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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 548 days

Weekly News Published April 23, 2019


Application period for 2019 Wisconsin elk hunt opens May 1

Contact(s): Bob Nack, Big Game Section Chief, 608-264-6137

MADISON - Following the state's first elk hunting season in history, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced preparations for another hunt this fall. For a chance to participate, interested hunters are encouraged to submit their elk hunting application starting May 1.

"The chance to pursue yet another great big game animal in Wisconsin is very appealing for a lot of hunters, as was clear with almost 38,500 applicants last year," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. "It may seem like steep odds to draw a tag, but your chances are just as good as the next person. I encourage everyone to throw their hat in the ring to be one of the lucky people with an opportunity to hunt Wisconsin elk in October."

Hunters will again have an opportunity to apply for elk hunting permits for this fall. Four of those will be awarded through the state application and drawing, and the fifth will be awarded through a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raffle - Photo credit: DNR
Hunters will again have an opportunity to apply for elk hunting permits for this fall. Four of those will be awarded through the state application and drawing, and the fifth will be awarded through a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation rafflePhoto credit: DNR

Last year marked Wisconsin's first managed elk hunt in state history when the DNR set a harvest quota of 10 bulls in the original Clam Lake elk range. Five once-in-a-lifetime elk tags were issued to state hunters resulting in four bulls being harvested in October and November. By treaty, half of the quota is allocated to the Ojibwa tribes who harvested the remaining five bulls.

For this fall, a quota of 10 bull elk was set. For the 2019 hunt, five bull tags are again available to state hunters through the DNR. Four of those will be awarded through the state application and drawing, and the fifth will be awarded through a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raffle. Hunters may enter both but can only win once. Those interested in entering the RMEF raffle should look for more information on the organization's website. The Ojibwa tribes will again receive an allocation of the remaining five elk.

Elk license applications can be purchased in the DNR Go Wild license system from May 1-31, and only Wisconsin residents may apply. Each potential hunter may apply once online at or by visiting a license agent. The application fee is $10. RMEF raffle tickets are also $10 each, and there is no limit on the number of raffle tickets each individual may purchase. The cost of an elk hunting license for the winners of the license drawing is $49. Seven dollars from each application are earmarked for elk management and research in Wisconsin.

All five state hunters will be notified in early June. Prior to obtaining an elk hunting license, all winners are required to participate in a Wisconsin elk hunter education program offered in early September. The class will cover regulations, hunting techniques and more.

The 2019 hunting season will occur only in the Clam Lake elk range in parts of Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland, and Price counties in far north-central Wisconsin, where the original restoration effort was initiated with 25 elk from Michigan in 1995.

"A number of potential elk hunters ask if they will be able to find a place to hunt if they draw a tag," Wallenfang said. "With approximately 70 percent of the elk range under public ownership and open to hunting, finding a place to hunt should not be a concern. Despite the somewhat remoteness of the area, there are campgrounds, hotels and restaurants, so everything you need is within easy reach."

Wisconsin's elk hunting season will adhere to the following guidelines:

For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, search the DNR website,, for keyword "elk." To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, visit and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Then follow the prompts and select the "elk in Wisconsin" and "wildlife projects" distribution lists.



Call goes out to report bat roosts housing survivors of white-nose syndrome

Contact(s): J. Paul White, DNR bat team lead, 608-267-0813

Surveys show bat populations down 72 to 97% from past average counts

MADISON - With 2019 winter surveys showing that the bat disease white-nose syndrome has reduced bat populations to zero at some hibernation sites and decreased others by 72 to 97%, state bat biologists are calling on the public to report the barns, buildings, bat houses and other roosts where surviving bats are showing up.

White-nose syndrome, WNS for short, does not affect people nor other animal species but causes hibernating bats to frequently wake, depleting their energy and causing them to die from starvation, dehydration or exposure to the elements. Since the discovery of white-nose syndrome in 2006 in New York, millions of bats have died and the disease has spread to 33 states and seven Canadian provinces.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 9 photos

2019 bat survey results and a call to report roosts

"Surviving bats are starting to emerge from their winter hibernation sites and in order to protect these remaining bats, we need people to let us know the location of bat roosts," says J. Paul White, who leads the Department of Natural Resources bat team.

