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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published April 28, 2015

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Electronic deer and bear registration will provide additional convenience to hunters while keeping time-honored traditions alive

MADISON -- After a successful 2014 pilot program, deer and bear hunters in Wisconsin will be able to electronically register their harvest during 2015 hunting seasons.

Electronic registration will provide additional convenience and reduced cost for hunters and will also give the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources instantaneous access to harvest data. Electronic registration is currently in use for Wisconsin's turkey and goose hunting seasons, and agencies in other states have reported high hunter satisfaction through electronic registration for deer and other big game.

While walk-in registration was the only option available for many hunters in the past, all deer and bear will be registered electronically in 2015. In-person registration is expected to continue to be available in many locations throughout Wisconsin, and will also use the new system.

"We are encouraging local businesses to volunteer their services as a registration station to help give hunters an opportunity to continue their traditions," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer ecologist. "Any business can offer registration services if they are willing to provide a phone or computer for public use, or assist a hunter with registration. We have worked with stakeholders and will continue to offer on our website a list of businesses that will offer in-person registration with the new system."

In 2014, 14,000 hunters were selected to register deer by telephone or online and test a new electronic registration system. Those hunters registered more than 10,000 deer electronically during the archery, crossbow, muzzleloader, and gun deer seasons.

"We received feedback from a number of hunters, and overall, most users found both the telephone and online systems easy to use and very convenient," said Wallenfang. "We've used many of their suggestions to make our system even more user-friendly in 2015."

Improvements for the 2015 deer season include a shortened and much simpler carcass tag confirmation number. In addition, a more efficient keypad-based phone menu will replace the voice-activated system used in 2014. With help from Wisconsin hunters, the electronic registration process has been further streamlined to allow hunters to register their deer with ease.

According to Dave MacFarland, DNR bear ecologist, while bear hunters will also be required to use electronic registration, they will still need to submit a tooth from a harvested bear.

"While the transition to electronic registration will provide some unique challenges, we hope to make it as simple as possible for hunters," said MacFarland. "Historically, we have seen nearly 100 percent compliance in the submission of bear samples--continued partnerships with Wisconsin's bear hunters will help keep this track record of success going under the new registration system."

Hunters who successfully drew a bear permit in 2015 will receive further instructions and sampling materials by mail this summer.

To register electronically, hunters will simply need to go online or call the registration system and provide the same basic harvest information as in the past. Upon successful registration, each hunter will receive a confirmation number - this will need to be written on the carcass tag attached to the animal.

Both deer and bear hunters will be required to register their animal by 5 p.m. the day after harvest. Regardless of the method used, registration for both deer and bear remains mandatory for all hunters.

People who would like to receive email updates and other information regarding deer and bear hunting and season structure in Wisconsin, can go to the DNR website,, and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and select "white-tailed deer" or "black bear" within the "hunting" list.

For more information regarding deer and bear hunting in Wisconsin, search the DNR website,, for keywords "deer" and "bear" respectively. To learn more about electronic registration, search keywords "electronic registration."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer ecologist, 608-261-7589; Dave MacFarland, DNR bear ecologist, 715-365-8917



From crawler harnesses to crankbaits: get set for fishing season opener with tips from DNR experts

MADISON -- What's your plan for the fishing season opener this Saturday, May 2? For the best bite in town, join Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries experts as they tackle your questions in an online chat starting at noon Wednesday, April 29.

Wherever you plan to be, DNR fisheries experts will have you covered statewide with Dave Rowe from the south, Steve Hogler from the east, Mike Vogelsang from the north and Heath Benike from the west. To participate, visit the DNR home page,, and click on the graphic or search the phrase "ask the experts." You can also join the conversation via our Facebook page at and clicking the "Ask the Experts Chat" tab at the top of the page.

Muskies and more in store on Wisconsin's lakes

Whether you're motivated by muskies or wishing for walleye, spring surveys by DNR's fisheries biologists turned up some remarkable fish this year. After being weighed and measured, these fish were promptly returned to the water where they will still be waiting on opening day.

