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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published September 22, 2015

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New video takes viewers on a tour of Wisconsin State Parks

Park properties gearing up for fall color festivals and Halloween activities

MADISON -- From biking, hiking and camping to kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding and more, the Wisconsin State Park System has something for everyone, and a new video is inviting people to take a tour of the properties and then stop by and visit one.

"Fall is a great time to be outdoors in Wisconsin and our state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas offer some of the most scenic locations to enjoy fall colors and fall activities," said Chris Pedretti, property services section chief for the Wisconsin State Park System. "Now is also a great time to take one more fall camping trip or to start planning for a 2016 camping trip to one or more of our great properties."

Camping reservations can be made 11 months in advance of your arrival date, and can be made online at wisconsinstateparks.reserveamerica.com or by calling 1-888-947-2757.

Pedretti, who coordinated production of the new parks video with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources video team, said fall colors are just one of the highlights of the video, which also includes scenes from biking, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, rock climbing, horseback riding, all-terrain vehicle riding, camping and more.

"We hope this new video gives people just a sampling of the activities that people are enjoying at our state park properties and encourages them to take advantage of one of the best seasons of the year to visit our properties."

Pedretti said many park properties have special events planned in the fall, including fall color hikes, harvest festivals, candlelight events and Halloween activities. People can find activities by searching the DNR website for keywords "get outdoors," and then use the "type" or "location" buttons to select events by type of activity or individual park, forest or recreation property.

While the new video features primarily summer and autumn activities, the parks program is hoping to follow up with additional video footage of winter, spring, and other great recreational activities throughout the Wisconsin State Park System.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Pedretti, 608-264-8958 or Paul Holtan, office of communications, 608-267-7517

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See salmon run!

DNR sets open house events and tours at egg collection facilities in Racine, Kewaunee, Sturgeon Bay

MADISON -- Up and down the Wisconsin shores of Lake Michigan, chinook salmon are staging for the biggest race of their lives - a final run to spawn in rivers including the Root in Racine, Kewaunee in Kewaunee County and Strawberry Creek in Door County.

When the time is right - likely starting in the next week or so - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff will be there waiting to collect eggs and milt used in producing the next generation of fish for Lake Michigan stocking.

Strawberry Creek salmon
Workers at DNR's Strawberry Creek Chinook Facility outside Sturgeon Bay crowd salmon in a pen before spawning.
WDNR Photo

Visitors will be able to see the action firsthand at open house events at the C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility on Saturday, Oct. 3 and Root River Steelhead Facility on Saturday, Oct. 10. At the Strawberry Creek facility, another key source for chinook salmon eggs, visitors are welcome during daylight hours.

"What started in the 1960s as an effort to control alewife populations by stocking Pacific salmon has turned into a sport fishery that generates some $4 billion per year for the economy of the Great Lakes region," said Justine Hasz, DNR fisheries bureau director. "Each year the fall spawning runs are a reminder of how our stocking efforts contribute to this economic impact by creating recreational opportunities for anglers of all ages. We look forward to welcoming visitors to our open houses where they can learn more about our fisheries management and propagation efforts."

The open house events at Besadny and Root River feature egg collection demonstrations as well as fly casting and tying lessons, youth instruction and opportunities to learn Lake Michigan fishing tips from expert anglers. The Besadny open house features an opportunity to sponsor tagged fingerling sturgeon and participate in the river release of these young fish.

Mike Baumgartner, who supervises the Besadny facility in Kewaunee, said based on reports of salmon staging near the mouth of the river, he expects a strong run of fish again this year.

"Visitors can expect great viewing along the banks of the river, a fish-eye perspective through the underwater windows and a look at egg collection through a window in the processing area," Baumgartner said. "We'll also offer guided tours of the facility, fish print t-shirt making and fishing lessons along with other activities. Visitors can park in a lot down the road and walk or take the horse and wagon ride to get here. It should be a great day."

The open house events are free and open to the public with food and beverages available from local groups as well as guided facility tours and activities geared to youth. Trails and paths near the facilities offer opportunities for families to explore the river environment and enjoy wildlife and bird viewing.

The Oct. 3 event at the Besadny facility in Kewaunee runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The facility, on the Kewaunee River, was built in 1989-1990 and collects eggs from chinook and coho salmon as well as brown and steelhead or rainbow trout for rearing in a series of ponds. A processing building featuring a lobby with displays and a public viewing window was completed in 1996.

The Oct. 10 event at the Root River facility in Racine also runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The facility was built in 1993-1994 along the Root River by DNR in partnership with the Salmon Unlimited fishing club. It serves as a significant source of coho salmon, steelhead and brown trout eggs and plays an important role in the collection of biological data relating to overall fish health, growth rates, migration patterns and other data. In addition, DNR crews collect seeforellen brown trout from the river in November to ensure the ability to stock this important strain in the future.

