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NEWS ARCHIVE:     Age: 377 days

Weekly News Published October 8, 2019


2019 Wisconsin Ring-necked Pheasant Season Opens Oct. 19

Contact(s): Mark Witecha, Upland Wildlife Ecologist, 608-267-7861,

Wisconsin's pheasant season opens Oct. 19. - Photo credit: DNR
Wisconsin's pheasant season opens Oct. 19.Photo credit: DNR

MADISON, Wis. - The fall Wisconsin pheasant hunting season opens statewide at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, and will run through Jan. 5, 2020.

Several other seasons also open that day, including bobwhite quail, Hungarian partridge and ruffed grouse in Zone B. Like pheasant, the bobwhite quail and Hungarian partridge seasons open at 9 a.m. The ruffed grouse season opens at the start of legal shooting hours.

Hunters should check the Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations [PDF] for rules and season structures for the game species they will pursue.

"Pheasant hunting offers a fantastic means to experience the outdoors, and it complements the other upland bird hunting opportunities in Wisconsin very well," Department of Natural Resources Upland Wildlife Ecologist Mark Wietcha said. "Pheasant hunting offers the chance to explore landscapes and habitat types you might not otherwise see."

Pheasants are one of the most sought-after game birds in North America, and populations do best in the agricultural landscape of southern and western Wisconsin, provided there is habitat present in sufficient quantities to meet their food and cover needs throughout the year, according to Witecha.

In addition to existing wild pheasant hunting opportunities, DNR wildlife management staff plan to release approximately 80,000 pheasants from the state game farm on more than 100 public hunting grounds, slightly more than were released in 2018. Pheasants raised by conservation clubs as part of the Day-old Chick Program will also be released this fall.

A list of all properties stocked with pheasants is available on the 2019 Pheasant Stocking Information, or go to the DNR website, and search keyword "pheasant."

The 2019 spring pheasant surveys in Wisconsin show that pheasant abundance is above the five-year average with the highest pheasant detection rate in the northwestern part of the state. The average number of pheasants detected during each stop was up 0.64 pheasants per stop compared to 0.59 pheasants in 2018.

To pursue wild pheasants, hunters should look for areas that contain adequate winter cover, such as cattail marshes and dense brush, intermixed with cropland, hay and idle grasslands that provide food and nesting cover. It will be necessary for hunters to identify areas with high-quality habitat, concentrating their hunting efforts in those areas, according to Witecha. Hunters are reminded to be polite and notify the landowner before hunting on private property open to public hunting as part of the Volunary Public Access program.

During the 2018 pheasant hunting season, an estimated 50,831 hunters went out in search of pheasants and reported harvesting approximately 403,766 birds. The top counties for harvest included Kenosha, Jefferson and Waukesha.

The Mentored Hunting Program allows any hunter, born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, to obtain a hunting license and hunt without first completing Hunter Education, provided they hunt with a mentor and comply with all the requirements under the program. For additional information and the requirements of the program, visit the DNR website and search the keyword "mentored hunting."

Wisconsin's pheasant stamp program uses funds derived from stamp sales to create and maintain the habitat required for pheasants to survive and reproduce year-round. For more information on the pheasant stamp program, go to the DNR website and search keyword "stamps."


A 2019 Pheasant Stamp and a valid small game license are required to hunt pheasants statewide. Anyone can purchase and print a license from home by going online to or by visiting one of over 1,000 license agents across the state. The DNR's Hunt Wild Wisconsin mobile app also allows hunters to brush up on regulations as well as explore public lands on an interactive map, see up to the minute shooting hours, or even listen to podcasts. For more information and how to download the app, visit the DNR website, search keywords "hunt app."



Hold on, Hunters: Wear Your Harness

Contact(s): Chief Warden Todd Schaller,; Joanne M. Haas, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement public information officer, 608-209-8147

What Goes Up, Too Often Falls from Treestands
Research has shown most avid hunters face a 1-in-20 risk of getting hurt in a fall from a treestand. - Photo credit: DNR
Research has shown most avid hunters face a 1-in-20 risk of getting hurt in a fall from a treestand.Photo credit: DNR

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Chief Warden Todd Schaller urges all hunters who use a treestand to wear a safety harness and avoid becoming another tragic fall statistic.

"A sad documented fact bore out by research shows if you hunt from a treestand, statistics say you are likely to fall," Schaller said. "You can beat these odds if you take the time to review and follow treestand safety practices."

The DNR partnered with the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation and the UW Hospital and Clinics in 2014 to learn more about deer stand accidents and how to prevent them. A thorough review of medical reports found some common themes, the most important of which is that deer hunters underestimate the risks associated with treestands.

Research published in 2016 by the Wildlife Society research showed the most avid hunters face a 1-in-20 risk of getting hurt in a fall from a treestand. The society's published research [PDF] indicates that risky climbing behavior can catch up with you the longer you hunt.

