NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 3,195 days

ARCHIVED Weekly News Published November 19, 2013

All Previous Archived Issues


Gov. Scott Walker and DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp release deer season message as nine-day nears

MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Department of Natural Resources Sec. Cathy Stepp join hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin deer hunters in the excitement and traditions of the nine-day deer season.

Before heading out to the field, the governor and secretary are reminding all hunters that a safe hunt is a successful hunt, whether a deer is taken home or not.

Additionally, they thank hunters and their families for keeping Wisconsin's outdoor heritage strong, by including new hunters in the traditions of the nine-day season, and by sharing stories of the hunt with each other and with DNR.

Governor Walker and Sec. Stepp have released the following video to directly share their messages for the season with hunters and their families as the excitement builds for opening weekend of the nine-day gun deer season.

For more information and fun ways to connect with DNR this 2013 deer season, visit and search keyword "deer."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jenny Pelej, office of communications, 608-264-9248



Nine-day deer season starts Nov. 23, DNR offers forecast and tips for the hunt

MADISON -- Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites and visiting non-residents eagerly await the arrival of the 2013 nine-day gun deer season, which runs from Nov. 23 to Dec. 1. To help prepare hunters for the season, Department of Natural Resources shares a season forecast, and tips for a successful hunt.

"Nearly 10 percent of Wisconsin residents will take to the field for the annual hunt, along with thousands more who will participate by providing food, hotels, and other services. Deer hunting such an important part of the Wisconsin culture and economy," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. "It's a tradition that many hunters and businesses look forward to all year long. We want to do our part to make sure the hunt is as fun, successful and safe as possible."

According to Wallenfang, forecasting this year's hunt is a little tricky as there are several factors to consider that are the exact opposite of what was seen last year.

"Instead of a very early opener, we have a late opener which could mean reduced rutting activity," Wallenfang said. "And unlike last year, we have some fairly wet conditions in many areas that could decrease hunter access. Our late spring and wet conditions also mean there is about 40 percent of the state's corn crop still standing that will provide cover for deer."

Numbers wise, deer are abundant in many areas of the south but reports from the north are pointing to a different story.

"Bow hunters have reported that they didn't see many deer in some northern areas," Wallenfang said. "This isn't surprising considering the long winter we had that resulted in some direct losses of deer and lower than average fawn recruitment this spring. As a result, the antlerless quotas in the north are the lowest they've been since the late 1990s."

Deer populations throughout most of the farmland region of the state are strong, says Wallenfang, especially on private lands. Still, despite comparatively high deer numbers, farmland units can be difficult to hunt, especially for those spending their season on public lands where hunting pressure is often much higher than surrounding private properties.

There is good news for those still looking for a place to hunt. Wisconsin has more than 1 million acres of private lands open for public hunting in addition to millions more made up by state, national, and county forests. A recent DNR news release summarizes key ways to locate lands open to the public in Wisconsin.

Even with increasing deer populations in many units, hunter success during the gun season can vary based on a wide range of factors. Hunter effort, weather events, rut activity, hunting pressure, and stand site locations in addition to deer numbers can all play influential roles in whether or not individual hunters see and harvest deer. "Deer are not distributed evenly across the landscape and their movements vary greatly from one day to the next," says Wallenfang. "Some hunters simply have access to better hunting and more deer. While some hunters will see lots of deer, their neighbor may have a season that does not live up to their expectations for a variety of reason."

Another step hunters can take to increase their opportunities and enjoy their season is to take advantage of more days in the field. "There has been an increasing trend of hunters spending fewer days in the woods than in years past, often hunting just the opening weekend," Wallenfang says. "Although deer sightings can be fewer after opening weekend, there are still deer to be hunted and the later part of the season can be more relaxing than the high pressure of opening weekend.

"It looks like we're going to have some very cold temperatures and wind for the state of the season," Wallenfang said. "So hunters will need to dress extra warm, but be patient. As other hunters get cold and start moving around, it often gets the deer moving during mid-day as well".

