NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 3,550 days

ARCHIVED Weekly News Published November 27, 2012

All Previous Archived Issues


The 161st nine-day deer hunt closes, but heritage continues through stories

MADISON - Wisconsin's deer hunting heritage lives and grows through the sharing of hunting stories. If each licensed hunter created one new story to share at camp this year, there are 633,460 new stories to pass along, with more than 243,000 of them ending with the harvest of a deer. This year's preliminary tally indicates 243,739 deer were registered by gun deer hunters between Nov. 17 and Nov. 26.

"It's great to see the level of hunter participation that we do in Wisconsin, and equally as great to see that more hunters had success than last year," said Kevin Wallenfang, big game ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "I've talked to several hunters that saw more deer than in past years in much of the state but also to some who saw less. So there are areas where deer observations were low, as we knew there would be. This sort of feedback, along with the harvest numbers, is important as we continue to work with hunters to best manage deer populations in the state."

The preliminary nine-day harvest numbers are collected through a call-around survey of 600-plus deer registration stations all across Wisconsin and likely will increase when all registration tags are officially counted. This year's preliminary harvest totals are up 7.7 percent from 2011. The preliminary tally showed hunters harvested 114, 822 bucks and 128,917 antlerless deer. This compared to 2011 preliminary harvest figures of 102,837 bucks and 123,423 antlerless, for a 12 percent and 4 percent increase respectively.

A breakdown of the harvest by DNR region and county is available in portable document format (pdf) on the DNR website.

"Once again Wisconsin was the deer hunting destination for hundreds of thousands of hunters. Hunting is about family, friends, fun and tradition. More than 600,000 people were out connecting with the land, and in doing so renewed their commitment to sustaining our natural resources for generations to come," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

Of the total number of licenses purchased this year, nearly 29,000 were First Time Buyer licenses. New female hunters represented 33 percent of this total, and another 33 percent of first time buyers were youth, ages 17 and under. Additionally, 80 First Time Buyer licenses were sold to hunters 80 and older.

"Seeing so many new buyers, along with some returning or new hunters over the age of 80, illustrates how deep our deer hunting heritage runs," said Sec. Stepp. "Getting women and youth involved in hunting is essential for continuing our state's hunting heritage. When women and moms are involved, the family follows."

Late Seasons Now Open

There are additional opportunities to hunt deer in Wisconsin after the close of the nine-day season. The muzzleloader season is currently open through Dec. 5. The late archery season is also underway and continues until Jan. 6, 2013. There is also a statewide antlerless hunt Dec. 6-9, and a holiday hunt in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) zones of south central Wisconsin, which starts Dec. 24 and runs until Jan. 6, 2013.

Please visit and search keyword "deer" for more information on season dates and regulations.

Shooting Incidents below average, but one fatality in 2012

This year seven shooting related incidents were reported, one was fatal.

"Our sincere condolences go to the family and friends of the fatally injured hunter. Any shooting-related fatality -- or injury for that matter -- is one too many," said Conservation Warden Jon King, Hunter Education Administrator. However overall hunter safety has increased over the years, said King. Total reported incidents for 2012 is below the 10 year average, which is nine.

"Statistically we have continued our safe hunting tradition. But for me to truly consider a deer season a hundred percent successful, all hunters would have returned home unharmed," said Sec. Stepp. "And that's a goal we all should continue to strive for."

More than 25,000 students complete the hunter's safety program every year, thanks to the work of more than 3,800 volunteer hunter education instructors. Wisconsin marked its one-millionth graduate in 2012. Before the hunter education course started, hunter fatalities during the season commonly ran into double digits.

"As always, we want to remind hunters participating in the remaining seasons to remember and follow the four rules of firearm safety or TAB-K," said King. "Treat any firearm as if it is loaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, be certain of your target and what's beyond, and keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot."

Hunters asked to participate in online Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey

The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is still active until the end of all deer seasons and wildlife managers are asking hunters to send in a report of what they saw during the just completed nine-day gun hunt and during any hunting trips they make through the end of all deer hunting seasons. This information provides valuable data biologists can use to help provide an additional human element to the completed deer season.

