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December 20, 2011


Draft study of health effects of silica in outdoor air available

MADISON -- The public had an opportunity to review and comment on a draft study by state air quality officials on the possible health effects of exposure to silica in the outdoor air.

Silica is a compound made up of silicon and oxygen atoms and can be both naturally occurring and man-made. It is present in the environment in both crystalline and amorphous forms; only the crystalline form is of concern as an air pollutant. Ambient sources of silica include mining and rock crushing, construction, foundries, glass manufacturing, abrasive blasting, or other uses of sand and quartz.

Green Tier program sees impressive expansion in 2010

MADISON - Participation in a unique Wisconsin program that rewards businesses and organizations for their commitment to superior environmental performance has increased to 46 participants, with the number of participating facilities more than doubling from 42 in December 2009 to 86 in December 2010.

Growth of the Green Tier program has been dramatic since the program was created in 2004, according to the 2010 biennial Green Tier report by the of Natural Resources.

DNR deer research effort to begin in Shawano and Rusk county areas

MADISON -Researchers set out to capture 60-90 adult deer each in the Shawano and Rusk County areas with nets from a helicopter, transport each deer to a processing area where scientists, biologists and volunteers will weigh, sex, age, take blood samples, install radio transmitters and ear tags, assess body condition and perform ultrasounds, and release the deer. Radio transmitters will allow deer to be monitored until the deer dies. Bucks were monitored mainly for cause of death. Does were monitored for cause of death and whether or not they deliver fawns.


Wisconsin businesses gain access to top green and gold strategists

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Wisconsin businesses gained access to some of the nation's leading strategists on how to improve their bottom line and their environmental performance through a new council of businesses, investment experts, academics, nongovernmental organizations and government agencies.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is a founding member of the newly formed Stewardship Action Council, an organization dedicated to promoting and improving sustainable and socially responsible business practices, and to recognizing those companies and organizations publicly committed to those goals.

More than 9,000 permits available for the 2011 black bear season

MADISON - More than 9,000 permits will be available for the 2011 black bear season, about the same as the previous year.

A bear population study completed in 2008 estimates Wisconsin's bear population at at least 22,000. DNR biologists set the recommended 2011 harvest quota at 5,235 bears, which is the same as 2010's quota. That quota is based on the population estimate, the state's bear population goal of 13,000, hunter success rates, harvest, bait station visitation rates, nuisance complaints, agricultural damage, and public input.

52 fish over 100 pounds speared in first three days of sturgeon season

OSHKOSH - Big fish and challenging travel conditions were the story during the first three days of the Lake Winnebago System sturgeon spearing seasons.

Through the end of spearing hours Monday, 881 fish system-wide had been harvested, with 52 of them, or 5.1 percent, weighing more than 100 pounds, according to Ron Bruch, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor.

That included the 185-pound, 80.2-inch female registered at the Calumet Harbor Station and a 172.7-pound, 76.9-inch female registered in Oshkosh on opening day.

Wolves increase predation on Wisconsin livestock in 2010

MADISON - An increase in wolf depredations to livestock in 2010 supports a Department of Natural Resources request to the U.S. Department of the Interior for delisting of the gray wolf in Wisconsin, say DNR officials. The full report is available online.

Forty-seven farms had confirmed depredations on livestock in 2010 compared to 28 in 2009. This coincides with 2010 when the department's ability to remove problem wolves was the most restricted since 2002, due to court actions preventing lethal control.

UW-Stevens Point study points to improved trout population statewide

STEVENS POINT -- Wisconsin brook and brown trout populations statewide have generally increased over the last 60 years, according to a new University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point analysis of state trout surveys.

The study found an overall increase in the catch per stream mile of trout, and in trout in all the size ranges examined, in fisheries surveys conducted since 1950.


2011 Winnebago System spearing season runs 16 days

OSHKOSH -- A record number of fish weighing more than 100 pounds, a full 16-day season, and difficult travel conditions were the stories during the 2011 Winnebago System sturgeon spearing season that wrapped up Feb. 27.

Spearers harvested 1,426 fish, close to the average of 1,405 since the harvest cap started in 1999, but the fish were bigger than they've been since the 1950s.

