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Weekly News Published February 25, 2020

 

Find Your Adventure: Apply For The 2020 Elk Hunt Starting March 1

The elk hunting license application period starts March 1 with the start of the new license year.  - Photo credit: DNR
The elk hunting application period starts March 1 with the start of the new license year. Photo credit: contributed by Chris Sarno

Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist, 608-206-1107, Kevin.Wallenfang@wisconsin.gov

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will accept applications for the 2020 elk hunting tags March 1 - May 31. This fall marks the third elk hunt in state history.

Once widespread across North America, elk were eliminated from Wisconsin in the 1880s. Thanks to the support of many partners and the backing of Wisconsinites, the herd is back. Elk hunting season is open Oct. 17 - Nov. 15, 2020 and Dec. 10-18, 2020. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive an elk tag.

"While we won't know exact tag numbers until the Natural Resources Board approves the quota in April, we don't see anything of concern regarding winter effects on the herd," said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. "The northern elk population peaked at about 280 last year, and with over 100 breeding age cows in the herd, we're anticipating continued herd growth and are confident that a hunt will occur. How many tags that are offered will be determined this spring."


On The Hunt: Wisconsin Elk

The department is offering an earlier and longer application period to be consistent with other application dates and to be responsive to many hunters who missed last year's opportunity due to a shorter, 30-day application period.

In 2019, a harvest quota of 10 bulls was established within the original Clam Lake elk range. Five once-in-a-lifetime bull elk tags were issued to state hunters along with an equal number allocated to the Ojibwa tribes following treaty rights. The full quota was filled, resulting in the total harvest of 10 bulls.

"It was known before the hunt started that there were a good number of older bulls in the herd, and several of those harvested were 8-10 years old," Wallenfang said. "Some of the bigger bulls that we know about are still out there!"

More than 60,000 Wisconsinites applied during the first two years of managed elk hunting, showing the appeal of pursuing yet another big game animal in Wisconsin to many hunters.

"It may seem like steep odds to draw a tag, but one person's chances are just as good as the next person," said Wallenfang. "All of last year's hunters, including our first woman elk hunter, were thrilled with their experience. Put your name in the hat, and you just might be the next lucky hunter out there in October."

Elk tage applications can be purchased by Wisconsin residents through the DNR Go Wild license system. Each potential hunter may apply once online at gowild.wi.gov or by visiting a license agent. The application fee is $10. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raffle tickets are also $10 each, and there is no limit on the number of raffle tickets an individual may purchase. An elk hunting tag for the winners of the drawing is $49.

For each application, $7 is earmarked for elk management and research in Wisconsin. During the first two hunting seasons, over $400,000 was generated and already is being used for elk habitat enhancement projects as well as for elk research and monitoring.

Hunters who draw a tag 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 2020 hunting season is expected to occur only within the northern elk herd. While the state's central elk herd has grown steadily since reintroduction in 2015, no hunting is expected to occur in 2020.

"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% of the elk range under public ownership and open to hunting, finding a place to hunt has not been a problem for elk hunters. Despite the relative 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, visit the DNR's elk webpage. To receive email updates regarding current translocation efforts, visit dnr.wi.gov 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.

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New Fishing Regulations Effective April 1, 2020

A suite of updated statewide, regional and local fishing regulations will go into effect on April 1 in Wisconsin. - Photo credit: DNR
A suite of updated statewide, regional and local fishing regulations will go into effect on April 1 in Wisconsin.Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Meredith Penthorn, Fisheries Management policy specialist, 608-316-0080, Meredith.Penthorn@wisconsin.gov

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: this news release has been updated to remove information related to Mississippi River walleye regulations. A separate news release will be issued specific to those regulations changes.]

MADISON, Wis. - A suite of updated statewide, regional and local Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fishing regulations will go into effect on April 1, 2020, to provide good fishing opportunities for the public and help fulfill management goals.

Statewide and Regional Fishing Regulation Changes

Local Fishing Regulation Changes

Additionally, a variety of regulations have changed on local waters and will be described in the 2020-21 Hook and Line Fishing Regulations and Trout Fishing Regulations. To look up the regulations where you plan to fish, visit the DNR website here.

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Permanent Catfish Bow, Crossbow And Hand Fishing Regulations Effective March 1, 2020

A flathead catfish caught on the Wisconsin River. - Photo credit: DNR
A flathead catfish caught on the Wisconsin River.Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Bradd Sims, DNR fisheries biologist; 608-574-2604, Bradd.Sims@wisconsin.gov Meredith Penthorn, Fisheries Management policy specialist, 608-316-0080, Meredith.Penthorn@wisconsin.gov

MADISON, Wis. - A suite of regulations aimed at providing sustainable bow, crossbow and hand fishing opportunities for catfish will go into effect on March 1.

These regulations are part of a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permanent rule that establishes size and bag limits as well as season and gear restrictions for taking catfish with a bow and arrow, crossbow or by hand.

In general, the daily bag limit will be five channel catfish and one flathead catfish with no size limit for either species. The bow and crossbow season will coincide with the rough fish spearing season, which is continuous on most waters. For hand fishing, the season will run from June 1 to Aug. 31, and no special gear, including snorkeling equipment, spawning boxes, hooks, ropes or gaffes may be used to take catfish.