"Thinking that 'I am careful' or 'I built that stand myself' does not safeguard you from the fact that falls can happen to anyone. I've experienced one of those close calls, which changed my behavior," Schaller said.

Schaller understands hunters want to enhance their ability to see and bag their deer during the archery season. "Without a mind on safety, the treestand advantage comes with a risk of falling. Falls can cause life-changing injuries or death," he said.

Schaller offers these treestand safety tips:

Prefer a course instead? Consider taking a free online treestand safety course. A 15-minute investment of your time in taking an online safety course could save your life. The Treestand Manufacturers Association provides a free, interactive course that you can finish in minutes. TreeStand Safety Course [exit DNR].

Schaller also urges hunters always to inspect their stands -- especially the ones left up all year. "Inspect the tree, check straps, check hardware, wood condition," he said. "Another way to check your stand is to pull on the stand and move it around to see how much it moves."

To learn more about treestand safety and take the free Tree stand safety course, visit the DNR website.



Wisconsin Celebrates 20 Years of Deer Donation Program

Contact(s): Liz Tanner, Wildlife Damage Program Assistant, 608-266-2151,

With Hunter and Meat Processor Support, the Deer Donation Program Provides Meals to Wisconsin Families in Need
Hunters can give back this year - and get a 20th anniversary ball cap - when they donate a deer to the Deer Donation Program. - Photo credit: DNR
Hunters can give back this year - and get a 20th anniversary ball cap - when they donate a deer to the Deer Donation Program.Photo credit: Kyle Peterson

MADISON, Wis. - Each year, hunters, meat processors, and food pantries help families in need by working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and its partners to donate thousands of pounds of venison to food pantries. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Deer Donation Program, and to celebrate, hunters who donate a deer will receive a commemorative ballcap while supplies last.

"Whether it is harvesting an extra deer or donating the only deer they shoot, Wisconsin hunters have historically shown their willingness to help others by donating deer to the Deer Donation Program," said DNR Wildlife Damage Program Assistant Liz Tanner. "As deer hunters begin preparations for this hunting season, we are encouraging them to again consider the Deer Donation Program."

Wisconsin's Deer Donation Program began in 2000, and since then, more than 92,000 deer have been donated, translating to more than 3.7 million pounds of venison distributed to food pantries across the state.

"There are a couple of ways hunters can help," Tanner said. "Hunters can donate a deer at one of the participating meat processors or, when they purchase a hunting license, they can make a monetary donation to help cover venison processing costs."

Hunters are advised to plan by knowing where participating processors are located and whether the deer needs to be tested for CWD before donation. Hunters should also call the participating processor before dropping off a deer to make sure the processor is prepared to accept the deer.

The Department would like to thank all the deer hunters and meat processors that have participated in the deer donation program over the years. For more information about the DNR's deer donation program, a list of participating meat processors, CWD sampling requirements and more on how to help, visit and search keywords "deer donation."



Wisconsin Sturgeon Management Plan Available for Public Comment

Contact(s): Ryan Koenigs, fisheries biologist, 920-303-5450,

This sturgeon was captured and released as part of a sturgeon assessment of the lower Wisconsin River. - Photo credit: DNR
This sturgeon was captured and released as part of a sturgeon assessment of the lower Wisconsin River.Photo credit: DNR

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Sturgeon Management Plan will be available for public comment starting on Oct. 14, and the department will host a public meeting to discuss the plan in Green Bay on Oct. 16 from 6-8 p.m.

The meeting will also be webcast through the DNR Mediasite at, search "sturgeon management." The public can attend the meeting in person or tune in online to learn more about the management plan. Stakeholders who choose to watch the meeting live via Mediasite will have an opportunity to ask questions to be answered during the comment period.

The DNR will be accepting public comments from Oct. 14 to Nov. 4. Comments can be submitted at the meeting or via email to

"Wisconsin waters are home to some of the strongest populations of lake sturgeon and shovelnose sturgeon in North America," said Ryan Koenigs, who chairs the DNR Sturgeon Team. "Effective management of these species is critical to sustaining populations and maintaining harvest opportunities into the future."

Both sturgeon species support unique recreational harvest opportunities, and a commercial fishery persists on the Mississippi River for shovelnose sturgeon. Lake sturgeon management activities are currently guided by a Lake Sturgeon Management Plan that was produced in 2000. Many of the objectives of this plan have since been accomplished, and there is not a plan in place to guide the management of Wisconsin's shovelnose sturgeon populations and fisheries. The updated plan will guide future management activities of Wisconsin's unique sturgeon resources.

The Green Bay meeting will be held at the Green Bay DNR Service Center, Lake Michigan Room, 2984 Shawano Ave., Green Bay, WI 54313-6727.

