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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published August 16, 2016

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2016 Gold Seal Awards contest underway

Contact(s): Patty Loosen, Friends of Wisconsin State Parks coordinator, 608-264-8994

Visitors can vote for their favorite state park property in 10 different categories

MADISON - Which Wisconsin state park is the best to visit in every season of the year? Which offers the best backpacking campsites? Those are among the categories for the 2016 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Gold Seal Awards contest categories.

"If you are a camper, biker, hiker, angler, or park visitor, cast your vote for your favorite state park, forest, or trail in one of our new categories," said Patty Loosen, state park friends coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.

The winning parks, forests and trails will be honored with a Gold Seal Award at the 20th annual Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Awards Banquet on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 in Stevens Point. The statewide Friends of Wisconsin State Parks organization runs the Gold Seal Award program each year to highlight Wisconsin's parks, trails, and forests.

This year, the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks have named the following categories:

People can cast their entries and find out more by visiting the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks website (exit DNR) and clicking on the tab for "Gold Seal Awards."

The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks work to promote, protect, preserve, restore, and enhance the State Park System in order to protect state parks and their resources for future generations.

Still time to enter Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar photo contest

This photo by Paul Schulst taken along the Glacial Drumlin State Trail was selected for the July 2016 calendar page.
This photo by Paul Schulst taken along the Glacial Drumlin State Trail was selected for the July 2016 calendar page.
Photo Credit: Paul Schulst

People have until August 31, 2016 to enter their favorite photographs from a Wisconsin state park, forest, trail or recreation areas in a contest with winning photos to be included in the 2017 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar. Photos are needed from all four seasons in state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas.

Again in 2017, in addition to being available for purchase, the calendar will be distributed to more than 86,000 subscribers of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine in the December 2016 issue. Check the magazine website for the 2016 calendar [PDF].

Submissions are only accepted from amateur photographers ages 14 and over. Professional photographers who earn more than half of their income taking pictures are not eligible. Employees of the DNR and board members of the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks and their immediate family members are not eligible to win. Photographs must have been shot within the past three years (since Jan. 1, 2014) and no more than four photos may be entered.

More information and details on entering and contest rules are available on the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks website (exit DNR) by clicking on the tab for "photo contest."



Continental duck population estimates show cause for excitement among fall waterfowl hunters

Contact(s): Taylor Finger, DNR migratory game bird ecologist, 608-261-6458

MADISON - With fall duck hunting seasons just around the corner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2016 continental duck population estimates [PDF] (exit DNR) are now available.

These estimates are the result of one of the largest bird surveys in the world conducted annually throughout North America. In years past, they were used to set waterfowl seasons for the current year. However, since the USFWS changed its regulatory timeline, 2016 estimates will be used to set the 2017 waterfowl season structure.

The 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey found green-winged teal populations at record highs
The 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey found green-winged teal populations at record highs
Photo Credit: DNR

The total 2016 duck population estimate is down slightly at 48.4 million, but still 38 percent above the long term average. Mallards and green-winged teal population estimates are at record highs -- 11.8 million and 4.3 million, respectively. Continental blue-winged teal estimates are at 6.7 million, which is lower than 2015 but still well above the long-term average.

"The habitat was drier this year across much of the breeding grounds, and that is likely the reason for a slight drop in numbers," said Taylor Finger, Department of Natural Resources assistant migratory bird ecologist. "That being said, Wisconsin remains at or near record numbers for many species, and hunters should expect another good year of hunting."

For more information regarding waterfowl in Wisconsin, visit and search keyword "waterfowl."

Harvest Information Program

Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters are reminded to register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program. This program places registrants on a list that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a harvest summary.HIP registration is free of charge and can be easily completed when a license is purchased. HIP registration can be added later if a hunter decides to pursue migratory game birds closer to the season.

With the transition to GoWild, the department's new licensing system, it has never been easier or more convenient to register for HIP online. Simply log on to your online GoWild account, select "buy licenses" and navigate to the Hunt/Trap tab. If you have not already registered for HIP, it will be shown as a free sign-up option and will take only a minute to complete. For more general information, search keyword "HIP."



DNR to provide update on Lake Michigan management options at Fisheries Forum meeting

Contact(s): Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes fisheries supervisor,, 414-382-7921; Todd Kalish, DNR fisheries bureau deputy director,, 608-266-5285; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

CLEVELAND, Wis. - High-priority management actions for the Lake Michigan fishery identified by charter captains, recreational anglers and other stakeholders will be shared by leaders from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at the Aug. 29 meeting of the Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum.

The public meeting runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at Lakeshore Technical College, 1290 North Ave., Cleveland, Wis., in Centennial Hall West.

The meeting is a follow-up to the three public Lake Michigan salmon and trout management meetings that were convened in late June to gather stakeholder input on potential Lake Michigan management strategies. Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes fisheries supervisor, said the department received numerous suggestions and good input at the meetings as well as more than 60 emailed comments from stakeholders during the public comment period on management of the multi-million dollar fishery.