Jim Amrhein, a DNR water resources biologist, picked up this 38 pound, 48.8" musky during survey work on Lake Monona in April.
WDNR Photo

This walleye was captured in a fyke net by Pat Smith, Florence County Forest Administrator, left, and Aaron Johnson, DNR fisheries technician, before being released back into the Brule River. Wisconsin and Michigan DNR teams are coordinating fisheries research in the area.
WDNR Photo

Anglers doing their part in fight against aquatic invasive species

Recent monitoring data suggests that boaters and anglers are doing their part to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Monitoring results from 2014 discovered fewer than 10 new lakes with either zebra mussels or spiny water fleas, both of which are problematic invasive species.

"Even with the increased effort of DNR invasive species monitoring specialists, we are only finding a handful of new lakes with invasive species," said Tim Campbell, an aquatic invasive species contractor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "This suggests that many water users are doing their part in limiting the transport of plant material, water and debris between lakes and rivers."

To continue preventing or limiting the spread of aquatic invasive species, boaters, paddlers and anglers must:

Boaters and anglers who would like to help support research into better aquatic invasive species prevention and control may donate $2 through the aquatic invasive species research check-off when they register their boat with the DNR. To learn more, search the DNR website,, for "invasives prevention."

Fishing licenses and information just a click away

The general Wisconsin fishing season runs from May 2, 2015 to March 6, 2016, however a variety of local and species specific rules may apply. To learn more about statewide fishing regulations, search the DNR website,, for "fishing regulations." For a complete calendar, search "fishing season dates."

Anglers can find fish species information, boat access sites, shore fishing areas, lake information and regulations by downloading the free Wisconsin Fish & Wildlife mobile app, which includes a full array of fishing information.

Wisconsin residents and nonresidents 16 years old or older need a fishing license to fish in any waters of the state. Residents born before Jan. 1, 1927, do not need a license and resident members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty are entitled to obtain a free fishing license when on furlough or leave.

Anglers can buy a one-day fishing license that allows them to take someone out to try fishing, and if they like it, the purchase price of that one-day license will be credited toward purchase of an annual license. The one day license is $8 for residents and $10 for nonresidents.

Buying a license is easy and convenient over the Internet 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).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Vogelsang, DNR northern fisheries supervisor, 715-356-5211 Ext. 239,; Heath Benike, DNR fisheries operations supervisor, 715-284-1447,, Steve Hogler, DNR fisheries biologist, 920-662-5480,, Dave Rowe, DNR fisheries team supervisor, 608-275-3282, , Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,



Warblers return to Wisconsin: top tips for enjoying these colorful songbirds

MADISON - Birdwatchers and outdoors lovers should get ready for the bright colors, melodic songs and chip-chipping of Wisconsin's long distance migrant warblers, who will soon return home from their warm winter haunts. The parade of songbirds gives downstate birdwatchers a few weeks of sensory thrills before many of these tiny warblers settle into their nests in the Northwoods and Canada's boreal forest.

"The yellow rumped warbler is usually the first to return. It's a short-distance migrant--it spends its winters in the southern U.S. or Mexico--and they are already being reported pretty much statewide," says Kim Grveles, coordinator of the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative.

"Blackburnian warblers make a 2,500-mile migration from Central and South America and they are already in southern Illinois, so I expect they will be here any day now, along with a parade of other birds. "

Grveles says that for long-distance migrants such as the Blackburnian warbler, increasing length of daylight drives their hormones and desire to come back.

There are 56 warbler species in the United States and Canada, and Wisconsin is home to more than 30 species of these showy songbirds. Most warblers are considered Neotropical migrants, birds that fly to Central and South America in the fall and spend winter there before returning to Wisconsin and other parts of North America in the spring.

This spring, warblers have been making news for their migrations. A Kirtland's warbler that hatched in Wisconsin in 2014 was sighted in the Bahamas earlier this month, a rare fine for researchers and an impressive feat of flight for the bird, which weighs well under an ounce and would have flown more than 1,500 miles to reach the beach.

A study published in Biology Letters on March 31 reported that miniature backpack trackers attached to some blackpoll warblers recorded their flights and found that last year, the birds made a 1,700 mile, nonstop three-day journey over the Atlantic Ocean.

Grveles says the warblers returning to Wisconsin typically will be seen in the southern two-thirds of the state for a few weeks in May, refueling here after their long flights. Many species nest in northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada, although southern Wisconsin is home to a smaller suite of species including such rare southern forest dwellers as cerulean, prothonotary, and hooded warblers.