An emergency rule in 2018 was established in response to a change in state law allowing catfish to be harvested with these methods. Previously, only rough fish could be taken by these methods. The size and bag limits, season dates and gear restrictions in both rules aim to protect overwintering and spawning catfish from overharvest while allowing the opportunity to harvest catfish with a bow, crossbow or by hand.

Bullheads and rough fish may also be taken with a bow, crossbow or by hand. For bullheads, the bow and crossbow season runs concurrent with the rough fish spearing season for the specific water body, while the hand fishing season runs from June 1 to Aug. 31. No size or bag limits apply for bullheads or rough fish.

On boundary waters shared with Michigan and Minnesota, bow and crossbow fishing for catfish may only occur during the open rough fish spearing season, and only in the territorial waters of Wisconsin.

Some exceptions to the general size restrictions, bag limits and season dates apply, such as when a specific season and size limit for hook and line catfish fishing are in effect on a certain waterbody. Commercial harvest is also prohibited using these methods. Anglers should consult the Spearing, Netting and Bait Harvest regulations pamphlet for more details.

To learn more about these catfish fishing regulations, visit the DNR website.

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Dozens Of Projects Receiving Grants To Reduce Harmful Diesel Emissions

The grants awarded are for projects that fund the replacement or upgrade of older, higher-emitting diesel engines on school buses and construction equipment across the state with newer, cleaner technologies. One project funds the purchase of zero-emission lawn mowers in the City of Eau Claire to replace aging diesel equipment. - Photo credit: DNR
The grants awarded are for projects that fund the replacement or upgrade of older, higher-emitting diesel engines on school buses and construction equipment across the state with newer, cleaner technologies. One project funds the purchase of zero-emission lawn mowers in the City of Eau Claire to replace aging diesel equipment.Photo credit: iStock

Contact(s): Mike Friedlander, Transportation Program Specialist, 608-267-0806, Michael.Friedlander@wisconsin.gov

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources awarded more than $750,000 to 40 projects aimed at improving Wisconsin's air quality and addressing climate change.

The grants are for projects that fund the replacement or upgrade of older, higher-emitting diesel engines on school buses and construction equipment across the state with newer, cleaner technologies. One of the projects funds the purchase of zero-emission lawn mowers in the city of Eau Claire to replace aging diesel equipment.

"While older diesel engines can be reliable, they pollute more than newer models," said Gail Good, DNR Air Program Director. "These projects will help improve the air quality in communities across the state."

Diesel engines emit harmful pollutants, including fine particles that can lodge deep in the lungs and enter the bloodstream. These pollutants can contribute to serious public health problems, including asthma, lung cancer and various other cardiac and respiratory diseases. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to these impacts.

In addition to improving local air quality, these grants advance Wisconsin's efforts to address climate change and implement Governor Tony Evers' Executive Order #38 releating to clean energy is Wisconsin. Executive Order #38 calls on state agencies to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Diesel engines emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, as well as black carbon, a compound that is a major contributor to global climate change. Since the transportation sector is responsible for nearly 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions from sources like diesel engines is necessary to effectively address this issue.

Visit our website for a complete list of the funded projects.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funds the projects through the State Clean Diesel Grant Program which is part of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. The DNR administers the grant and provides matching funds. The DNR anticipates the next round of State Clean Diesel Grant Program funding in the fall of 2020.

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Incidental Take Notice for Walworth County

Contact(s): Stacy Rowe, Conservation Biologist, 608-266-7012, stacy.rowe@wi.gov

MADISON, Wis. - The reconstruction of two railroad bridges in Walworth County may result in the "incidental taking" of two rare snake species 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 proposed replacement of the existing Wisconsin and Southern Railroad (WSOR) Bridge A-492 will consist of removing an 83-foot long open deck timber trestle bridge and replacing it with an 80-foot, 10-inch steel trestle. Rip-rap will be placed along the north bank at the bridge location by the WSOR. The overbank on both sides of the river will be lowered to improve the hydraulic flow through the bridge.

As part of the bridge removal, the project will also remove the abandoned siding bridge alongside Bridge A-492, which will improve the hydraulic flow and eliminate a current falling hazard. The piles in the abandoned siding bridge will also be removed to a depth of 1 foot below the mudline.

The proposed replacement of the existing Bridge A-494 will consist of replacing a 56-foot long ballast deck timber pile trestle bridge with four 95-by-67-inch CMAP culverts. Rip-rap will be placed at the outlet of the new culverts, and the overbank at the inlet of the culverts will be lowered to improve the hydraulic flow through the bridge.

Current land use within the project boundaries consists primarily of wetland areas. Construction is anticipated from May to September 2020.

The presence of the state endangered eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) and queensnake (Regina septemvittata) 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 snakes.

Department staff concluded that the proposed project would 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 they are 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 endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the slender glass lizard are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Stacy Rowe (608-266-7012 or stacy.rowe@wi.gov).

The department is requesting comments from the public through March 26, 2020, regarding project-related impacts to the eastern massasauga or queensnake. Public comments should be sent to Stacy Rowe, DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921 or stacy.rowe@wi.gov.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Contact information

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