Bats at roost sites could be survivors of white-nose syndrome or young born this year that have not yet been exposed to the fungus causing the disease. Knowing these locations will allow bats to be vaccinated if current experimental trials underway in Wisconsin prove effective.

"If we find something that will help bats persist in light of WNS, like a vaccine, we can give it to bats at known roosts in coming years and help keep surviving bats and young bats from succumbing to white-nose syndrome," White says.

Such citizen reports also will supplement bat biologists' efforts this summer to locate bridge abutments where bats are roosting. Such information can help transportation officials plan bridge repairs to avoid when bats are having their young and nursing them, helping protect Wisconsin's remaining cave bats.

Roosts can be reported to

2019 winter surveys show continued slide in bat populations; impacts to ecosystems, economy unknown

DNR bat biologists and partners have conducted winter surveys for Wisconsin's four species of hibernating bats for the past decade, banded some to track their movements and fates in future years, and collaborated on research at survey sites into vaccines and treatments. The surveys have enabled DNR to estimate bat populations at different sites before white-nose syndrome arrived, to track the arrival and spread of the disease, and now, to find survivors and better understand those conditions that allow for higher survival rates and can inform future recovery efforts.

Get Wisconsin news and research in <a href=
Get Wisconsin news and research in Echolocator, DNR's bat newsletter.

At the Grant County mine where the disease was first detected six years ago, biologists found eight individual bats of two species left from a population that, at its highest count was over 1,200 individuals of four bat species.

At sites in their fifth year of infection, bat populations are down 97 percent across the board, White says.

"As with the eastern states, who have been dealing with the disease for over 10 years now, there are major declines in the early years of infection and then the sites either drop to zero or have low-lying populations," he says.

Relatively good news is that bat populations at Wisconsin's two largest hibernation sites were down significantly but that large numbers of bats were persisting, White says.

The prospects for recovery at those and other sites, and the impacts on Wisconsin's ecosystems and economy, are unknown at this time, he says.

Bats can eat up to 1,000 insects an hour and a recent national study put bats' value to Wisconsin's agricultural industry between $658 million and $1.5 billion a year. As well, recent University of Wisconsin-Madison research found that Wisconsin bats ate nine of the mosquito species known to carry West Nile Virus.

For more information on Wisconsin bats, search the DNR website,, for keyword "bats."

Volunteer opportunities to help bats

White is also putting out a call for more volunteers to help DNR with "acoustic" surveys and for the Great Wisconsin Bat Count, held twice each summer.

Acoustic survey volunteers receive training and equipment to help them detect bat calls while the volunteers walk, drive, paddle or bike along set routes.

Other volunteers are needed for the Great Wisconsin Bat Count, which this year will be held May 31-June 2 and July 19-21. The first statewide count is conducted before young bats, called "pups," are able to fly and the second count occurs after pups are flying on their own. Volunteers identify bat roosts and sit outside the roost entrance in the evening to count the bats as they emerge just after sunset and report those results to DNR.

Knowing where larger concentrations of bats are surviving, which species they are and the characteristics of their habitat, are all important to understanding bats and helping their populations recover, he says.

To learn more about these volunteering opportunities, visit DNR's Wisconsin Bat Program web site and use the "volunteer" drop down menu.



OutWiGo Girls, Mother's Day Weekend Event

Contact(s): Jane Simkins, OutWiGo coordinator, 608-206-5945 or or Paul Holtan, DNR Office of Communications, 608-267-7517 or

MADISON - Mothers and daughters looking for a fun and healthy way to share time on Mother's Day weekend can participate in a variety of outdoor activities at an "OutWiGo Girls" event on Saturday, May 11 at the Scuppernong Trail System.