Volunteer instructors, hunters' dedication behind fatality-free gun-deer season

MADISON - Hunting history repeated itself in Wisconsin 2010 - and the head of the state's hunter education program is looking for a repeat performance in 2011.

Wisconsin ended its 2010 gun-deer season free of hunter fatalities -- last seen in 1974.

The 2010 hunting success story has a lot to do with the effectiveness of the state's volunteer instructors of hunter safety education programs and hunters themselves for their dedication to safety.

No traces of Asian carp found in Milwaukee waterways

MILWAUKEE -- No traces of Asian carp DNA have been found in water samples collected from major Milwaukee waterways, according to the University of Notre Dame researchers who did the sampling.

The researchers notified the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of the results in a letter last week. The DNR provided boats and boat operators to help collect the water samples from the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers and nearby creeks and ponds in November 2010.

Sturgeon Guards: Protectors of Wisconsin's oldest and largest fish

At some point in mid April, giant lake sturgeon from the Winnebago lakes begin their spawning run up the Wolf River, just as they have each spring for the past 10,000 years.

State fisheries biologist have closely managed Winnebago's lake sturgeon population, and it has become the largest and healthiest in the world, and one of the few viable, self-reproducing populations anywhere. It is a global treasure and its value is beyond calculation.

For decades these ancient fish have been guarded during their spawning run, day and night, by volunteers. These are the members of Wisconsin's Sturgeon Guard who put in 12-hour shifts on the banks of rivers to protect the spawning fish from poachers.


DNR introduces streamlined water quality permit process for large-scale dairy operations

MADISON - As part of its ongoing effort to streamline permitting processes and free up more staff time for inspections and compliance checks, the state has issued a standardized water quality protection permit now available to large-scale dairy operations.

The "general permit" is available to operations with up to 4,000 milking cows and would require them to meet the same protections that are now contained in the individually written permits such operations have. Other large-scale operations that house other animals such as sheep, chickens and turkeys would continue to require an individual permit.

Work*Play*Earth Day events a chance to help out and enjoy state parks

MADISON - People help Wisconsin State Parks and Trails get ready for the busy summer season while helping celebrate Earth Day 2011 by participating in the third annual Work*Play*Earth Day! Events being sponsored by the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Volunteers joined Department of Natural Resources staff, local friends group members, and people from nearby communities for a day of getting their hands dirty helping repair and improve park and trail facilities, then taking time to have some fun enjoying those facilities.

Council Grounds State Park, Fox River State Trail closed due to storm damage

MADISON - Council Grounds State Park and a portion of the Fox River State Trail were closed to visitors as crews clear debris, complete damage assessments and make repairs after severe storms passed through the state on April 10.

The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado moved through Marathon and Lincoln counties and another was confirmed in Winnebago and Outagamie counties. They were among 10 reported across the state.

Chinook harvests up 47 percent in 2010, outlook good for '11

MILWAUKEE -- Lake Michigan anglers had a banner year of chinook fishing in 2010, with favorable winds and other factors helping to increase harvest 47 percent, state fishery officials say.

Anglers harvested 315,294 chinook salmon from Lake Michigan in 2010, up from 214,621 in 2009 and 256,796 in 2008. More good news for Wisconsin anglers: they accounted for the bulk of the lake-wide haul.

Fewer deaths again end state's snowmobile season

MADISON, Wis. - For the sixth consecutive year, Wisconsin ends its snowmobile season with fewer fatalities.

Wisconsin recorded 17 snowmobile fatalities this season - down from 21 during the 2009-10 season.

2011 marks 75th anniversary of well code to protect private drinking water supplies

MADISON -- With nearly 1.7 million Wisconsinites drinking water from private wells and another 3 million reliant on groundwater from public water wells, the 75th anniversary of the construction code governing private wells is something all Wisconsinites can raise a glass to, state drinking water officials say.

The Wisconsin Well Code, established in 1936, sets standards for well construction, including the distances required between the well and septic tanks, sewer lines, farm feedlots, manure pits, buried fuel tanks, fertilizer and pesticide storage sites and other potential sources of contamination.