Of utmost importance, Wallenfang stresses safety. "No deer is worth risking the safety of someone else or yourself," he says. Hunters should practice the four rules of firearm safety TAB-K: Treat every firearm as if it is loaded; Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Be certain of your target and what's beyond it; and Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot. And anyone hunting from an elevated tree stand should wear a safety harness.

For more information on deer hunting in Wisconsin search the DNR website for keyword "deer."

"Bring yourself and your partners home safely and have fun," Wallenfang said.

Know your target, don't shoot elk or moose

Whitetails aren't the only deer wandering the Northwoods. Elk and moose also call Wisconsin home, and hunters are reminded of one of the four basic rules of firearm safety to avoid accidentally shooting either.

Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. Being sure of your target not only ensures the safety of other people, but it is necessary to avoid the accidental shooting of non-target animals.

"With an increasing population of elk and moose in the state, hunters should be aware that there is a potential to see these animals while hunting this fall," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. "Both elk and moose are protected species in Wisconsin."

Since the reintroduction of elk into Wisconsin in 1995, three elk have been accidentally shot by deer hunters. Elk now occupy portions of Ashland, Bayfield, Price, and Sawyer Counties.

Although Wisconsin has not reintroduced moose, animals do wander into the state and even take up permanent residency as a result of a successful reintroduction in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and a native population of moose in Minnesota. According to Wallenfang, sightings of moose have been frequent in Wisconsin's northernmost counties this fall, but as far south as Taylor and Langlade counties.

For hunters in the northern part of the state, coyote hunting is now allowed during all gun deer seasons, and hunters are asked to take caution to avoid shooting wolves if they do not have a valid wolf license.

Hunters can easily avoid accidentally shooting non-target animals by taking the time to correctly identify their target, shooting only during legal shooting hours, and always being aware that there are other animals out there that can be mistaken for deer.

It is legal to shoot collared deer

Deer wearing either radio collars or ear tags are part of a DNR research program and are completely legal to harvest. Through the use of the collars, researchers aim to learn more about the kinds of things that kill deer every year, including the impacts of hunting.

"Hunters often wonder if they are allowed to shoot a radio collared deer, and we encourage hunters to treat these deer like any other deer in the wild," said Dan Storm, DNR deer and elk researcher. "With our research, we want to observe the deer deaths as they would happen normally, this gives us the most accurate and useful data."

If you harvest or find a marked deer please call 608-221-6358 and report it. If there is no answer, please leave a message regarding the ear tag numbers or collar frequency, the type and date of mortality, and your contact information, including area code.

The adult mortality study is in its final year of capturing and tagging deer. Researchers will later examine the impact of the 2013 gun hunt and begin the final round of collaring and tagging new deer beginning in mid-December.

Those interested in volunteering can register by searing the DNR website for keywords "deer research."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589; Dan Storm, DNR deer and elk researcher, 608-221-6334; or Ryan Walrath, DNR research scientist, 608-221-6376



Hunters asked to help track populations by filling out the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey

MADISON - With Wisconsin's nine-day gun deer opener approaching, state wildlife officials are encouraging hunters to help track wildlife populations by recording their observations through the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey.

This easy-to-do survey lets hunters record deer and other wildlife sightings during or after their time out deer hunting and then report their observations online or through the U.S. mail.

"This is a great opportunity for hunters to inform wildlife biologists what they are seeing," said Brian Dhuey, survey manager for the Department of Natural Resources. "With the help from hunters, we can better track population changes and improve our management decisions, especially for animals that are difficult to monitor such as bobcat."

Hunters can find the survey by searching the DNR website for keyword "deer hunter wildlife." There is more information about the survey project, a printable tally sheet, and results from previous years such as deer per hour by deer management unit.

Hunters can record wildlife observations until January 2014. Those who provide their email address will receive a personalized summary of their 2013 deer hunting season.

Dhuey says in the first two months of the survey, deer hunters submitted more than 1,400 reports. Hunters logged a total of 2,843 trips, where they observed more than 1,200 bucks, 2,600 does and 1,700 fawns. The frequency of deer sighted, or deer per hour, varies widely by region with the high located in the Western Farmland (0.79 deer per hour) and the low in the Northern Forest (0.33 deer per hour). Turkeys, raccoons and ruffed grouse are the next most commonly observed animals.

