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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published March 4, 2014

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DNR seeks feedback on expanding trout seasons

Asks anglers to weigh in at Spring Fish & Wildlife Hearings

MADISON - Moving the start of the early trout season to January 1 and expanding the early season to all inland waters to provide more fishing opportunities are among the options Wisconsin anglers can weigh in on during the 2014 Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings held April 14 at sites in all Wisconsin counties.

Early trout
This hardy angler braved harsh weather to enjoy opening weekend of the 2014 early catch and release season --and was rewarded for his efforts.
WDNR Photo

The six advisory questions on trout topics, Spring hearings questionnaire questions 22-27 [PDF], are the latest step in a comprehensive review of trout fishing in Wisconsin launched in 2011. The questions are designed to help gauge support for possible season changes, one of many components under consideration as the Department of Natural Resources develops a rule package aimed at improving anglers' trout fishing experiences without jeopardizing the quality of the fishery.

"We are trying to provide more fishing opportunity for trout anglers," says Scot Stewart, the DNR fish supervisor leading the review effort. "At the same time we are trying to respect regional desires throughout the state. We are using the advisory questions to focus in on those desires."

Anglers also will get a chance to share their input during public informational meetings planned for summer 2014. Both will be used to shape a proposed trout regulation rule package for consideration at the 2015 Spring Fish & Wildlife Rule Hearings, Stewart says.

These public input opportunities are part of the statewide effort launched in 2011 to review inland trout fishing because it had been more than 25 years since DNR had collected angler input on a statewide basis, says Joanna Griffin, a fisheries specialist who leads DNR's trout team. Trout populations, trout streams, and trout angler habits and attitudes themselves had changed significantly over that time. Trout populations, for instance, increased overall on a statewide basis as has the number and mileage of trout streams, a story told in "A Trout Treasury" in the April 2011 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

To get that initial input, DNR held public meetings in March 2011, conducted an online survey, and followed with a mail survey of former anglers to understand why they left the sport Results of the 2011 Survey of Lapsed Wisconsin Inland Trout Anglers [PDF, 341KB] .

Results from a mail survey of current inland trout anglers sent in February 2012 is now being finalized. That survey was sent to 1,000 randomly-selected purchasers of the 2011 inland trout stamp. In early 2013, DNR formed a Trout Management Task Force to review the survey results, provide input, and develop goals for the future of Wisconsin's trout fisheries. The group included 40 people from around Wisconsin who represent the Conservation Congress, conservation organizations, and businesses and fishing guides with an interest in trout fishing.

Based on the task force's input, DNR's trout team put together the advisory questions related to season changes, says Griffin.

The advisory questions, in addition to moving up the opening day of the early trout season, ask whether the season should be statewide. Right now, much of northeastern Wisconsin and selected waters elsewhere are closed during the early season. Other questions ask whether the early season should end the day before the regular season begins, eliminating the five-day closure now in place between the two seasons.

Anglers are also asked if they want to extend the regular season to Oct. 15 from Sept. 31, as it is now, with options of making the extra two weeks open to harvest or to catch and release only, Griffin says.

Finally, anglers are asked if they favor a uniform gamefish season for so-called put-and-take trout lakes and ponds, where catchable size fish are stocked every spring but where the lakes and ponds may not support survival over winter.

March 13 online chat set on trout advisory questions

Anglers and others with question about the trout advisory questions or the surveys are invited to join DNR for an online chat at noon March 13. People who can't join at that time can read the transcript later at their convenience.

Griffin, Stewart, Matt Mitro, DNR trout researcher, and Marty Engel, longtime fish manager for Pierce, Dunn and St. Croix counties, and Jordan Petchenik, the DNR research scientist who conducted the surveys, will participate in the online chat.

To participate, visit dnr.wi.gov, and look for the box on the right to enter the chat, or search the phrase "ask the experts." Or join the conversation on the DNR Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WIDNR, by clicking the "Cover it Live Chat" box on the top of the page. The transcript will be available after the chat at that same link.

Griffin named statewide trout coordinator

Joanna Griffin, a fisheries specialist for DNR since 2000, is taking over as statewide trout coordinator for the fisheries program, a role vacant since the 2011 retirement of Larry Claggett.

Joanna Griffin
Joanna Griffin takes over as leader of DNR's trout team.
WDNR Photo

"Joanna Griffin has been accomplishing great things for the trout program: organizing and writing the Trout Stamp Reports, coordinating the report database for trout habitat projects, and serving as the liaison to the trout team," says Steve Hewett, fisheries management section chief. "We look forward to her leadership and coordination skills to help us forge ahead with our trout review and continue to provide some of the best trout fishing in the country."

