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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published September 14, 2010

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2010 DNR Fall Forecast now available on-line

MADISON - Hunters looking forward to the fall hunting seasons can find the latest information on population trends in deer, bear, upland game, furbearers and waterfowl in the 2010 Wisconsin Fall Hunting Forecast (pdf: 2.9 MB) now available on the Department of Natural Resources website.

This is the second year the fall hunting forecast has been published in an electronic magazine available in portable document format. The forecast has the latest information from DNR wildlife biologists, foresters, conservation wardens and scientists on what to expect in the fields and forests this fall.

"Hunters can expect to find important and timely details that will make time in the field more enjoyable and more productive," says Tom Hauge, director of the DNR wildlife management program.

The forecasts were written by department staff using the most current information gathered from wildlife surveys, statistical projections, field experience and also information gathered from hunters and hunting organizations in Wisconsin. It also includes information on season dates, bag limits and license and stamp requirements.

Jason Fleener, assistant big game biologist, presents the details and the current status of the deer herd. Linda Oliver, assistant big game biologist, reports of Wisconsin's bears. Acting Upland Game Biologist Sharon Fandel outlines what hunters can expect with upland game. The furbearer forecast was assembled and written by John Olson, furbearer biologist. Kent Van Horn, waterfowl biologist, details waterfowl information. Additionally, regional wildlife supervisors provide hunters with information on conditions that they can expect in the different parts of the state.

The 2010 Fall Forecast features the most current status of all phases of hunting and trapping, and the information is nicely wrapped up in one well-organized and easy-to-read document. The Fall Forecast is a useful companion to the hunting regulations for Wisconsin sportsmen and sportswomen.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Manwell, DNR Public Affairs Manager, 608-264-9248; Jason Fleener, DNR acting big game specialist 608-261-7589 or Linda Olver, acting bear specialist - (608) 261-7588

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79th Archery deer hunt opens September 18

MADISON - September 18 marks the opening day of Wisconsin's 79th archery deer hunting season.

A growing cadre of camo-clad archery deer hunters will be melting into the woods, heading for deer stands across the state, hoping preseason scouting will pay off and that they've placed their stand where they'll have a chance at a whitetail. The popularity of archery deer hunting is increasing yearly and the archery harvest is a growing segment of the yearly deer harvest.

In 1966 there were just over 85,000 licensed archery hunters who harvested just under 6,000 deer. By 1981 the number of archery hunters had more than doubled to nearly 174,000 hunters who took more than 29,000 deer. By last year, the number had reached more than 260,000 bow hunters with a total harvest of more than 87,000. By comparison, in 2009 Wisconsin had almost 630,000 licensed gun hunters who registered just under 242,000 deer.

Important new rules in 2010 for archers

Before heading out, archers are encouraged to study the season structure map found in the 2010 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations pamphlet or online to assure they know the rules where they hunt.

Nineteen northeast Wisconsin regular deer management units are buck only in 2010 for both archery and gun deer hunters in order to support efforts to grow herd numbers in those units. The archery antlerless deer carcass tag issued with an archery deer hunting license and patron license cannot be used in units: 7, 13, 28, 29A, 29B, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 49A, 52 and 52A. The archery antlerless tag is good in all other units statewide during an archery season.

Archery deer hunters are also reminded that they must wear blaze orange on all days when the archery deer season runs concurrent with a gun deer season. This includes the Oct. 14-17 antlerless-only hunt in herd control and CWD units, in the CWD zone during the November nine-day gun deer and the December/January Holiday gun deer seasons, the statewide 10-day muzzleloader season, and during the Dec. 9-12 statewide antlerless only hunt. This includes the 19 DMUs where antlerless harvest is restricted to certain disabled hunters, qualified U. S. Armed Forces members and first year hunter education graduates who have a valid tag for an antlerless deer in these units.

Additional antlerless tags available for some regular units

In regular deer management units with an antlerless deer quota, archers can purchase additional unit specific antlerless deer carcass tags for $12 resident and $20 nonresident. Unit specific antlerless tags are available through license vendors, by phone and online. These tags are in limited supply and are available only until a unit is sold out.