Share deer stories online

Wisconsin's 161st nine-day gun deer season may be over, but sharing stories of the hunt keeps the memories going, and builds the anticipation for the 2013 deer season. In addition to sharing stories with family and friends, hunters can share their stories with more than 9,000 friends on the DNR's Facebook page. Photos have been posted throughout the season and can still be entered into the first DNR Facebook photo contest. The contest ends Nov. 28. Until then, hunters and deer season enthusiasts can send in photos that represent the traditions of the nine-day deer season and vote for their favorite. Several videos capturing stories of the season can also be viewed on the DNR's YouTube channel. One video highlights deer tales from hunters this season.

People can join the DNR's Facebook conversation by visiting A suite of deer hunting videos can be watched at

Additional information on the 2012 deer season, and continuing deer hunting opportunities, can be found by visiting, search keyword "deer."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Cosh, DNR Spokesperson, 608-267-2773; Kevin Wallenfang, DNR Big Game Ecologist, 608-261-7589; or Jon King, DNR Conservation Warden, 608-575-2294



Landowners live Leopold's land ethic and nurture at-risk species

EDITOR'S NOTE: Listen to Darcy Kind, DNR prairie and savanna biologist for the Landowner Incentive Program, and Steve Swenson, ecologist for the Aldo Leopold Foundation, on The Larry Meiller Show live from 11-11:45 Nov. 28 on these WPR Ideas Network stations or online. If you miss the show, you can still listen to the archives.

State incentive program boosts restoration of rare habitats

CROSS PLAINS, Wis. -- A generation after Lee Swanson and his buddies bought 640 acres of land near Cross Plains for hunting, he seemingly takes as much pleasure in hunting for rare plants in the prairie they've painstakingly restored on the property.

Pale purple cone flower
pale purple cone flower
WDNR Photo

"In 2012 we've probably found 15 or 20 new plants in different places on the property where we hadn't recorded them before," says Swanson. "When you find pale purple coneflowers on your land in what The Prairie Enthusiasts say is the northernmost recorded stand of an endangered species and you have thousands of them, you come to the realization that you are the steward and there is a responsibility that goes with it.

"You love the land. If you love the land, you begin to care more about the land than the value. That's the transition all of us went through."

Swanson is among the dozens of private property owners who have participated in the state's Landowner Incentive Program, LIP for short, since its start in 2006. Landowners meeting qualifications get one-on-one technical help and reimbursement from the state for activities to restore prairies, savannas and oak woodlands for rare or declining plant and wildlife species.

LIP and its participating landowners are featured in the latest installment of a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources year-long Web series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the state endangered species law. Go to and search for ER 40 to find the feature; click on the numbers on the page's top right corner to see previous months' features.

Swanson and his partners in the Swamplovers Foundation, in fact, are recognized as the "Comeback Champs" for their efforts to restore prairie and oak savanna on their land and encourage others to do the same, and for their commitment to allowing others to enjoy their results. In 2005, the Swamplovers permanently protected 433 acres of their property through a conservation easement with the Ice Age Trail Alliance and they host a wide array of public tours, walks and hunts.

Landowner Incentive Program
This land near Cross Plains restored by private property owners is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals, 68 of which have at-risk status.
WDNR Photo

The key to enhancing Wisconsin's landscape and its at-risk species

"Landowners like Lee and his partners are the key to enhancing Wisconsin's landscape and sustaining our at-risk species," says Darcy Kind, a DNR prairie and savanna biologist who works with private landowners. "Not only because private landowners control the vast majority of land in Wisconsin, but because of their commitment. The determination and dedication of the people working to restore their land amazes me the most."

Eighty-five percent of land in Wisconsin is privately owned, a total that climbs as high as 97 percent in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin, where the program focuses its efforts. That's where the largest remnants of the state's tallgrass prairie and oak savannas reside; they share equal billing as the most threatened plant community in the Midwest and among the most threatened in the world.

"Restoration is important both culturally and ecologically," Kind says. "The private landowners we're working with are trying to restore something that's been drastically changed since pre-settlement times."

