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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 27, 2017

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DNR to hire 20 full-time conservation wardens; new & experienced urged to apply

Contact(s): Jeffrey King, 608-219-4887

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Law Enforcement has announced it will hire 20 full-time conservation wardens to fill vacancies statewide in a process officials say will recognize experience in compensation packages and welcome all levels of applicants.

Lt. Jeffrey King, bureau assistant training director who has been a conservation warden for more than 17 years, said the application period will open Friday, June 30, and close at the end of the business day on July 14. Those new to law enforcement as well as experienced law enforcement officers are encouraged to apply for what King calls a career bigger and more diverse than the entire Wisconsin outdoors.

"The level of experience of each applicant will be considered in compensation," King said. The group of 20 will start in January and become the Class of 2018.

"I came to be a warden from working as a county sheriff's patrol deputy. I can say this is a career that is bigger than the outdoors that wardens strive to protect - and the people who enjoy all those resources," King said, adding wardens will work in the open land and water areas as well as state forests and parks. "This is a career rich with opportunities, diversity and responsibilities. It is hard work without a doubt, but incredibly satisfying."

Warden John Sinclair, chair of the bureau's Warden Recruitment Committee, says the career not only is a good fit for those passionate about the resources and ensuring the safety of those enjoying those resources, but also looking for balance. "The warden career is fulfilling - with the benefit that it is loaded with variety and flexibility many are looking for," Sinclair said.

To learn more about the career and to contact King with questions about compensation and more, search the DNR website,, for Warden Recruit.



Spring waterfowl survey results show good production with lots of wetlands

Contact(s): Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist, 608-266-8841

MADISON -- Wisconsin's spring 2017 waterfowl population surveys indicate increased numbers of breeding waterfowl pairs and relatively good wetland conditions, which should result in increased waterfowl production this year across the state.

The Wisconsin breeding duck population estimate of 479,099 represents an increase of 23 percent compared to 2016, and 9 percent above the long-term (44-year) average. Of the species-specific population estimates for the three top breeding ducks in Wisconsin, (mallard, blue-winged teal and wood duck) the blue-winged teal, showed the largest increase from 2016.

Breeding duck estimate.
Breeding duck populations are estimated to be up 23 percent this year compared to 2016.
Photo Credit: DNR

This survey information, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continental duck survey and the Ontario Canada goose survey provides information regarding yearly waterfowl breeding conditions and is used to determine the fall season structure for Wisconsin.

For all surveyed waterfowl species, population counts showed increased numbers from the 2016 estimates. To view the full survey results for 2017 [PDF], visit and search keyword "waterfowl."

A very mild winter in 2016-17, combined with above normal rainfall in March and April, led to wet conditions throughout Wisconsin - rainfall in May following the survey helped Wisconsin remain at above average wetland conditions for the year during the important brood-rearing period. Wetland conditions remained above average for brood rearing, and Wisconsin is expected to provide good duck production in 2017.

These breeding pair and habitat conditions are important to waterfowl hunters as roughly 70 percent of mallard harvest in Wisconsin is supported by locally hatched ducks. Although higher this year, it is important to note that the average mallard population in the last few years has been lower than the previous decade. This observation suggests that continued efforts aimed at controlling mallard harvest impacts and support for grassland nesting habitat conservation are important to the future of Wisconsin's local mallard population.

Canada goose population estimates up from 2016

Wisconsin Canada goose harvest is supported by Canada geese breeding in northern Ontario, as well as those breeding locally in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin breeding estimate for Canada geese are up from 2016 and consistent with a stable population of roughly 140,000, which is the 10-year average. Continental breeding waterfowl population estimates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey are expected to arrive in July.

Under new federal framework, Wisconsin conducted its annual waterfowl season hearings this spring, and the Natural Resources Board approved department proposals for season structure at its April 12 meeting. With earlier approval dates, 2017 migratory bird season regulations [PDF] are currently available online and at many license vendors throughout Wisconsin.

With the department's transition to Go Wild, the Canada goose harvest registration phone number is now consistent with all other species registered in Wisconsin, and this new system provides for online registration. Hunters will now register online at or via phone at 844-426-3734 (844 GAME-REG). Registration within 48 hours of harvest is mandatory for all Canada geese harvested.

Canada Goose Hunting Permits are now printed on paper. Hunters are no longer required to conduct the in-field validation of their goose permit. However, hunters are still required to register their geese online or by calling in within 48 hours of harvest.

For more information regarding migratory birds in Wisconsin, search keyword "waterfowl."



