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Weekly News Published - January 2, 2018 by the Central Office

 

Bald eagle watching events take off in January

Contact(s): Sumner Matteson 608-266-1571

Sauk Prairie Bald Eagle Watching Days Jan. 12-13

MADISON - Wisconsin's bald eagle watching season kicks off Jan. 12-13 with the 31st annual Bald Eagle Watching Days in Sauk Prairie, and there's never been a better time to see these magnificent raptors in Wisconsin.

Bald eagles congregate along open water areas near the dam at Prairie du Sac.  - Photo credit: DNR
Bald eagles congregate along open water areas near the dam at Prairie du Sac. Photo credit: DNR

Bald eagle populations in Wisconsin have recovered since a low of 108 breeding pairs in the 1970s to a record high 1,590 breeding pairs in 2017. Bald eagles from northern Wisconsin, Canada, northern Michigan and Minnesota move south as the lakes and rivers they live along freeze over during cold winters. Seeking fish, a main food source, the raptors typically congregate along open water areas below dams along the Wisconsin, Mississippi and Fox rivers, where their growing presence has turned the sites into birdwatching destinations and inspired many community events.

The Sauk Prairie Bald Eagle Watching Days event, held at various outdoor and indoor locations along the Wisconsin River in Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, is the oldest such event combining outdoor viewing opportunities, exhibits and live raptor shows. DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program co-hosts Bald Eagle Watching Days with the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, the Sauk Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce and the Tripp Heritage Museum.

"Bald Eagle Days allows all of us to enjoy the majesty and beauty of our nation's symbol in common fellowship," says Sumner Matteson, an avian ecologist with the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

"Come view wintering bald eagles, take in live birds of prey shows, and learn about bald eagles through exhibits and activities that are fun for the whole family. It's a great way to start off the New Year!"

Barb Barzen, Ferry Bluff Eagle Council vice president, is excited about two new programs added to the event this year. "Attendees will hear from National Eagle Center experts about the growing population of golden eagles in the Midwest and how volunteers can get involved in helping locate and monitor these birds."

In addition to outdoor viewing opportunities, Bald Eagle Watching Days in Sauk Prairie offers live raptor shows, bald eagle exhibits, information and other family-friendly activities. - Photo credit: DNR
In addition to outdoor viewing opportunities, Bald Eagle Watching Days in Sauk Prairie offers live raptor shows, bald eagle exhibits, information and other family-friendly activities.Photo credit: Kurt Eakle

Also new this year, Art Shegonee, a Menominee and Potawatomi member and Native American educator and dancer, will share ways the bald eagle is important to Native American culture, Barzen says.

Check DNR eagle watching page for more events this winter

In addition to the Sauk Prairie event, other communities have added events built around watching eagles as populations of the raptor have increased and expanded geographically. Known eagle watching events include the following listed below; find links to these and more eagle information on the eagle watching page of the DNR website.

When viewing eagles at these events and on your own, please take care not to disturb them. Do not venture so close that you cause them to fly off. They need their energy to keep warm through the long winter night. Stay in your car unless you are at a staffed viewing site.

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Early catch-and-release trout season opens Jan. 6

Contact(s): Joanna Griffin, 608-264-8953

Nearly every county has at least one stream open to fishing

MADISON - Wisconsin's early catch and release trout season opens Jan. 6 on hundreds of waters statewide and provides another fishing opportunity to help anglers beat cabin fever.

"The long season offers anglers a great opportunity to try the early trout season if you haven't before," says Joanna Griffin, Department of Natural Resources trout team coordinator.

Beat cabin fever by fishing the early catch-and-release trout season, which opens Jan. 6, 2018, on hundreds of waters across the state.  - Photo credit: Eliza Woulf
Beat cabin fever by fishing the early catch-and-release trout season, which opens Jan. 6, 2018, on hundreds of waters across the state. Photo credit: Eliza Woulf

The season is open on all classified trout streams in 46 counties and there is at least one stream open in 18 other counties. All streams in Brown, Calumet, Door, Kewanee, Manitowoc, Menominee, Outagamie and Winnebago counties are closed.

The season opens at 5 a.m. on January 6 and runs until midnight May 4. All anglers are not required to use barbless hooks but artificial lures and flies are still required. All fish caught must be immediately released; the bag limit is zero.

