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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 531 days

Weekly News Published May 7, 2019


Birdathon donors fund priority bird projects, spurred bird-friendly Bucks arena

Contact(s): Craig Thompson, NHC section chief, 608-785-1277 Diane Packett, Great Wisconsin Birdathon Coordinator, 920-219-2587

MILWAUKEE - Donors to the Great Wisconsin Birdathon have helped make important gains for Wisconsin birds in recent years including funding the organization that spurred the Milwaukee Bucks to make their arena the first bird-friendly sports and entertainment arena in the world.

Funding a comprehensive statewide survey of breeding birds, reintroduction of whooping cranes, and building populations of endangered piping plovers, terns and Kirtland's warblers are other important efforts made possible by Great Wisconsin Birdathon donors.

Now, Wisconsin bird lovers again can donate to the Great Wisconsin Birdathon as that walkathon style fundraiser gets underway and accepts online donations. Visit the Great Wisconsin Birdathon (exit DNR) to donate to a team, an individual or make a general donation.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 9 photos

Bird City Wisconsin, funded partly by Great Wisconsin Birdathon donations, spurred bird-friendly features at the Milwaukee Bucks' Fiserv Forum.

"Surveys show that 55% of Wisconsin adults watch birds in their backyard and 39% travel to watch birds away from home. The Birdathon is a great way for people to help conserve the birds they love," says Drew Feldkirchner, who directs the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

The Natural Heritage Conservation Program is a partner in the Birdathon, which is organized and run by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin (exit DNR). Participants identify and record as many bird species as possible during part of a day between April 15 and June 15 and solicit pledges from family and friends. There is also a general fund to donate to if donors do not have a favorite team or birder registered.

Last year's Birdathon raised $88,000 for bird conservation projects, and this year's goal is $90,000, according to Diane Packett, Birdathon coordinator at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

"Anyone who loves birds can participate or donate," says Packett. "You don't need to be an expert. You can spot birds while sitting out on your porch or walking your dog. It's a great way to get outside with friends, family, or co-workers and do something fun while giving back to Wisconsin."

Birdathon funds Bird City Wisconsin and bird restoration and research

Bird City Wisconsin, an organization that is funded by the Great Wisconsin Birdathon and works to encourage communities in Wisconsin to implement bird-conservation practices, successfully approached the Bucks in 2015 about incorporating bird-friendly measures in their design.

As a result, Fiserv Forum, located in downtown Milwaukee near the shore of Lake Michigan, earned the Bird Collision Deterrence Credit from the U.S. Green Building Council as part of its LEED Green Building Certification. The credit reflected the stadium's design considerations for minimizing see-through glass, as well as lighting that can disorient migrating birds and cause them to crash into buildings. Scientists estimate that upwards of 600 million birds die from building collisions in the U.S. and Canada every year, according to a March 31, 2019, story in Living Bird magazine (exit DNR).

Other bird projects funded by donations to the 2019 Great Wisconsin Birdathon will include many involving DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program, including the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, a comprehensive field survey that documents the distribution and abundance of birds breeding in Wisconsin, efforts by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership to re-establish an eastern migratory flock of whooping cranes, and efforts to increase the number of endangered Kirtland's warblers. New this year, funds raised through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon also will go to help protect and restore current breeding and nesting sites, and create additional breeding sites, for endangered piping plovers.



New video series offered to woodland owners

Contact(s): Diane Gunderson,, 715-401-4384

MADISON -- Are you a landowner interested in improving your woodlands for wildlife? Enjoying its natural beauty? Foraging for natural food on your property? Protecting it from invasives? Learning how to pass it on to future generations?

A new web video series produced by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources introduces these topics - and more - in short videos of 3 to 5 minutes each. Whether you're a landowner new to caring for your woodlands or a long-time steward of wooded property passed down through generations, the videos have something for everyone. Find the Your Wisconsin Woods series on the DNR YouTube channel. 