No permits available for 2017 sharp-tailed grouse hunting season

Contact(s): Mark Witecha, DNR upland ecologist and Farm Bill biologist, 608-267-7861

MADISON -- As a result of recent declines in the number of sharp-tailed grouse in spring surveys conducted by wildlife management staff, the Department of Natural Resources has decided that zero permits be made available for the fall 2017 hunting season.

Each year, the Sharp-tailed Grouse Advisory Committee, which consists of DNR wildlife biologists and interested conservation groups, uses spring dancing ground surveys to recommend permit levels for the sharp-tailed grouse hunting season. This decision comes as a result of a review of the spring 2017 survey data, which identify an 18 percent decline in the number of sharp-tailed grouse observed.

It is important to note that since no permits are available, no applications will be made available or accepted this year.

Although the population has dipped low enough to not issue permits this year, by state law sharp-tailed grouse will retain their status as a game species. DNR staff are hopeful that the population will respond positively to ongoing focused habitat management efforts.

In the meantime, those who are passionate about Wisconsin's strong and historic tradition of sharp-tailed grouse hunting should remain encouraged through significant partnerships that exist in the northwest part of the state to manage young forest and barren habitats that sharp-tailed grouse depend upon for survival.

For more information, please visit and search keywords "sharp-tailed grouse." Sharp-tailed grouse survey data can be found at keywords "wildlife reports."



All hands are on deck this fourth-of-July weekend to stop aquatic invasive species in Wisconsin

Contact(s): Bob Wakeman, DNR water resources, 262-574-2149, or Tim Campbell, DNR aquatic invasive species communications specialist, 608-267-3531, or Paul Holtan, DNR office of communications, 608-267-7517

MADISON - Thousands of Wisconsinites will take to the water this fourth-of-July weekend for the state's busiest boating holiday, and many will be greeted at boat landings by volunteers sharing a simple but powerful message: You have the power to protect lakes and rivers from aquatic invasive species.

The weekend will be host to the ninth annual Landing Blitz, a statewide effort to remind boaters and other water lovers to take action to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, which pose great risks to the health of our lakes and fisheries.

Volunteers will be on hand over the Fourth of July holiday weekend to hep prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Volunteers will be on hand over the Fourth of July holiday weekend to hep prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Photo Credit: UW-Extension

"This campaign has become a mainstay of our prevention efforts, since the holiday draws both frequent and infrequent boaters to the water, allowing us to empower a lot of people," says Bob Wakeman, statewide aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Volunteer inspectors will be on hand at landings around the state from June 30 through July 4 to give demonstrations of the prevention steps or answer questions about invasive species. Their efforts will build on the success of last year's campaign, when volunteers inspected over 14,000 boats and spoke with over 32,000 people.

"One of the most exciting things about this campaign is the strong volunteer effort. Every year hundreds of concerned citizens participate as volunteers to help us raise awareness and empower boaters," says Wakeman.

New this year is a coordinated way for boaters to share the campaign's message. For those who use social media, they can help spread the word about the importance of aquatic invasive species prevention by posting photos and messages using the hashtag #CleanBoatsCleanWaters.

Boaters can also contribute to a crowdsourced Story Map that will showcase their photos and messages about how they protect Wisconsin's waters from aquatic invasive species. Contributions can be made at this link: (exit DNR).

Invasive plants and animals, like Eurasian watermilfoil, spiny water fleas and zebra mussels, can spread easily by hitching a ride on boats and other equipment, including trailers, anchors, livewells, buckets and bilges. But boaters can also easily prevent this by taking the following simple steps before they leave a boat landing:

Following these steps also helps boaters comply with Wisconsin state law, which prohibits the transport of aquatic invasive species.

To learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin's waters and economy, visit and search "invasive species."



$5 fishing licenses: Get hooked on fun over July Fourth holiday

Contact(s): Justine Hasz 715-896-9558 or Karl Scheidegger, 608-267-9426

MADISON - Wisconsin's $5 first-time buyer resident fishing license or a reduced price one-day fishing license may be just the ticket for fun for family, friends and visitors getting together for the coming July 4th holiday, state fisheries official say.

"Wisconsin fishing licenses are always a great value and these introductory licenses make it even easier to get your family, friends and visitors out on the water to give fishing a try," says Justine Hasz, Wisconsin's fisheries director.

Video Credit: DNR

A $5 first-time buyer's license is available for Wisconsin residents who have never purchased a fishing license before or who haven't purchased a Wisconsin fishing license in at least 10 years. Nonresident first-time licenses are $25.75. This license is good for the entire fishing year, which runs through March 31, 2018.

