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Weekly News Published - July 10, 2018 by the Central Office

 

Spring turkey harvest sees 10 percent decline from 2017

MADISON - Preliminary totals show turkey hunters registered 38,885 birds during the 2018 spring turkey hunting season in Wisconsin, a 10 percent decrease from the spring 2017 season.

Weather this spring played a significant role in the decreased harvest numbers. With much of the state covered in snow at the beginning of the season, we saw a steep decline in the number of turkeys registered during the Youth Hunt and Period A. The remaining time periods had similar harvest to last year, with a slight decline in Period F when record high temperatures were recorded throughout the state.

With much of the state covered in snow at the beginning of the season, there were steep declines in early season harvests. - Photo credit: Jerry Davis
With much of the state covered in snow at the beginning of the season, there were steep declines in early season harvests.Photo credit: Jerry Davis

"Unfortunately, turkey hunters experienced less-than-ideal conditions during the Youth Hunt and first period," said Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "We saw declines in hunter participation in all zones early in the season, so it appears many were deterred by late winter weather that impacted the state."

A total of 138,544 harvest authorizations were awarded through the drawing and 74,237 were sold over the counter. Overall, there were 325 more harvest authorizations issued this season than in the 2017 spring season.

Zone 1 produced the highest overall turkey harvest at 11,235 birds, followed by Zones 2 and 3, where hunters registered 9,471 and 8,699 turkeys respectively. Overall, the statewide success rate was 18.3 percent, compared to 20.4 percent in 2017.

The 2018 spring season started on April 14 with the Youth Hunt. The regular season ran from April 18 to May 29 with six separate time periods. Having separate time periods allows for maximum hunter opportunities, with a minimum amount of interference while ensuring that harvest does not lead to population declines. Biologists in Wisconsin closely monitor harvest, hunter interference rates, and hunter satisfaction along with other information to track turkey populations through time, to maintain a successful and enjoyable spring turkey hunt, and are always vigilant that harvests be sustainable.

2018 fall turkey hunting

Starting in 2018, the fall turkey drawing has been waived. A fall turkey harvest authorization will be issued with every fall turkey or conservation patron license purchase. Hunters will choose a zone at the time of purchase for which their harvest authorization will be valid. Bonus harvest authorizations, formerly known as leftover tags, will be available for purchase in select zones starting Aug. 18 at 10 a.m.

The fall 2018 wild turkey season for Zones 1-5 is September 15 to January 6, 2019. For Zones 6 and 7, the season is September 15- November 16.

The 2018 Fall Turkey and 2019 Spring Turkey regulations are included in the 2018 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations [PDF], available now online and at license vendors around the state.

Be sure to check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast featuring the department's upland wildlife ecologist Mark Witecha. The podcast covers everything from the history of wild turkeys in Wisconsin to current management and hunting opportunities. You can find this episode and much more on both iTunes (you can subscribe to the DNR channel to receive updates when new episodes are available) and YouTube.


Wild Turkey in Wisconsin - Off the Record Podcast Ep. 14

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

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Biologists ask paddlers, anglers and others to photograph and report freshwater mussels

MADISON - With high water levels receding on many streams and rivers, state conservation biologists are now encouraging paddlers, anglers, and other water lovers to take a few minutes to help protect some of the most important yet least known members of Wisconsin's aquatic ecosystems: native freshwater mussels.

A new video shows how volunteers can help Wisconsin's native mussels by searching for and reporting the species they find.   - Photo credit: DNR
A new video shows how volunteers can help Wisconsin's native mussels by searching for and reporting the species they find. Photo credit: DNR

A new video shows volunteers how to search shorelines or shallow water for freshwater mussels native to Wisconsin and known by such colorful names as white heelsplitter, fatmucket, Wabash pigtoe, abd flutedshell. Volunteers are asked to photograph the mussels they collect and return live mussels to the water, then report that information to DNR's Wisconsin Mussel Monitoring Program.