To learn more about sturgeon management, visit the DNR website and search "sturgeon management."



DNR Warns of Hunting License Scam as Multiple Hunting Seasons Commence

Contact(s): Kimberly Currie, DNR director of customer and outreach services, 608-267-7799,

To avoid license scams, hunters should purchase their license online through the Go Wild system, at DNR serivce centers, or at license sales agents. - Photo credit: DNR
To avoid license scams, hunters should purchase their license online through the Go Wild system, at DNR service centers, or at license sales agents. Photo credit: DNR

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is once again urging the hunting public to beware of fraudulent online license scams leaving purchasers with an empty wallet and no valid license in sight.

The DNR is aware of at least two websites claiming to offer Wisconsin hunting licenses. After paying a fee, consumers only receive information on how to apply for a license. These sites also collect sensitive personal data as part of their unauthorized transactions.

"You will not receive a valid hunting license from these misleading websites," said DNR director of customer and outreach services Kimberly Currie. "Don't fall for imposters. There is only one official online site that sells Wisconsin hunting licenses, and that is our GoWild site."

Hunters can securely purchase a valid hunting license for the state of Wisconsin in one of three ways:

The Wisconsin DNR values users' online safety and provides links from its homepage to a secure online purchasing site. The DNR also provides information about where to purchase licenses in person, links to free copies of Wisconsin regulations, and helpful tutorials on the DNR website under Licenses & Regulations.

Anyone who thinks they may have already been scammed by one of these sites can file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by calling their hotline at 1-800-422-7128 or email



Breeding Bird Survey Ends Five Years of Data Collection

Contact(s): Nicholas Anich, 715-685-2930 or Ryan Brady 715-685-2933

Glossy Ibis Found Nesting for First Time in State History
Glossy ibis, an Atlantic coast species, have been documented nesting in Wisconsin for the first time. - Photo credit: Jack Bartholmai
Glossy ibis, an Atlantic coast species, have been documented nesting in Wisconsin for the first time.Photo credit: Jack Bartholmai

MADISON, Wis. - Volunteers and organizers wrapped up Wisconsin's five-year statewide breeding bird survey with an exciting photo finish: volunteer Aaron Haycraft sighted a glossy ibis pair and their young at Horicon Marsh, the first time this Atlantic Coast bird has been documented nesting in Wisconsin.

The glossy ibis brought the total number of species confirmed as breeding in the state since 2015 to 226. Thirteen of the new species documented breeding in Wisconsin were not documented during a survey in 2000.

Click on image for larger size - Photo credit: Michelle Voss and Jane Simkins
Click on image for larger sizePhoto credit: Michelle Voss and Jane Simkins

"Finding a breeding glossy ibis here was definitely unexpected. It was a fitting end to data collection, and it is a testament to the high-quality wetland habitat offered at Horicon Marsh and to the dedication of our hardworking volunteers," said Ryan Brady, a Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist and science coordinator for the survey, known as the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II.

Birdwatchers, nature centers, bird clubs, nonprofit organizations and government agencies all worked together on the survey, coordinated jointly by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, DNR, Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.

More than 2,000 volunteers submitted more than 2 million records of the different species and breeding behaviors they saw while scouring thousands of survey blocks statewide.

"We could not have accomplished this without the amazing effort we saw from volunteer birders -- we had almost 500 survey blocks to finish this year, but everyone stepped up and finished it off," said DNR conservation biologist and Atlas coordinator Nick Anich.

The 13 new species recorded represent bird populations expanding their range, like Mississippi kite; non-native species that escaped captivity, like European goldfinch; or birds that are the focus of species recovery campaigns, like the whooping crane.

Bird Observations Still Accepted but Focus Shifts to Analysis, Mapping and Writing

While survey coordinators still welcome observations or sightings with breeding activity of young birds through 2019, they are now focusing on reviewing the data already collected since 2015.

"After 2020, the results will be prepared and formatted for release in a book," said the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology's Carl Schwartz, a lead member of the project's steering committee.

"Though publication is still several years out, we are already turning our attention to the production of the print Atlas," Schwartz said. "As a follow-up to the first atlas produced 20 years ago, this book will give us extraordinary insight into the changes occurring to Wisconsin's birdlife."

Atlas results will be published online in a user-friendly format that will complement the book. Explore preliminary species maps now at and stay up-to-date on project news at (both links exit DNR).



Deadly Oak Tree Disease Confirmed in Forest County

Contact(s): Linda Williams, DNR forest health specialist, 920-360-0665,

Leaves first appear brown or water-soaked near the edges before rapidly wilting and dropping from the tree.  - Photo credit: DNR
Leaves first appear brown or water-soaked near the edges before rapidly wilting and dropping from the tree. Photo credit: DNR Forest Health

CRANDON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that oak wilt, a deadly disease in oaks, was found in Forest County for the first time.