"There is an incredible richness of songbird species in this state, and with luck and looking in the right habitat, you can see these fascinating birds," Grveles says.

A new Warblers put a song in our hearts feature page on the DNR website shares photos about more than a dozen different warblers found in Wisconsin, from the common, like the yellow-rumped warbler, to the rare: Wisconsin is home to the federally endangered Kirtland's warbler and to 20 percent of the world's population of golden-winged warblers. The web feature also provides information about warbler biology and habitat and where to look for the songbirds.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 7 photos

View the slideshow on warblers.

Where to see warblers

Ryan Brady, a research scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, who coordinates monitoring for the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, says that people can attract warblers to their yards if they have native trees and shrubs that provide insects for the warblers to eat.

"Warblers are mostly insect-eaters, so they'll be attracted to native plants that produce insects. The bird seed we put out for our favorite backyard birds like chickadees and cardinals won't do the trick," he says. "Offer the warblers a water source, whether it's a fountain or a small backyard pond so they can drink and bathe, and perhaps find a hatch of insects."

Most warblers forage and nest in woodland habitats. Even smaller woodlots in your yard or at a local park can be good for some species, with oaks and sunlit edges of forests where insects are active being very popular with the birds, Brady says. The birds also can be seen near water sources, and shrubby or forested pond edges, especially on cooler days.

Other good opportunities to see warblers include some of the 20-plus field trips this May offered through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon. (exit DNR). These tours range from a few hours to two days and the fees are tax-deductible contributions to the Wisconsin Bird Protection Fund, a critical source of funding for priority bird and habitat conservation projects in Wisconsin.

Finally, Brady and other DNR bird experts answered questions online about spring birding opportunities on April 28. Read the transcript from that chat at your leisure by going to the DNR website,, and searching for "Ask the Experts" and looking for the Spring Bird Migration link on the right.

International Migratory Bird Day events, live chat transcript offer more options

Scores of communities recognized for their bird-friendly ways through the Bird City Wisconsin program will be hosting bird festivals on or around May 9. That's the day recognized globally as International Migratory Bird Day, and many birding organizations will be hosting events as well.

Search the DNR website,, for keyword "birding," for information on birding in Wisconsin's and bird conservation and links to many of these sites and the Bird City Wisconsin calendar of events.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ryan Brady, 715-685-2933; Kim Grveles, 608-264-8594



Seven steps to add native plants to your yard to benefit birds and wildlife

Live online chat set on native plants for noon to 1 p.m. May 5

MADISON - With warmer weather luring people out to their yards, state conservation biologists say now is the time to consider adding native plants to their property to welcome birds, bees and other wildlife.

"Adding even one or two native plant species can make a difference for birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife," says Kevin Doyle, a conservation biologist and native plant expert with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Almost all North American birds other than seabirds feed insects to their young. Adding a few native plants to your yard can help feed birds, bees and other wildlife.
Jack Bartholmai Photo

A live, online chat set for noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, will give people a chance to ask their questions about native trees and other native plants. To participate on that day, visit the DNR home page,, and click on the graphic or search the phrase "Ask the Experts." People can also join the conversation via our Facebook page at by clicking the "Ask the Experts Chat" tab at the top of our page.

Neotropical songbirds and other land birds that migrate through or nest in Wisconsin depend on insects to survive, and native plants are the main source of these insects; seeds and berries of native plants are also important food sources. Even birds that are seed-eaters need insect protein to produce their eggs, and almost all North American birds other than seabirds feed their young insects, according to Doug Tallamy, professor and chair of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware and author of "Bringing Nature Home."

Most native insects cannot or will not eat nonnative plants for a variety of reasons, including because many nonnative ornamental trees and other plants were imported precisely because they are unpalatable to insects, says Amy Staffen, a DNR conservation biologist. Native insects can survive and proliferate if the plants they evolved with are available.

In many situations, insects require a very specific native plant species or suite of plants, she says. For example, the caterpillar that turns into a Karner blue butterfly, a federally endangered species found primarily in Wisconsin, eats only the native wild lupine while the familiar monarch butterfly caterpillar needs members of the milkweed family.

Doyle, Staffen and Kelly Kearns, a fellow DNR colleague and conservation biologist, offer these steps to help people use native plants on their property to benefit birds and other wildlife as well as to add beauty.

