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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published November 25, 2013

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Preliminary opening weekend results show enthusiasm is high, though temperatures as well as harvest numbers came in low

MADISON - Though opening weekend temperatures were cold, more than 615,000 people bought deer licenses to go out hunting, nearly 27,000 of them buying licenses to go out hunting for the first time. Many hunters went out with hopes of getting a deer, knowing that despite extremely cold temperatures, they would likely all be guaranteed the making of warm memories.

Though hunters define success in different ways, 110,797 deer were successfully harvested and registered in Wisconsin during the opening weekend of the nine-day deer season. The tally is based on preliminary call-in numbers collected from registration stations by Department of Natural Resources staff.

"Congratulations to all hunters who endured the cold and were able to harvest a deer opening weekend of the nine-day. Though getting a deer is often the ultimate goal, it's the whole experience of spending time with friends and family, engaging in the traditions, and getting outdoors that makes the hunt so fun, even if a deer is not brought home," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "I hope those that weren't able to get a deer during the season opener will get back out there and enjoy the rest of the days of the season."

"We saw quite a few new hunters taking part in the traditions this year, with females representing 33 percent of resident First Time Gun Deer licenses sold," Stepp said. "With the extremely cold temperatures opening weekend, many of these new hunters had quite the initiation. This makes me even more proud of the stories and the photos being shared with us, showing them having fun whether they got a deer or not. If people haven't checked out our Facebook photo album of pictures collected over the weekend, they really should. It's a great reminder of what the season is all about!"

To view some of the photos and stories shared, please visit DNR's Facebook page.

Winter makes an entrance for opening day

Opening weekend saw temperatures as low as -9 degrees and winds gusting to 25 mph.

"This is one opening weekend of the gun deer season that hunters won't soon forget," said Tom Hauge, DNR wildlife management bureau director. "In over 40 years of hunting I don't recall a deer season that started out this cold. So it comes as no surprise that the weather conditions had a direct impact on the harvest throughout the state. But the season is still young and there are plenty of deer to be hunted, so I hope folks will get back out there and enjoy the rest of the season."

Overall, the statewide harvest is down just under 18 percent from 2012, and registration decreased in all regions.

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

The 2013 preliminary count of 110,797 is down 17.8 percent from last year's opening weekend tally of 134,772. The preliminary buck harvest for the 2013 opening weekend is down 25 percent at 53,865 (71,989 in 2012). The preliminary antlerless harvest is down 9 percent at 56,932 (62,783 in 2012).

"We want to remind folks that these preliminary numbers come from a staff call-around to deer registration stations this morning," said Tom Hauge, director of the DNR wildlife management program. "The final opening weekend tally will likely be somewhat larger, when all the registration stubs are entered into the data base over the next couple of months."

Weather is one of many factors that can influence harvest rates on opening weekend, but it played a big role this year.

"Reports from up in this area, as well as from around the entire state, say that a lot of people were leaving the woods by mid-morning on Saturday because they just couldn't take the cold any longer," said DNR big game ecologist, Kevin Wallenfang, who spent the weekend working at registration stations in Vilas County. "I believe Sunday was even colder, so it stands to reason that the overall effort in trying to get a deer was down considerably for a lot of people this weekend. Before the hunt started, we speculated about factors that could impact the harvest like the late opener and rutting activity. But this year, weather was the biggest factor, and something we cannot predict."

In addition to hunting conditions, another factor that is expected to impact overall harvest in the north is permit levels. Wallenfang said that antlerless permit numbers across the north are at the lowest levels seen since the 1990s and a reduced antlerless harvest is expected this year. The reduced permit levels are a reflection of low deer numbers in some areas and the department's efforts to allow local herds to grow in areas hit hardest by last winter's lingering snows and late spring that cause some direct losses of deer as well as below average fawn production. The neighboring states of Michigan and Minnesota saw similar conditions, and both have reported a comparatively lower deer harvest this fall.

"These preliminary numbers are just a small part of the events of opening weekend that we all look forward to. Over 615,000 people purchased licenses to take part in the hunt and I suspect that for every deer reported there are 10 great deer camp stories made. We can't tally the life long memories made or the value in sharing the traditions of the hunt with thousands of new hunters, but we know it's high," said Hauge. "This is Wisconsin's 162nd deer season, with generations of hunters going to the field, sometimes getting deer and sometimes not. In my experience, the thing that keeps people coming back year after year is the camaraderie and the chance to keep the traditions of the season alive," added Hauge.

Enthusiasm for hunting remains high, though temperatures were low

The department's license sales office reported 615,872 gun deer licenses sold by midnight, Nov. 22, prior to the Saturday start of the season. Deer license and tag sales will continue through the hunting seasons.

This year, 26,690 new hunters also bought licenses to deer hunt for the first time, or for the first time in 10 years. Females represented 33 percent of all residents who purchased First Time Gun Deer licenses.