The DNR tested wood samples taken from two red oak trees in the town of Lincoln, just north of Lake Lucerne.

"This find is particularly concerning given the rarity of the disease in this part of the state," said DNR Forest Health Specialist Linda Williams.

Oak wilt is commonly found in the southern two-thirds of the state and is creeping north. Much of northern Wisconsin remains free of oak wilt, however, making it essential to prevent further spread of the disease.

Leaves of infected trees rapidly wilt and drop to the ground in summer. - Photo credit: DNR Forest Health
Leaves of infected trees rapidly wilt and drop to the ground in summer.Photo credit: DNR Forest Health

Oak wilt is a fungal disease that kills thousands of oak trees each year in forests, woodlots and urban areas. This disease can even attack and kill healthy trees. It does this by plugging up the areas in the tree where water moves, slowing the water down and causing the leaves to wilt and fall off.

Prevent the Spread of Oak Wilt to Healthy Trees
Oak wilt is introduced to new areas either through the transport of infected firewood or through sap-feeding beetles that are attracted to wounds on oak trees. When a wounded tree is also infected with oak wilt, these beetles become a pathway for oak wilt to spread from tree to tree.

After a tree is infected, oak wilt spreads between neighboring trees through interconnected roots. This type of spread is difficult to manage, so preventing the introduction of oak wilt is extremely important. To avoid oak wilt becoming established in the first place, review the following recommendations:

  1. Avoid pruning or injuring oak trees from April 1 through July 15 (in northern Wisconsin, this period begins April 15). This is when the disease and the sap-feeding beetles are most likely to spread.
  2. If oaks are removed, pruned or damaged during this time, seal the wounds with a water-based (latex) paint or pruning sealer.
  3. Keep firewood local and let the wood age in place for at least a year or until the bark is loose. Learn more about firewood at the DNR firewood webpage.

"Infected trees start to wilt and drop green or partially green leaves in late summer," said Williams. "These are not the brown, dry leaves you see in autumn. They fall rapidly from the tree, with a tree losing most of its leaves within a few weeks of symptoms becoming visible."

The University of Wisconsin's Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic can help verify the presence of oak wilt and will test samples for a fee. Questions can be directed to the clinic at 608-262-2863 or

Local DNR urban forestry coordinators have information about grants to help combat oak wilt at the community level. Individual property owners can contact their municipal forester or their DNR forest health specialist with questions or concerns.

To learn more about oak wilt, visit the oak wilt page of the DNR website. The YouTube video offers a brief introduction to the disease, its impacts and ways to prevent its spread.



Tree and Shrub Seedlings Available from DNR

Contact(s): Joe Vande Hey, Reforestation 608-574-404,

Forest landowners can now order tree and shrub seedlings for planting next spring from DNR nurseries.   - Photo credit: DNR
Forest landowners can now order tree and shrub seedlings for planting next spring from DNR nurseries. Photo credit: DNR

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin forest landowners can now order tree and shrub seedlings for planting next spring from the Department of Natural Resources.

For well over 100 years, the DNR has provided high-quality seedlings of native species, appropriate for planting throughout Wisconsin. Seedlings grown by the state nurseries are used for reforestation and conservation plantings on private, state and county forest lands. These seedlings can provide future forest products and revenues, wildlife habitat, soil erosion control, living snow fences and aesthetics and shade to landowners and managers in every county of the state.

Forest landowners and managers may place orders starting this month using an online form found on the DNR website (keyword: "tree planting") or by printing the order form, completing it and mailing it to the Griffith Nursery, 473 Griffith Ave., Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494. Customers may also contact reforestation staff or DNR foresters who serve the area where their property is located for personal assistance. Printed copies of the order form are also available at any of the nurseries or local DNR offices.

Conifer species available this year include white cedar, balsam fir, tamarack, white spruce, black spruce and jack, red and white pine. Inventories are adequate for 1-0 jack pine and 2-0 red pine age classes, but the all remaining conifer species and ages classes are limited, so consider ordering early.

Hardwoods include aspen, basswood, river, white and yellow birch, black cherry, hackberry, shagbark hickory, red, silver and sugar maple, bur, red, white and swamp white oak and black walnut. Shrubs include red-osier and silky dogwood, American hazelnut, Juneberry, ninebark and American plum.

All seedlings begin as a seed, and many are collected from a tree or shrub located somewhere in or around Wisconsin and grown at the F.G. Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel.

A minimum order consists of a packet of 300 trees or shrubs, of the landowner's choosing, in increments of 100 of each species, 500 shrubs or 1000 tree seedlings. Youth groups and educational organizations can also purchase seedlings for their reforestation and conservation planting projects.

In addition to the ordering online, customers can also find the following on the DNR website: current inventory, seedling stock descriptions, frequently asked questions, additional tree planting information and a listing of private nurseries.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 08, 2019

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