NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 2,786 days

ARCHIVED Weekly News Published December 23, 2014

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Wisconsin's oldest trumpeter swan a symbol of success recovery efforts

Wisconsin's oldest trumpeter swan was hatched from an egg collected on the first of nine trips to Alaska in 1989 to start the state's swan recovery program Contributed photo by Kathy JavaWisconsin's oldest trumpeter swan was hatched from an egg collected on the first of nine trips to Alaska in 1989 to start the state's swan recovery program Contributed photo by Kathy Java

MADISON - A regal old swan spending the winter on a wild river in Burnett County stands as a remarkable symbol of the success of Wisconsin's trumpeter swan recovery program.

Known by her current identification collar number - the fourth ID collar over her lifetime - 82K turned 25 last June. She hatched from an egg that was collected in the first year of the Department of Natural Resources' swan recovery program. Over a nine-year period beginning in 1989, Wisconsin biologists flew to the wilds of Alaska to collect up to 50 trumpeter swan eggs a year.

Trumpeter swans are the largest waterfowl species in North America. Adults are all white and stand up to 5 feet tall, weighing between 20 and 35 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan. Market hunting and demand for their feathers brought these birds to near-extinction by the 1880s.

Alaska has a healthy trumpeter swan population and studies have shown the egg collection does not harm that population. The biologists left at least two fertile eggs in each nest to ensure that the nesting pair could raise a brood.

Of the 385 eggs they collected, 356 -- or 92 percent -- successfully hatched in incubators through a cooperative program with the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Sumner Matteson, the DNR avian ecologist who oversaw the trumpeter swan recovery program, was one of the biologists on that trip and despite "acute air sickness," from flying in the small U.S. Fish and Wildlife float plane, collected the egg, which was labeled U-2.

"I was in such a wretched state that Rod King, the USFWS pilot, even jokingly asked 'You aren't going to expire on me, are you?'," Matteson said.

Despite the air sickness, Matteson and fellow DNR biologist Randy Jurewicz, now retired, were able to collect 40 eggs for Wisconsin's recovery program and another 20 eggs for a Michigan DNR recovery program.

Matteson said he remembered the U-2 egg not just because it shared a name with one of his favorite rock bands, but because the resulting cygnet shared his birthday.

"The U-2 egg hatched on my birthday, June 15, 1989, at the Milwaukee County Zoo, under the careful watch of Milwaukee County Zoo curator Ed Diebold and staff," Matteson said.

From there she was placed in a captive-rearing program at a pond at the General Electric Medical Systems facility near Pewaukee and raised until 2 years of age, when she was banded with a USFWS band. She received her first collar before being released on May 8, 1991 at South Bass Lake in Burnett County.

Swans hatched at the zoo over the nine years were either placed in the captive rearing program or an innovative decoy rearing program where they were released in the wild but reared by humans in white swan costumes.

Like all swans released to the wild, 82K has been monitored over the years and has been recaptured and re-collared three times. She has successfully raised several broods of her own, nesting at the Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area, and in more recent years has been observed guiding other young birds.

"Her current collar is cracked, but we won't be replacing it," Matteson said.

From its humble beginning with the collection of those 40 swan eggs, the Wisconsin trumpeter swan population has steadily increased. The original recovery goal of 20 breeding pairs by 2000 was doubled; by 2009 there were more than 200 breeding pairs in the state and the species was removed from the state endangered species list.

Scores of organizations, businesses and private individuals worked to carry out the recovery effort with state wildlife managers, including Milwaukee County Zoo staff, University of Wisconsin-Madison wildlife ecologists, USFWS staff and Windway Capital Corp. owners Mary and Terry Kohler of Sheboygan who flew the biologists to Alaska and back for each trip. The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin played a significant role along with the Johnson Family Foundation and the Pittman-Robertson Federal-Aid-in Wildlife Restoration Fund to provide program support.

As of 2-14, biologists counted 253 breeding pairs in 27 counties, with an estimated population of more than 2,000 trumpeter swans in the state.

Up until now, DNR biologists have worked with local volunteers and other DNR staff to actively monitor up to 150 nests in Wisconsin annually. Those efforts found that swans generally successfully hatched three young per nest.

A Burnett County couple have been keeping an eye on 82K for many years and reported to Matteson that they hadn't seen her since April and were afraid she wasn't coming back. They reported she returned in mid-November.

Beginning next year, Matteson said, Wisconsin will move to a new monitoring system as part of the North American Trumpeter Swan Survey. Instead of biologists or volunteers tracking individual nests, aerial surveys will fly transects to obtain a population estimate.