There are exceptions to the buck only rule in the 19 northeastern DMUs for armed forces personnel home on leave, Class A and C disabled permit holders who have an unfilled gun buck deer carcass tags and first time hunter education graduates with an unfilled special free antlerless deer carcass tags issued for completing the hunter education course in 2010. For details, consult the 2010 Deer Hunting Regulations pamphlet or call the DNR information line at 1.888.WDNR-INFo

Mentored hunting

There's no better way to share your knowledge of deer, deer hunting and woodsmanship with a youth than through the new Mentored Hunter Program. The milder weather and more relaxed atmosphere of the archery deer hunt are perfect for teaching and communicating. Started in 2009 the Mentored Hunting Law allows a licensed hunter 18 years of age and older to mentor individuals as young as 10 years of age in a hunting outing without the need for the mentored hunter to first earn a hunter education certificate. The quite time spent in the woods is ideal for sharing traditions, developing an appreciation for just being out and hunting skills. Consult the 2010 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations for details.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fleener (608) 261-7589

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Tree stand hunters need to plan for safe hunt

MADISON - That fact that hunters fall from tree stands is anything but surprising, said Tim Lawhern, hunter education administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources. Research shows that one out of three hunters will fall from a tree stand sometime during their hunting careers.

The bow hunting season for deer this year begins Saturday, Sept. 18. Many hunters have been honing their archery skills for weeks now, fine-tuning equipment and strengthening muscles specific to the hunt.

No less important is to think ahead and to plan for a safe hunt.

Here are some suggestions from Lawhern for hunters planning on hunting from tree stands:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Lawhern (608) 266-1317

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New carcass movement flexibility in CWD management zone

FITCHBURG, Wis. - Whole deer carcasses and certain restricted parts - brain, spinal cord and lymphoid tissue -- can now be transported out of the chronic wasting disease management zone (CWD-MZ) to other areas of the state if they are taken to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 72 hours of registration, under recent modifications to the state's rules designed to contain the spread of CWD.

The reasoning behind this rule change is that processors and taxidermists must follow strict rules regarding waste disposal and putting potentially CWD-infected carcasses into the appropriate waste stream removes the risk of contamination from improper disposal, notes Davin Lopez, CWD coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.

This rule modification, effective Oct. 1, is also designed to "help hunters so they can get their deer processed and mounted closer to home, while still ensuring the responsible disposal of potentially infectious materials," added Lopez.

Last year, hunters and motorists could only move whole deer carcasses and the restricted parts from the CWD-MZ into other parts of the CWD-MZ and to deer management units (DMUs) adjacent to the CWD-MZ.

Also beginning Oct. 1, Wisconsin has banned the importation of whole cervid carcasses (deer, elk and moose) and that certain restricted parts into the state from the entirety of all states and Canadian provinces that have CWD unless those whole carcasses and restricted parts are also taken to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 72 hours of entry into Wisconsin. The disease has been discovered in wild deer or elk herds in 13 states and two provinces.

Last year, hunters were only restricted from transporting whole carcasses and restricted parts from areas of states and provinces that have found CWD. This change will eliminate confusion for hunters about whether or not the restrictions apply to the specific area they hunt and simplify enforcement.

The original rules, approved last year by the state Natural Resources Board, DNR's seven citizen-member policy making body, aim to "help stop the spread of CWD into areas of the state where the disease does not occur," said Lopez.

The CWD-MZ encompasses all or parts of DMUs in Adams, Crawford, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Lafayette, Marquette, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Vernon, Walworth and Waukesha Counties. See the 2010 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations for a detailed map of the CWD-MZ.

There are a number of parts from legally possessed deer to which the restriction doesn't apply that can be legally transported anywhere in Wisconsin. These include:

Chronic wasting disease is a 100 percent fatal nervous system disease known to naturally infect white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose and elk. Studies of Wisconsin wild deer and data from Colorado and Wyoming show that without control efforts, CWD prevalence can reach high levels, spread geographically, and may shorten deer life spans, as shown in the significant populations declines observed in Colorado.

2010 Season Structure in the CWD-MZ

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Davin Lopez, CWD Coordinator Madison: 608-267-2948 or Greg Matthews, Regional PA Manager, Fitchburg: 608-275-3317

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Wisconsin's northern zone duck season opens Sept. 25

MADISON - Hunters looking forward to the opening of Wisconsin's 2010 duck season in the northern duck zone on Sept. 25 should find good numbers of ducks, according to state wildlife officials.

"Wisconsin waterfowlers should have a good hunting season," said Kent Van Horn, migratory game bird ecologist for the state Department of Natural Resources. "Overall, continental populations of waterfowl game species are healthy and abundant."

Many of the ducks harvested in Wisconsin come from birds that breed in the state's wetlands. The four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin's fall hunting harvest are mallards, wood ducks, green-winged teal and blue-winged teal, Van Horn said.

The duck hunt in the northern zone opens at 9 a.m. Sept. 25 and continues through Nov. 23. Other than on opening day, the hunt begins a half hour before sunrise. The southern zone duck season opens at 9 a.m. on Oct. 2, with a split season that runs through Oct. 10 and then closes and reopens Oct. 16 through Dec. 16.