OutWiGo is a Wisconsin State Park System health and wellness initiative focused on promoting the mind, body, and community benefits of outdoor recreation.

Tips for hiking, camping and enjoying other outdoor activities with kids will be among the topics available at OutWiGoGirls. - Photo credit: DNR
Tips for hiking, camping and enjoying other outdoor activities with kids will be among the topics available at OutWiGo Girls.Photo credit: DNR

OutWiGo Girls will offer activities including group hikes, paddling, fishing, scavenger hunts and more. Outdoor demos will be happening throughout the day with focuses on campfire cooking, backpacking, mountain biking skills and a variety of other topics. All activities are free of cost, with the exceptions of horseback rides ($10 for 30-minute intro and ride, riders must be over the age of 7, with limited pony rides available for riders under the age of 7) and paddling rentals ($10 for one hour). Fishing poles and tackle will be provided free of charge.

Most activities will be held at the Scuppernong Trail Head, located in the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit in Dousman. The fishing clinic and paddling activity will be held at the boat launch at Ottawa Lake Campground Visitor Center in Dousman, from 10 a.m. t0 4 p.m. A dog trialing demo led by the Wisconsin Amateur Field Trial Club will be held at Ottawa Trial Field Grounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Attendees are also invited to attend inspiring and educational talks led by DNR staff, partners and outdoor enthusiasts, including Chelsey Lewis, Travel and Outdoors Reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ruth Oppedahl, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Foundation, David Spiegelberg, Southeast Regional Tourism Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and others. Talks will cover a variety of topics from accessible recreation to tips for trip planning and will take place every hour, on the hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While most activities will be geared toward women, this event is open to OutWiGo Girls of all ages and their families. Snacks will be provided, and picnic tables will be available for those who would like to bring their lunch to the event. Public restrooms are available at the Scuppernong Trail Area Parking Lot.

This event is free however, a Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker is required for entry, and horseback riding and paddling will be at an additional cost. While attendees may purchase their admission stickers at the parking lot entrance, purchasing them in advance will make the admission and parking process more efficient for themselves and others. Attendees are invited to attend the event anytime between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as activities and talks will run every hour and trails will be open all day. A complete schedule of activities is available at, keyword: OutWiGo. The rain date for this event will be Sunday, May 12.

Address for the Scuppernong Trail Head Parking Lot:

S58 W35820 County Road ZZ, Dousman, WI 53118 or search "Scuppernong Trail Head."

Address for the Ottawa Lake Campground Visitor Center:

Off County Road ZZ in Dousman, WI 53118 or search "Ottawa Lake Campground."

A sign will point towards the boat launch from the visitor center entrance.

Address for the Ottawa Field Trial Grounds:

Off Highway 67, North of Ottawa Lake Recreation Area in Dousman or search
"Ottawa Field Trial Grounds."



Same day camping reservations to be available at select Wisconsin state parks

Contact(s): Chris Pedretti, Wisconsin State Parks, 608-264-8958 or Paul Holtan, DNR Office of Communications, 608-267-7517

MADISON - Beginning May 1, campers will be able to make a reservation for available sites on the same day they want to camp at 15 Wisconsin state parks across the state under a pilot program conducted by the Wisconsin State Park System.

Campers will be able to make same day reservations using the online system through computer, cell phone or other mobile devices. Campers can also make same day reservations by calling the Camis USA call center, having property staff assist them, or by using new "yellow phones" that will be installed at 10 of the parks.

Beginning this May, campers will be able to make same day reservations at 15 state parks. - Photo credit: DNR
Beginning this May, campers will be able to make same day reservations at 15 state parks.Photo credit: DNR

"We hope this pilot program will provide additional camping opportunities in our parks, especially for our customers who are able to make last minute plans to camp but want to be sure they have a campsite," said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Park System director. "We also hope this will make it easier to fill campsites where people have had to suddenly cancel a reservation."

The goal of the same day reservation pilot program is to have the customer check the reservation website for available campsites. They can then either book the reservation online or call the toll-free reservation number 1-888-947-2757 to book the site with no reservation fee, just the campsite fee.