"I am really excited to see the number of women heading to the field. This is a segment we have been focusing on, knowing that if we get the women involved in hunting, we also get the family involved. It's such an important way to keep our hunting heritage strong," said Stepp. "I also want to recognize that 54 first time licenses were sold to hunters 80 and older going into opening weekend. The involvement of so many generations in the deer hunt truly illustrates how deep the deer hunting tradition runs in Wisconsin."

Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sport coordinator reports efforts to reach out to female hunters appear to be successful, with the number of female hunters aged 10 to 30 increasing by 10 percent this year and overall, females making up 10 percent of all deer license sales.

Deer hunters continued to engage in another standing tradition, buying their license on the way up to deer camp Friday, with 102,742 licenses sold Friday before the season opener.

Some facts about Wisconsin hunters, going into opening day:

For more facts about Wisconsin hunters in the field this year, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "deer." A licensing table and breakdown is regularly updated on this page.

Injury report

There have been six hunting incidents reported through the opening weekend. Four incidents were self-inflicted and two were multi-party incidents. The incidents occurred in Grant, Oconto, Kewaunee, Green Lake, Monroe, Sheboygan counties and are still under investigation.

Though DNR does not track non-firearm related incidents, there have been reports of injuries resulting from falls from tree-stands. About one third of all hunters will take a fall from a tree stand during their hunting careers. "This serves as an important reminder to everyone hunting during the remainder of the deer season to wear a full-body safety harness, use a haul line to raise and lower your unloaded firearm, and carry a cell phone in a secure pocket you can reach in the event of a fall," said Conservation Warden Jon King, Hunter Education Administrator. "Please refresh your knowledge of tree stand safety on our web site."

Additional safety reminders and tips are available by visiting dnr.wi.gov, search "tree stand safety," and also view a safe hunting feature.

"As the season continues, we want to stress the importance of hunters keeping safety foremost in their minds at all times on the hunt -- and during all deer drives," said King.

King noted that historically about one-third of Wisconsin's shooting incidents happen during deer drives, usually because someone wasn't where they were supposed to be or someone shot at a deer when they did not have a safe backstop or in a direction they should not have been shooting.

"Always be sure of your target and anything behind it, and if you aren't sure, don't shoot. Know where your bullet will impact if you miss," said King. "It is really important that hunting parties wanting to drive deer have a plan and that they follow that plan to the letter. Knowing where your hunting mates are and where safe shooting lanes are is critical."

"Making 2013 a safe season is the best deer hunting tradition to maintain. A safe hunt is a successful hunt," Stepp concluded.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, DNR Big Game Ecologist, 608-206-1107 (cell); Tom Hauge, DNR Wildlife Management Bureau Director, 608-266-2193; Jon King, DNR Conservation Warden, 608-575-2294; or Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator, 608-576-5243

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Pilot program recognizes local governments and tribes for outstanding recycling efforts

MADISON - A new pilot program from the Department of Natural Resources has recognized 50 local governments and the Ho-Chunk Nation for their superior recycling efforts in Wisconsin.

The agency's "Recycling Excellence Awards" pilot focuses on towns, villages, cities, counties and tribes in the west and south central parts of the state, with the goal of encouraging and rewarding communities doing great recycling work while driving friendly competition to improve their programs.

"This program was designed to increase communities' interest in recycling and offer a positive experience for our state recycling program," said Ann Coakley, Waste and Materials Management Program director.

The department handed out awards to 29 local governments in the south central part of the state, 21 in the west central area and one to the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. The majority of the awards were based on 2012 annual reporting data.

Pending feedback from this year's pilot, Coakley added that the agency will consider expanding the program to the entire state when the DNR hands out awards in 2014.

Recycling Champion Award

For communities having the highest recycling rate achieved over the past three years.

Recycling Rate Leader

For communities having the highest pounds per capita collected in 2012.

Most Improved Recycling Rate Over Previous Year

For communities that improved the most in pounds per capita collected since 2011.

Most Improved Recycling Rate Over Three Years

For communities that improved the most in pounds per capita collected since 2009.

Lowest Collection Cost (per ton)

For communities having the lowest cost of recycling for each ton of material collected.

Lowest Collection Cost (per capita)

For communities having the lowest cost of recycling per person for a village, town, city, county or tribal community.

Enforcement Leadership Award

This award went to local governments or tribes that pursued and tracked enforcement actions. Enforcement actions could include citations, written warnings, verbal warnings, complaints, waste tagging and curbside inspections.

Program Efficiency Leader Award

For communities with the most cost effective recycling program per capita (based on cost of outreach and pounds collected).

The following two awards were based on nominations or self-nominations.

Excellence in Wisconsin Recycling - Project

This award went to local governments or tribes nominated for recycling projects/initiatives begun in 2012 that were above and beyond the minimum requirements for an effective recycling program.

