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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published August 12, 2014

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Proposed inland trout regulations aim to increase opportunities for anglers

Color-coded system helps simplify inland trout fishing

MADISON - The public will have an opportunity to provide input on proposals to simplify existing inland trout fishing regulations and provide more quality trout fishing opportunities at 10 public meetings that will be held throughout the state beginning Sept. 3.

Beyond simplifying the rules for anglers, communities that serve as home to Wisconsin's 13,000 miles of trout streams will likely see additional economic benefits as a result of proposed extensions to the spring and fall seasons and elimination of the current five-day closure says Joanna Griffin, trout coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

"Wisconsin's trout fishing regulations and seasons were last reviewed in 2003 and much has changed, including improved fish populations," says Scot Stewart, DNR district fish supervisor. "Guided by public input, we've developed draft rules that support the continued health of our trout waters while making the fishing experience easier for anglers."

DNR has sought public input throughout the rule review process and the next step is to bring the proposed rules to the public for final comment. Since 2011, DNR staff members have hosted 31 public meetings, developed three angler surveys, organized trout task force stakeholder meetings and developed advisory questions for spring hearings hosted by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.

The public feedback has resulted in a proposal that reduces the number of special regulations from more than 40 to 12. The proposal also creates uniformity on streams within small geographic areas.

The new system uses color-coding resembling a stoplight to guide anglers. Under the proposed rules:

Changes also are proposed in the season dates for inland trout fishing. The current early catch and release season runs from March 1 up to five days before the regular fishing opener. The proposal would extend the early catch and release season to Jan. 1 and would run right to the regular fishing opener with no five-day closure period.

"Thanks to the participation of anglers and interested citizens throughout the state, we are ready to move forward with the next steps," Stewart says.

Ten public meetings are scheduled for September to gather additional citizen comments. The process will conclude with spring hearings and a vote in conjunction with a meeting of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.

The fall public meetings will be held:

For more information about the proposed trout regulations, visit dnr.wi.gov and search for "trout review." In addition to the public meetings, comments may be submitted to Joanna Griffin by email to joanna.griffin@wisconsin.gov or mailed to PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scot Stewart, District Fisheries Supervisor, richard.stewart@wisconsin.gov, 608-273-5967, Joanna Griffin, DNR trout specialist, Joanna.Griffin@Wisconsin.gov, 608-264-8953; or Jennifer Sereno, communications, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov, 608-770-8084

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Public help sought in counting chimney swifts

Reporting on evening phenomenon may help protect a declining species

BELGIUM, Wis. - What appears like "smoke" pouring into brick chimneys in coming weeks isn't an optical illusion, but rather what state wildlife officials say is likely hundreds of native chimney swifts roosting for the night and gathering strength and numbers before they migrate south, all the way to the Amazon.

"Chimney swifts are an important species in Wisconsin because they help to manage the flying insect population," says Kim Grveles, assistant ornithologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and a member of the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group. "Citizen reports will allow us to collect vital information on this unique species and give us a foundation we hope may start reversing the decline of the chimney swift."

Citizens can count and report sightings in the upcoming weeks during the birds' nightly roosting phenomenon, as they prepare to migrate south to the Amazon.

"You don't have to be an experienced birder or trained researcher to enjoy the evening acrobatic displays of the swift," says Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bad Observatory. "The sight of dozens, hundreds or in some cases even thousands of chimney swifts going to roost for the night in chimneys can be an exhilarating spectacle."

The birds congregate in communal roosts in chimneys as a replacement habitat following the disappearance of old-growth forests. According to Mueller, brick chimneys are a suitable and abundant habitat for the birds because they provide an enclosed area with a rough, vertical surface for birds can cling to, much like a hollow tree.

The Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group was established in 2012 to help identify and protect important swift roost sites, encourage and conduct field research on swifts and their ecology and educate the public about the species in order to urge action to halt the species' decline.

Tips on how and where to look for Chimney Swifts

Chimney swift in flight.
Chimney swift in flight.

Chimney swifts have long, slender bodies with curved wings and short, tapered tails. They often fly rapidly, twisting side to side and banking erratically. They often give a distinctive, high chattering call while in flight.

Here are some tips for monitoring the bird:

After collecting the information, citizens can submit the data one of two easy ways.

More information about chimney swifts and how to help protect them can be found on the new (still-in-progress) Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group website (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kim Grveles, DNR, 608-264-8594; Bill Mueller, Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory, 414-698-9108

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Shooting Range Grant Program is under way

MADISON -- Private shooting range operators in Wisconsin will again be eligible for cost share funds to help finance range improvement and development projects in exchange for the ranges offering shooting opportunities to the public. The Department of Natural Resources will make $325,000 available as cost share, according to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

The money comes from the state's Wildlife Restoration grant - commonly known as Pittman-Robertson or PR funds - and is generated by a 10 or 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition. The two-year program began last year.