At least that is the plan for general population monitoring. For 82K, who has surpassed the general life expectancy of a swan in the wild of 18 to 20 years, there will still be a biologist with a shared birthday keeping his eyes on the matriarch of the Wisconsin trumpeter swan recovery effort.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sumner Matteson 608-266-1571 or Paul Holtan, 608-235-2126

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Residents in 50 states invested in the protection of Wisconsin's public lands in 2014

Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund brings in $90,000 since inception

MADISON -- Hunters, anglers, campers and other outdoors enthusiasts from all over the country showed their love this year for Wisconsin's state parks, natural areas, wildlife areas and fisheries by making a donation to the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund. Donations came in from residents of every state, two Canadian provinces and even the armed services, helping to make the fund's first year a resounding success.

"If your family is like mine you have fished, hunted, camped and hiked our gorgeous state and cherished every moment," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "The Cherish Fund is committed to enhancing our public lands and waters so future generations can also enjoy our great outdoors."

The Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund was created through unanimous bipartisan legislation to "protect, restore and improve habitat for Wisconsin's plants and animals" on state-owned lands. In a unique public-private partnership, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin holds and manages the fund as an endowment.

"We are so grateful to everyone who has made an investment in the natural places that make Wisconsin a truly special place," said Ruth Oppedahl, executive director of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. "We can all envision a place in Wisconsin we cherish, where we fell in love with hunting, fishing, birding, camping or hiking. Those are the places we are going to be able to care for and manage with the Cherish Fund."

Since the 2013 kickoff, the Cherish Fund has brought in more than $90,000. The bulk of those funds came from $2 donations from the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses, and state park stickers and trail passes through DNR's Automated License Issuance System. More than 25,000 individuals agreed to give at least $2 when prompted during registration. Donations also came in from campers reserving campsites through Reserve America, on the Cherish Fund's website and in the form of planned gifts to the Natural Resources Foundation.

"Wisconsin has a strong tradition of protecting land, but now needs to responsibly manage those public lands," said Charlie Luthin, former executive director of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and Cherish Fund donor. "I am proud to have helped create the Cherish Wisconsin Fund and am happy to be one of the early donors to it. I encourage like-minded conservationists to support the Fund to ensure proper stewardship of our public lands long into the future."

Over the next year, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin aims to bolster the dollar amount of donations that come in, ensuring the restoration and permanent protection of beloved natural places such as Crex Meadows, Horicon Marsh, Tiffany Bottoms and the White River Fishery Area, among many others.

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin provides sustainable funding for Wisconsin's most imperiled species and public lands, while helping citizens connect with our state's unique natural places. Learn more at www.wisconservation.org (exit DNR).

Learn more about the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund: cherishwisconsin.org (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Carly Darrow, DNR, 608-264-8976 (office), 608-381-2705 (cell), Carlyn.Darrow@wisconsin.gov; or Lindsay Renick Mayer, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, 608-266-3138 (office), 608-843-6669 (cell) lindsay.mayer@wisconsin.gov

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Final comment period begins for Wisconsin Wild Turkey Management Plan

MADISON - Wisconsin's Wild Turkey Management Plan is nearly complete, and those who wish to play a role in wild turkey management are encouraged to attend a public meeting or provide feedback online before Feb. 20, 2015.

The Wild Turkey Management Plan serves to guide decisions regarding the allocation of turkey permits, the structure of our spring and fall hunting seasons, the use of Wild Turkey Stamp funds, and many other aspects of turkey management in the state.

An updated plan will guide turkey management through 2025, and will reflect recent scientific research and changes in turkey distribution and hunting tradition. It is important that hunters, landowners and others with an interest in turkey management contribute their ideas, concerns, and opinions as the revision process nears completion, according to Scott Walter, upland wildlife ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The management plan's initial draft was guided in part by input received at 12 meetings held statewide in April and May 2012, as well as an online survey available during the same time period.

"The input received thus far from hunters and others interested in turkeys was so instrumental in our revision of the statewide management plan, and we're excited to show folks the new plan," Walter said. "It's a thorough document that we feel will be valuable to anyone interested in turkey management."

Two final public input meetings will be held in February, and are intended to share information regarding the status of the new plan and gather additional feedback.

Public meeting dates and locations are as follows - each will run from 7-9 p.m.:

Meetings should last no longer than two hours, and will be open to the public. No advance registration is required.

