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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published August 13, 2013

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Lake Michigan anglers asked to aid chinook and lake trout research

Anglers asked to save and donate heads of the chinook and lake trout they harvest

MILWAUKEE - Anglers fishing Lake Michigan's open waters and tributaries for chinook and lake trout are being asked to donate the heads of the fish they harvest to aid research critical to keeping fishing strong.

"With the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more tagged fish are being stocked now than ever before," says Cheryl Masterson, a Department of Natural Resources fisheries technician. "The tag in the fish's snout has a number that tells us when and where the fish was stocked. To learn as much as we can about the behavior of the fish in the lake, we would like to collect heads from tagged sport-caught fish."

Only those harvested fish missing the small back top fin, known as the adipose fin, are being sought, because the missing fin is a sign that the fish likely received a tag in its snout. For several years now, federal and state natural resource agencies have been marking hatchery-raised chinook and trout by safely implanting a tiny steel tag etched with a number relating to where and when the fish was hatched and stocked. Now that the fish are growing large enough to be kept by anglers, researchers are collecting chinook salmon and trout heads to look for the steel tags.

Chinook Salmon with Coded Wire Tag (CWT) and missing adipose fin.
Chinook Salmon with Coded Wire Tag (CWT) and missing adipose fin.
WDNR Photo

DNR has partnered with local businesses in most major ports along the lakeshore where anglers can drop off fish heads, Masterson says. Each business has been given a supply of forms for anglers to fill out and bags to use for freezing the head. Anglers should include the following information with each head - date of capture and capture location, along with the fish species, length, weight, and gender, she said.

Nick Legler, DNR fisheries biologist in Sturgeon Bay, said the information associated with the number on the tag in the fish can help answer how many fish are in Lake Michigan, how many are wild instead of raised in a hatchery, and where they are caught in relation to where they were stocked. Data also will be used to measure fish growth and age at capture and to evaluate hatchery and stocking practices.

Preliminary findings from the fish that anglers provided last year suggest that during the summer months, salmon roam all over lake, which at 22,300 square miles is the second largest of the Great Lakes and is the largest lake within U.S. borders. Fifty-nine percent of the hundreds of wire tags recovered from chinook caught by anglers over the summer in Wisconsin's open waters of Lake Michigan in summer 2012 had been stocked by Michigan, Illinois or Indiana, preliminary results show.

In contrast, initial results from fish heads recovered during the fall spawning runs at DNR egg collection facilities suggest that the fish tend to return home to the water where they were first stocked to complete their spawning run.

This year, DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been collecting fish heads and biographical data from anglers during the summer fishery and will continue to collect more data into the fall, Legler says.

DNR has partnered with local businesses in most major ports along the lakeshore where anglers can drop off fish heads, Masterson says. Each business has been given a supply of forms for anglers to fill out and bags to use for freezing the head. Anglers should include the following information with each head - date of capture and capture location, along with the fish species, length, weight, and gender, she said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Nick Legler, 920-746-5112; Cheryl Masterson 414-382-7923

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Antlerless deer tags, state park deer hunting permits available August 17

MADISON - Antlerless deer carcass tags for regular deer management units (DMUs) and hunting access permits for all state park deer management units that require an access permit go on sale beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17.

Antlerless tags will be sold at the rate of one per person, per day, and will continue until sold out or until the hunting season ends. Hunters are limited to purchasing one park access permit per park.

A list of units and number of tags available is on the DNR website.

Tags and permits will be available for purchase through the DNR Online Licensing Center, at DNR licensing sales locations, or by phone toll free at 1 (877) 945-4236.

Deer hunters are encouraged to check the 2013 deer management unit designations map or the 2013 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations booklet for the units they plan to hunt in this fall.

In 2013, 50 regular DMUs will have antlerless carcass tags available. To shoot an antlerless deer in these 50 units, hunters must purchase the unit-specific antlerless deer carcass tag ($12 for residents, $5 for 10- and 11-year-old residents and nonresidents, and $20 for adult nonresident).

Four regular DMUs are designated as buck-only to encourage herd growth and will not have any antlerless tags for sale, according to Kevin Wallenfang, Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist.

In these units, some exceptions apply that will allow the harvest of antlerless deer by qualified members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are home on furlough or leave, Class A and C disabled permit hunters, and youth ages 10 through 17. For more details, see the 2013 Deer Hunting Regulations booklet.

Every gun and archery deer hunting license will include one antlerless tag valid for units designated as Herd Control or Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), Wallenfang says. Every archery license also will include one antlerless tag that is valid in any unit statewide, except those designated as buck only. Hunters may purchase additional Herd Control tags for $2 or pick up free CWD tags at any time.

