are now 20 BMP studies completed and available at www.fishwildlife.org (exit DNR).

If you are interested in becoming a trapper, completion of a 12-hour Trapper Education course is mandatory. The cost of the course is $12.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Geriann Albers, Assistant Furbearer Specialist: 608-261-6452 or John Olson, Furbearer Specialist: 715-685-2934

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DNR names top Endangered Resources official

MADISON - Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp has appointed 20-year DNR veteran Erin Crain to direct the agency's Bureau of Endangered Resources.

Erin Crain
Erin Crain and sons, Jack, 16, left; and Riley, 17.
WDNR Photo

"It is a pleasure to promote talented leaders within DNR and to choose from such an excellent field. Again I am amazed at the amount of talent in this agency and humbled by the number of external candidates that want to come and work for this agency," said Stepp.

Crain began her career at DNR as the department's library director, and has served as a section chief in DNR's Science Services and Endanger Resources bureaus. Before joining state government, Erin worked in the research departments of brokerage firms in Milwaukee and Chicago. She has a Master's Degrees in Ecological Restoration and Information Science and a Bachelor's Degree in International Economics.

Commenting on the appointment, Land Administrator Kurt Thiede said, "Erin's vision for the program, poise, program knowledge, experience, professionalism and confidence as a leader is what led to our decision" he said.

"I am truly excited to chart a course for a bright future for the endangered resources program - one in which the program is recognized for its commitment to scientific excellence, innovation and great customer service," Crain said.

Erin is a native of Milwaukee's south side and comes from a family of avid hunters and anglers. Her earliest memory of environmental issues dates back to the late 1960s when her parents, two organic gardeners, tried to explain the purpose of a compost pile to the city inspector. Erin and her family live on White Pelican Farm in rural Wyocena where they enjoy hunting, fishing and forest farming.

Crain will assume her duties immediately. She replaces former director Laurie Osterndorf who is now the program manager for DNR's Southern Land District.

FORM MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Crain, 608-267-7479; Bill Cosh, 608-267-2773

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Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012 set to run on public television and Fox Sports networks

EDITOR'S NOTE: This news release has been updated to reflect that Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012 will air at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 on the Fox Sports Network. The network had previously scheduled the show to run after the Minnesota Wild hockey game, which has been cancelled.

MADISON - Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, hosted by Public Television's Dan Small is set to air on Wisconsin Public Television on Nov. 1 and 3, and on the Fox Sports Network on Nov. 8 and 11.

Deer show 2012
Dan Small interviews DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp and wildlife biologist Kevin Wallenfang for a segment of Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012.
Contributed Photo

This year's show will feature segments on important research on buck mortality, fawn recruitment, and the social side of deer management, as well as the importance of passing along the hunting tradition to the next generation and recruiting new hunters.

Other topics include hunter safety and the new ATV/UTV laws; a ride-along with a conservation warden; the link between forest management and deer management; the season forecast; hunting tips, recipes and a campfire conversation between Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp and others as they share their first-deer stories and encourage seasoned hunters to share their traditions and the thrill of the harvest with new hunters.

The full airing schedule for Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012 is:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608- 261-7589 or Jenny Pelej, wildlife management public affairs manager, 608-264-9248

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Grants announced for forest and wildland fire suppression

MADISON - There are 220 local fire departments in Wisconsin that will receive a total of $575,000 in grants this year for equipment, prevention, and training to enhance their forest fire protection and suppression ability.

"These grants will enable local fire departments to increase their level of preparedness and ability to respond and protect their communities," said Chris Klahn, Department of Natural Resources cooperative fire control specialist. "Throughout the year, DNR and local fire departments work cooperatively on numerous wildfire suppression efforts. It's an effective partnership and these grants help make it possible."

Local fire departments and county or area fire organizations received funding by applying for Forest Fire Protection Grants, which were established in 1997 to strengthen local fire departments' and county or area fire organizations' capabilities to assist the DNR forestry staff in suppression of forest fires.

The grant program provides funds for the purchase of forest fire suppression equipment and training, including: personal protective equipment; forest fire training; forest fire prevention; forest fire tools and equipment; radio reprogramming; communication equipment; dry hydrant installation; rural fire mapping and numbering; and off-road all-wheel drive initial-attack vehicles.

A complete list of 2012 FFP grantees [PDF] is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Eileen Trainor - (608) 267-0848; Chris Klahn - (608) 297-2214

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Wisconsin companies receive EPA national air excellence awards

MADISON - Three Wisconsin companies are part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 12th annual Clean Air Excellence Awards, honoring projects and companies from across the country for their work on clean air initiatives.

The EPA handed out 11 awards, which recognize innovative programs that protect Americans' health and the environment, educate the public, serve their communities and stimulate the economy.

The Wisconsin companies include:

"It's no surprise that these companies are located in southeast Wisconsin," said Bart Sponseller, director for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Air Program. "The department and Wisconsin companies have worked hard to make air quality here the best it's been in 20 years."

The awards program was established in 2000 at the recommendation of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee. Entries are judged by EPA and the committee, and winners are recognized with at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C.