By working with professional foresters landowners can learn how to enrich their forest experience. - Photo credit: DNR
By working with professional foresters landowners can learn how to enrich their forest experience.Photo credit: DNR

The "Your Wisconsin Woods" video series explores these areas:

Funding for the series was provided by the Ruffed Grouse Society, a national organization that focuses on healthy forests, abundant wildlife and sporting traditions.

"Since more than half of the 17.1 million acres of forestland in Wisconsin is owned by private individuals and families, these woodland owners are key to the future of Wisconsin forests," said James Warren, DNR's public and private forestry section chief.

"During the next five years, DNR is working with partner organizations to reach 20,000 woodland owners who have not previously had the opportunity to work with a professional forester," Warren said. "We hope tools such as these new videos will inspire landowners to become engaged with their woodlands."

Woodland stewardship can be a partnership, Warren said.

"Landowners bring their goals for their property and foresters bring the expertise and guidance to help them achieve those goals," he said. "By working together, we can help landowners learn how to enrich their forest experience - now and for the years to come."

In addition to watching these videos, DNR foresters encourage woodland owners to visit the "My Wisconsin Woods" website at (exit DNR) to access professional assistance, including a free informational walk-through on their property with a forester.



Big 10 Rowing Championships coming to Devil's Lake May 18-19

Contact(s): Kathryn Gehrke, Wisconsin State Parks, 608-264-8994 or Paul Holtan, DNR Office of Communications, 608-267-7517

Special event will result in some property and lake closed areas

MADISON - Visitors to Devil's Lake State Park on the weekend of May 18-19 will find Wisconsin's busiest state park is going to be even busier, as the park plays host to the 2019 Big Ten Rowing Championships.

"We are really excited to host this event, but we do need to let park visitors know that this major regatta is going to require some restrictions at the park both on and off the water," said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Park System director.

The Big Ten Rowing Championship will be held May 19 at Devil's Lake State Park, resulting in some land and water closures that weekend. - Photo credit: UW-Madison
The Big 10 Rowing Championship will be held May 19 at Devil's Lake State Park, resulting in some land and water closures that weekend.Photo credit: UW-Madison

Eight teams compete in Big Ten rowing with women's programs from Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Rutgers and Wisconsin fielding teams. Between crew members and their equipment, support and coaching staff along with team families and spectators from many areas, the park will see thousands more visitors than on a typical spring weekend.

On Saturday, areas along the south shore of the park will be restricted so teams can prepare their boats, called shells, and staging areas. On Championship Sunday, the South Shore will continue to have restricted areas, and visitors of the park are encouraged to use the North Shore, Steinke Basin and Roznos Meadow parking areas. On Sunday from 6 a.m. to noon the northwest portion of the north shore will be restricted for the race starting area.

Rowing lanes are established for the races and the lanes will be closed to other watercraft while teams are practicing on the lake on Saturday 8 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday during the races from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. On Sunday, the races begin at 9 a.m. and are scheduled every 20 minutes with the last beginning at 11 a.m.

"We are very proud that one of our premier state parks is able to host such a premier event," Bergey said. "We understand that this may cause some inconvenience for some visitors, but we hope everyone will enjoy seeing these elite athletes competing in a national event."

Devil's Lake State Park is one of Wisconsin's oldest, largest and most visited state park. Its unique bluffs surrounding the lake offer expansive views of the park and surrounding area. For more information about the park, search the Department of Natural Resources website,, for "Devil's Lake."

"The park is fabulous. For rowing it is fabulous," Bebe Bryans, University of Wisconsin-Madison head women's rowing coach noted in a UW news release issued on the event (exit DNR). "It is just long enough and just wide enough to do everything we want. It is surrounded by bluffs, which not only make the water good, but make for incredible viewing. You can see this race course from any part you want to see it from."

The eight-team Big Ten championships will mark the fourth women's rowing event to take place at Devils Lake since 2015. The Badgers' first event took place on May 2, 2015, with Michigan State and Minnesota competing. UW also raced there on Oct. 18, 2015, against Minnesota, and played host to the Big Ten/Big 12 Invite on April 23, 2016, with the Badgers, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa taking part. The Wisconsin men's team has also competed there several times since first racing there in 2012.