"The department is thankful for the diverse stakeholder interest and participation in discussing and developing management strategies for Lake Michigan salmon and trout," Eggold said. "The Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum meeting will provide an opportunity for discussion of management options and strategies that acknowledge the diverse biological, social and economic feedback we've received."

The upcoming Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum meeting will include a presentation by the department followed by a facilitated discussion. Management options and actions will be presented and will cover topics including:

DNR continues to work with regional clubs, recreational anglers, fishing tournament participants and charter captains to monitor their experiences with this year's catch and gather additional data.

"Throughout the summer, we've seen significant success among anglers with some of the largest chinook salmon in the last several years being harvested," Eggold said. "Fishing for salmon and trout in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan has been outstanding for most of the summer with anglers also catching significant numbers of coho salmon and rainbow trout."

Background information including a copy of the presentation to stakeholders from DNR's June 27 meeting in Cleveland, Wis., can be found by visiting the DNR website, and searching "Lake Michigan salmon and trout meetings."

The Lake Michigan Fisheries Forum offers opportunities for citizens and stakeholders to hear the latest research findings, management news and trends affecting the lake. The forum is facilitated by the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute with support from DNR. Representatives from major sport fishing clubs on Lake Michigan and Green Bay, commercial fishers, the Conservation Congress and the University of Wisconsin System are formal members of the forum.



Wisconsin plays a growing role in Great Lakes piping plover recovery

Contact(s): Sumner Matteson, DNR, 608-266-1571, Julie Van Stappen, National Park Service, 715-779-3398 ext. 132, Lacey Hill Kastern, Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, 715-682-7123 ext. 1554

Nearly 100 chicks from Lake Superior site over last decade, first nest in Green Bay aid effort

MADISON - The successful nesting of piping plovers in Lower Green Bay for the first time in 75 years adds to Wisconsin's growing contribution to the recovery of the federally endangered shorebird in the Great Lakes and reflects partnership efforts to improve the tiny bird's nesting success.

Sample Caption and Alt Text
Piping plover
Photo Credit: Jack Bartholmai

In addition to the three chicks that fledged from Lower Green Bay this summer that were highlighted in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release (exit DNR), five other piping plover chicks fledged from Long Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (exit DNR) along Lake Superior. Those chicks are the latest to fledge from that site over the last decade, according to Sumner Matteson, a Department of Natural Resources avian ecologist who works on the multi-agency Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Partnership.

"Having chicks hatch and fledge from Lower Green Bay and add to the success we've seen over the past decade along Lake Superior is very rewarding," says Matteson, who works for the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation program.

Any contribution of chicks is important because overall piping plover numbers in the Great Lakes region is still low and additional nesting sites are important to growing the population.

Video Credit: DNR

Over the last 10 years, a total of 94 piping plover chicks have been produced at Long Island as concerted restoration efforts by the National Park Service, Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, DNR, USFWS and The Nature Conservancy are paying off.

"This partnership between the agencies works really well," says Lacey Hill Kastern, Bad River wildlife specialist. "Everyone has their roles and it is really paying off not only toward the recovery efforts of the Great Lakes piping plover population but also when it comes to education and outreach efforts in the local communities. There are a lot of locals in the area that look for updates every summer on how these little shorebirds are faring."

Piping plovers once nested along the shores of all the Great Lakes but habitat loss, recreational pressure and predation and contaminants likely contributed to serious declines. Typically, piping plovers need large isolated beach and dune habitats for their nesting and chick rearing.

By 1948, only one pair of plovers was known to nest in Wisconsin and the piping plover was added to the state endangered species list in 1979. Across the Great Lakes region, the loss of habitat caused numbers to drop below 20 nesting pairs region-wide before the small shorebird was listed as federally endangered in 1986.

With help from federal, state and local partners, the number of breeding pairs in the Great Lakes has climbed to 75, about half-way toward the regional recovery goal of 150 breeding pairs, most of them in Michigan. Wisconsin has contributed up to six breeding pairs in recent years, with five breeding pairs in 2016.

At the Apostles Islands National Lakeshore, the National Park Service and Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa work together to protect piping plovers and their nesting habitat, says Julie Van Stappen, chief of planning and resource management at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In recent years, the Bad River Band has overseen the plover monitoring effort.

Plover monitors are stationed on the island during the breeding season to keep track of how many breeding pairs are present and their nesting status, protect nesting areas from disturbance by people through visitor education, and place wire cages over the nests so the eggs are not eaten by predators like raccoons, coyotes and red fox, Van Stappen said.

Matteson leads efforts to place color-coded bands on the birds' legs so that they can be tracked in coming years to learn more about their survival, their migration routes and their habitats.

Now that piping plovers have been documented successfully nesting at the Cat Island restoration site in Lower Green Bay, partners at that site have been working to protect the nests from predators and to band the chicks.

