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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published January 7, 2014

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Ice cover and record number of eagles combine for fantastic viewing this winter

Eagle watching events and places to view the birds highlighted

RHINELANDER, Wis. - Wisconsin's growing bald eagle population - a record number of breeding pairs and occupied nests were recorded in 2013 -- and a hard, early freeze are combining to create fantastic viewing opportunities this winter for the nation's symbol in many parts of Wisconsin, state eagle experts say.

Eagle watchers will find plenty of opportunities at the growing number of organized eagle watching events this winter in Wisconsin along the Wisconsin, Mississippi and Fox rivers, as well as at open water areas along other state lakes and rivers, says Carly Lapin, conservation biologist with DNR's Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation and monitoring coordinator for bald eagles.

"The amount of open water is limited because it's been so cold, so the eagles are really concentrated as they search for fish," Lapin says. "It will be easier for people to see them and there should be some great viewing opportunities in many parts of Wisconsin."

Eagle watching events and presentations are set at communities including:

Links to more information on these events, a slide show and video about eagles as well as fast facts, can be found on eagle feature page of the DNR website.

People can find eagles congregating at open water areas along the Wisconsin, Mississippi and Fox rivers, and at other open water areas on lakes and rivers with big trees along the shoreline, Lapin says.

The eagles feed on fish in the open water below dams. The Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers, in fact, boast the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the lower 48 states.

Bald eagles, listed as endangered in the 1970s on both state and federal endangered species lists, have recovered after regulations were put in place to protect the species and its nesting and feeding habitat, and also following a ban on the pesticide DDT, which had contributed to poor chick hatching rates. They were removed from the state list in 1997 and the federal list a decade later.

The population of bald eagles in Wisconsin has literally taken off, from only 108 breeding pairs in the 1970s to a record 1,343 documented in April 2013 surveys. DNR staff team up with DNR pilots to conduct the surveys every year, one of the nation's longest running aerial surveys, and in 2013, found occupied eagle nests in 67 of Wisconsin's 72 counties.

Vilas and Oneida counties led the way with 144 and 134 nests, and the number of nests continues to increase in the southern, eastern and west central parts of the state.

A second round of DNR surveys to determine how many eaglets had hatched counted 1,057 nestlings for a 63 percent success rate, the 2013 report shows.

Many of these immature eagles hatched in 2013 could be among the big groups of eagles people will see this winter, Lapin says. There may also be adult eagles that typically breed in northern Minnesota and Ontario in the summer and winter in Wisconsin in search of open water.

The eagles wintering along the Fox River tend to be local Green Bay eagles. Green Bay is not on the migratory path of bald eagles that nest in northern Minnesota and Ontario. Eagle numbers here have also increased steadily over the past 20-30 years.

DNR wildlife technician Steve Easterly attributes the rise in eagles in the Green Bay area in winter to the Fox River cleanup, the dams and paper mills along the river that create open water, a warmer winter climate and abundant gizzard shad in the Winnebago System and along the Fox River.

Wherever people see bald eagles in Wisconsin this winter, Lapin encourages prospective eagle watchers to keep their distance from the eagles to avoid disturbing them. Staying in their car to watch the eagles is the best approach, Lapin says. "The eagles are at a critical point in the winter so it's best not to make them use their energy with unnecessary movements," she says. "Enjoy their majesty and aerial exploits, but always be aware of their well-being."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carly Lapin, 715-365-8954

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Winter Free Fishing Weekend is Jan. 18-19, 2014

Free loaner ice fishing gear and fishing clinics make it easy to try

MADISON - Wisconsin residents and visitors alike can fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a fishing license on Jan. 18-19 during the state's second annual winter Free Fishing Weekend.

Free fishing clinics offered at several state parks and ice fishing equipment available for loan from many state parks and offices statewide make it even easier for people to try Wisconsin's hard water fishing, says Theresa Stabo, Wisconsin's angler education director.

"Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to discover what ice fishing's all about in Wisconsin - fun, friends, family and, of course, the fish," Stabo says.