In addition, the weather-proof new yellow phones at 10 parks will allow customers to connect directly to the Camis call center staff by simply picking up the phone. If a campsite is available at the property, it can be booked and paid for using the yellow phones.

The 10 state parks that will have yellow phones are Amnicon Falls, Big Foot Beach, Big Bay, Potawatomi, Mill Bluff, Nelson Dewey, New Glarus Woods, Rocky Arbor, Tower Hill and Yellowstone Lake. Same day reservations will also be available at Lake Kegonsa, Council Grounds, Mirror Lake, Devil's Lake and Peninsula state parks. Reservations for those parks need to be made online, by phone to the Camis call center or at the park when the park office is open.

Same day reservations will be available whenever reservation seasons are open at these properties. They can be made seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

All reservations are in real time, so a campsite is removed from availability as soon as someone starts the reservation process to eliminate any chance of double booking. If campers make the reservation after the park's office hours, they will be able to check in the next morning.

Bergey said if the pilot program proves successful this year, the hope is to extend same day reservations to more properties in the future.

For more information about parks, activities and events check the Wisconsin State Parks website at



Ultimate Birder Adventure: Horicon Marsh 22nd Annual Bird Festival May 9-13

Contact(s): Liz Herzmann, DNR wildlife conservation educator, 920-387-7893

HORICON, Wis. - Bird enthusiasts can experience the sights, sounds and natural beauty of peak spring migration May 9-13 at the 22nd annual Bird Festival, hosted by the Horicon Marsh Bird Club at Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center.

From the backyard birder to the world traveler, the Horicon Bird Festival has something for everyone packed into four days of adventure by foot, boat, bus and bicycle throughout one of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States. The Horicon Marsh Bird Festival is the oldest bird festival in Wisconsin.

This Black-throated Green Warbler was caught in a mist net during a previous Horicon Marsh Bird Festival bird banding demonstration. Measurements were taken and a small band was placed on the leg in hopes that it will be caught again in future years to learn more about the biology of this species. - Photo credit: DNR
This Black-throated Green Warbler was caught in a mist net during a previous Horicon Marsh Bird Festival bird banding demonstration. Measurements were taken and a small band was placed on the leg in hopes that it will be caught again in future years to learn more about the biology of this species.Photo credit: DNR

Highlights of this year's Bird Festival include a keynote speech from Karla Bloem, director of the International Owl Center in Houston, Minn., and a new "Who Says Hoo?" program, featuring live owls. Another new event, "Mom and Me, Dissecting Together," offers a truly unique way to celebrate Mother's Day discovering what local owls are eating through hands-on pellet dissection.

Many tours require advanced registration and fees, and spaces fill up fast. To plan your birding adventure, visit (exit DNR) and click on the Bird Festival link for a complete list of events, descriptions and registration information. For additional registration information, contact Liz Herzmann, DNR wildlife conservation educator, at 920-387-7893.

The festival begins with the Birding Adventure Boat Tour. Other popular favorites include the Hot Spot Birding Bus Tour, Beginning Bird Hike, Bird Banding Demonstration, and more than 20 other tours and activities planned by the Horicon Marsh Bird Club.

The Birding by Bicycle guided tour invites birders to peddle their way through the area. A Birdy Scavenger Hunt offers a unique way to explore the Marshes scenic views, sounds and enjoyment.

For the early morning birder, First Light Birding offers a glimpse of birds at sunrise. At sunset, a Night Sounds Bus Tour is offered. Throughout the festival, the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Marsh Haven Nature Center and Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center will be buzzing with interactive displays, programs and opportunities for viewing birds from observation areas.

Partners for this event include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marsh Haven Nature Center, Horicon Marsh Boat Tours, Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center.

The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located between Horicon, Wis., and Mayville, Wis., on Hwy. 28. For a detailed list of all Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center special events, please visit the Friends of Horicon Marsh website at (exit DNR). For more information regarding Horicon Marsh education programs, contact Liz Herzmann, DNR educator, at 920-387-7893.