A daily or annual Wisconsin State Park vehicle admission sticker is required on all motor vehicles entering the park. Visitors planning to attend the event are encouraged to purchase the sticker prior to the event to avoid backups at the entrance station.



Keep Wildlife Wild: Admire fawns from afar, mom is near

Contact(s): Amanda Kamps, DNR wildlife health conservation specialist, 608-712-5280

MADISON - As the weather warms and people spend more time outdoors, state wildlife officials remind everyone that many young wild animals are born this time of year, including white-tailed deer fawns. Newborn fawns hide quietly for long periods of time while their mothers feed nearby. A quiet fawn found alone is not abandoned. To ensure their safety and to keep wildlife wild, the public should enjoy viewing fawns from afar.

A quiet fawn found alone is not abandoned. - Photo credit: DNR
A quiet fawn found alone is not abandoned.Photo credit: DNR

According to Department of Natural Resources wildlife health conservation specialist Amanda Kamps, co-chair of the Keep Wildlife Wild team, people often come across a fawn laying down alone in their yard or even next to a building and mistakenly think the fawn has been abandoned. In fact, a fawn that is lying down quietly has not been abandoned; the mother doe is nearby.

"The best chance of survival for a young fawn is to be quiet and still, concealing itself in its surrounding environment," said Kamps. "Very young fawns are not able to keep up with their mom, so instead she will leave her fawn concealed in a place where she feels it is safe."

The natural protective behavior of a mother doe is different than that of human mothers. Hiding quietly is a fawn's best protection from predators, especially in the first few days of life. Because young fawns have very little scent, predators cannot see, hear or smell them so long as they stay still and quiet. It is typical for a mother doe to leave her young fawns unattended except for brief nursing visits a few times a day. Occasionally, she will move her fawn to a new hiding place.

What do I do if I find a fawn?

"The best thing to do if you find a fawn is to not touch it and leave it alone," said Kamps. "It is understandable that people want to help and are concerned about a fawn found alone. However, the best help that you can provide the fawn is to leave it where you found it and try to reduce human and domestic animal activity in the surrounding area. Reducing activity in the area will allow the mother doe to return to her fawn and provide it the care that it needs."

If someone has questions about a fawn, or if thinks one is injured or orphaned, they should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator near you. Rehabilitators can help you assess the situation and determine what is best for the fawn. A directory of licensed wildlife rehabilitators that accept fawns can be found on our website. Visit and search "rehab." Not all wildlife rehabilitators have the ability to care for fawns, so be sure to talk with a wildlife rehabilitator that does. Never touch a fawn without first speaking with a wildlife professional.

More information on fawns and keeping wildlife wild can be found by visiting and searching keyword "keep wildlife wild." This page has information specific to fawns that you can print at home, including a decision-making tool [PDF] to help you determine if a fawn should be left alone or if it needs help. If you require additional assistance, you can also contact the DNR Call Center at 1-888-936-7463.

State wildlife officials thank the public for their assistance in keeping wildlife wild. And remember, a young fawn's best chance for survival is with its mother.



Partners collaborate to improve survival of fish that anglers release

Contact(s): Todd Kalish, Fisheries Management deputy bureau director, 608-266-5285

MADISON - Anglers who choose to release their hooked fish now have additional resources at their disposal to increase the fish's chances of survival thanks to a collaborative effort between state agencies and partners.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Board, the governing body for the DNR, partnered with natural resources agencies and environmental groups over the past six months to form a Responsible Catch and Release Team and develop the education and outreach tools. Partnering agencies and groups included the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, Walleyes for Tomorrow, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Muskies Inc., BASS Nation, and Trout Unlimited. The tools to help anglers responsibly release their catch are available by searching the DNR website,, for keywords "responsible release."