Restoration work often involves multiple years of management activities like prescribed burns, cutting and clearing away brush and girdling trees to create open habitat. Such activities are expensive and labor intensive, with the average LIP landowner working on 5 to 10 acres a year, Kind says. Many management activities are required for the long-term in order to maintain the habitat.

Since 2006, a total of 4,700 acres have been restored by landowners and benefitted more than 240 at-risk species, everything from blue-winged warblers, bull snakes and pickerel frogs to Hill's thistle, prairie Indian plantain and the federally endangered eastern prairie fringed orchid, according to Dawn Hinebaugh, who coordinates the LIP program.

A good fit with other landowner incentive programs

Almost always, landowners in LIP participate in other government or nonprofit programs to help restore different parts of their land. Such programs include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife, and Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation programs. They also partner with nonprofits like The Prairie Enthusiasts and the Wisconsin Wetland Association to restore prairies and wetlands on their properties.

"The Landowner Incentive Program fits importantly with other programs of the same nature," Kind says. "Landowners recognize the program and that it has a history and can play a role in helping them care for their land and our natural heritage."

Bruce and Lynn Peterson tried to get LIP grants for several years before qualifying for consecutive grants to help them carry out their vision to assemble small, degraded plots together into a 180-block and restore prairie and oak savanna on the property. The property is a stone's throw from the 1870's 40-acre prairie homestead of Bruce Peterson's great grandfather and next to the Tiffany State Wildlife Area, according to their "restoration story" submitted as part of reporting requirements.

They are using the grants they received to open a wide effective corridor, providing valuable access from the Chippewa River bottoms to the scattered remnants, open areas and corridors west of the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. The LIP grants allowed them to pay an experienced land management contractor to help with the most difficult and steepest of the areas to be cleared. The grants, combined with cashing in of a 401k fund to buy a skid steer and forestry attachments, made reclaiming the degraded oak savanna areas possible, the Petersons say. They delight in the results they and others see and hear.

"People drive out and sit by the roadside to listen to the songs of the meadow larks, older residents comment on how the restored land reminds them of the area when they grew up and who knows, great grandfather might even see a familiar sight if he looked east, over the prairie, toward the Chippewa River at the oak savanna on the horizon," they wrote.

Swanson says the LIP program has been important to the Swamplovers successful restoration in several ways. "Darcy has been a great asset," Swanson says, and ticks off a list of other DNR, federal and nonprofit conservation staff who have played important roles in their process.

"When people who have spent their professional lives restoring land began to recognize what you've done, it just gives you a warm feeling that it's the right thing to do," Swanson says. "It reinforces and makes you understand how precious that 1 percent of the prairie is, and gives us the satisfaction of having something so unique and having others enjoy it."

More information is available by searching the DNR website for Landowner Incentive Program.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Darcy Kind (608) 267-9789; Dawn Hinebaugh (608) 266-5243



40 years of endangered resources successes captured in Web features

MADISON -- The 40th anniversary year of Wisconsin's law safeguarding rare wildlife and plants is winding down with the penultimate feature posted today on the Department of Natural Resources website highlighting successful comebacks and innovative approaches achieved under the law.

The new feature focuses on private landowners teaming up with DNR staff and other partners to restore habitat that will benefit the state's at-risk species. The feature, like the 11 that have preceded it, uses videos, slide shows, and other media to help tell the story and encourage people to get involved.

A listing and direct links to the features are listed below; they can easily be reached from the DNR home page,, by doing a keyword search for "ER 40." Each feature can be reached by clicking on the number on the top right hand part of the screen.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Crain, Endangered Resources Bureau director 608 267-7479; Lisa Gaumnitz, Office of Communications - 608-264-8942



2013 Wisconsin State Park stickers available for sale Dec. 1

MADISON - People looking for the a holiday gift that keeps giving throughout the year can give outdoor enthusiasts access to thousands of miles of trails, hundreds of nature hike opportunities, dozens of beaches, and some of the most scenic areas found in Wisconsin with a 2013 Wisconsin state park admission stickers or state trail pass.

