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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published December 9, 2014

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Eleven First Day Hikes to be held at state properties Jan. 1, 2015

MADISON - Anyone looking to start their New Year's resolution for better health can start the year off on the right foot by participating in any of 11 First Day Hikes that will be held at Wisconsin State Park properties on January 1.

On a First Day Hike, visitors can enjoy exciting 1- to 2- mile walks through diverse, beautiful natural areas, led by park rangers and volunteers. Most hikes include additional activities such as campfires, s'mores, crafts, costume contests and storytelling.

America's State Parks and American Hiking Society are teaming up with state park programs across the country to promote First Day Hikes as a healthy and memorable way to start the New Year.

All 50 states are participating in the fourth annual event that invites families and friends to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds and wonder of our natural world with fun, guided hikes.

In Wisconsin, First Day Hikes will be held at the following properties:

On Jan. 1, 2014, 190 participants hiked a total of 605.7 miles at nine different state park properties, up from 165 participants who hiked a total of 396 miles in 2013.

Nationwide last year, more than 27,000 people took part in more than 800 hikes in all 50 states - an increase of 5,000 participants over 2013, according to the National Association of State Park Directors.

For helpful cold weather hiking tips, visit the American Hiking Society's website at www.americanhiking.org (both links exit DNR). For a complete listing of all State Park events, including First Day Hikes, search the DNR website for keywords "get outdoors."

All participants are encouraged to log their First Day Hike adventures on social media with the hash tag "#firstdayhikes."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brigit Brown - 608-266-2183 or Paul Holtan, 608-267-7517

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Deer hunting opportunities continue through December in Wisconsin

MADISON - While the nine-day gun deer season has come and gone, additional opportunities to deer hunt in Wisconsin are available through December.

In the Central Forest and Central Farmland zones, the annual four-day antlerless-only hunt will take place Dec. 11-14. Anyone with an unused antlerless deer tag valid in these zones may participate. All hunters, with the exception of those pursuing waterfowl, must wear blaze orange during this hunt.

It is important to note that this season is not open in the Northern Forest and Southern Farmland zones.

Later in December, hunters in the Southern Farmland Zone will have an opportunity to hunt antlerless deer, during what is known as the Holiday Hunt, from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2015. This is the first year antlered bucks may not be harvested during this hunt - this includes archery and crossbow hunters. However, any unfilled antlerless tag valid for this zone may be filled. Again, all hunters must follow blaze orange clothing rules.

The late archery season continues statewide until Jan. 4, 2015, while the gun deer season for metro sub-units continues through Dec. 10, and archery through Jan. 31.

For a map of deer management zones [PDF] in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov, search keyword "deer," and select the Deer Management Zones option from the "Maps" list.

The department has provided a number of useful resources - all hunters are encouraged to review the 2014 deer hunting regulations [PDF] and FAQs, available at keyword "deer."

To ask specific questions before or during the hunt, hunters can also contact the DNR Call Center toll-free at 1-888-936-7463. Call center staff are on hand seven days per week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Spanish- and Hmong-speaking representatives are also available.

Lastly, those interested in deer management in Wisconsin are reminded that the final County Deer Advisory Council meetings of 2014 will be held in each county in December. These meetings will provide the public with an important opportunity to provide input regarding each county's deer population objectives before recommendations are advanced to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

December meetings will be open to the public for any additional comments as the councils finalize their recommendations. To view a meeting schedule, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CDAC."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589

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2014 Wisconsin State of the Birds report highlights effective conservation measures

MADISON - The 2014 Wisconsin State of the Birds report highlights successful partnerships, conservation efforts and their positive impacts to bird species throughout the state.

The Wisconsin State of the Birds Report contains excerpts from the State of the Birds Report, which is a national overview of the conservation status of birds in the United States issued by the U.S. committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative. It estimates population trends for birds grouped by broad habitat categories and shows how the trends have changed in recent years.

"The State of the Birds Report highlights more than 200 species that are in need of immediate conservation action," said Yoyi Steele, DNR wildlife biologist. "It also shows the progress of bird conservation nationally over the last five years."

Also noted in the Wisconsin report are bird conservation efforts by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, a statewide partnership of more than 175 bird conservation organizations.

"The Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative has been a leader in the bird community for the past decade," said Ryan Brady, WBCI bird monitoring coordinator and DNR research scientist. "WBCI continues to proactively address the national challenges we face in bird conservation here in Wisconsin through planning, education and outreach."

Here are a few notable conservation accomplishments in the 2014 Wisconsin State of the Birds report:

The 2014 Wisconsin State of the Birds Report [PDF] is available on the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative website: www.wisconsinbirds.org (both links exit DNR).

Another way the department is working to achieve bird conservation goals in Wisconsin is through the creation of its next Wildlife Action Plan, slated for completion in 2015. The plan will direct conservation activities for priority species and habitats over the next ten years.

As a part of plan, the DNR is updating the list of its species of greatest conservation need. The new list and plan will underpin the actions that public and private conservation organizations or individuals can take toward helping bird species and their habitats.

In addition, the next iteration of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas (exit DNR) will further expand bird conservation efforts in Wisconsin. Over the next five years of fieldwork, Wisconsin will work to compile a comprehensive data set of breeding bird numbers and diversity throughout the state.

The direction of the Atlas fieldwork is influenced by information found in the State of the Birds report and in turn, the knowledge discovered through the Atlas will help the state direct efforts toward addressing the threats and trends identified in the report.

Furthermore, the DNR and partners continue working to conserve threatened and endangered birds and their habitats. This year, biologists completed nesting surveys statewide for eagles, ospreys, endangered terns and the rarest songbird in North America, Kirtland's Warbler. They also had a successful year assisting partners to reintroduce whooping cranes into the wild and helped support numerous citizen-based monitoring projects specific to bird species.

To learn more about bird conservation in Wisconsin, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for keyword, "birding" or visit www.wisconsinbirds.org (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Yoyi Steele, yoyi.steele@wisconsin.gov, 608-266-8169; Ryan Brady, Ryan.Brady@wisconsin.gov; 715-685-2933, Davin Lopez, Davin.Lopez@wisconsin.gov; 608-266-0837

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Warm-up in forecast could weaken ice conditions

MADISON - With temperatures forecast to reach into the 40-degree range this weekend, state conservation wardens are cautioning people interested in venturing on to our frozen lakes and rivers that due to the early season snowfall many lakes have not had enough time to form thick, safe ice for winter fun.

"In all likelihood, the ice looks thicker - and safer - than it actually is," said Todd Schaller, chief warden with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "The best advice to follow is no matter what the month, consider all ice unpredictable. There can be cracks and changes in the thickness that you may not be able to see. This is especially true after we have the first cold nights and the early ice is spotted statewide."

Schaller says ice thickness may vary or snow cover may hide weak or honeycomb ice and water pockets. "Let's make sure your first outing isn't your last. And take the time to educate your children about the dangers associated with frozen ponds, lakes and rivers."

Here are tips for staying safe this season:

"At DNR, we want you to be safe enjoying the outdoors. Common sense is the greatest ally in preventing ice related accidents," Schaller said. "That includes checking ice conditions and preparing oneself before venturing out. One rule of thumb remains the same. Treat all ice as unsafe."

For more information search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "ice safety."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Schaller, chief warden, 608-266-1115, Joanne Haas, Office of Communications, 608-209-8147

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, December 09, 2014




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