"Safe ice allows you to walk to spots you'd need a boat to reach during the open water season and nearly 20 of our tackle loaner sites have ice fishing equipment for you to borrow. All you need is a friend to help you drill a hole to get started fishing and develop a new reason to love Wisconsin winters."

"Kids fish for free every day in Wisconsin, but the Free Fishing Weekend makes it a great time to get the whole family out and any adults who would like to give it a try, Stabo says. Bring along sakes and sleds to give everyone some variety - and an escape from cabin fever, she says.

More tips on taking kids ice fishing can be found on the ice fishing pages of the DNR website, where DNR fish biologist and avid ice angler Skip Sommerfeldt passes on his tried and true tips for successful ice fishing trips with his daughters.

No fishing license or Great Lakes salmon stamp is needed to fish any Wisconsin water. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River and other boundary waters. Other fishing rules apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish anglers can keep and any seasons when anglers must release certain fish species.

More information about Free Fishing Weekend, including a map with the sites and contact information to arrange to borrow ice fishing equipment, is available online. Go to dnr.wi.gov and search "Free Fishing Weekend."

Free fishing clinics are scheduled at sites including Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo; Merrick State Park in Fountain City; the Northern Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest in Campbellsport; the Southern Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest in Eagle and the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kansasville. The Chippewa Valley Family YMCA is also hosting a free fishing clinic at Glen Loch Flowage in Chippewa Falls. Check the DNR web site before Free Fishing Weekend for additional listings.

Ice Fishing Tackle Loaner Sites
Ice fishing equipment is available for loan from the following state parks and DNR office locations. Please contact the DNR staffer listed to reserve and arrange to get the equipment.

Buffalo County
Fountain City
Merrick State Park, S2965 State Road 35, 608-687-4936

Brown County
Green Bay
DNR Northeast Regional Headquarters, Rod Lange, 2984 Shawano Ave.; 920-662-5457

Chippewa County
Cornell
Brunet Island State Park, Mike Rivers, 23125 255th St.; 715-239-6888

Crawford County
Prairie du Chien
DNR Service Center, Patrick Short, 1502 E. Lessard St.; 608-326-8818

Dane County
Fitchburg
DNR Service Center, Kurt Welke, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road, 608-273-5946

Florence County
Florence
DNR Service Center/UW-Extension Building. Greg Matzke or Meg Dallapiazza, 5631 Forestry Drive Florence; 715-528-4400 ext. 122 (Greg); 715-528-5490, ext. 1147 (Meg)

Fond du Lac County
Campbellsport
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit, Jackie Scarfenberg, N1765 Hwy. G; 920-533-8322

Green County
Monroe
Browntown-Cadiz Springs State Recreation Area, Brad Bates, N3150 Highway 81; 608-527-2335

Kenosha County
Kansasville
Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Beth Goeppinger, 26313 Burlington Road; 262-878-5600

Jackson County
Black River Falls
DNR Service Center, Howie Schmidt, 910 State Highway 54 East; 715-284-1402

Lincoln County
Merrill
Council Grounds State Park, Dawn Bishop, N1895 Council Grounds Dr.; 715-536-8773

Milwaukee County
Milwaukee
Havenwoods State Forest, Matt Coffaro 6141 N. Hopkins St.; 53209; 414-263-8614

Milwaukee
Urban Ecology Center-Washington Park, Terrance Davis, 1859 N. 40th St.; 414-344-5460

Sauk County
Baraboo
Mirror Lake State Park, Becky Green, E10320 Fern Dell Road; 608-254-2333

Sawyer County
Hayward
DNR Service Center, Russ Warwick, 10220 North State Highway 27 South; 715-634-9658 ext.3508

St. Croix County
Baldwin
DNR Service Center, Marty Engel or Matt Andre, 890 Spruce St.; 715-684-2914 ext. 110 (Marty)715-684-2914 ext. 136 (Matt)

Hudson
Willow River State Park, Aaron Mason, 1034 County Highway A; 715-386-5931

Trempealeau County
Trempealeau
Perrot State Park, Lois Larson, W 26247 Sullivan Road; 608-534-6409

Waushara County
Wautoma
DNR Service Center, Scott Bunde, 427 E. Tower Ave.; 920-787-5683

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Theresa Stabo, 608-266-2272

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Public hearings set on permanent rules for hunting in Wisconsin state park properties

Rules will also do away with park turkey management zones

EDITOR'S ADVISORY; CORRECTION: This news release has been corrected to indicate these rules would allow hunting dogs actively engaged in hunting to be off on any state park property open to hunting, expanded from the three state parks where it was previously allowed.