Griffin, who grew up in southern Vermont, graduated from Vassar College and completed her graduate studies in Woods Hole, Mass., through the Boston University Marine Program. She worked for two years at Marine Research, Inc., an environmental consulting firm in Falmouth, Mass., before joining DNR in 2000 as the assistant propagation coordinator.

Since 2001, Griffin has had multiple project positions with DNR fisheries management and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In 2011, she became a staff specialist working on a panfish management plan, trout habitat reporting and trout stream classification. Griffin lives in Madison with her husband and two children, all accomplished anglers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Joanna Griffin 608-264-8953; Scot Stewart, 698-273-5967; Marty Engel

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DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress to form Wisconsin Fisheries Advisory Council

MADISON - To increase and broaden public input on statewide fisheries issues and facilitate dialogue between various fisheries interests, the Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress are forming a new fisheries advisory group that meets for the first time on March 29.

The new group, called the Wisconsin Fisheries Advisory Council, will bring together representatives from diverse statewide fishing groups as well as representatives from the fishing business community and tourism. In addition to groups such as Walleyes for Tomorrow and Trout Unlimited, angling groups aimed at bringing new people to fishing will be represented as well, including Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, Wisconsin Women Fish, and the Hmong American Sportsmen Club.

The group will advise DNR's fisheries management board and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress on statewide issues including DNR's long-term fisheries plan, biennial budgeting, and balancing angling groups' sometimes competing desires and priorities for their favorite fish species, says Mike Staggs, DNR's fisheries director

"We are excited about the opportunity to expand public involvement in our fisheries program from a statewide perspective," he says.

He notes that DNR fish biologists and hatchery staff work often with local fishing clubs on issues concerning fisheries in a specific lake or river, and with statewide groups like Trout Unlimited and the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin on issues specific to the group's favored fish species.

"The idea is to get people who represent a cross-section of our users to help us try to balance all of the different and competing priorities of these groups and make the wisest use of our staff and resources," he says.

The advisory group will be led and facilitated jointly by DNR and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. The WCC is statutorily defined as an advisory body on fish and wildlife management and conservation issues to the Natural Resources Board, and has worked closely for more than 80 years with DNR's fiisheries and wildlife management programs on statewide and local issues.

Congress Chairman Rob Bohmann says the Congress has worked with DNR fisheries staff over the last six months to develop the council proposal, and will continue to work through the summer to identify and contact potential memberships.

"We see the Wisconsin Fisheries Advisory Council as an excellent opportunity to engage organized fisheries interests around the state in addressing statewide fisheries issues and helping the Congress fulfill its statutory mission."

The first council meeting will be held March 29, 2014. Agenda items for the first meeting include a review and discussion of current statewide fisheries issues and statewide planning efforts for panfish, trout, sturgeon, walleye, and public outreach.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ron Bruch, Fisheries Statewide Planning Coordinator, Oshkosh at ronald.bruch@wisconsin.gov or at 920-427-9831, or Larry Bonde, Wisconsin Conservation Congress Vice-Chair at lbonde@tds.net or at 920-286-3327

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New DNR Annual Report: Investments in people and projects for the state's good life

MADISON - In a new Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Annual Report [PDF], DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp showcases successes that stem from working together with the people and businesses of Wisconsin, where making an investment in their DNR is generating results throughout the state.

"A priority for DNR is to build bridges and make connections with all who enjoy and use Wisconsin's natural resources,". Stepp said. "We have made big strides by focusing on communications and using innovative ways to do so -- to help us be accessible all over the state, even when we're sitting at our desks. But we also have more experts, more boots on the ground to do more and more for the benefit of our natural resources. I am proud of what we've accomplished as a state, as an agency, by working together."

In addition to recognizing accomplishments on the ground, Stepp also shares praise of the agency's employees. "I am fortunate to be the secretary of an agency that is filled with such passionate and talented people. The items in the report would not have been possible without their skills and professionalism."

Highlights from the report include:

The agency assembles and shares the annual report as one vehicle to share how the investments the Wisconsinites make in their DNR are paying dividends. As part of this, DNR is also releasing today a new agency report card [PDF]. "Telling our customers - the public - how we're performing is not a new idea," said Stepp. "But we think this report card is a great new way to quickly show folks how we're measuring up while providing some benchmarks upon which we can continuously improve."

The report is a one-page "dashboard" view available by searching the DNR website for keywords "lean gov." The report covers the agency's five areas of focus: Natural Resources & Environment, People, Economy, Recreation and Health & Safety.

Stepp added that the department plans on updating the report card, possibly every quarter.