"We have 52 native mussel species in Wisconsin and 24 of them are endangered, threatened or special concern, meaning their populations are low or declining," says Jesse Weinzinger, a conservation biologist who coordinates the monitoring program. "We'd like to have your help in contributing information on where these mussels live so we can better understand their distribution and how to protect them."

Such information can help guide where DNR and partners work to protect and restore mussels. For example, staff work with transportation officials to help avoid or move mussel populations when road and bridge projects could potentially impact them.


How to search for and report Wisconsin's native freshwater mussels

Freshwater mussels, also known as clams, are important for healthy lakes, rivers, and streams. They are not the invasive zebra mussels that potentially disrupt aquatic ecosystems and smother native mussels and are a major factor in declining native mussel populations, says Lisie Kitchel, who, like Weinzinger, works for DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

"Native mussels are our good mussels and they are important for healthy lakes and rivers," she says. Each native freshwater mussel can filter gallons of water a day, removing pollutants like mercury and other contaminants. They are food for raccoons, muskrats, otters, herons, and other wildlife. They are even food for fish when the mussels are young.

Because native mussels filter environmental pollutants, Kitchel advises against eating them but encourages people to submit reports about them. "With 84,000 miles of streams in Wisconsin and more than 15,000 lakes, there are a great many sites we're not able to get to," she says. "Volunteers can help us fill in gaps in information."

She advises people to please take the time to properly evaluate the site they want to search for safety concerns before surveying, to follow the steps in the video, and report what they find. Volunteers can report by setting up a free account on the popular reporting platform iNaturalist, which has a mobile app and a website, or by emailing photos and location information to the mussel monitoring program.

To find the training video, photos and descriptions of freshwater mussels and more, search online for Wisconsin Mussel Monitoring Program.

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Bird conservation collaborative celebrates 15 years of progress, hatches a new strategic plan

MADISON - A coalition of 180 Wisconsin organizations dedicated to conserving birds is celebrating 15 years of accomplishments, unveiling a new strategic plan to guide the next five years, and digging deeper into declining populations of purple martins, chimney swifts, whip-poor-wills, and other insect-eating birds.

Purple martin. - Photo credit: Jack Bartholmai
Purple martin.Photo credit: Jack BartholmaiChimney swifts
Chimney swifts emerging from a chimney.

The Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (exit DNR) has accomplished great things for Wisconsin's birds," says Craig Thompson, a Department of Natural Resources section chief and bird expert leading DNR involvement in the collaboration.

"Partners have identified critical habitat sites for birds statewide, developed actions to save 116 species most in need of conservation help, and provided opportunities to actively engage citizens in bird conservation through statewide monitoring efforts and Bird City communities.

"Our new strategic plan builds on these successes and sets the stage for even more cutting-edge conservation."

The collaborative, WBCI for short, includes bird clubs, hunting and fishing groups, government agencies, land trusts, nature centers, environmental groups, universities, and businesses. Collaboration goals include conserving and restoring endangered, threatened, and rare bird species and their habitats; educating Wisconsin citizens about birds and bird conservation issues; and promoting bird-based recreation and the enjoyment of birds.

The group's annual meeting and workshop is set for Sept. 6-8 in Waukesha and registration is now open.

Karen Etter Hale, WBCI chair and Wisconsin Audubon Council's Director of Community Relations, says the collaboration "has been, and will continue to be, an effective collaboration for birds, because of its many engaged and diverse partners. Our power is in our partnerships."

Etter Hale says the strategic plan refocuses WBCI to ensure its continued success in times of tight funding and growing threats to birds.

Michael John Jaeger, past president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, says the strategic plan calls for WBCI partners to build on past efforts, most importantly addressing Important Bird Areas. "What WBCI has done is take the first step - identify these crucial sites," he says. "Now we need to build on that and bring our partners into working to advocate on behalf of the IBAs to better protect and enhance them."