Using wet hands or gloves and keeping fish in the water as much as possible are among the tips for Responsible Release. - Photo credit: DNR
Using wet hands or gloves and keeping fish in the water as much as possible are among the tips for Responsible Release.Photo credit: DNR

"The impacts of catch and release mortality have been well documented," said Gary Zimmer, Natural Resources Board member and chair of the Responsible Catch and Release team. "Catch and release mortality is often estimated at 5-20% for inland waters and as high as 40-76% for species such as lake trout in the Great Lakes when water temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit."

Anglers release their catch for a variety of reasons; it may not meet minimum length limits or anglers might voluntarily release it to allow an opportunity for someone else to catch it.

"Not every angler chooses to release their catch, and it is perfectly OK for them to keep their fish as long as it is consistent with length and bag limits," said Ryan Hoffmann of BASS Nation. "However, if anglers choose to release their catch, there are proven methods to increase its chances of survival and live to create a new memory for another angler."

The Responsible Catch and Release page of the DNR website webpage contains a sharable responsible catch and release presentation, a tacklebox wild card, and stories of fish caught, released, and caught again. It also includes comprehensive responsible release best management practices for a variety of fish species and different fishing seasons. The team will continue to highlight responsible release techniques and will be adding information and outreach materials to the webpage over the course of the fishing season.



Conservation biologists track amorous amphibians to help protect seasonal wetlands

Contact(s): DNR conservation biologists Ryan O'Connor, 608-354-2383; Rori Paloski, 608-264-6040; Rich Staffen, 608-266-4340

HAYWARD - May is wetlands month, and for Wisconsin's amphibians that means the mating game is on and state conservation biologists are in hot pursuit.

Wood frogs, frozen for the winter under leaf litter, thaw out and have two weeks to find their match and the perfect pool in which to lay their eggs. They hop on over to ephemeral ponds, depressions usually found in forest landscapes, that hold water after snowmelt and spring rains but typically dry out by mid-summer.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 8 photos

Spotted salamanders also rely on ephemeral ponds for their breeding grounds.

The ponds are fishless, allowing their eggs to survive; they have the right water temperatures (about 40-60 degrees); and they hold water long enough to allow the eggs to hatch and the resulting tadpoles to metamorphose into frogs.

Because some ephemeral ponds are more enticing than others to wood frogs, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program biologists don waders to locate which ponds the frogs, spotted salamanders and blue spotted salamanders, pick to lay their eggs.

"Part of our effort is to understand which ponds they are using for breeding," says Ryan O'Connor, a conservation biologist with the Natural Heritage Conservation Program. "A lot of times these ponds are very small - only one-quarter to one-half an acre - yet they are very important for wildlife including wood frogs."

Ephemeral Pond Surveys

Locating, cataloging and describing these ponds will help protect them on public lands. The information the conservation biologists collect is fed into DNR master planning efforts that ultimately determine how state parks, forests, wildlife areas and natural areas will be managed.

In 2018, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation biologists completed an important project to help safeguard this critical fish-free breeding habitat for wood frogs, salamanders and other species. They developed criteria to help classify ephemeral ponds and rank their relative importance based on abundance of breeding amphibians, lack of invasive species, and other factors. Their information informs DNR master planning and can be used throughout the state to help safeguard these valuable wetlands, says Rich Staffen, one of the conservation biologists working on the project

Generally speaking, ephemeral ponds provide habitat for a diverse collection of invertebrates, amphibians and plant life, including wood frogs, blue-spotted salamanders, fairy shrimp, turtles, dragonflies, damselflies, pond snails, water sow bugs, smartweeds and orange jewelweed.

Ephemeral ponds are among Wisconsin's three dozen distinct wetland communities. Wisconsin has lost half of its original 10 million acres of wetlands. Remaining wetlands are very important for Wisconsin's native and rare species: 32% of the state's endangered or threatened species are wetland dependent.

Learn more about Wisconsin's wetland communities and enjoy a new series of videos (exit DNR) from our partners at the Wisconsin Wetlands Association to celebrate American wetlands month and the benefits wetlands provide.