  1. Understand what kind of soils you have, how moist or dry those soils are, what growing zone you are in, and the amount of sunlight your property receives to understand what kind of native plants will work for your area.
  2. Consider wildlife needs when creating the list of plants to include. Providing multiple species in flower throughout the growing season will allow multiple types of animals - birds, bees, butterflies and more -- to use your garden. Plants with open, bowl-like flowers are good for bees while those with more specialized flowers, like blazing stars, mints, milkweeds etc., can be good for butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. Colors also are important in attracting a variety of animals. Hummingbirds, for example, are attracted to bright flowers. Many plants in the aster family, including coneflowers, sunflowers, asters, and goldenrods, are excellent food sources for songbirds. Native shrubs such as serviceberries, dogwoods and viburnums can supply food and shelter for song birds as well. Native grasses are used as host plants for butterflies and habitat for songbirds.
  3. Do some prep work before you put your new native plants in the ground. You'll have to remove the existing vegetation. This may be done most easily with a rototiller although, smothering the existing vegetation with mulch for up to a year is also effective and less destructive to soil. Control any weeds by pulling them out by hand, by spraying with an herbicide before you plant, or by using a weed control mat.
  4. Amending your soil may be a good idea. Soil compaction can be the bane of a native planting so adding organic material can improve water infiltration and allow the roots of your young plants to establish. Generally it is best not to use commercial fertilizer for native plants.
  5. Decide whether to use seed or plants. Plants will establish faster but are more costly. Seed can be cheap but some species will not appear aboveground for at least a few years. Seeding is generally more effective for prairie or wetland plants, whereas woodland plantings generally require starting with plants. For species that are difficult to geminate from seed, such as prairie cord grass, Pennsylvania sedge and hoary puccoon, you may want to use plants instead. Favor seed and plants that are locally-sourced - generally within 50 miles to the north/south, and 100 miles east/west - open pollinated and seed-grown, as they will more reliably support Wisconsin native wildlife. DNR maintains a list of native plant nurseries [PDF].
  6. In a prairie garden, decide what ratio of grasses to flowering plants, or "forbs," you want. Grasses can establish quickly and become abundant, so plant a greater percentage (by weight of total seed mix) of forbs. In a prairie garden, tall forbs may flop over if not support within a matrix of grasses. Consider using a cover crop of an annual grain like oats or rye if planting a prairie garden with seed.
  7. Consider helping your local waters as well as wildlife by installing a rain garden, basically a miniature wetland in your yard that slows stormwater runoff and filters out chemicals and nutrients that would otherwise run into lakes and rivers. You may find you've already got a natural spot in your yard for a rain garden when ponding occurs during storms, but even if you don't you can create a shallow basin. Make sure to carefully follow guidelines for rain garden placement, design and construction or enlist the help of a landscaper to install this most unusual and beautiful type of garden.

The work doesn't end once the native plants are in the ground, Doyle says. "You have to be diligent to keep up the weeding, especially in the first couple seasons, to allow your native plants to gain a strong foothold," he says. "Ultimately, a native plant garden can lessen the amount of time you spend watering, mowing and fertilizing your yard, but that doesn't happen overnight."

Also, he says, take time to enjoy your garden. "Study each plant and how to identify it. This will not only help you distinguish weeds from natives, but will build a stronger connection between you and your new wild space."

Kearns counsels patience, noting that some native plant species take longer to appear than others. "Bergamot and black-eyed Susan may appear the first season, while lilies and rosinweeds may take longer," she says. "If you don't see all the species on your planting list right away, don't worry. Over time and with proper care, more native plants will appear and you can take satisfaction in knowing you are playing an important role in helping wildlife around your home."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Doyle 608-267-9788; Kelly Kearns 608-267-5066



Celebration set for restored Andy Krakow public fishing area

MONTELLO, Wis. -- The public is invited to a celebration this Friday to mark the completion of the improved Andy Krakow Public Fishing Area and the reconstruction of the dam at Buffalo Lake in Montello.

The 45-minute program, beginning at 1 p.m., includes speakers and an appearance by the Wisconsin conservation warden honor guard. The honor guard will pay tribute to Krakow, a conservation warden with the state Department of Natural Resources who was killed in the line of duty 25 years ago.