Survey gives Wisconsin bats a clean bill of health

MADISON - A statewide survey of known bat wintering sites in Wisconsin showed no sign of white-nose syndrome, a fungus that kills bats by invading their skin and depleting their energy reserves during winter hibernation.

The invasive fungus currently exists in 18 states and four Canadian provinces and has been linked to the death of more than one million bats since 2007. White-nose syndrome (WNS; scientific name Geomyces destructans) has been confirmed within 190 miles of Wisconsin, well within the dispersal range of Wisconsin's most common bat species, the little brown bat.

Grass carp discoveries concern Wisconsin fisheries officials

MILWAUKEE -- They aren't the fish that leap out of the water and knock out boaters nor the ones that can reach 100 pounds, but the discoveries late last month of grass carp in the Milwaukee River and in the Lower Wisconsin River are very concerning, state fisheries officials say.

Grass carp are one of many Asian carp species that are causing problems in the United States, but they are not one of the three Asian carp species that may be making their way up the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal and in danger of colonizing the Great Lakes. Grass carp are plant eating machines that can rob lakes of the rooted plants that provide important habitat for native fish and wildlife, and leave behind so much fish waste that they can fuel excessive algae growth.

Federal officials announce renewed proposal to remove wolves from endangered species list

MADISON - Citizens had an opportunity to testify on the federal government's most recent proposal to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the western Great Lakes including Wisconsin.

The U.S. Department of Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on May 4, 2011 the publication of a new proposed rule for delisting wolves. The Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a 60-day public comment period on the new rule from May 5 through July 5, 2011.

Wild Wisconsin elk are expanding their range - with a little help from their friends

HAYWARD - This is the calving season for Wisconsin's small but growing elk herd and biologists with the state Department of Natural Resources, joined by a small army of volunteers, are busy searching the woods for newborns.

The search is expanded this year because a dozen of Wisconsin's wild elk, all young animals, were trapped this past winter and were moved to an "acclimation pen" 10 miles distant from the main herd as the crow flies.


Volunteer efforts show success in controlling garlic mustard

PRESQUE ISLE, Wis. -- Located on Wisconsin's border with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in Vilas County, this "almost an island" town's name even sounds like an idyllic vacation spot.

But if not for the sharp eyes and determination of a few local residents, the area would have quickly lost some of its Northwoods charm as it became infested with garlic mustard, an exotic, invasive plant that has become all too well known in much of southern Wisconsin.

The rapidly growing plant with small white flowers and a strong garlic odor has infested woodlots around the state. Once garlic mustard gains a foothold, it spreads rapidly and crowds out native wildflowers and tree seedlings.

40,103 turkeys registered in Wisconsin's 2011 spring turkey season

MADISON - Preliminary estimates show that Wisconsin hunters registered 40,103 turkeys during the 2011 spring turkey season. A total of 210,059 permits were issued for the spring hunt, according to licensing officials.

This registration total shows a 16 percent decrease from the 2010 harvest of 47,722 birds. Wisconsin does not estimate statewide wild turkey populations but several long, snow-filled and cold winters (2007-2010) and recent wet (2008) or cold (2009, 2011) springs have provided the perfect recipe to nudge turkey numbers downward according to wildlife biologists.

Qualified bass tournaments can start culling starting June 14

MADISON -- Starting June 14, anglers fishing in permitted tournaments can cull, or sort, smallmouth or largemouth bass under a new law signed last month by Gov. Scott Walker.

The new law allows culling in Wisconsin but limits the practice to participants in a Department of Natural Resources-permitted bass tournament in which the bass are caught, held in a live well, and released to the water, according to Jon Hansen, the DNR fisheries biologist coordinating the tournament permit system. In an earlier pilot study in 2005 and 2006, culling bass was allowed in seven tournaments on an experimental basis. The new law does not allow culling for any species other than bass.

Breeding waterfowl numbers increase in most recent survey

MADISON - Above average spring rains have improved wetland conditions across Wisconsin and could lead to better local duck production, according to state waterfowl biologists.