Steelhead fishing and catching tagged fish contribute to Great Lakes research efforts

Contact(s): Nick Legler, DNR fisheries biologist, 920-746-5112

KEWAUNEE, Wis.-With spring steelhead fishing underway on Lake Michigan tributaries, state fisheries biologists are asking anglers to assist with an important steelhead research program currently underway. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fish biologists are asking anglers to report marked fish by submitting reports about what they caught, where and when.

Steelhead stocked into Lake Michigan tributaries during 2018 and recently in spring 2019 were marked with an adipose fin clip and tagged internally with coded wire tags. Steelhead are typically stocked as yearlings or at age 1, so steelhead initially marked and tagged in 2018 are now two years old and about 15 to 20 inches.

DNR fisheries technicians Derek Apps (front) and Roman Frey (back) with a steelhead processed at the Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility on April 10, 2019. - Photo credit: DNR
DNR fisheries technicians Derek Apps (front) and Roman Frey (back) with a steelhead processed at the Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility on April 10, 2019.Photo credit: DNR

"These fish have now reached catchable and harvestable size, so we're asking anglers who catch steelhead with the adipose fin clip to let us know," says Nick Legler, DNR fisheries biologist based in Sturgeon Bay.

This diagram shows a fish with ONLY a missing adipose (back) fin. - Photo credit: DNR
This diagram shows a fish with ONLY a missing adipose (back) fin.

Anglers have already caught some marked steelhead, with a few also showing up in reports from state egg collection facilities: the Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility on the Kewaunee River and Root River Steelhead Facility on the Root River. Anglers are encouraged to help, by collecting information and samples through either a volunteer return program accessible through, search "missing fin," or the Great Lakes Angler Diary at

Overall, the Great Lakes Mass Marking program seeks to evaluate salmonid wild production, movements, growth, and stocking methods. Also important to steelhead management is an evaluation of different genetic strains, such as Chambers Creek and Ganaraska strains. These will be interesting things to learn about steelhead, that will help guide steelhead management.

Collectively, all Chinook salmon and lake trout were marked with adipose fin clips and coded wire tags from 2011-2016, in a process shown in the video below. Since 2017, lake trout are still clipped and tagged, Chinooks are now just clipped, while steelhead are now clipped and tagged.

Lake Michigan fish marking machine

"Great information has and continues to be collected from past and remaining tagged Chinooks," Legler says. "This new focus on tagged steelhead is an exciting next chapter for the Great Lakes Mass Marking program. With anglers' help, it is sure to provide useful information to help manage and sustain a great fishery in Lake Michigan for years to come."

This effort is thanks to the Great Lakes Mass Marking Program, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Kettle Moraine Fish Hatchery, and many collaborators around Lake Michigan. For more information, please contact DNR fisheries biologist Nick Legler at 920-746-5112 or



Turkey Donation Program provides opportunity to help families in need this spring

Contact(s): Liz Tanner, DNR Wildlife Biologist, 608-266-2151

MADISON - Now in its third year, the Turkey Donation Program returns this spring and provides hunters the opportunity of donating their harvested turkey to needy families across the state. Donated turkeys will be processed free of charge, and the meat will be provided to local food pantries.

"This is a great opportunity for turkey hunters to participate in a sport they enjoy while also providing turkey meat to Wisconsin families in need," said Liz Tanner program coordinator with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Hunters can participate in the program by following five simple steps:

Those interested in supporting the Deer and Turkey Donation Programs can voluntarily donate $1 or more to the Deer and Turkey Donation Programs to help cover meat-processing fees. To donate, visit any license sales location or donate online through a Go Wild account at GoWild.Wi.Gov.

For more information regarding the turkey donation program, including a list of participating processors, search the DNR website,, for keywords "turkey donation."