The daily bag limit is six ducks in total, not to include more than four mallards of which only one may be a hen, three wood ducks, one black duck, two redheads, two scaup, two pintail, and one canvasback. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five to include no more than two hooded mergansers. The daily bag limit for coot is 15.

"Trying to predict how weather patterns will affect hunting is a tricky business," says Van Horn. "Habitat conditions at the time of breeding were dry this year, but later rains made for excellent brood rearing habitat, and should positively impact hunting conditions during the season.

"As always, hunters who do the early legwork - scouting for good wetland conditions and observing what areas birds are using -- will be the ones having a good hunt. Hunter survey data in Wisconsin show that duck hunters who scout before their hunting trip harvest 2.3 times more ducks than those hunters who do not scout."

Licenses and stamps required include a Wisconsin small game license, a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp and a federal migratory bird stamp. The $15 federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at license vendors for a $2.50 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license. The stamp itself will arrive weeks later in the mail. State licenses, permits, and stamps are also available through Wisconsin's Online Licensing Center.

Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their waterfowl harvest. HIP registration is free and should occur at the time hunters purchases their licenses or state waterfowl stamps.

Bag checks will be performed at select hunting locations in the state again this fall. Avian influenza testing will also occur at these sites.

Additional information is available on the Waterfowl in Wisconsin pages of the DNR website.

Woodcock season also opens Sept. 25

Wisconsin's woodcock hunting season also opens one half hour before sunrise on Sept. 25 and runs through Nov. 8.

The Badger State ranks second in the nation for woodcock hunters, with more than 14,000 licensed, and second in the nation for woodcock harvest at about 36,000 birds. Overall, hunters should expect to see woodcock numbers similar to the last few years and depending on the weather, should enjoy a good fall.

Over the last 30-plus years, the woodcock population across its range in the Midwest and northeast U.S. has shown a steady decline which biologists believe is primarily related to changes in forest habitat. However, Van Horn says, in Wisconsin, this decline appears to have leveled off with no significant change over the last decade. In Wisconsin, woodcock hunting interest remains high.

Since woodcock are a migratory species, hunters should remember that if they wish to hunt woodcock they must not use a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells unless the magazine has been plugged. This also means they need to be registered for the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Many hunters hunt ruffed grouse and woodcock at the same time and the federal requirements for HIP registration and hunting with a shotgun limited to holding 3threeshells are not required for ruffed grouse. However, these regulations must be followed if hunting both species at the same time.

The daily woodcock bag limit is three birds. Detailed woodcock hunting regulations can be found in the Small Game Hunting Regulations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn - (608) 266-8841 or James Christopoulos - (608) 261-6458

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Waterfowl hunters reminded to be sure of their target

Don't shoot a swan

MADISON -- With the opening of the regular Canada goose Exterior Zone hunting season on Saturday, Sept. 18, waterfowl hunters are reminded that swans and other non-game birds are also migrating and to carefully identify all birds before shooting.

Successful efforts to restore trumpeter swans in Wisconsin removed them from the state endangered species list last year. However, wildlife ecologists remind hunters that the swans are protected under state and federal law and caution waterfowl hunters to be sure of their target.

"Accidental or intentional shooting continues to be a concern for our expanding population of trumpeter swans," says Sumner Matteson, an avian ecologists with the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Endangered Resources. "Hunters need to know the difference between swans and snow geese to prevent accidents."

Trumpeter swans are the largest waterfowl species in North America. Adults are all white and stand up to 5 feet tall, weighing between 20 and 35 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan. Younger swans, called cygnets, have grayish plumage and are smaller, but are still are significantly larger than Canada geese, with which they are sometimes confused.

The unintentional shooting of a protected swan can result in state fines and restitution costs exceeding $2,000.

"Hunters have done a great job in learning the differences between swans and geese," Matteson said. "But with the growing number of swans in the state, we want to remind them to continue to be vigilant in identifying their game."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sumner Matteson - (608) 266-1571

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2010 preliminary brood survey shows mixed results

Grouse and pheasant observations down, while turkey up

MADISON - A wet spring may have resulted in lower production of grouse and pheasants, while turkey production may be up slightly, according to preliminary results of brood observations made over a 10-week period this spring and summer.

Each year, state and federal wildlife and conservation employees conduct brood production surveys of pheasants, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, and other upland game birds spanning June, July and August. New in 2010, citizens could also report observations through the online Game Bird Brood Survey.

This year, weather in Wisconsin during the months of June, July and August was wet and warm, with rainfall 4 to 8 inches above average and temperatures 1 to 2 degrees above average during the survey period.