Variation from year to year in wetland conditions and breeding ducks is part of the natural cycle in the world of wetland wildlife. Wetland numbers were relatively low in Wisconsin during 2009 and 2010 while wetland numbers were high in the prairies of the United States. As a result, breeding duck numbers improved from low in 2010 to above average in 2011.


3 million walleye stocked in Wisconsin waters

WILD ROSE, Wis. -- Nearly 3 million walleye, Wisconsin anglers' favorite fish, have been stocked in dozens of lakes and rivers waters over the last few weeks.

The fish, up to 2 months old and 2 inches in size, were harvested from the Art Oehmcke Hatchery in Woodruff, the Tommy G. Thompson Hatchery in Spooner, the Lake Mills Hatchery in its namesake community, and, for the first time in 20 years, Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery in Waushara County. Construction of new coolwater facilities at that century-old hatchery allowed fish crews there to return to producing walleye for the first time in a generation.

St. Louis River sturgeon restoration marks milestone

SUPERIOR --The four tiny black fish are humble looking -- seemingly all eyes-- but they hold the key to returning an ancient, human-sized fish to an ancestral water.

The inch-long lake sturgeon, found earlier this month during sampling on the St. Louis River, are the first documented young produced by lake sturgeon stocked from 1983 through 2000 by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

DNR review of Waukesha Great Lakes Diversion application starts

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has determined Waukesha's application to use Lake Michigan water for its drinking water supply is complete, which begins the extensive state review process for the city's request.

The city has applied to DNR for an approval to divert water for public water supply purposes from Lake Michigan to an area that lies outside the Great Lakes Basin. Waukesha asserts in its application that it needs a new source of water to address both water quantity and water quality concerns.

Under international and national agreements signed in 2005 and subsequent implementing federal and state laws, diversions of Great Lakes water outside the basin are prohibited, with limited exceptions. Requests such as the city's must be reviewed and approved by the home state and by other Great Lakes states and provinces.

Report: 96 percent of public water systems met health standards for drinking water

MADISON - Ninety-six percent of Wisconsin's public water systems served drinking water that met all health-based standards in 2010, exceeding the federal goal, according to a recently released report.

On average, Wisconsin residents pay $4 for 1,000 gallons of tap water; 10,990 of the 11,444 systems, or 96 percent, did not have a single drinking water sample that exceeded health-based standards for monitored contaminants. That equals 96 percent of the systems, and compares to the national performance goal of 95 percent.

Fish contaminant levels decreasing in some waters

MADISON -- Wisconsin's commitment to cleaning up contaminated sediment and regulating mercury is paying off for anglers, as recent studies and the newly available 2011 fish consumption advice booklet show reduced contaminant levels in fish in some waters.

Mercury levels in walleye and largemouth bass have dropped in Wisconsin and most of the rest of the Great Lakes region since the 1970s. The PCB advisory for smallmouth bass has been relaxed in the Lower Fox River from Little Lake Butte des Morts to the De Pere dam. In general, PCB levels in fish statewide are declining slowly since the U.S. ban on manufacturing of PCBs.


First year of black bear, bobcat online reporting site successful

MADISON - The first year of an online site developed to collect reports of black bear and bobcat sightings from citizens produced more than 800 reports. This information has been valuable in documenting presence and range expansion for both species, according to wildlife biologists.

Black bears have been reported in 51 of Wisconsin's 72 counties in 2011 via the online reporting site. Of those 51 counties, 23 lie in the rare or occasionally sighted areas on the black bear distribution map.

Golden shiner record falls for second time in one month

MADISON -- Anglers learn early that records are made to be broken.

Nine days after Maxfield JonasKrueger of Madison reeled in a new state record golden shiner, his record has been eclipsed by a younger angler. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The record for the golden shiner was subsequently broken two additional times later in the year.]

DNR firmly supports removing gray wolf from federal endangered species list

The Department of Natural Resources firmly supports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in delisting the wolf in the upper Great Lakes states. Wisconsin has exceeded its delisting goal eight times over and must have flexibility to manage problem wolves if any support for wolves by the public is to continue.