If hunters are planning to hunt in any of the 12 state parks that require access permits for deer hunting, they should plan accordingly, as many units will sell out quickly. Check the 2013 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations or the Hunting in State Parks web page to learn about weapon restrictions and season dates. Some state parks that allow deer hunting may not require access permits but may have different season dates.

Purchasing a deer hunting license before Aug. 17 can speed up the permit purchasing process, since hunters must obtain a deer hunting license before they can purchase a bonus antlerless tag or state park access permit, Wallenfang says. Hunters can check for tag or access permit availability on the permit availability website. Remaining tag and permit numbers are updated daily. Units with relatively low numbers of available tags can be expected to sell out quickly.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589

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Wolf permit drawing will occur August 15

MADISON - A total of 16,672 interested wolf hunters or trappers applied to receive a permit or a preference point for the 2013 Wisconsin wolf hunting season, according to Department of Natural Resources officials. The permit drawing is scheduled to occur Aug. 15.

"This is Wisconsin's second state-managed wolf hunt, and a continued testament to the recovery of wolves in Wisconsin," said Dave MacFarland, DNR carnivore specialist. "As we did for the inaugural hunt, we are entering this second season cautiously and will continue to learn valuable information for updating the state's wolf management plan and adopting permanent wolf hunting rules. We are anticipating another successful, safe, season. "

The wolf quota, as recommended by the Wolf Advisory Committee and approved by the Natural Resources Board, was set at 275. However, the number of wolves available for harvest by state hunters and trappers has been adjusted to 251, in response to the recent declaration of wolves by the Chippewa Bands of Wisconsin.

"In order to meet management objectives, putting downward pressure on the population, the number of wolves removed from the landscape needs to increase this year," said MacFarland. "The 2013 quota is designed to start doing so, in a responsible and sustainable manner."

With the tribal harvest quota adjustment, 2,510 permits will be drawn for state hunters and trappers, maintaining the same 10-to-1 permit-to-quota ratio as the 2012 season.

One half of available permits will be issued randomly among all permit applications and the second half will be issued through a cumulative preference point drawing. Successful applicants will be notified by letter. Applicants who are not successful in the drawing will be awarded a preference point toward future drawings.

Out of the total 16,672 applicants this year, 12,108 applied for a permit and 4,564 applied for a preference point. This compares to 20,270 applicants for 2012, with 17,377 applying for a permit and 2,893 for a preference point.

There will again be six harvest zones, identical to 2012. Quotas by zone for state licensed hunters and trappers will be: Zone 1 - 76; Zone 2 - 28; Zone 3 - 71; Zone 4- 12; Zone 5 - 34; Zone 6 - 30.

"We do expect population decline in all areas of the state, though decline will be less in areas considered core habitat for wolves," said MacFarland. "The zone quotas concentrate hunting pressure more in areas with higher potential for agricultural conflicts, which is generally outside of core habitat areas."

The 2013 wolf season starts Oct. 15 and will run until the quota is reached in each zone or the last day of February, whichever occurs first.

For more information on wolf management and the 2013 season, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "wolf."

CONTACTS: Dave MacFarland, DNR carnivore specialist, 715-365-8917; Bill Vander Zouwen, DNR wildlife ecology section chief, 608-266-8840

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Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin finalized

Interagency document also topic of year-long public comment period

MADISON - Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin are now available to help people meet state and federal requirements for wetland mitigation and provide information for anyone interested in developing a new mitigation bank. The guidelines are also the subject of a year-long public comment period ending August 1, 2014.

Wisconsin law now requires property owners to mitigate for wetland impacts if they receive permission to fill wetlands under an individual permit. Federal law requires mitigation for some projects as well, says Pam Schense, Department of Natural Resources wetland mitigation coordinator.

Compensatory mitigation involves restoring, enhancing, creating or preserving a wetland to "compensate" for wetland loss either by buying credits from a pre-approved mitigation bank or completing a project-specific mitigation projects.

"Federal and state wetland mitigation regulations have both changed since our last guidelines were issued. These new guidelines reflect these changes and help us find one consistent approach for applicants to meet agencies' mitigation requirements," says Schense.

DNR, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service worked together to update the interagency guidelines from the last version of the document published in 2002. The guidelines are used by agency personnel, mitigation bank sponsors, permit applicants and others involved in the identification, planning, crediting and construction of wetland compensatory mitigation sites, she says.