People are also encouraged to send in trail camera photos. The trail camera gallery can be accessed through the same Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey webpage.

"Take a moment to view some of the photos or watch a video," Dhuey said. "Check back often, the site is frequently updated with new photos as we receive them."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey 608-221-6342 or Jay Watson 608-221-6360.



'Slow-moving, killer' oak disease found near in state forest

Using only locally produced firewood one way to stop Oak Wilt spread

WOODRUFF, Wis. -- A deadly tree disease known as oak wilt was discovered for the first time on the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest near Woodruff in October, prompting state forestry officials to take immediate action to stop its spread in the north.

Brian Schwingle, Department of Natural Resources forest health specialist, says staff cut down the diseased tree and oaks around it, ripping their stumps out of the ground with a bulldozer and burning all diseased wood. The area will be monitored next summer to determine if these efforts were successful in eradicating oak wilt at this isolated site.

"Such drastic action is necessary to prevent oak wilt from spreading from tree to tree through connected roots in the oak-dominated stands on the state forest," Schwingle said. "Once oak wilt gets established in an oak stand, it's like a slow moving fire, killing all oaks in its path."

Schwingle says oak wilt is not native to northern forests and has been moving northwards in recent years with the inadvertent help of people. Spores of the disease are most frequently brought to new areas in firewood from oaks killed the previous summer.

"New oak wilt infestations are frequently found around vacation homes or campgrounds where people bring wood from southern and central Wisconsin where the disease is common." Schwingle says. "The first step in protecting your oaks is to get your wood locally. The nearer the wood was cut to where you plan to use it, the less likely it is to be carrying pests or diseases new to your area that can emerge to attack your trees, including oak wilt."

The second step you can take to protect your oaks is to be sure the spores do not have a way into your trees. Oak wilt spores need a fresh wound in spring to summer to infect an oak. "Too often, we provide an entry for the oak wilt spores when we prune oaks, nail ornaments, insert screws or bump our vehicles into oaks when opening up the cabin," Schwingle says. "This is the other reason new oak wilt infections are so often found in lake shore developments and other vacation areas."

Also, he says, avoid causing even small wounds to your oaks from April 15 to July 15 when spores commonly infect fresh wounds. If you accidentally damage an oak or have to prune off a branch broken in a storm, paint or spray the wound with a tree dressing or paint to prevent infection.

For more information on recognizing, preventing, and controlling oak wilt, search the DNR website, for keyword "oak wilt." If you suspect oak wilt is killing oaks north of Highway 64 between Sawyer and Forest counties, contact Brian Schwingle at the Merrill office of the DNR.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Schwingle, DNR forest health specialist, Merrill, 715-536-0889; Joanne M. Haas, DNR public affairs, 608-209-8147.



Pruning trees in November through winter can help reduce the spread of oak wilt

MADISON -Late autumn, starting November 1, through winter is a good time for tree pruning, according to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources tree health experts.

Pruning during winter greatly reduces the likelihood of spreading oak wilt and other tree diseases and minimizes pruning stress on trees. "The best time to prune trees in Wisconsin isn't in April; it's during winter when a tree is dormant," according to DNR Urban Forester Don Kissinger. "Insects and diseases that could attack an open wound on a pruned tree aren't active in winter. Also, without leaves on the trees it is easier to see and prune broken, cracked or hanging limbs."

"Timing is especially critical when pruning oak trees," said Kyoko Scanlon, DNR Forest Pathologist. DNR recommends that people stop pruning, wounding, or cutting oak trees from April through July to limit the spread of oak wilt, a fatal disease of oaks. A more cautious approach limits pruning in urban areas until November. Your municipality may have their own oak wilt ordinances that you should follow as well.

It is also important not to move infected firewood. "Many of the recent oak wilt finds in northern Wisconsin likely originated from infected firewood being transported from the areas where oak wilt is prevalent," according to Brian Schwingle, DNR Northern Region Forest Health Specialist. Infected oak firewood should remain where it was cut for one year after the tree dies before moving it to a new area. Once bark is loose, there is no longer a threat of moving oak wilt.