Anyone interested in local turkey management issues, hunting seasons, and any other topics related to wild turkeys is encouraged to attend. The management plan will also be available on the department's website.

Public comments will be accepted through Feb. 20, 2015. Comments may be directed to Krista McGinley, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707 or by email to Krista.McGinley@wisconsin.gov..

For more information regarding the Wild Turkey Management Plan and to view public meeting information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "turkey" and "meetings" respectively.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861; Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458

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Public comments sought on process to streamline municipal wetland permits

MADISON -- A new general permit that streamlines approvals for municipal projects potentially affecting wetlands has been drafted and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on the language.

The public comment period on the general permit runs until the close of business Jan. 23.

Cami Peterson, waterway and wetland policy coordinator for DNR, said the ability to develop the streamlined general permit process was created by a change in wetland laws in 2012 under 2011 Wisconsin Act 118.

The proposed general permit would enable municipalities to receive a more timely approval if their projects would meet standards set forth in the draft, including the unavoidable filling of just under one-quarter of an acre or 10,000 square feet of wetland, Peterson said. The scope of the general permit for municipal development limits eligibility to non-transportation projects conducted by cities, towns, villages and counties in Wisconsin.

"The general permit covers projects with a low risk of environmental harm" such as water main and sanitary sewer replacements, Peterson said. "The permit offers a set of eligibility criteria and if a municipal project meets the criteria, the community applies for approval and gets it with less time and money spent in the process."

DNR does not anticipate this general permit to result in significant effects on the environment. Previously approved general permits cover projects for residential, commercial and industrial development, as well as for recreational development such as trails.

A copy of the draft wetland general permit for municipal development and other information about the Department of Natural Resources individual and general wetland permit process, is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov and searching for keyword "wetlands" and clicking on the link for wetland permits.

For more information or to submit written comments on the draft wetland general permit via U. S. mail, contact Cami Peterson, DNR-WT/3, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, 608-261-6400.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Cami Peterson, DNR waterway and wetland policy coordinator, (608) 261-6400, Cami.Peterson@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, (608) 770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov.

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Master Planning begins for the Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area

RHINELANDER, Wis. -- The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on what activities they would like to be allowed at the Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area, a 3,600-acre property located 10 miles west of Rhinelander in Oneida County, at an upcoming open house and through a public comment period

Department of Natural Resources is initiating master planning efforts for the wildlife area following a request earlier this year from a local all-terrain vehicle club to establish an ATV trail across a portion of the wildlife area.

Woodboro Lakes does not currently have a master plan. DNR staff conducted a trail analysis in response to this request and presented it to the Natural Resources Board for consideration at their October 29, 2014 meeting. The board decided that they would like to consider establishing the ATV trail as part of a comprehensive master plan for the property, and they directed the department to develop a master plan for the wildlife area by the end of 2015. The ATV trail proposal developed in the 2014 trail analysis process and the public comments received then will be carried forward into the full master planning process.

The purpose of the public meeting is to announce the planning process and invite public participation, provide information about the process and the property, and receive input about the property's future direction and any important issues that should be addressed in the master plan. Anyone with an interest in the property is encouraged to attend this meeting. The meeting agenda is as follows:

The meeting is on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2014 from 6-8 p.m. at the Northwoods Community Elementary School, 9086 County Highway K, Harshaw. In the event of bad weather, the meeting will take place on Thursday, Jan. 22 from 6-8 p.m. at the same location. The agenda includes:

A Regional and Property Analysis is a document that helps set the stage for a future master plan by providing background information about the property. The analysis describes how the property fits in to larger ecological, socio-economic, and recreational contexts.

The draft Regional and Property Analysis, maps, and other background information will be available for viewing at the public meeting. They can also available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for "Woodboro master plan".

The documents are also available at the DNR Rhinelander Service Center, Lac du Flambeau Library, and Tomahawk Public Library.

Comments or questions about these documents can be offered at the public meetings, online, or submitted to: Jeremy Holtz by mail at 107 Sutliff Ave., Rhinelander, WI 54501, by phone at 715-365-8999, or by email at jeremy.holtz@wisconsin.gov; or Yoyi Steele, WM/6, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, by phone at 608-266-8169, or by email at yoyi.steele@wisconsin.gov .

The deadline for receiving comments is Friday, Jan. 30, 2015.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeremy Holtz, Wildlife Biologist, Rhinelander, 715-365-8999; Yoyi Steele, Planner, Madison, 608-266-8169

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, December 23, 2014




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