The guidelines are available on DNR's website. They are known as "Version 1" of the Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin, because DNR and the U.S. Army Corps are accepting comments on the guidelines for the next year. The comments will be evaluated as officials work on a second version to assure the guidelines work as well in practice as they do on paper, Schense says.

Comments should be submitted to Pam Schense, DNR Wetland Mitigation Coordinator, at Pamela.Schense@Wisconsin.gov, or sent to her by U.S. Mail at WI Dept. of Natural Resources, 101 S. Webster St - WT/3, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Pam Schense, 608-266-9266

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Seven more Wisconsin communities earn recognition as "Bird Cities"

Madison, Superior, Eau Claire among those saluted

BAYSIDE - Seven more Wisconsin communities statewide are being recognized as "Bird Cities" for their long-term commitment to working with residents to make their neighborhoods a better place for people, birds and other wildlife.

The seven communities gaining Bird City status range from Madison, the state's second largest city, to the village of De Soto along the Mississippi River, which has a population of 289 people. Other communities receiving recognition are Superior, Eau Claire, Wisconsin Rapids, Two Rivers and the village of Maple Bluff.

With these additional communities, Wisconsin now boasts 73 "Bird Cities" and all five of the state's largest cities can claim that status, according to Noel Cutright, a member of the Bird City steering committee. A map showing all of the Bird Cities, along with descriptions of their bird conservation activities, are found on the Bird City Wisconsin website.

"I am cheered to see the program continue to grow and see a number of new and diverse communities across the state achieving this significant recognition," says Cutright, founder of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, and past president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.

Each of the seven communities will receive a special Bird City Wisconsin flag, plaque and street signs to be erected at their boundaries, marking their conservation achievements.

Kim Grveles, coordinator of the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative for the Department of Natural Resources, says the seven communities are making a significant contribution to bird conservation. "Ultimately, their efforts will provide vital habitat and make communities safer for birds as they migrate through every spring and fall," she says.

Wisconsin sits astride one major migratory bird pathway and more than 400 species have been recorded in the state, yet many species face declining populations due to habitat loss, pollution, outdoor cats, window strikes and invasive plants, Grveles says.

Bird City Wisconsin was launched in 2010 as a program of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, a cooperative partnership of bird conservation and other organizations, including DNR, to work closely on bird conservation and voluntary stewardship statewide.

Modeled on the popular "Tree City USA" program, Bird City Wisconsin seeks to encourage local governments to expand their conservation efforts while educating residents to also do more, according to Carl Schwartz, Bird City Wisconsin coordinator.

Bird City Wisconsin status is awarded to communities that meet at least seven of 22 conservation criteria across five categories, including habitat creation and protection, community forest management, limiting hazards to birds, public education and recognizing International Migratory Bird Day. The program works in partnership with DNR through the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative to raise awareness of migratory birds and of the need to protect habitats used by birds during migration, including city parks, open spaces and people's backyards.

Bird City Wisconsin accepts applications for initial certification three times a year and efforts to earn its seal of approval are under way in dozens of communities, Schwartz says.

"The Bird City idea has caught fire because it works for communities of all sizes and teams up Audubon groups, bird clubs and garden clubs with city foresters, parks directors and other public officials to protect and celebrate the birds that millions of people enjoy every day," he says.

The next deadline is Nov. 1. Recognition is renewable annually with certification valid from April 1 to March 31.

Read more about Bird City Wisconsin in the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine story, Building Bird Cities; A feather in a community's cap.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carl Schwartz, Bird City Wisconsin coordinator, 414-416-3272 or cschwartz3@wi.rr.com;

Kim Grveles, 608-264-8594

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Deadline to sign-up for disabled deer hunt September 1

MADISON - Hunters who plan to participate in the annual gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities are reminded to sign up with hunt sponsors no later than Sept. 1.

To participate in the disabled deer hunt, hunters should contact a participating sponsor directly and ask for permission to participate in their hunt. Interested hunters can find a list of sponsors at dnr.wi.gov, and search keywords "disabled deer hunt."

Hunters must be signed up with the sponsor by Sept. 1 and will have to provide the sponsor their name and contact information.

Hunters must possess a valid Class A, long-term Class B that authorizes shooting from a vehicle, Class C or Class D Disabled Hunting Permit and a current gun deer hunting license to participate in the disabled deer hunt.

This year's gun hunt for hunters with disabilities will occur Oct. 5 to 13. Hunters are allowed to shoot either antlered or antlerless deer during this hunt with the appropriate permit(s). Please check the 2013 Deer Hunting Regulations for more information.