Oak wilt is common in the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin. In much of northern Wisconsin though, it is still a new and uncommon disease. Since 2010, oak wilt was confirmed for the first time in Lincoln, Oneida, Rusk, Sawyer, and Vilas Counties. The disease has not been confirmed in Ashland, Bayfield, Calumet, Door, Douglas, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Price, Sheboygan, Taylor, and Washburn counties.

For additional information online, search the DNR website for keywords "oak wilt".

Pruning tips

Trees should be pruned throughout their entire life. During the tree's first 10 years prune every other year to foster strong structural or "scaffold" limbs. Once proper structure is established, prune about every five years to maintain the structure and remove larger pieces of dead wood. Certified arborists who offer pruning and other tree care services can be found at (exit DNR).

"Pruning should not remove more than 25 percent of the live crown of a tree. The lower third of established trunks of deciduous trees should be free of limbs," Kissinger said.

The DNR pruning brochure offers more detailed, step by step tips for tree pruning. Find it by searching the DNR website for "tree pruning [PDF]".

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Kissinger: 715.359-5793, Kyoko Scanlon 608.275-3275, or Brian Schwingle 715.536.0889.



Organizations receive funding to help state officials monitor state's natural resources

MADISON, Wis.- Twenty one Wisconsin organizations and projects will receive funding from the Department of Natural Resources to support volunteer-based programs that help carry out natural resources monitoring projects including monitoring shorelines and aquatic invasive species, observing and tracking wintering birds and conserving the bumble bee population in Wisconsin.

"Our partners and volunteers help us collect data we need to manage the state's natural resources on a scale we'd never be able to achieve with staff alone," says Owen Boyle, who coordinates the Citizen-Based Monitoring Program for DNR. "We're very excited with the level of interest, variety and quality of projects proposed."

The projects were chosen from 38 applications and will help to initiate or expand citizen-based monitoring programs that conduct DNR priority land and water resource projects in Wisconsin, says Boyle. Citizen-based monitoring has a long and successful history in the state with thousands of volunteers working with more than 180 monitoring groups and projects.

"The philosophy of the WCBM Partnership Program is that we can do more together than we can alone," says Boyle. "The dedication and passion of the volunteers helping us to monitor our aquatic and terrestrial natural resources is truly inspiring."

DNR and organizations with monitoring programs have formed a loose affiliation called the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network (exit DNR) to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of monitoring efforts by providing communications, resources and recognition. DNR funds a full-time person to coordinate the effort and every year, DNR has annually awarded up to $100,000 in seed money to help organizations and programs advance their volunteer-based monitoring projects.

The projects also aim to address the department's priority data needs, says Boyle. Sponsoring organizations typically contribute at least $3 in donated time and money for every $1 the state provides toward the projects. Three of the projects that are underway around the state are making a difference in documenting and researching ways to protect our resources.

Nocturnal neighbors; monitoring Door County flying squirrels: Baileys Harbor, Wis.

Flying squirrel
The flying squirrel is a species of special concern in Wisconsin as their habitat preferences, distribution and local abundance are not well understood.
Larry Master Photo

Nest box
Nest boxes were created to help monitor the flying squirrel population in Door County under a volunteer program run by The Ridges Sanctuary and supported by DNR.

When the Director at The Ridges Sanctuary found a northern flying squirrel in their parking lot last fall, it kicked off a very exciting wildlife project in Northeastern Wisconsin. The flying squirrel is a species of special concern in Wisconsin as their habitat preferences, distribution and local abundance are not well understood.

Through this project, The Ridges Sanctuary will be studying if there are in fact flying squirrels in the Door Peninsula and if there is a micro-habitat selection based on forest type. With the help of undergraduate students at UW-Stevens Point, volunteers were trained to monitor nest boxes. In addition, a local Eagle Scout earned his rank through teaching volunteers nest box construction, which will aid in the monitoring of this species.