DNR commits $4.3 million to Portage Canal cleanup

Contact(s): Mark Aquino, DNR South Central Region Secretary's Director, 608-275-3262

PORTAGE, Wis. - Dredging and cleanup of a nearly three-quarter mile section of the Portage Canal is moving ahead with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources providing $4.3 million to cover the cost of the work.

"In the spirit of Gov. Evers' declaring 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water, the DNR is committed to cleaning up contaminated sediments in this section of the Portage Canal," said DNR Secretary Preston Cole. "We're excited to work with the city on this cleanup project and look forward to seeing the bicycle and pedestrian pathways the city plans to construct along the canal."

Portage Canal drone flyover

As the owner of the Portage Canal, the state of Wisconsin is responsible for taking the necessary actions to address the contamination that has impacted the canal. "Completing this project is one of the agency's top priorities," said Cole.

The canal, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a navigable waterway, though it hasn't been used in that capacity since 1951. From Adams Street to the Canadian Pacific Railroad bridge, the 3,600-foot stretch hasn't been dredged in nearly a century and is contaminated with chemicals related to a history of industrial activity.

"This is great news for the city of Portage and the Portage Canal Society. This funding commitment culminates years of planning and demonstrates what can be accomplished through partnerships and cooperation," said Portage Mayor Rick Dodd.

"The city is grateful for the tireless effort by the DNR to recognize the importance of the canal project and its history to the city of Portage. I would like to thank the DNR, especially Mark Aquino and his team for their work in seeing the importance of this project," said Dodd.

Funding for this phase of the cleanup along the canal, which may begin as early as 2020, will come from the state's Environmental Repair Fund and bonding. A smaller section of the canal was dredged in the summer of 2016 in conjunction with the construction of the new Columbia County Administration Building and the county's new Health and Human Services Building.



New programs offered additional CWD testing and disposal options for hunters

Contact(s): Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief, 414-750-8360

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to include the adopt a kiosk sponsors.  We regret the omission.]

MADISON - State wildlife officials are thanking those who participated in the first year of the Adopt-a-Kiosk and Adopt-a-Dumpster programs, expanding hunter access to chronic wasting disease testing and carcass disposal. Individuals and organizations volunteered to adopt kiosks and Dumpsters in their area, supporting their local hunters and assisting with chronic wasting disease monitoring.

An adopt-a-kiosk CWD sampling station. - Photo credit: DNR
An adopt-a-kiosk CWD sampling station.Photo credit: DNR

The primary goal of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Adopt-a-Kiosk is to work with volunteers to enhance CWD sample numbers, ease and options for hunters. In 2018, DNR offered three levels of participation in the Adopt-a-Kiosk program, and participants could also volunteer to construct and donate a kiosk the program. DNR provided all kiosk supplies, and participants were responsible for all costs and followed guidelines associated with their level of involvement.

The Adopt-a-Dumpster program aims to give hunters options for appropriate deer carcass disposal, especially in areas where options are otherwise limited or not available. Adopt-a-Dumpster volunteers sponsored dumpsters throughout the deer season at locations mutually agreed upon with DNR. Participants were responsible for all costs and followed guidelines associated with the dumpster.

"These programs provide an opportunity for conservation groups or individuals to assist with CWD surveillance and reduce risk of disease spread through proper deer carcass disposal. In fact, we developed these programs in response to hunter interest," said Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief.

"We sincerely appreciate the contributions of these individuals and organizations and thank them for their help. These partnerships are an important piece in the success of statewide CWD efforts," said Ryan.

For more information search the DNR website,, for keyword "CWD."

For the 2018 deer season, volunteers sponsored two adopted kiosks and 16 adopted Dumpsters:

AAD Participant


Doug Duren, Richland Co Meat Locker, and the "Hunt to Eat" Foundation

Richland Center, Richland County

Doug Duren, Sharron Miller, and the "Hunt to Eat" Foundation

Rock Bridge, Richland County

Doug Duren, John Cler, and the "Hunt to Eat" Foundation

Boaz, Richland County

Doug Duren, Dave Barron and the "Hunt to Eat" Foundation

Ithaca, Richland County

Doug Duren and the "Hunt to Eat" Foundation

Cazenovia, Richland County

Doug Duren, Andy Novak, and the "Hunt to Eat" Foundation

Ferryville, Crawford County

Mitch/Elizabeth Baker, Reedsburg Outdoor Club, Doug Duren, and the "Hunt to Eat" Foundation

Reedsburg, Sauk County

Tom Hauge & Wisconsin's Green Fire

Plain, Sauk County

Doug Duren, Tom Hauge, the Hunt to Eat Foundation and Sauk County Conservation Alliance.