Other high priority actions call for:

Jaeger says that by working together to carry out these high priority actions and a slate of secondary actions, "we believe WBCI will significantly advance conservation of all native bird species, including the 21 percent of species with low or declining populations."

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Blue-green algae bloom season is here

Webinar about the health risks to be held July 16

MADISON -- Heavy rains and high temperature are fueling the growth of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, in water bodies around the state, so the Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources and Health Services are teaming up to present an informational webinar about the health risks of blue-green algae. Some blue-green algae can cause illnesses for people and animals who accidentally ingest or inhale it, or have prolonged skin contact with the algae.

The webinar will take place July 16 at noon. Participants can log on to learn more about blue-green algae and its health effects, how to differentiate blue-green algae from other algae, and ways to stay safe this summer when spending time on the water. People may participate through the DNR media website.

Blue green algae - Photo credit: DNR
Blue green algaePhoto credit: DNR

"Blue-green algae are in all lakes and rivers in Wisconsin, but they only become a problem when they grow to high concentrations, called blooms, on some water bodies," said Gina LaLiberte, DNR's statewide blue-green algae coordinator. "Actively growing blooms are usually green and have a 'pea soup' appearance, but blooms may also appear as blue, white, red, or brown scums that may be foamy or in mats."

While not all blue-green algae produce toxins, the presence of blue-green algae blooms in lakes, ponds or rivers may indicate a potential health hazard, LaLiberte said.

"One easy way to identify potential risk from blue-green algae is that if adults are in knee-deep water and can see their feet clearly, the risk of acute illness is low to moderate for adults, but it's still a good idea to choose the clearest water possible for small children and dogs, and to avoid swallowing water that could contain other bacteria, viruses, and parasites," LaLiberte said. "When you can't see your feet, keep children and dogs out of the water and consider having the whole family pursue another activity that day."

Public health officials encourage people to avoid swallowing any water and to always wash off after swimming in any lake, pond or river. Dogs should always be rinsed off with clean water to remove algae from their coat. If people have any doubts about the appearance of water, they should stay out. They should ensure that children and pets do not swim in or drink water with a blue-green algae bloom.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, common symptoms of exposure to toxic blue-green algae blooms include rashes, gastrointestinal ailments and respiratory irritation. People experiencing symptoms that may be due to blue-green algal exposure should contact their health care provider or the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Animals have a higher risk of dying after exposure to blue-green algal toxins because they are smaller in size and may ingest large amounts of toxins from drinking lake, pond, or river water or licking algae from their coat. Symptoms in dogs can include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or even seizures. If your animal shows any of these symptoms contact your veterinarian immediately.

People are also encouraged to report potential algae-related illnesses in both people and animals to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services by filling out the Harmful Algae Bloom Illness or Sighting Survey (exit DNR) or by calling 608-266-1120.

To help track the occurrence of blooms around the state, blooms may be reported to the DNR at DNRHABS@wisconsin.gov. Descriptions of bloom size, duration, location with lake, town, and county name, and photos for verification are particularly helpful.

Blooms tend to grow when there is a lot of sunlight, water temperatures are high, and there is little wind. In Wisconsin, blooms typically peak from July through September.

More information is available by searching the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "blue-green algae."

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Recycling Excellence Award nominations now open

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is accepting nominations for the 2018 Recycling Excellence Awards until Aug. 31.

Communities and organizations are eligible and encouraged to apply for recognition of recent recycling initiatives. The DNR offers the Recycling Excellence Awards not only in recognition of efforts made but also as a way of highlighting ideas with proven track records that communities might use to improve their recycling endeavors.

Awards are offered in four categories - overall program, projects and initiatives, innovation and special events. Communities and organizations of any size may self-nominate or submit an application on behalf of another program. Stories, photos, and other relevant information are welcome!

For more information about the categories, past awards, and a nomination form search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Recycling Excellence Awards."

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773