The renovation of the dredge bank and spillway at Buffalo Lake, so named for the Buffalo grass that grows around it, began in 2012, as did work on the public fishing area.

DNR officials said the major reconstruction project - which includes improved access and lighting for boaters and shore fishermen as well as a rebuilt fishing dock, a rebuilt fishing wharf and two newly constructed fishing wharfs - came in on time and under budget.

"We are thrilled with this project," said Steve Miller, director of the DNR bureau of facilities and lands and one of Friday's speakers. "It is a testament to what we were able to accomplish with the support of elected officials and those members of the local community who helped form the vision for this invaluable resource and then chipped in to make it come true.

"Importantly, the rebuilt dredge bank, spillway and lock gates now meet modern safety standards. We had great support from area legislators and the governor's office in making this a priority for funding.

The fishing area where the celebration will take place Friday is on Lakeshore Drive in Montello, just west of Highway 22.

Important steps in the project involved reshaping and then installing a slurry cutoff wall along the length of the embankment, fixing the locking gate, connecting a fish passage and improving public use facilities, including piers, trails, boat landings, lighting, electrical outlets and an informational kiosk.

Partners for this project and event include the DNR, the Department of Administration, Marquette County, the City of Montello, Mead & Hunt and the Buffalo Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District.

For more information on Buffalo Lake, see the "Buffalo Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District" website (exit DNR). For those planning to attend, DNR staff has provided a map with specific locations [PDF].

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Brian Hefty, DNR Master Planning, 608-275-3214; Kate Fitzgerald, DNR Master Planning, 608-267-2764; or Ed Culhane, DNR Office of Communications, 715-781-1683.



Application deadline to host a gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities is June 1

MADISON -- Sponsors and landowners interested in hosting a gun hunt for deer hunters with disabilities are reminded that the application deadline is June 1. The 2015 disabled deer hunt will be held Oct. 3-11.

An online application is available on the Department of Natural Resources website,, by searching keywords "disabled deer hunt." For a physical copy of the application, please contact Adam Murkowski, DNR assistant big game ecologist, at 608-261-7588.

In 2014, 88 sponsors worked closely with landowners to help create deer hunting opportunities for more than 90 disabled hunters. In all, over 78,000 acres of land was made available to hunters with disabilities. Sponsors are encouraged to own at least 60 acres of land and are required to allow interested disabled hunters to use their land during the October hunt. Interested hunters are encouraged to contact sponsors as soon as possible.

"The online application created in 2013 was able to streamline the application process, and interested hunters can easily see which properties are enrolled in the disabled hunt and contact sponsors sooner than in previous years," said Murkowski. "Our sincere gratitude goes out to all of the hunt sponsors, landowners and volunteers."

A full list of hunt sponsors will be available on the department's website after June 1, and sponsors will be required to submit a list of participants no later than Sept. 1. A list of participating hunters can be submitted online.

If you would like to receive email updates and other information regarding disabled hunting opportunities and season structure in Wisconsin, visit and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and select "disabled hunting" within the "hunting" list.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Murkowski, DNR assistant big game ecologist, 608-261-7588



Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is Saturday, May 2

MADISON -- If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes - a saying as true in Wisconsin as it is anywhere where wildfires have their own seasons.

"Our conditions in the spring can go from wet and snowy one day to dry and windy the next," said Jolene Ackerman, wildfire preparedness specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "This range in conditions can often leave people confused as to how spring can be prime wildfire season in our state."

Clearing confusion and promoting community-wide projects to reduce wildfire risk is the reason for National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.

Ackerman said the May 2 national day is to bring awareness to the high fire risk in spring and to teach people how to live compatibly with nature when they live or own property in wildland areas. Homeowners are encouraged to join others throughout the nation to take little actions that will make big changes when it comes to Wisconsin's wildfire season.

Wisconsin's springs are marked by an abundance of dead vegetation that was last year's leaves, pine needles, grass, and food crops. "This dead vegetation cannot hold moisture and once it's dry, it will easily ignite and carry fire," she said.

Only have an hour? Here are some things easily accomplished with a little time:

Have a day to give?

Want to give back to your community?

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jolene Ackerman, DNR wildfire preparedness specialist, 608-267-7677; Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist, 715-356-5211 Ext: 208


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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