"To date, 90 sponsors have enrolled over 72,000 acres of property in 50 counties," Roepke said. "These are private lands offering great opportunities for up to 3,600 hunters to enjoy deer hunting. Many of these properties are in areas of high deer density."

Sponsors of the hunt range from single individuals with smaller properties to large organized hunts on thousands of acres of hunting land.

"Hunting space is limited on some properties, so hunters are encouraged to contact sponsors as soon as possible," Roepke said.

Sponsors are encouraged to submit their list of hunters using the new online process which can be found on the DNR web site, keywords "disabled deer hunt." If sponsors do not have access to the online form, hard copies are available at DNR service centers or by calling Scott Roepke at 608-261-7588.

Sponsors are encouraged to submit a list of participating hunters no later than Sept. 1.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Roepke, DNR assistant big game ecologist, 608-261-7588; Sam Jonas, DNR assistant big game ecologist, 608-264-6023

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Japanese hops impressive but undesirable invasive plant

MADISON -The plant Japanese hops might sound like another great variety for brewing beer or adding as a new ornamental to quickly spruce up the garden, state invasive plant experts say. But don't be fooled.

Japanese hops impressive but undesirable invasive plant
Japanese hops impressive but undesirable invasive plant
WDNR Photo

"While Japanese hops is impressive looking, it's not at all desirable for brewing or landscaping, and it's especially not desirable for our forests or stream-banks," says Kelly Kearns, a conservation biologist with the Department of Natural Resources and an invasive plant expert.

Not to be confused with its more "brewable" relatives, Japanese hops cannot be used for home brewing because it lacks the oily resins that give hops their unique flavor and aroma, Kearns says. And while its vine-like growth appeals to many people as an ornamental plant, this species' uncontrollable nature and irritating hairs make it a highly invasive plant across the Eastern United States, and Wisconsin's forests are severely threatened by its introduction.

"This aggressive vine climbs over vegetation and forms thick monocultures of tangled vines up to several feet deep," Kearns says. "They twist up and topple trees, crowd-out desirable species, and inhibit forest regeneration."

The first record of Japanese hops (Humulus japonicus) in Wisconsin was from Crawford County, but Kearns says the species is rapidly spreading across the Wisconsin Driftless area with heavy infestations in Grant, Crawford, Vernon and Lafayette counties. New reports also are being received in neighboring counties as well as in other parts of the state.

Kearns notes that some Japanese hops plants are reported to grow over 35 feet in one year! Plants reproduce by seeds, which mature and disperse in early fall, providing a seed bank for germination the following spring. Seeds can remain viable in the soil for over three years.

"This plant loves rich soils and sunlight, making river corridors a favorite habitat to invade," Kearns says. "When populations go to seed, floating seeds are carried down-stream colonizing new areas."

Typically considered an annual, Kearns says the vines grow rapidly in the summer warmth and are killed off by winter chills, with new plants emerging from the previous year's seed dispersal. However, there are several sites in Grant County where land managers now suspect this species is overwintering. Infestations can spread as far as people, water and animals travel.

State working to control invasive

Efforts are underway across the state to control the species. Under the Invasive Species Rule -NR 40, Wis. Adm. Code - Japanese Hops is prohibited through most of the state and listed as restricted in counties where populations are abundant --Crawford, Grant and Vernon counties. In these counties, natural resource managers, landowners and concerned citizens are fighting to keep this plant out of their forests and streams.

"Hand-pulling is effective, especially in smaller populations. For large infestations, continual mowing or cutting prevents seed production," Kearns says. "Plants grow rapidly, so frequent monitoring and re-cutting is needed."

Kearns also says that spraying leaves with a systemic herbicide, such as glyphosate, is also effective in spring. "There is still hope for controlling Japanese Hops," Kearns said. "Because it reproduces mainly by seed, a diligent regime of controlling the emerging seed bank will eventually reduce populations."

Be Alert! Report Japanese Hops

Visitors to river corridors should pay special attention for this species. Anglers, canoeists and recreationists are important "eyes on the water" and can make important contributions in early detection of this species. The following are some identification tips but Kearns stresses that people should exercise caution when working with this plant because it can be very irritating to the skin.

People who find this species are asked to report it. Collecting a specimen or taking detailed photographs of the petiole length and other diagnostic features is extremely important for confirmation. Submit a report online or send the DNR an email at invasive.species@wisconsin.gov.

More information and photographs of Japanese Hops can be found online.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelly Kearns, 608-267-5066

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 13, 2013




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