Excellence in Wisconsin Recycling - Program

This award went to local governments or tribes nominated for recycling programs that exceeded DNR expectations and provided excellent service to their residents.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Waneta Kratz, 608-266-6965

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Entries being accepted for Wisconsin's Great Lakes photo contest

MADISON - Entries are now being accepted for Wisconsin's Great Lakes photo contest, with the winning entries to be featured in a beautiful four-color calendar available at the Wisconsin State Fair and for download.

"We invite people to give us their best shot," says Steve Galarneau, who leads the Department of Natural Resources Office of the Great Lakes, which sponsors the contest. "Show us what you love and appreciate about the Great Lakes with your photos and your writing."

Photos of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior as well as their tributaries, wetlands and harbor towns are eligible for the contest; all entries must be received by Feb. 2, 2014.

Photos in all seasons are needed and will be accepted in the following categories: Natural Features and Wildlife; Cultural and Historic Features; People Enjoying Wisconsin's Great Lakes; and Lake Protection Activities, according to Jo Temte, the communication specialist who coordinates the contest.

Last year, DNR received more than 500 photos of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

DNR's Office of the Great Lakes is also accepting writings about Lake Superior or Lake Michigan. Statements, short essays, stories, poems and songs can be submitted to the Office of the Great Lakes.

Photos and writings may be used in the calendar and other Great Lakes publications as well as on the DNR's website and in displays and presentations, Temte says.

For more information, contest rules, and submittal instructions, visit: dnr.wi.gov and search photo contest.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jo Temte at 608-267-0555.

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New CWD mapping application available

MADISON -- An updated interactive chronic wasting disease mapping application is available on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website. This application allows a user to look at numbers of deer tested statewide for CWD and those that tested positive.

Users have the ability to look at the sampling data by DMU, County or township. By clicking on an area they can find the exact number of deer sampled and that tested positive in the area of interest. They can find a location such as a city or coordinates and jump to it on the map. A hunter may be interested in how close the nearest positive is to his/her hunting area and can use a measuring tool to find the distance. There are drawing tools available for the user to create a personalized map.

This application is a great way for hunters, landowners and all others interested to keep up to date with CWD sampling and testing in their local area as well as the entire state.

To reach the application, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov, for "CWD prevalence."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Larson, wildlife health data coordinator, 608-264-6054

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Comments sought on management of conifer plantations, invasive species at 11 state parks

MADISON -- The public has an opportunity to review and comment on proposed guidance for managing conifer plantations and invasive species [PDF] on 11 Wisconsin State Park properties as well as a number of State Ice Age Trail Areas in seven counties.

The Department of Natural Resources is proposing a variance to the master plans for these properties to allow for additional management of conifer plantations in order to control for pests and disease, remove trees that could be hazards and enhance the aesthetic value of forested lands for recreational users.

"A number of master plans do not address conifer plantation management which is a necessary component in maintaining healthy and aesthetically pleasing mono-specific plantings of conifers," said Craig Anderson, ecologist for the state parks program. "Invasive species can have negative recreational, ecological, health, and economic impacts on state parks properties. Prior to 1996, invasive species management was not recognized as a high priority when developing master plans. This variance will allow necessary invasive species management to reduce the negative effects of invasive species within areas that were designated as natural succession in older master plans."

Properties that would be subject of the master plan variance include Big Foot Beach, Blue Mound, Cooper Falls, Devil's Lake, Governor Dodge, Kinnickinnic, Mill Bluff, and Pattison state parks, the Bearskin State Trail, the Browntown-Cadiz Spring State Recreational Area, and Havenwoods State Forest. It would also apply to State Ice Age Trail Areas in Dane, Lincoln, Marathon, Polk, Washington, Waupaca, and Waushara counties.

People can review the proposed master plan variance by searching the DNR website for "parks" and clicking on the link for "reports and more." Comments on the proposed variance should be sent by email to Craig Anderson or by U.S. mail to Craig Anderson, DNR Parks and Recreation, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Anderson, 608-264-8957

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Beat the "Black Friday" crowds and give the gift of the great outdoors

MADISON - Avoid the crowds and give a gift to help loved ones enjoy Wisconsin's great outdoors: a state park pass to 60 state parks and forests, Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, tree seedlings for conservation purposes, and guidebooks to special places and for birds, frogs and turtles, to name just a few.

Go to dnr.wi.gov and search "gifts" for ideas from the Department of Natural Resources for presents that are good to give at any time of the year.

Many of these gifts can be purchased online immediately. In some cases, the buyer may need to make a call or email someone to secure the gift. Either way, they are gifts that keep on giving: insight into new places to explore in Wisconsin; access to special places and activities; and a legacy for now and future generations to enjoy.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Gaumnitz, 608-264-8942

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Monday, November 25, 2013




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