While the department is committed to long-term conservation of wolves in Wisconsin, it is critical that we be allowed to manage wildlife populations within our borders. Wisconsin has approximately 800 wolves; this is the most wolves ever counted in the state. Wolf numbers far exceed the federal delisting recovery goal of 100 wolves for both Wisconsin and Michigan, and are causing real problems.

2011 surveillance testing shows VHS has not spread to new waters

MADISON - VHS fish disease has not spread to new waters in 2011, a result state fisheries and invasive species officials credit to anglers and others following rules to prevent spreading the virus.

And they say those rules also will help protect against other aquatic invasive species and diseases, including the Asian carp recently caught in the Lower Wisconsin River and DNA detected in water samples in the St. Croix River.


2011 Wisconsin archery deer season to be longest in state history

EAU CLAIRE - The 2011 Wisconsin's archery deer hunt that opens September 17 will be the longest bow deer hunt in state history.

For the first time, bow hunting will be allowed during the regular nine-day gun deer hunt in November. As before, there will be no deer hunting on the Friday preceding the gun deer hunt. This single day will now separate the early and late bow deer seasons.

The 2011 archery deer season runs from Saturday, Sept. 17, through Thursday, Nov. 17 and then from Saturday, Nov. 19, the start of the gun season, through Jan. 8, a Sunday.

Duck season opens Sept. 24 with new Mississippi River zone

MADISON - Hunters looking forward to the opening of Wisconsin's 2011 duck season in the Northern duck zone and new Mississippi River Zone on Sept. 24 should find good numbers of ducks, according to state wildlife officials.

The season has a new Mississippi river zone, which was requested by duck hunters.

Discovery of two aggressive aquatic invasive plants underscores need to clean boats

BUFFALO CITY, Wis. -- The recent discovery of two aggressive invasive plant species in a popular Upper Mississippi River waterfowl area underscores the need for waterfowl hunters to clean their boats and take other steps to avoid accidentally spreading invasive plants and nonnative species that can threaten waterways and future hunting opportunities, state and federal wildlife officials say.


Removal of contaminated sediment aims at improving Marinette harbor water quality

MARINETTE -- A Marinette harbor that was key in Wisconsin's historical development will be restored to good health through a state-city partnership to remove contaminated sediments and, officials hope, spark improvements in habitat, water quality, recreation and economic development.

The city and DNR have signed an agreement to remove more than 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Menekaunee Harbor at the mouth of the Menominee River where it enters Green Bay.

Brewers hit a home run for tree planting and greening Milwaukee

MADISON - The Milwaukee Brewers recently donated 150 landscape-sized saplings to the Department of Natural Resources as part of the team's "Root, Root, Root for the Brewers" tree planting campaign. For every 20,000 tickets sold during the regular season, the team donated a tree to be planted on the neighboring state-owned Hank Aaron State Trail. The goal of the initiative was to offset the number of trees used to print the club's season ticket sales.

Rescued dogs helping determine Wisconsin bobcat population

MADISON -- Dogs rescued from shelters have been trained to detect the scent of the elusive bobcat in Wisconsin to help scientists determine how many of these North American mammals are at home in the Badger State's central region.

Roughly two years remain on a three-year joint research project involving the Department of Natural Resources and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point that started because of increasing interest in this nocturnal, solitary, and secretive animal.


Rare southwestern birds show up in Wisconsin

HORICON -- Bird watchers are in their glory: the number of migrating water birds is building to its massive annual peak at Horicon Marsh, the Mississippi River and other flyway hotspots while southwestern U.S. birds are stopping by for a rare Wisconsin visit.

The past week was a special one for spying rare birds in the state, especially birds from the southwest. Birders have reported the first ever Inca dove -- enjoying a bird feeder at Concordia College in Ozaukee County. A Vermillion flycatcher has been spotted in Rock County, marking the sixth time this species has been reported in the state.

New firearm rules take effect on opening day of gun deer hunt

MADISON -- New legislation signed Friday by Gov. Scott Walker modifies state law concerning the manner in which long-barreled firearms, bows and crossbows can be transported in motor vehicles or placed in or on stationary vehicles.

The new law will be published in time to take effect Nov. 19, opening day of the traditional, nine-day, 2011 gun deer season.