"It is likely that some brood losses occurred during this wet hatching and brood-rearing period," said Brian Dhuey, wildlife surveys coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. "However, there were also many reports of early broods from field personnel and larger chicks are better able to withstand these wet conditions. This may have helped mitigate brood losses due to wet weather."

Weather during the early part of June typically is the most critical period for brood success say biologists, as this is when chicks are hatching and are most susceptible to hypothermia if they get wet. Much of Wisconsin had above average rainfall from June 11-17 when a large portion of the state received rainfall 150-200 percent above normal. Temperatures were normal to above normal during this same period.

A Summer Wildlife Inquiry (SWI) survey also was sent to about 5,000 rural landowners throughout the state in mid-August, asking for observations of nine different wildlife species, including five different upland game birds, on their property.

Ruffed Grouse

DNR personnel reported a downturn in grouse production in 2010, with an 8 percent decline in the number of broods seen per observer (0.83) from 2009 levels (0.90).

The number of rural landowners reporting ruffed grouse on their property was down 10 percent from last year and 32 percent below the long-term mean. Brood size as reported by DNR personnel was up slightly with 4.1 young per brood reported in 2010, compared to 4.0 reported in 2009. The size of grouse broods observed by the public on the online game bird brood survey was 5.1. This is the first year of the online game bird brood survey so no comparison to previous years can be made.

"The grouse drumming survey in the spring showed a downturn of 5 percent in the number of breeding grouse in the state in 2010," said Sharon Fandel, acting DNR upland wildlife ecologist. "Brood production is also down slightly from last year. It is likely that Wisconsin is at or slightly past the current grouse cycle high."

Pheasant

The number of pheasant broods seen per observer by DNR field personnel fell 33 percent from 2009 levels, from 0.24 in 2009 to 0.16 in 2010.

Rural landowners reporting pheasants on their property were down 8 percent from last year and are at the same level as the long-term mean. Pheasant brood size was down as well, with DNR field personnel reporting 4.3 young per brood in 2010, compared to 5.2 in 2009.

The size of pheasant broods observed by the public on the online game bird brood survey was 5.3. No comparison to previous years can be made as this was the first year of the online game bird brood survey.

"Two of the past three winters and springs have been hard on pheasants," says Fandel. "The number of pheasants reported during the spring crowing counts was down 3 percent in 2010, and 35 percent over the last two years, meaning there were lower numbers of pheasants to produce broods, resulting in a downturn in pheasant production."

Turkey

DNR field personnel reported a 3 percent increase in the number of turkey broods observed in 2010 (3.44 broods per observer) compared to 2009 levels (3.34 broods per observer).

The number of rural landowners reporting turkeys on their land was down 1 percent from 2009 levels, but still remained 67 percent above the long-term mean. The average size of broods observed by DNR personnel was 4.5, which is slightly higher than the 4.2 observed last year.

Rural landowners reporting turkey broods reported that 34 percent of the hens had a brood and a brood averaged 4.1 poults. In 2009, 50 percent of the hens had broods and the average brood size was 4.0 poults. Participants in the online game bird brood survey reported 3.9 young per brood. This is the first year of the online game bird brood survey so no comparison to previous years can be made.

"Turkey brood production seems to have leveled off a bit from previous years' losses but is still below levels of high production years," Brian Dhuey.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Dhuey at (608) 221-6342 or Sharon Fandel at (608) 261-8458 for more information.

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2010 Wisconsin online deer hunter wildlife survey

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey will go live online beginning Sept. 18, the opening day of the 2010 archery deer seasons.

This will be the second year of the survey which asks deer hunters to report their field observations of a variety of wildlife species, hunting conditions and hours spent pursuing game. Deer hunters' first-year efforts produced valuable information for documenting distribution of many of Wisconsin's wildlife species. Results from 2009 (pdf) are available on the Department of Natural Resources website.

The Hunter Wildlife Survey overlaps another citizen-participation survey currently underway. Operation Deer Watch started Aug 1 and runs through Sept. 30. The primary objective of Operation Deer Watch is to collect more information on trends in deer reproductive success by reporting does and fawns seen together during the late summer and early fall.

"Deer hunters are an excellent source of information as they spend many quiet observation hours in the woods," said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife surveys and database manager. "They can provide hard to obtain information about species that are often very difficult to measure. Along with deer, the wildlife species we are most interested in are raccoon, skunk, porcupine, red and gray fox, turkey, ruffed grouse, coyote, bear, otter, fisher, bobcat, house cat, badger, wolf, opossum, and other wildlife not normally seen in your area. Results will only become even more meaningful as we gather many years of wildlife observations for each species."