To provide feedback on the report card, or on any other DNR customer service, please visit the DNR website and take a customer.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristy Rogers, 608-266-2241

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Leftover spring turkey permits available beginning week of March 17

MADISON -- Remaining permits for the 2014 spring turkey hunting season will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Monday, March 17. Designated zones will be sold each day, starting at 10 a.m. Sales will continue through midnight or until all permits for that zone or time period are sold out.

The spring 2014 turkey hunting season runs from April 16 through May 27, with the youth hunt being held April 12 - 13. The season is divided into six time periods, each running from Wednesday through the following Tuesday.

In total, 237,765 permits were available for the spring 2014 turkey season - 101,872 permits remain for sale. The following zones have leftover permits, and the scheduled sales dates are as follows:

Beginning Saturday, March 22, any remaining permits will be available for purchase until the zone or time period is sold out or until the season ends.

Customers may purchase one permit per day - residents and non-residents will have equal opportunity to purchase these leftover permits. It is important to note that purchasing leftover permits will not affect preference status for future spring or fall turkey permit drawings.

The fee for leftover turkey permits is $10 for residents, $15 for non-residents, and $5 for hunters who are 10 or 11 years old. All hunters will also be required to pay the spring turkey license and stamp fees, unless they have previously purchased the 2014 license and stamp, or are a 2014 Conservation Patron License holder.

Hunters interested in purchasing a leftover turkey permit should check the turkey zone map [PDF] to verify where they want to hunt and then check the spring turkey leftover permit availability site to see if permits are available for the period and zone they wish to hunt. These numbers are available on the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "turkey." Hunters may also reach the DNR Call Center at 1-888-936-7463.

Leftover permits can be purchased through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

A limited number of disabled-only turkey permits for state park areas are available as well. To purchase one of these permits, disabled hunters who have been issued either a Class A or Class C Disabled Hunter Permit should visit a DNR Service Center or call the DNR Customer Call Center at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) beginning March 18, after 10 a.m.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, 608-267-7861

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New fishing, hunting licenses go on sale March 5

MADISON --Wisconsin hunting, fishing, trapping and other licenses for the 2014-15 seasons go on sale Wednesday, March 5. The new annual licenses are valid through March 31, 2015. Hunting and fishing licenses for the 2013-14 license year will expire March 31, 2014.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources encourages long-time license buyers in Wisconsin to consider purchasing a Conservation Patron license. A Conservation Patron license gives the license holder all of the basic fishing and hunting privileges at a great price, $165 for Wisconsin residents and $75 for Wisconsin residents under age 18.

Revenue from Conservation Patron license sales is distributed amongst the fishing, wildlife and trapping programs and also helps fund fish and wildlife habitat improvement programs.

In its third year, the first-time buyer license continues to offer an affordable opportunity to explore a number of outdoor activities available throughout Wisconsin. Certain resident licenses are available for as little as $5 for those who have never purchased a Wisconsin license or those who have not purchased a Wisconsin license in any of the 10 years preceding the date of application.

Hunting and fishing licenses can be purchased through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

DNR Customer Service staff is available to assist the public online and via phone from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Spanish and Hmong bilingual customer service representatives are also available. Customers may reach customer service at 1-888-WDNR INFo (1-888-936-7463) or by e-mail at csweb@wisconsin.gov. An online chat link is also available

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bureau of Customer Service and Licensing, 608-266-2621

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Statewide permit and authorization for regularly occurring activities may result in the incidental take of rare species

MADISON - Common activities associated with stream bank stabilization, stream crossings and pipeline inspection and maintenance would be covered under a broad incidental take permit and authorization the Department of Natural Resources is proposing to issue. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk. the

Currently the DNR issues individual incidental take permits/authorizations with identical minimization and mitigation measures to covers such activities. The agency is proposing to issue this permit and authorization to cover these regularly occurring activities for specific endangered and threatened species including: northern cricket frog (Acris crepitans), wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta), slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus), and all endangered and threatened fish species.

The disturbance caused by these regularly occurring activities may result in some mortality; however, incidental take will be minimized by those undertaking such activities by following protocols designed for each species. DNR staff concluded that the common activities covered under this permit and authorization would minimize impacts to the species by adhering to conservation measures; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence or appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and/or recovery of the state population of these species or the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part and the habitat that is critical to their existence; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action.

The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered and threatened species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Permit/Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the species are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Rori Paloski at 608-264-6040. Public comments will be taken through April 4, 2014 and should be sent to Rori Paloski, Conservation Biologist, DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rori Paloski, 608-264-6040

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 04, 2014




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