Two of the companies, Frito Lay and SC Johnson, are also part of the DNR Green Tier program. Green Tier is a voluntary program recognizing environmental performance that exceeds requirements for health, safety and the environment, and results in continuous improvement in Wisconsin's environment, economy and quality of life.

"These are the results you see when there is an effective union between environmental and economic performance," said Mark McDermid, director for DNR's Community Environmental Assistance Program. "We are extremely pleased to have this kind of performance as a regular part of our working relationship with these companies each and every year."

"The 42-year history of the Clean Air Act is all about meeting challenges through commitment and innovation," said Gina McCarthy, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. "The contributions of this year's award winners are continuing the Clean Air Act's progress in benefiting public health, our communities and the economy."

To learn more about this year's award winners, please visit the EPA's Clean Air Excellence Awards web page [LINK: http://www.epa.gov/air/cleanairawards/index.html]. To learn more about the DNR's Air Program and Green Tier Program, go to the DNR's main web page and type in keywords "Air" and "Green Tier."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bart Sponseller, 608-264-8537 or Andrew Savagian, air and waste program public affairs manager - 608-261-6422

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Public invited to help plan exhibits for Horicon Marsh Education Center

FITCHBURG ,Wis. - People interested in learning about and participating in the selection of educational themes and exhibits for the Horicon Wildlife Area's education and interpretive displays are invited to a public meeting scheduled for Oct. 24 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Horicon International Education Center, N7725 Highway 28, Horicon.

Department of Natural Resources staff will explain options, discuss alternatives for themes and displays and ask for comment and ideas from the audience. The audience will be asked to help identify the most desirable exhibits to assure that budgets and resources are directed to the public's priorities. The education center building will also be slightly modified to better accommodate the displays, educational programs and activities and to work smoothly with the building's other functions.

"Horicon Wildlife Area and the Horicon Education Center are part of the community and the local economy, and we want to hear from citizens, local officials and businesses in the selection and design of these exhibits," said Bret Owsley, DNR supervisor and project coordinator. "We especially want to hear ideas on how the education center can best fit with the community and mesh with area businesses and commerce while accomplishing our education mission."

Following construction of the Horicon Education Center in 2009, an ad hoc group of educators, state and federal agency staff, communicators, display designers, museum staff and the Friends of Horicon Marsh Education Center met to sketch out a plan for developing interpretive displays in the newly completed building. A core team then worked with Split Rock Studios to create an exhibit concept plan for an "Explorium." Kunkel Engineering has been contracted for the build out portion of the project. The project will be financed through state and federal funding, gifts and donations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bret Owsley (920) 387-7874 or Bob Manwell, south central region public affairs manager, 608-275-3317

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Attending a Wisconsin college and not a state resident?

Here's a deal: go hunting and fishing in Wisconsin on the cheap

MADISON - College students who are outdoors fan and who miss their favorite hunting and fishing haunts from their home state while in Wisconsin attending school are being offered a deal from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Non-resident students enrolled full-time and in residence at any public or private Wisconsin college, technical college, or university offering an associate or bachelor's degree can hunt and fish in Wisconsin for what the residents pay.

"There is no reason why college students have to wait for a trip home to enjoy the outdoors," says Keith Warnke, DNR shooting and hunting sports coordinator. "Wisconsin's hunting and fishing opportunities are abundant - and you're already here. Plus, it's affordable on a tight student budget."

Here's what enrolled non-resident students pay for the licenses:

Licenses can be purchased 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).

Foreign citizens residing in the state and attending a Wisconsin high school or a university agricultural short course are also eligible for gun deer, archery, small game, fishing and sports licenses at resident prices.

Visit the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "public lands" to find places throughout Wisconsin to hunt, fish, hike, and explore.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement Shooting and Hunting Sports Coordinator Keith Warnke, 608-576-5243; or Joanne Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement Public Affairs Manager, 608-267-0798.

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EDITOR'S ADVISORY: Wolf harvest will be updated on DNR website

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The inaugural Wisconsin wolf season opened Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. The Department of Natural Resources will be updating the wolf hunting and trapping page of its website (dnr.wi.gov -- search "wolf" with wolf harvest by zone as wolves are reported. Hunters and trappers have 24 hours to report harvest. Four wolves were reported as harvested during the opening day of the season, one each in Zones 1, 2, 3, and 5. The season runs until the quotas for all zones are met or until February 28, 2013.

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EDITOR'S ADVISORY: online chat Oct. 24 on frac sand

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The DNR will host an online chat about frac sand with Tom Woletz, senior manager, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24. He will answer questions about the Department of Natural Resources role in regulating frac sand operations in Wisconsin. To participate, visit the DNR home page, dnr.wi.gov, and look for the advertisement or search the phrase "ask the experts."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ryan Marty, Office of Communications, 608-264-8976

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 16, 2012




Need an expert?

The Office of Communications connects journalists with DNR experts on a wide range of topics. For the fastest response, please email DNRPress@Wisconsin.gov and the first available Communications Specialist will respond to you.