Steve Choy, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist involved in the project, says that nesting sites Wisconsin will become increasingly important as Great Lakes piping plovers continue on the path to recovery and young plovers search for new areas to nest.

"Birds that are nesting at established sites such as Long Island and new sites like Cat Island are contributing to the growth of the Great Lakes population. As well, other sites in Wisconsin that are suitable for nesting plovers are currently being sought out or managed and protected to accommodate this increase in numbers locally and across the Great Lakes," Choy said.

Report sightings of banded piping plovers

The public can help piping plover recovery efforts by reporting their sightings of piping plovers with metal and color bands on their legs. The color codes vary according to the location where they were banded. By getting reports of the birds' whereabouts, the recovery partners can better understand the birds' migratory routes, the habitats they use, and their survivorship. For more information on piping plovers and how to report your sightings of banded piping plovers, go to the DNR website,, and search "piping plover."



Digital meets dining: Go out to harvest your eats

Contact(s): Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sport coordinator,; 608-576-5243.

Bagging dinner is healthy, natural & you can do it as a team

MADISON -- If nothing else, the latest Pokeman Go craze is getting people outside and moving more than ever.

"That's great!" says Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sports coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Now that you're outside, let's add some real maps and exploration of genuine landscapes to capture dinner. This real outdoor adventure is something any Learn to Hunt coordinator can use to encourage a novice hunter to try it."

A Learn to Hunt event plays off the rural setting that makes Wisconsin a hunting and outdoor enthusiast paradise.

"It's real, you can touch it," Warnke said. "And a Learn to Hunt event is a way to keep people outdoors, teach new skills, and provide bolster support for hunting. If they'll come out to play a game, let's get them out to do something new, fun and real."

Gather your team - schedule an event!

Now is a great time for clubs and chapters to start brainstorming about what they did last year and building on it. "How about hosting a learn-to-hunt-for-food class, which has been piloted in states including Wisconsin during the last decade," Warnke said. "There is great interest in hunting for food and classes fill up quickly."

Learn to Hunt for Food classes serve a larger movement nationwide, where hunting can be a big part of a sustainable lifestyle and healthy eating. "These classes are especially popular among millennials," Warnke said.

Warnke encourages anyone interested in learning to hunt to attend a Learn to Hunt event. "Bring your friends and family with you!"

"Thanks to the diversity of our landscape and wildlife, Wisconsin has a lot of opportunities for learn to hunt programs. Deer, small game, waterfowl, turkey and pheasant all provide exciting options, especially for first-time hunters," Warnke said.

And if you want a digital connection to your hunting experience download the DNR's free Pocket Ranger Fish and Wildlife Guide app. The app features include GPS mapping to find places to hunt, a safety communications tool, severe weather alerts and more. The "Nearest Me" feature helps explorers find places including state wildlife management areas, shooting ranges, state forests, and more.

For more information on all your LTH needs - hosting or attending, go to the DNR home page and search keyword "LTH."

People who missed a live chat on the Learn To Hunt program with DNR staff Tuesday, Aug. 16 at noon, can review the chat record on the DNR website,, search keyword "expert" and select " Deer: Be a mentor, learn to Hunt Program and Hunt to Eat" to learn more about these programs.



Sneak peeks from the 2016 Deer Show

Contact(s): Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-267-2773

Hunters are you ready for deer season? Check out three segments and start your preparation early

MADISON - Three early segments from Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2016 with Dan Small will help hunters prepare for another fall deer hunt - these short videos are now available and will allow viewers to get ready for deer season on-the-go.

These early segments give hunters a sneak peek before the full Deer Show airs later this fall. Early segments include Farmland Zone tags, Bonus Antlerless tags, and Snapshot Wisconsin. Additional early segments will be shared in September, and hunters should stay tuned for the full program, which will air later this fall.

Farmland zone tags
Video Credit: DNR

Bonus antlerless tags
Video Credit: DNR

Snapshot Wisconsin
Video Credit: DNR

To view three early Deer Show segments, search keywords "deer show" or visit the department's Youtube page, select "playlists" and select "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2016 with Dan Small."



Incidental take notice for La Crosse County

Contact(s): Rori Paloski, 608-264-6040 or

MADISON -- The Van Loon Wildlife Area Ford and Trail Construction Project may result in the "incidental taking" of a rare snake under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.

The Department of Natural Resources plans to construct a stream ford to allow maintenance equipment to cross a channel and lower an 1100 foot segment of the road between two bridges by approximately 4 feet in order to restore floodplain hydrology and simultaneously reduce pressure on and maintenance of historic bridges.

The presence of the state endangered eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some snakes.

DNR staff concluded that the proposed project will minimize the impacts to the species by adhering to conservation measures; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the species or the whole plant-animal community of which it is a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action.

The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the eastern massasauga are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Rori Paloski (608-264-6040 or The department is requesting comments from the public through August 30, 2016. Public comments should be sent to Rori Paloski, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921or


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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