During the 2009 archery and gun deer hunting seasons, approximately 20,000 hunting trips encompassing 120,000 observation hours were reported via the online survey. Statewide, hunters averaged 0.19 deer seen per hour hunted. Deer seen per hour varied between regions with the high being the Western Farmland region averaging 0.31 deer per hour hunted and the low being the Central and Northern Forest regions averaging 0.14 deer per hour hunted. Turkeys and ruffed grouse were the next most frequently seen animals.

Hunters reported hunting activity in 136 of the state's 140 deer management units and all 72 counties. Deer sightings changed as the season progressed, they increased to a peak during the week of October 3-9, then generally fell weekly to a low during the weeks of Nov. 28 through Dec. 4, then rose again to the end of the deer hunting season. Average deer observations per hour were at the second to lowest rate during the first week of the nine-day gun deer season.

Hunters can find survey instructions, record sightings, and view the 2009 survey results on the Wisconsin Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey page of the DNR website. A tally sheet is also available for times when hunters do not have access to the internet or a computer. Hunters should record all of their hunting activity throughout the deer season, even if no wildlife sightings were made. The survey period begins September 18 and runs through the late archery deer hunting season.

"We ask that all deer hunters please consider participating in this survey effort," said Dhuey. "All they need to do is record the date, number of hours, county, deer management unit, weather conditions, and the type and number of animals observed during each day of deer hunting. New for the 2010 survey, hunters can enter their email address along with their observations and I will send them an email summary of their hunting activity at the end of the survey period. "

Trail Camera photos wanted

The Wildlife Surveys group is also interested in photographs of rare or endangered species hunters may have captured on their trail cameras. This information will help document their existence and location within the state.

"Pictures of elk, moose, Canada lynx, cougar, American marten, stone marten, wolverine, Franklin's ground squirrel, and badger are most sought after, but any picture of an animal not normally seen in your hunting area or an unidentified animal is welcomed," says Dhuey. Pictures can be emailed along with the approximate date, county and civil township of the photo to Brian.Dhuey@wisconsin.gov. DNR wildlife staff will try to positively identify all photographs submitted. A gallery of last year's trail camera photos can be viewed in the DNR trail camera gallery.

Questions about the Wisconsin Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, accessing the tally sheet, reporting your observation, or the results of the survey, can be referred to Brian Dhuey [brian.dhuey@wisconsin.gov] at (608) 221-6342 or Jes Rees [jessica.rees@wisconsin.gov] at (608) 221-6360.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact: Brian Dhuey at (608) 221-6342 or Jes Rees at (608) 221-6360.

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New black bear and bobcat reporting site

MADISON - Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts can help monitor and document the expanding distribution of black bears and bobcats in Wisconsin through a new on-line reporting form that allows the public to submit black bear and bobcat observations.

The Department of Natural Resources wildlife surveys section has developed a new bear and bobcat reporting application.

Black bears and bobcats are commonly found in the northern third of Wisconsin and much of the population for both species still resides in the northern counties. However, recent range expansion by both species has lead to more frequent sighting in southern counties.

Wildlife officials are looking for reports of black bear sightings within areas that are outside of their normal range, particularly areas designated as "occasional" and "rare" on the distribution map. Bobcat sightings are to be reported statewide.

"Direct observations from the field can provide important information for black bear and bobcat managers in tracking their movements," said Jes Rees DNR wildlife survey technician. "Bears tend to be more visible as they distribute into new areas but bobcats are solitary secretive animals, and tracking their distribution is often difficult."

Since March 2010, DNR biologists have documented reports of bear sightings within areas designated as "occasional" and "rare" on the distribution map. The list of sightings is an informal collection of reports received from e-mails, telephone calls, and reports taken from the media. Reports from areas of the state where bears are "common" or "abundant" were not collected.

Citizen monitoring has proven to be a valuable tool in resource management and an opportunity for interested citizens to contribute to our knowledge of wildlife and habitat trends," said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife surveys coordinator.

In addition to this new bear and bobcat monitoring effort the department has recently initiated citizen monitoring opportunities intended to collect more information on trends in deer reproductive success by reporting does and fawns seen together during the late summer and early fall, and 2010 will be the second season for the Hunter Wildlife Observation Survey which asks deer hunters to report on nine different wildlife species observed during the deer hunting seasons.

The department's Bureau of Endangered Resources has a Rare Mammal Observation form for to report sightings of wolf, moose, cougar, lynx, wolverine, marten, or Franklin's ground squirrel.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jes Rees (608) 221-6360 or Brian Dhuey (608) 221-6342

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 14, 2010




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