DNR appoints Kevin Wallenfang as state's big game ecologist

MADISON - Kevin Wallenfang has been appointed as the state's big game ecologist. Wallenfang, 44, of Middleton, is expected to assume his new duties in mid-December.

A Wisconsin native hailing from Green Lake, Wallenfang holds a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and has worked in professional wildlife management for over 20 years. He is currently Wisconsin's Regional Wildlife Biologist for Pheasants Forever and also spent several years as a biologist and initiative director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He is not a newcomer to DNR as he previously held the position of assistant big game ecologist before his stints with Pheasants Forever and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

DNR prepares for deer hunt with launch of Facebook, Twitter and website changes

MADISON - With the opening day of the nine-day gun deer hunt right around the corner, the Department of Natural Resources unveiled new tools it's using to keep in touch with hunters this year.

The DNR launched its first Facebook page and Twitter account and laid out plans for special coverage on the DNR website.

Cougar hits Northwoods in time for annual gun deer hunt

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- A cougar ranging through west central and northern Wisconsin likely has tripped a trail camera for a third time, leading biologists to believe it is heading into the Northwoods just in time for the annual gun deer hunt.

State wildlife officials are asking hunters to report any sightings of the young, wild cougar. Based on the times and locations of the three photographs, it could be in the Flambeau State Forest or in heavily wooded Price County by now.

Preliminary count shows hunters harvested 226,260 deer during the nine-day season

MADISON - A call around survey of 600-plus deer registration stations all across Wisconsin completed today shows a preliminary harvest total of 226,260 for the just completed nine-day gun deer hunting season, up 3.6 percent from 2010. At the same time, hunters posted the second all around safest season on record.

The nine-day harvest numbers are preliminary and are expected to change before a final report is published in late winter. The total does not include harvest information from the archery, October antlerless gun deer hunt, muzzleloader, December antlerless deer gun hunt or late archery seasons. The preliminary nine-day gun harvest count in 2010 was 218,144 and in 2009 was 201,994.

Sights stay on safety during 2011 season

MADISON -- Wisconsin hunters who filled the woods for the nine-day gun-deer season did their part to play it safe, closing the season on Nov. 28 with no fatalities among the seven reported incidents for all 72 counties.

A shooting incident under investigation in Monroe County was declared a deer hunting incident on Nov. 29, bringing the total incidents for the season to seven. The Monroe County incident was confirmed after the DNR issued its preliminary season round-up showing a total of six incidents. The additional incident, which was a non-fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound, also changed the ranking of the season from tied with another year as the second safest to the third safest in Wisconsin's recorded history.

The safest season was in 2004 when there were four incidents and two were fatalities. The second safest was 2007 when the state had six incidents, of which three were fatalities.


DNR launches YouTube channel to showcase outdoor videos

MADISON - Wake up to Wild Wednesdays!

The Department of Natural Resources has launched a YouTube channel, WIDNRTV, and plans to post stories Wednesday mornings.

The videos will showcase Wisconsin's wildlife, outdoor recreation and natural resources and the DNR staff, organizations, citizens and businesses who protect, restore and enhance those resources.

Ice fishing gains 110,000 anglers over the last decade

MADISON - One hundred ten thousand people can't be wrong.

That's how many more Wisconsinites are ice fishing these days than a decade ago, according to results from a recently released national recreation survey.

An estimated 590,700 Wisconsinites 16 and over report they ice fish, up from 479,900 in 2000, according to the most recent National Survey on Recreation and the Environment. Department of Natural Resources staff are using results from the federally funded survey and other studies to develop its 2011-2016 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

State residents recycling millions of electronics through E-Cycle Wisconsin

MADISON -- Just two years after its start, E-Cycle Wisconsin has grown to be one of the most successful electronics recycling programs in the country, according to data compiled by the Department of Natural Resources.

From July 2010 to June 2011, E-Cycle Wisconsin registered collectors took in more than 35 million pounds of old televisions, computers and other electronics from Wisconsin households and schools. This is equal to 6.2 pounds per person, one of the highest rates among states with electronics recycling laws.

Last Revised: Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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