Anglers who fish the early catch and release season need an inland trout stamp as well as a valid Wisconsin fishing license. The 2017-2018 fishing license and stamp are good through March 31. Anglers fishing after March 31 will need to buy a 2018-2019 license to fish the early season in April and May.

Wisconsin has more than 13,000 miles of trout streams, including more than 5,300 miles of Class 1 trout streams in Wisconsin. These high quality trout waters have sufficient natural reproduction to sustain populations of wild trout and require no stocking. Another 40 percent of the waters are Class 2 waters that may have some natural reproduction by require stocking to maintain a desirable sport fishery.

New online maps and interactive maps make all of the trout waters easier to find and provide other information to increase anglers' success, Griffin says. To find the maps, search the DNR website for keyword "trout."

Anglers fishing the early trout season should take many of the same kind of precautions that ice anglers do, including knowing local conditions, fishing with another person, and carrying a cell phone. Find more winter fishing safety tips on ice safety page of the DNR website.

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Exotic, invasive snail found in two new streams

Contact(s): Chelsey Blanke, 608-266-0502

Anglers cautioned to take steps to prevent further spread

MADISON -- New Zealand mudsnails, an invasive snail previously only found in two Dane County locations, have recently been verified in two new streams - Mt. Vernon Creek in Dane County and Rowan Creek in Columbia County.

New Zealand mudsnails have been found in two new streams. - Photo credit: DNR
New Zealand mudsnails have been found in two new streams.Photo credit: DNR

Mt. Vernon Creek, located in southwest Dane County, is a tributary to the Western Branch of the Sugar River and is a Class 1 trout stream. Rowan Creek in Columbia County near Poynette is a Class 1 and Class 2 trout stream. Stream biologists and volunteers discovered the snails during routine stream sampling.

The New Zealand mudsnail is an NR40 prohibited invasive species, meaning that it is absent from Wisconsin or found in only a few locations. The small snail can establish large populations that can outcompete native stream insects that serve as food for fish and change the nutrient flows in streams. However, it is uncertain what impacts this invasive species will have on streams in Wisconsin.

All of the locations where New Zealand mudsnails have been found in the state are popular for fishing and may also be used by paddlers, trappers and hikers.

All water users play an important role in preventing the spread of the New Zealand mudsnail and all other aquatic invasive species. Anyone can prevent the spread of invasive species by following the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers guidance of:

People who wade streams for any reason can also use a brush to scrub their boots and waders and then rinse thoroughly with tap water away from the stream. Freezing gear for at least eight hours will further reduce the risk of transporting New Zealand mudsnails to other streams. By performing these prevention actions water users can further protect our waters and stop the spread of invasive species.

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DNR looking for public input on water quality standards

Contact(s): Marcia Willhite, 920-746-2875

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is accepting public input as part of the process for the 2018-2020 Triennial Standards Review on water quality.

Every three years, all states are required under the federal Clean Water Act to review their water quality standards. Topics evaluated in the review include policies, rules and guidance related to designated uses, water quality criteria, antidegradation and variances.

"This water quality review helps the DNR focus our efforts on the best ways to protect the health of Wisconsin's lakes, rivers and streams," said Marcia Willhite, DNR Water Resources Management specialist.

Willhite said the review consists of several steps. First, the department asks for topics from the public and DNR partners on water quality standards. If members of the public have suggestions for revisions or improvements to DNR's policies, rules and guidance related to designated uses, water quality criteria, antidegradation and variances, they can complete the topic suggestion document found by searching the DNR website for "Triennial Standards Review." The deadline to submit a topic suggestion is January 25.

The department then asks the public, partners and staff to rank these topics, and holds a public hearing to provide additional information on the topics under consideration. The department then prioritizes the topics based on the input from the survey and prepares a final report.

The ranking, public hearing and final report may be completed by the spring of 2018. Work then begins on implementing the priority topics, which can take a year or more depending on the topic.

Questions or comments on the Triennial Standards Review should be directed to Marcia Willhite at Marcia.Willhite@wisconsin.gov or 920-746-2875. More information on the review process and past reviews can also be found can be found on the triennial standards review page of the DNR website.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Contact information

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608-267-2773