2013 annual vehicle admission stickers and state trails passes go on sale Dec. 1 at state park facilities and Department of Natural Resources service centers statewide. State park properties will honor 2013 stickers and passes for admission to parks, forests, recreation areas and trails beginning Dec. 1, 2012.

2013 Wisconsin State Park Sticker
2013 Wisconsin State Park Sticker

The admission stickers are designed by high school students and the winning design is chosen in a statewide contest.

The winning 2013 admission sticker, with marshmallows being roasted over a campfire, was designed by Holly Jo Cegielski, a sophomore at Waukesha South High School. The winning design will be printed on state park and forest annual vehicle admission stickers and will be displayed on more than 150,000 vehicles.

The vehicle admission stickers provide access to more than 60 state park, forest and recreation area properties across Wisconsin. The stickers are required on all motor vehicles stopping in state parks and recreation areas. Some state forest and trail parking areas also require a sticker.

A state trail pass is required for all people age 16 or older biking, in-line skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, or off-highway motorcycling on certain state trails. A state trail pass is not required for walking or hiking.

Admission stickers cost is $25 for Wisconsin residents or $35 for nonresidents - the same as last year. A family with more than one vehicle registered to the same household may purchase additional state park stickers at half price. A senior citizen annual sticker for $10 is available for Wisconsin Residents 65 years of age and older. Annual trail passes are $20 for residents and nonresidents.

In addition to park, forest and trail offices and DNR service centers, stickers and trail passes are available over the phone from the DNR call center. Phone customers can call the DNR at 888-936-7463 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Visa and MasterCard are accepted. Customers need to order stickers and passes by Monday, Dec. 17 to receive them for the holidays.

The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks also offers online sales of admission stickers and trail passes with a donation to the statewide friends group through the organization's website

2014 state park sticker design contest open

Entries for the 2014 Wisconsin state park sticker design contest are being accepted now through April 17, 2013. The contest is open to all high school age students (ninth through twelfth grades) attending public, private, or parochial schools in Wisconsin.

The design must be the artist's original creation and cannot be copied or duplicated from previously published art, including photographs, clip art or electronic graphic images. Photographs or photo manipulations are not accepted.

Contest rules, a design template and entry form are available by searching for "sticker design contest" on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: DNR Customer Service, 1-888-936-7463 or Paul Holtan, Office of Communications, 608-267-7517



Ice fishing tournament organizers reminded to apply for a permit

Now apply and pay online and get your permit decision quicker

MADISON - Organizers of ice fishing tournaments will want to apply for a permit for their 2013 event as soon as possible, and they can use a new online feature aimed at making the process faster and more user friendly.

Organizers need to apply at least 30 days before their scheduled event, and they can now create a user account where they can store their information and use it to populate new applications so they don't have to retype the information every time they apply, says Hadley Boehm, Department of Natural Resources tournament database coordinator.

They also will be able to log back in anytime to see the status of their permit applications and to pay online. "The idea is to make applying for tournaments online faster and more user-friendly," she says.

The new feature is aimed at tournament organizers who frequently apply for tournament permits, or people who apply for a traditional tournament every year, Boehm says.

Tournament organizers are still able to apply by printing out a tournament application and sending it and the application fee in to DNR. Download the application form and find more information by going to DNR's home page, and searching for "fishing tournaments."

Organizers need a tournament permit in cases in which any of the following apply:

In 2012 Wisconsin has received 573 tournament permit applications; 114 of them for ice fishing tournaments. So far for 2013, 215 applications have been received, of which 69 are for ice fishing events. Those numbers are similar to figures for 2011 and 2010.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Hadley Boehm, (608) 264-6028; Jon Hansen (608) 266-6883



EDITOR'S ADVISORY: online chat Dec. 5 on cougars

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The DNR will host an online chat about cougars with Adrian Wydeven, carnivore ecologist, and Jane Wiedenhoeft, assistant carnivore biologist at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5. To participate, visit the DNR home page,, and look for the advertisement or search the phrase "ask the experts."


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 27, 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 and the first available Communications Specialist will respond to you.