Sandhill Wildlife Area Trumpeter Trail opens for 2019 season

Contact(s): Ryan Haffele, Sandhill Wildlife Area property supervisor, 715-884-6332

BABCOCK - The Trumpeter Trail, a 14-mile auto tour route winding through Sandhill Wildlife Area, is now open to the public, offering a chance to view the property's abundant wildlife, including a herd of American bison. The auto tour route is open sunrise to sunset through the end of October and promises scenic views and side excursions to explore the property's hiking trails and climb its three observation towers.

The trail is free to enter, but donations are appreciated. Proceeds support wildlife and habitat management on the property. A donation box is located at the chalet near the Sandhill entrance gate.

The first observation tower on the Trumpeter Trail overlooks a fenced-in, 260-acre bison range home to a small herd of bison - Photo credit: DNR
The first observation tower on the Trumpeter Trail overlooks a fenced-in, 260-acre bison range home to a small herd of bisonPhoto credit: DNR

Due to damage from high water, this year's route will feature a detour through the center of the property while repairs are completed. Maps depicting the detour route are available at the trail entrance kiosk. Repairs are expected to be completed by the end of June.

Despite the detour, the public can still enjoy the auto tour route looking for white-tailed deer, bison, waterfowl, songbirds, coyotes, otter, beaver, and other wildlife inhabiting the Sandhill Wildlife Area. Access to our three observation towers will still be available, providing breathtaking views of the area.

"The public can still access the popular features of the auto tour route, including searching for the bison herd, climbing North Bluff Tower and the various hiking trails on the property," said property supervisor Ryan Haffele.

Sandhill Wildlife Area covers more than 9,000 acres and was named for a series of gently rolling sandy ridges that crisscross the property. The property lies within the bed of ancient Glacial Lake Wisconsin, an expansive region of flat, marshy land interspersed with forests. Sandhill features low, sandy uplands of oak, aspen and jack pine forests, large marshes and many flowages. A small herd of American bison, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, Canada geese, ducks, loons, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, shorebirds, songbirds, hawks, owls and furbearers find their home here at Sandhill.

Find more information on the Observation Towers and Trumpeter Trail by searching the DNR website,, for keyword "Sandhill."



Results of 2018 wildlife surveys now available on DNR website

Contact(s): Brian Dhuey, DNR Wildlife population and harvest assessment specialist, 608-221-6342

MADISON - The public can find the latest results for a wide variety of wildlife surveys conducted in 2018 on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' website. Survey results include population surveys and estimates, harvest results and wildlife observation reports.

The reports include data collected on small game, big game, furbearer and non-game species and were made possible by Pittman-Robertson funding. DNR staff would like to thank all the volunteers who assisted with survey efforts for their continued commitment to Wisconsin's wildlife.

The following reports for 2018 can be found by visiting and searching keyword "reports."







Incidental take notice for Walworth County

Contact(s): Stacy Rowe, conservation biologists,608-266-7012

MADISON -Improvements to a ramp on Interstate 43 in Walworth County may result in the "incidental taking" of a rare plant 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 Wisconsin Department of Transportation is planning an I-43 project is to address the deteriorating pavement, extend the service life of the highway pavement, improve safety, and address ongoing deterioration with the existing structures along the corridor. Specifically, at the WIS 67 interchange, project activities include grading, ditch capacity improvements, and culvert pipe replacement to improve drainage. In addition to the drainage improvements, the interchange ramps will be milled and resurfaced and the existing gravel shoulder, which is eroded, will require supplemental gravel be added to it.

The presence of the state threatened seaside crowfoot (Ranunculus cymbalaria) 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 plants.

Department 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 threatened species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the seaside crowfoot are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Stacy Rowe (608-266-7012 or The department is requesting comments from the public through June 6, 2019 regarding project-related impacts to the seaside crowfoot. Public comments should be sent to Stacy Rowe, Wisconsin DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 07, 2019

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