Fisheries staff members anticipate processing fish at the third egg collection facility, the Strawberry Creek Chinook Facility outside Sturgeon Bay, on Oct. 5, 8, 12, 15 and 19.

The fall egg collection marks the start of DNR's propagation process. The eggs will be hatched and raised at DNR facilities until they are ready for stocking at about four months for chinook and at one and a half years for coho, steelhead and brown trout. The different species are stocked according to the stage in their lifecycle at which naturally reproducing fish would normally leave the tributaries to live in Lake Michigan. That stage is much earlier for chinook.

To learn more, visit dnr.wi.gov and search "fisheries open house."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Baumgartner, C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility supervisor, michael.baumgartner@wisconsin.gov, 920-388-1025; John Komassa, DNR southeast hatchery group section chief, john.komassa@wisconsin.gov, 608-275-3315; Brad Eggold, DNR Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor, Bradley.Eggold@wisconsin.gov, 414-382-7921; Bob Fahey, DNR fisheries operations supervisor, Root River, 608-275-3251, robert.fahey@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, jennifer.sereno@wisconsin.gov, 608-770-8084.

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Southern and Mississippi River duck zones open one-half hour before sunrise Oct. 3

MADISON -- One-half hour before sunrise on Saturday, Oct. 3, duck hunters in the Southern and Mississippi River Zones will be in the field a bit earlier than usual for another fall duck hunt. New in 2015, opening day shooting hours will now begin one-half hour before sunrise (previously 9 a.m.) -- this change is a result of a shift in public desires.

"With good spring breeding counts and improving water levels, Wisconsin waterfowl hunters could have potential for a good hunting season," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources migratory game bird ecologist Kent Van Horn.

The Southern Zone will run from Oct. 3-11, close for a 5-day split, then remain open from Oct. 17 to Dec. 6. The Mississippi Zone will be open Oct. 3-9, close for a 7-day split, and reopen from Oct. 17 to Dec. 8.

Waterfowl hunters should note that the goose season in the southern portion of the Exterior Zone will also be closed during the 5-day split in October, while hunting in the Horicon Zone will not be affected. Also, hunters should note that goose season in the Mississippi River Sub-zone will not open until Oct. 3 and is closed during the 7-day split in the Mississippi River Zone.

"Continental breeding surveys that have been ongoing for 60 years reported record high numbers of ducks this spring. However, even with promising breeding indications, local conditions and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall. Because some areas of the state remain very dry, scouting this fall will be particularly important to identify the areas that are holding water and birds."

The daily bag limit statewide is six ducks, including no more than:

Five mergansers may be harvested daily, of which no more than two may be hooded mergansers; 15 coot may be harvested daily. For 2015, the possession limit has been increased to three times the daily bag limit.

Licenses and stamps required for duck hunting include a Wisconsin small game license, a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp, and a federal migratory bird stamp. The federal duck stamp will now cost $25 (an increase from $15 dollars) - a change suggested and supported by waterfowl hunters nationwide. There has not been an increase in the federal waterfowl stamp since the 1990s - a $10 increase will help protect additional upland and wetland waterfowl habitat. The federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at DNR license vendors for an additional $2.50 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license, but the stamp itself will arrive weeks later in the mail.

Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program, which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their harvest. HIP registration is free and can be done at the time hunters purchase their licenses, but can always be added later on if a hunter decides they may pursue migratory game birds.

State licenses and stamps, permits, and HIP registration are also available through Wisconsin's Online Licensing Center.

For more information regarding waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "waterfowl."

Avian influenza in wild birds

Several federal agencies are working in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to collect samples related to the research and surveillance of avian influenza in wild birds. This surveillance will help monitor for the virus during fall migration. Wild birds from targeted areas throughout the state will be sampled between now and spring 2016.

Avian influenza is a viral disease common in wild bird populations with many different subtypes - most do not cause obvious signs of disease in wild birds or have the ability to infect animals other than birds. While strains currently detected in the U.S. have caused mortality of domestic birds, they have not resulted in any illness in humans.

Samples will be collected from live-captured birds during DNR banding efforts and from hunter-harvested dabbling ducks, such as blue-winged teal, mallard, wood duck and Northern pintail. Federal staff will also be located at boat landings and other hunter access points this fall to sample ducks from willing hunters.