MADISON - The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on permanent rules for hunting and trapping on Wisconsin State Park properties at a series of upcoming public hearings.

2011 ACT 168, signed into law in April 2012, established that hunting and trapping activities are generally allowed on state park properties effective Jan. 1 2013. The Department of Natural Resources implemented the first year under Act 168 using its authority to set emergency rules, which were approved by the State Natural Resources Board in December 2012.

Under its authority to limit hunting and trapping for safety reasons under Act 168 the board set the open hunting and trapping seasons in state parks from Nov. 15 through Dec. 15 and from April 1 through the third spring turkey period. In addition deer hunting with a bow will be open Nov. 15 until the end of the archery season in early January. Act 168 gave the DNR the authority to prohibit hunting and trapping within 100 yards of a designated use area such as a campground, picnic area, or beach, where there are public safety concerns, or to protect unique habitat.

The board also limited the types of traps used at state parks to those that would prevent catching dogs and prevented shooting across trails in areas that are not open to hunting.

The department is not proposing new season dates or modifications to periods when hunting and trapping are allowed in state parks that would be different from what was implemented in December, 2012.

The permanent rules will include all of the same hunting and trapping rules included in the emergency rules and will include some additional changes such as eliminating the spring state park turkey management zones [PDF], and allowing hunting dogs to be off leash for dogs actively engaged to be expanded from the three state parks where it was previously allowed to any state park property open to hunting. The rules will also eliminate language that is no longer needed, simplify existing regulations, and create new rules related to safety.

"With turkey hunting now allowed on most state park properties there is no longer a need for individual state park turkey management zones," says Scott Loomans, DNR wildlife regulations specialist.

Prior to Act 168, 17 state park properties had already allowed spring turkey hunting by permit. Each of these properties had been listed under hunting regulations as separate turkey management zones. Under the proposed permanent rules, those state park turkey zones will be eliminated and a park property will become part of the surrounding zone in which it is located.

The proposed rule and fiscal estimate may be reviewed and comments electronically submitted through the Wisconsin Administrative Rules website [adminrules.wisconsin.gov] (exit DNR). Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted via U.S. mail to Mr. Scott Loomans, Department of Natural Resources, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or by email to scott.loomans@wisconsin.gov. Comments may be submitted until Jan. 24, 2014.

The hearings will all begin at 6 p.m. and be held on the following dates at the locations listed:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Loomans 608-225-9440; Peter Biermeier, state park recreation, planning and development chief, 608-264-6136; or Paul Holtan, state parks public affairs manager, 608-267-7517

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DNR flagship funding guide for brownfields updated in 2014

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' most popular brownfield publication is brand new for the coming New Year. The Financial Resource Guide for Cleanup and Redevelopment is a comprehensive guide to more than 60 grants, loans, tax incentives and other financial programs for the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites around the state.

"Since the brownfields program began in Wisconsin, we have effectively demonstrated that human health and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand with economic development and job creation," said Darsi Foss, DNR Brownfields and Outreach Section chief. "Our role is to encourage, help and support local governments and private entities as they consider and commence these projects."

The Financial Resource Guide [PDF], which can be viewed or downloaded from DNR's brownfields web pages, includes a quick reference chart to help communities and private developers find the right financial program for their brownfield projects.

By definition, brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties where the real or perceived existence of contamination is hindering cleanup and the beneficial reuse of the land.

The Wisconsin Brownfields Initiative is considered a national leader due to its innovative effort to revitalize blighted properties, and often looked to as a model by other states and the federal government. The DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment Program maintains an online, searchable database which identifies approximately 3,000 properties in Wisconsin that are currently being cleaned up.

Since the database was created, more than 24,000 properties have been cleaned up and made available for reuse.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Darsi Foss, 608-267-6713

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 07, 2014




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