"We're so pleased to be able to use this money, which is generated by hunters and shooters, to improve shooting opportunities," Stepp said.

With an estimated 800,000 shooters and hunters in Wisconsin and recent strong growth in interest in shooting, providing access to safe, quality places to shoot is a priority for the department.

"The best place for someone to learn to shoot and to enjoy practicing is at a well-managed and maintained range," Stepp said. "This grant program will help range operators and clubs provide high quality opportunities around the state."

The Shooting Range Grant Program can cost share between 50 and 75 percent of approved renovation and development costs depending upon the amount of public access allowed. Counties, cities, villages, townships, other governmental agencies or units, clubs or organizations, tribes, businesses or corporations, and educational institutions are eligible for this program.

Eligible projects include but are not limited to: backstops, berms, target holders, baffles, gun racks, signs, field courses, benches, trap and skeet houses, platforms, sanitary facilities, classrooms, protective fencing, storage areas, shelters, parking, accessible pathways, and support facilities. Project costs must be commensurate with benefit. Indoor range projects will be considered for funding at the department's discretion.

Grant winners must comply with federal law and must have as the primary purpose to "teach the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to be a responsible hunter" or "construct, operate, or maintain firearm and archery ranges for public use." Ranges must be open to the public (non-members) a minimum of 100 days per year. Range operators may charge a reasonable fee during the open hours.

At the completion of each project all facilities at the range must be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Historic Preservation Act, and other federal requirements as appropriate.

Timeline

The range grant guidance document and application will be available on August 15 by searching the DNR website for Grants and then clicking on the button for "find grants" and then the link for "shooting range grants." Applications must be submitted electronically by November 17. A team will evaluate, rank, and make funding recommendations to Secretary Stepp's office, which will give final approval of all projects. Applicants will be notified by Jan. 15, 2015 of the outcome.

Project ranking

Grant applications will be scored on many factors such as the proximity of the range to population centers and the amount of public shooting opportunity the range will provide. Other factors include the demonstration of need, amount of public support, cost, hunter education need, size of the project, and number of different shooting opportunities at the facility.

"One of the most obvious needs is to increase opportunities for shooters and hunters close to home," according to Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator. "Our few public ranges in southeastern Wisconsin are heavily used and in addition to looking to build new public ranges, we believe that by partnering with private ranges, we can expand access to shooting and improve the facilities for everyone who uses them."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke at 608 576 5243 or keith.warnke@wi.gov

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2014-15 conservation patron license sales through Aug. 1 show increase from 2013-14

MADISON— So far in 2014, conservation-minded individuals have continued to show a deep commitment to protecting Wisconsin's natural resources. Through Aug. 1, approximately 44,611 Conservation Patron licenses had been sold (compared to 43,930 through Aug. 1, 2013).

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.

"This is a perfect example of our great state's commitment to protecting our natural resources," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "It is truly amazing to look at the passion and dedication that goes into making Wisconsin a destination for such a wide variety of outdoor activities."

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

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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Disabled deer hunters are encouraged to sign up for a sponsored hunt before Sept. 1

MADISON -- Eligible hunters interested in participating in the 2014 gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities are reminded that the deadline to enroll with a land sponsor is Sept. 1.

In 2014, the disabled gun deer hunt will take place Oct. 4 to 12. As of July 1, 74 landowners had enrolled more than 76,000 acres of land across 44 counties for this year's hunt. For a list of sponsors for the 2014 season, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "disabled deer hunt."

"At a time when it seems to be getting harder and harder to find a place to hunt on private lands, it's great to see such generosity shown by these sponsors who open their lands for this special opportunity," said DNR assistant big game ecologist Dan Kaminski. "This year, we have exceeded the total acreage of land enrolled in the 2011 and 2012 disabled gun deer hunts, and are on par with the amount enrolled in 2013."

Hunters should contact sponsors directly and be prepared to provide their name, contact information and DNR customer ID number. To be eligible, hunters must possess a valid Class A, Class B long-term permit that allows shooting from a vehicle, or Class C or D disabled hunting permit. Hunters must also possess a 2014 gun deer license.

It is important to note that some properties are able to accommodate more hunters than others. "Some of the smaller properties may only allow a few hunters this season, so hunters who have not already enrolled should be prepared to call multiple sponsors in various counties to determine remaining availability," said Kaminski.

Deer hunters are encouraged to check out the 2014 deer season frequently asked questions page for more information. The FAQ feature provides brief responses to a wide variety of deer hunting questions, ranging from deer management unit boundaries to antlerless permits. To view the FAQ page, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "deer."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Kaminski, DNR assistant big game ecologist, 608-261-7588

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 12, 2014




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