To learn more, search keywords "bird diseases."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist, 608-266-8841

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This fall, get outdoors to support Wisconsin's state wildlife areas

MADISON -- Autumn brings scenic foliage and mild temperatures, and for those interested in enjoying the outdoors, it is a perfect time to enjoy one of Wisconsin's wildlife areas, natural areas and state parks.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources acquired many of these properties in the first half of the 20th century to fulfill conservation and recreational needs for Wisconsin's citizens. This year, several of these properties celebrate 70 years of habitat and wildlife conservation, including Brooklyn Wildlife Area, Colburn Wildlife Area, Deansville Wildlife Area, Kimberly Clark Wildlife Area, McKenzie Creek Wildlife Area, New Wood Wildlife Area, and Town Corner Wildlife Area.

In addition, Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year. Aside from enjoying plentiful wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities, visitors can experience the marsh's history through new hands-on Explorium exhibits. The visitor center also offers regular programs.

Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area, Sandhill State Wildlife Area and the George W. Mead State Wildlife Area also have visitor centers with regular program schedules (Crex programs; Sandhill programs; Mead programs).

Crex, Horicon, Mead and Sandhill are all premier bird and wildlife viewing places in Wisconsin. They are all important bird migration staging areas. Horicon is an international wetland of importance for Canada goose and other waterfowl migrations. Crex and Sandhill both offer organized sandhill crane watching opportunities. In addition to bird watching, the properties are all open to hiking, hunting and trapping, and some have trails that are open for bicycling and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Some offer dog training areas. People can search all DNR properties by the types of activities allowed on the DNR website by entering keywords "explore outdoors."

To learn more about wildlife areas in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "wildlife areas."

PAL Atlas

Whether you are looking for new public hunting grounds or a spot for a fall picnic, the atlas is a great tool for finding new public lands and creating new memories. The atlas includes all DNR properties as well as nearly all federal and county-owned lands. You can download and print these maps free of charge from your home computer.

The University Book Store's digital storefront provides a web-based option for those interested in purchasing a PAL Atlas. The original PAL Atlas, with 441 maps, two indexes and a glossary is available for $89.95. A separate PAL atlas is also available for each of Wisconsin's 72 counties for $24.95. Lastly, a DVD with over 450 pages of public lands access data is available for $5.95.

For orders using a check, a mail order form [PDF] is available on the University Book Store's website. Please do not send cash or credit card information with a mail order form.

To place an order by phone using a credit card, call: 1-800-993-2665 EXT 5929. In order to simplify the purchasing process, be sure to mention the item number (099127660) in your call.

For more general information, search keyword "atlas."

Volunteer opportunities

Those that want to play a direct role in managing habitat and wildlife on state lands can also sponsor a state wildlife area through the new Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area program. With over 200 properties eligible for sponsorship, this program gives sponsors a unique opportunity to enhance fish and wildlife areas through such hands-on work as habitat restoration, invasive species removal, surveys and more.

For more information, search keyword "volunteer."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sawyer Briel, 608-261-0751

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Eagle plate sales take off; on pace to exceed predecessor's performance

Editor's Note: This release has been updated to correct a numerical error.

Plate photo promotion lets people share what nature means to them

MADISON - Sales of Wisconsin's new eagle design license plate are taking off and on pace to exceed the first year performance of its predecessor Endangered Resources plates, state endangered resources officials say.

"We're pleased with the early results and happy to give people an opportunity to buy a great plate and help care for one of the great things they love about Wisconsin," says Owen Boyle, acting director of the Department of Natural Resources' Natural Heritage Conservation program.

"People have been telling us they think the plate is beautiful and they are proud of the eagles' comeback in Wisconsin. They want to be part of caring for nature and building the next conservation success through their donation."

Sales of the specialty plate donate $25 annually to the Endangered Resources Fund, which pays for work by DNR Natural Heritage Conservation staff and partners to care for native species, including rare plants and animals and state natural areas like Parfrey's Glen in Sauk County, Bailey's Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands in Door County, Rush Creek in Crawford County and Van Vliet Hemlocks in Vilas County.

The Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles started processing applications for the plate and have issued 427 eagle plates since then, according to Cody Castillo, lead worker in the division's special plates unit. In the first year of the badger design, 1,800 plates of that design were sold.

To learn more about the eagle plate and how to order it, go to dnr.wi.gov and search "eagle plate."

Share your eagle plate photo and we'll send you a tote bag

"We very much appreciate people buying the plate and helping promote it," Boyle says. "We invite people to share a photo of them with their plate to show what nature means to them."

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 14 photos

View a slideshow of citizens who posed for portraits with the eagle plate .

DNR is displaying photos of citizens who posed for portraits with the eagle plate and inviting people who buy the plate to take a photo with their plate in a place that illustrates their connection to nature. Those photos will be posted on the DNR Facebook page.