Bumble bee conservation in southern Wisconsin: Madison

Native bee populations are declining in range and size, which has serious implications for native plant pollination and reproduction, ecosystem function and human agricultural systems. Eleven species are documented on Arboretum lands in Madison. This volunteer project will document species diversity, populations, nectar and pollen resources used, habitat requirements and nest selection in the hopes of better understanding bee biology, conservation and supporting crucial native pollinators in the region. The project will hold training sessions for new and current volunteers to expand their base as well as field days to collect and document data, with the ultimate goal to communicate any future conservation guidelines widely.

Native bee study
A volunteer for UW-Madison Arboretum's bumble bee monitoring project, which is supported by DNR, photographs a bee on pasture thistle.
Contributed Photo

Prescott Area Water Stewards (PAWS): Prescott, Wis.

The Prescott School District will now begin a comprehensive seventh through twelfth grade water curriculum established with an emphasis on field work and data collection. The goal of this project is to usher in the next generation of citizen scientists and allow students to eventually take ownership of the excellent water resources in Prescott, an area previously under-monitored. Seventh grade students will begin with chemical tests and biotic index surveys and by tenth grade will have the opportunity to take a field trip to a trout stream to collect data. Sampling will continue through an elective Environmental Studies class and Ecology Clubs in both middle and high school.

Other sponsoring organizations by geographic area (projects crossing region boundaries are listed under the region where the project leader is located) and what they'll be doing include:

Northern Wisconsin

Northeast Wisconsin

South Central Wisconsin

Southeast Wisconsin

West Central Wisconsin

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Owen Boyle (608) 261-6449



DNR seeking public comment on Milwaukee company applying for Green Tier

MADISON - A Wisconsin business committed to environmental performance is looking to join the state's innovative Green Tier program and the Department of Natural Resources is asking the public to provide comments.

Burns & McDonnell, an engineering, architectural, construction and environmental consulting firm based in Kansas City, has applied for Tier 1 of the program for its Milwaukee office.

Burns & McDonnell provides services to a broad range of clients across a multitude of industries, including aviation, power generation and transmission, water treatment, environmental remediation, transportation, refineries and institutional buildings. In addition to offices in Milwaukee and Madison, the company employees approximately 4,300 people worldwide and is 100 percent employee owned.

To be accepted into Green Tier, applicants must have a good environmental record, commit to superior environmental performance and implement an Environmental Management System (EMS). Specific environmental performance strategies are established by the participant, allowing each company to commit to environmental activities that are sensitive to their unique strengths and opportunities.

As a consultant, Burns & McDonnell plans to work with its clients to incorporate sustainability practices in their projects by encouraging best management practices for storm water runoff, spill prevention, waste management and water use. They also plan to enhance their energy efficiency and minimize waste in their own office setting.

The DNR will accept comments on Burns & McDonnell's application through December 19, 2013. Comments, questions and requests for a public informational meeting about this application may be directed to Christine Lilek, Wisconsin DNR, Horicon DNR Office, N7725 Hwy 28, Horicon, WI 53032; or by email or phone to, 608-387-7898.

More information on the program can be found by searching the DNR website for Green Tier can be accessed on the DNR web site.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Lilek, 608-387-7898



Proposed changes to lake and river grant programs open until Dec. 2

MADISON -- Proposals to change deadlines for local governments, lake associations and others to submit applications for Aquatic Invasive Species grants and four other grants aimed at protecting and restoring lakes and rivers are the topic of a public comment period through Dec. 2.

The changes would allow for a single application deadline for the AIS grants and for Lake Planning grants, and would modify the grant application submission deadlines for Lake Protection, River Planning, and River Protection grant programs, according to Carroll Schaal, Department of Natural Resources lakes and rivers section chief. Grant reporting requirements are also being simplified.

"These proposals are part of our efforts to improve the grant process for the applicants and for DNR staff and to get these projects going more quickly," says Schaal.

"These initial changes, along with streamlining the actual application forms and processes, will reduce the amount of time that project sponsors and staff spend completing and reviewing applications for these five grant programs."

More information is available by searching the DNR website for program guidance and clicking on the link for Proposed Application Deadline Changes for Five Surface Water Grant Programs [PDF].

Comments about these changes will be accepted through Dec. 2, 2013. Send comments to Carroll Schaal, Lakes and River Section Chief,

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carroll Schaal, 608- 261-6423


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 19, 2013

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.