A one-day fishing license costs $8 for residents and $10 for nonresidents. The purchase price of that one-day license can be credited toward purchase of an annual license.

Wisconsin residents and nonresidents 15 and under always fish free in Wisconsin, as do residents born before Jan. 1, 1927. Wisconsin resident members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty and on furlough or leave may obtain a free fishing/small game license at any license agent by providing proof of active service and presenting their furlough/leave papers.

People 16 to 89 years old need a fishing license to fish in any waters of the state and Wisconsin has a variety of licenses to suit all needs, including the one-day and first-time buyer's license. If a person is eligible for the first-time buyer's license, that license will be the first listing on his or her computer screen after logging into GO WILD, and it's also what the license agent will see when an eligible buyer comes in seeking to purchase a license.

People can buy fishing licenses in two convenient ways: over the Internet through GO WILD or at any authorized license agent.



Most fireworks illegal in state forests and parks

Contact(s): Robert "Chris" Madison, DNR chief ranger, 608-266-2152; Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist, 715-356-5211 x208; Paul Holtan, DNR office of communications, 608-267-7517

MADISON - People planning on camping in a Wisconsin state park or forest for the Fourth of July should enjoy fireworks displays in nearby communities -- not at picnic areas, campsites or other areas within state parks, forests and trails.

Fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests, according to Robert "Chris" Madison, chief ranger for the Wisconsin Bureau of Parks and Recreation.

"For the safety of our guests and our natural resources, our rangers strictly enforce Wisconsin no fireworks laws," Madison said. "Fourth of July favorites, the sparkler and the snake, are not defined as "fireworks" per state law, but most park and forest rangers and superintendents discourage their use because they are a fire hazard."

A citation for illegal fireworks in a state park or forest can cost up to $200 and parents could be liable for the full costs of putting out a fire started by their children playing with or setting off fireworks.

In fact, anyone responsible for starting a wildfire in Wisconsin is liable not only for the cost of putting the fire out but also for any damages, said Catherine Koele, forest fire prevention specialist with the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.

As of the last week of June, fire dangers levels throughout Wisconsin were low across the state, but even in low fire danger times, fireworks can start wildfires. So far in 2017, 515 fires have burned just over 500 acres burned in DNR fire protection areas of Wisconsin. Wildfires caused by fireworks only amount to 5 percent of the annual total; however, these fires typically occur in a condensed timeframe around the Fourth of July holiday.

More information on fireworks and fire danger is available in a "Fireworks cause forest fires and more... [PDF]" brochure available for download from the DNR website.

For more information on fireworks, including air quality and health issues, search the DNR website for "fireworks."



County Deer Advisory Council application period closes July 1

Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, deer and elk ecologist, 608-261-7589

MADISON - Qualified applicants are encouraged to apply for County Deer Advisory Council seats before the application period closes for all counties July 1, 2017.

Council members meet annually to review deer management data, gather public input from citizens and are a key step in establishing the deer seasons by providing recommendations to the Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Board regarding deer management decisions in their county.

Councils include representatives in the following areas of expertise: agriculture, forestry, tourism, transportation, hunting, land management and local government. Both hunters and non-hunters are encouraged to apply for vacancies, but applicants must have experience or involvement with at least one of these seven stakeholder categories. A majority of council members have expressed satisfaction with their overall CDAC experience.

For more information regarding CDACs and to find the application, visit and search keyword "CDAC."



Waterfowl bands must be reported online beginning July 2

Contact(s): Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist, 608-266-8841

Previously used phone number will no longer be in service - reporting to be done online

MADISON - As of July 2, 2017, the Bird Banding Lab's "1-800 bird band" phone number, which allows the public to report waterfowl bands, will no longer be in service.

Following July 2, these bands can be reported online at (exit DNR). It is important to note that even if the band features a "1-800" number, you can report it using this new website. To report a band, you will need the band number (or numbers if the bird has more than one band).

Following July 2, waterfowl bands can be reported online.
Following July 2, waterfowl bands can be reported online.
Photo Credit: DNR

Please report the band even if some or all of the numbers have worn off - most bands can be etched so that the numbers can be read. This process does not destroy the band, and it will be returned to you promptly.

After reporting a band online, the U.S. Geological Survey's Patuxent Bird Banding Lab (exit DNR) will send you a certificate of appreciation via email that includes information about the sex, age and species of the bird, and where and when it was banded. This information helps determine population size, direction of travel and survival rates of migratory species game and non-game.

As a reminder, some bands may offer rewards - more information can be found on the US Fish and Wildlife Services website.

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


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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