To submit photos for our "Talon Your Eagle Plate Story" promotion, motorists who buy the plate can go to the DNR Facebook page (facebook.com/WIDNR) starting today. People wishing to submit photos through Facebook can post to the DNR Facebook page and use the hastag #WIeagleplate. Photos also may be submitted via mobile device using this link: woobox.com/v3qqhs.

People also may submit their photo via Twitter or Instagram by posting their photo and using the hashtag #wieagleplate.

Anyone submitting photos must be at least 16 years old and must own the license they photograph. They will receive a free tote bag featuring the eagle plate design.

"Our native species and special places are a big part of what people love about Wisconsin," Boyle says. "The plate and this promotion give people the opportunity to share that with others."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Owen Boyle, 414-750-3198

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Want to learn to hunt? Fun group events can help you get started

MADISON - People interested in learning how to hunt for their own food, but not sure how to get started can sign up for a Learn to Hunt event, which combine classroom instruction and ends with a real hunt with an experienced hunter.

Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sports coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources, says safety while that is always the top priority of any Learn to Hunt event, they are also a lot of fun.

"You'll start in a classroom with detailed, easy-to-grasp information from a certified Hunter's Education Instructor. Then you'll head into field work for more expert instruction," Warnke says. "After all of this mentored instruction, you will go on an actual hunt with an experienced hunter."

The instruction doesn't stop with operating a firearm in a safe manner.

" Learn to Hunt attendees also learn about species' biology, conservation, firearm safety, and hunting tactics before participating in the hunt," Warnke says.

Families part of the state's hunting history

"Wisconsin has an extremely strong hunting heritage," Warnke says. "However, many people interested in hunting are not fortunate enough to have access to family or friends to share those hunting traditions."

One of the goals of the LTH program is to provide people with the training and experience to take up hunting.

"Part of our recruitment program includes a focus on families that want to learn to hunt together." Participation by adults in learn to hunt events continues to grow as has the participation of novice female hunters.

"These are good signs that interest in hunting is expanding," he says. "That means active hunters need to provide as many training opportunities as we can.

Find an event near you!

Learn to Hunt events welcome novice hunters 10 years of age and older. No license is required for Learn to Hunt events and, since novices will be paired with a mentor, hunter education requirements are waived. Learn to Hunt events are usually free and take place over a weekend.

Many local conservation groups and hunting clubs are sponsoring a variety of Learn to Hunt events this fall. Currently several events are scheduled for pheasant, waterfowl, mourning dove, and squirrel. Check the DNR website at "dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "LTH" to find the list of upcoming Learn to Hunt events.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke. Hunting and Shooting Sport Coordinator, 608-576-5243; Joanne M. Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-354-1184.

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Grants available for hunter recruitment, development, training and education programs

MADISON - Local conservation clubs, organizations, communities, individuals, governments, tribes, and colleges and universities have until Nov. 17, 2015 to apply for cost sharing to develop and conduct hunter training, development, and education programs.

The Department of Natural Resource is making $200,000 in federal Wildlife Restoration funds (Pittman-Robertson) available to ensure the development of safe, ethical hunters through the Hunter Training, Development, and Education Grant program. The projects may get underway as early as May 2016 and can cover up to two years.

The grant prioritizes funding for programs that introduce hunting to people who would not otherwise have had exposure in particular focusing on adults, females and families.

"There is a great need for strategically developed, tested programs and results on which we can base future program priorities," said Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator.

Pilot studies have shown that there is growing interest in hunting from adults and families who have never hunted.

There is a need to expand the effort to provide effective training and education for responsible new hunters and mentors by developing a private-public partnership reimbursement grant program - similar to the shooting range grant program. This program is grounded in the basic idea that novice hunters need someone to teach skills and share knowledge with them.

This grant program will also be focused on developing trials and evaluating effectiveness of pilot projects. Applicants are advised to submit ideas for the development, piloting, and evaluating of novice hunter training systems focusing new adult mentors and hunters.

"Novel, outside-the-box ideas are needed to work this tough problem," Warnke said. "But we also need to make sure that we are measuring our results and evaluating effectiveness so we can know if something is having the desired effect."

Successful programs will be expanded in Wisconsin and can be adopted by other states.

Projects will be scored by an independent group of hunters and agency specialists and ranked by score. The office of the DNR Secretary will make the final decision on funding.

For information on applying for grants, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for hunter recruitment grants.

This is a reimbursement program, under with grant recipients incur and pay costs associated with the project then seek reimbursement from the DNR. No grant advances are possible. It is possible for grantees to request partial (quarterly) reimbursements from the DNR during the life of the project.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, Hunting and Shooting Sports Coordinator, 608 576 5243 or keith.warnke@wisconsin.gov

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 22, 2015




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