Prairie du Sac, Sauk County

Steve Gehrke - Wings Over Wisconsin

Boscobel DNR Nursery, Grant County

Steve Gehrke - Wings Over Wisconsin

Ellenboro, Grant County

Back Country Hunters & Anglers

Goose Lake Wildlife Area, Dane County

Jackson County Wildlife Fund

Black River Falls DNR Service Center, Jackson County

Outdoors Forever

Mauston, Juneau County

Advanced Disposal & Oneida County Sportsman

Rhinelander DNR Service Center, Oneida County

Advanced Disposal & Oneida County Sportsman

Woodruff DNR Service Center, Oneida County

AAK Level




Doug Duren & Hunt to Eat Foundation

Cazenovia, Richland County


Elizabeth & Mitch Baker (BHA)

LaValle, Sauk County



Spring prescribed burn activity to take place on DNR lands

Contact(s): Michele Witecha, DNR Prescribed Fire Specialist, 608-333-3664

MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff will be conducting prescribed burns on DNR properties throughout the state during a window of optimal conditions this week and into May.

Prescribed burning is one tool DNR uses to preserve and restore landscapes found within state-managed properties throughout Wisconsin. In fire-dependent habitats, these burns mimic the natural benefits fire historically provided: a decrease in dead grass (thatch) buildup, improved spaces for wildlife to feed, nest, and raise young, and an increase in native grass and wildflower growth. A significant number of habitat types in Wisconsin have developed throughout history with periodic fire occurring across the landscape. Many of these habitat types, such as prairie, wetland, oak/pine barrens, and oak savanna, would not exist without fire occasionally restoring the balance between open grass and brush.

The application of prescribed fire can help reduce the presence and spread of brush within this tallgrass prairie. Increased growth of native grasses and wildflowers after the burn will lead to an increase in insect abundance - which is crucial for fledgling grassland bird survival. - Photo credit: DNR
The application of prescribed fire can help reduce the presence and spread of brush within this tallgrass prairie. Increased growth of native grasses and wildflowers after the burn will lead to an increase in insect abundance - which is crucial for fledgling grassland bird survival.Photo credit: DNR

DNR staff make the decision to conduct prescribed burns only when weather and vegetation conditions meet strict standards for safety, smoke management, and burn effectiveness. If prescribed burns are conducted near roads or recreational trails, signs will be posted to notify the public on the morning of the burn. For public safety, people are asked to avoid these areas while the burn is being conducted. To view where DNR prescribed burns are occurring across the state, search the DNR website,, for keyword "WisBURN," then click on "View Current Fires," and from the "show" dropdown menu select "Today's Prescribed Burns".

DNR staff spend months comprehensively planning each prescribed burn, and also begin pre-season preparations and refresher trainings in January. For burn safety and smoke management reasons, specific weather conditions are required for each prescribed burn to occur. Staff assess weather forecasts (temperature, relative humidity, windspeed and direction) and vegetation moisture to determine if fire behavior will be within the desired range and meet the objectives of the burn. As weather forecasts can change leading up to the burn day, the decision to burn is re-evaluated in the morning and at the burn site. Where required, local law enforcement and fire officials are notified in advance when and where DNR prescribed burns will take place.

For more information regarding the benefits of prescribed burning in Wisconsin, visit and search keywords "prescribed fire." Written or verbal comments are encouraged, and can be directed to Michele Witecha, DNR prescribed fire specialist, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI or at 608-333-3664.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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