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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published September 28, 2010

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Youth gun deer hunt Oct. 9-10

MADISON - The ninth annual Wisconsin Youth Gun Deer Hunt will take place statewide on Oct. 9-10.

Under Wisconsin's Mentored Hunting Law, now in its second season, hunters as young as 10 years of age may participate -- with or without hunter education certification -- in the youth gun deer hunt with a mentor. The mentored hunting law also allows deer hunting during later seasons.

The early date of the hunt provides milder weather allowing more time in the field under more comfortable conditions for the youngsters and their hunting mentors. In addition to giving youths their own opportunity to experience the traditions of deer hunting in Wisconsin, the focus is on the youth and allows more time for the mentor to share skills and teach their charges how to hunt safely and ethically.

The hunt will be held in all deer management units (DMUs) statewide, except State Park units, Ft. McCoy, Chambers Island, Menominee County and the Apostle Islands other than Madeline Island.

How to participate

Wisconsin now has two programs designed to introduce youths to deer hunting under controlled conditions and under close supervision of an adult hunter.

  1. Youth hunters 12 through 15 years of age (resident and non-resident) who possess a hunter education certificate of accomplishment and a gun deer hunting license may hunt deer Oct. 9-10 accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. "Accompany" means the adult is within both visual and voice contact of the youth. The adult does not have to be a licensed hunter or a hunter education graduate to accompany one or two youth who are at least 12 years of age and have completed a hunter education course.

    Adults accompanying youth hunters:

    • may not "gun hunt" for deer during the youth hunt, but may possess a bow or gun and hunt for another game species that is open for them to hunt at that time;
    • may not accompany more than two youth hunters during the youth gun deer hunt at any given time.

  2. Youth hunters 10-11 years of age, or youth hunters 12-15 years of age who do not possess a hunter education certificate, but possess a mentored gun deer hunting license must be "mentored" by an adult who is within arm's reach at all times during the hunt.

    Qualified adult mentors:

    • must be at least 18 years of age and have the youth's parent or guardian's permission to mentor the youth hunter;
    • must possess a valid hunting license for the current year (any type of game), unless they are mentoring a youth on land that the mentor owns;
    • must be a graduate of a hunter education course or have completed basic training with the U.S. Armed Force if the mentor was born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, they;
    • may only mentor one youth hunter who is age 10 or 11, or who has not completed hunter education at any given time.
    • may not accompany more than two youth hunters. If one youth is hunting under "mentored hunter" rules, the adult may "accompany" no more than one other youth at the same time and only if the second youth is at least 12 to 15 years of age and has completed hunter education.

Additionally, only one firearm may be possessed between the mentor and youth who is age 10 or 11, or who has not completed hunter education, if participating in the youth gun deer hunt.

Qualified youth hunters may harvest one buck deer on their gun buck deer carcass tag and additional antlerless deer with the appropriate carcass tag valid in the unit in which they are hunting. Earn-a-buck restrictions do not apply in EAB units during the youth hunt if the "gun buck deer carcass tag" is used. All hunters and their mentors must observe blaze orange clothing requirements.

If the youth has completed a hunter education course within the last year, they may receive one free antlerless tag from a DNR Service Center during open hours. These antlerless tags are valid statewide during any archery or gun season, including the youth deer hunt.

All deer, bear, and small game hunters, with the exception of waterfowl hunters, also are required to meet blaze orange requirements on these two days.

More information on the youth deer hunt and Mentored Hunting Law is available on the DNR Web site and in the 2010 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fleener - (608) 261-7589 or Bob Manwell - (608) 264-9248



Antlerless Deer Hunt October 14-17

MADISON - Wisconsin's antlerless deer-only gun hunt takes place Oct. 14-17 in herd control and chronic wasting disease deer management units.

The hunt will take place in the following herd control deer management units (DMU) 1M, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 21, 47, 51A, 51B, 54B, 54C, 57, 59C, 59D, 59M, 60M, 61, 62B, 63A, 63B, 64, 64M, 65B, 66, 67A, 67B, 68A, 68B, 72, 73B, 73D, 74B, 77C, 77M, 80A, 80B, and 81.

And in the following CWD management units 54B, 70, 70A, 70B, 70C, 70D, 70E, 70F, 70G, 71, 73B, 73E, 75A, 75B, 75C, 75D, 76, 76A, 76M, 77A, 77B, and 77C.

Only state parks within the CWD Management Zone that allow deer hunting will be open to the Oct. 14 - 17 antlerless only hunt. State parks in herd control deer management units are not open to deer hunting during the Oct. 14 - 17 antlerless only hunt.

For complete rules and regulations involving this hunt consult the 2010 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations which is available in hard copy from license sales agents or on the hunting and trapping regulations pages of the DNR website.

An opportunity to prequalify for a buck authorization in CWD units

CWD management units have an earn-a-buck season structure in 2010, meaning hunters must first harvest and register an antlerless deer before shooting a buck. Hunters in CWD management units may earn a buck authorization sticker by registering antlerless deer, which can be used during a later season when it is legal to harvest bucks.

Only antlerless deer harvested and tagged in a CWD management unit will earn the hunter who tagged the deer a buck authorization sticker. Hunters must register their deer at a designated deer registration station located within the CWD Management Zone in a unit no farther than one unit away from where the deer was harvested, and they should request a buck authorization sticker for each antlerless deer they register. Buck authorization stickers will not be mailed to hunters.

If a sticker is earned during the 2010 deer hunting season, and it goes unused, hunters should hold on to their stickers for the 2011 hunting season. Buck stickers earned in a year previous to the 2009 hunting season are no longer valid. Valid buck authorization stickers are not transferrable to other hunters, but hunters may use their buck sticker and carcass tag to tag a buck for another hunter during the November or Holiday gun deer seasons under group hunting situations.

During other seasons when it is legal to hunt bucks, hunters may also tag an antlerless deer and then harvest a buck, which may accompany the antlerless deer upon registration, as long as they are tagged by the same hunter registering both deer.

Replacement buck authorization stickers

A hunter may receive up to one replacement buck sticker per year if they lost or never received a buck authorization. The hunter must have tagged and registered an antlerless deer in CWD management unit from the 2009 or 2010 hunting season. Stickers are replaced at designated DNR Service Centers on days and hours when service desks are open. The hunter's deer registration record will be checked in a database first to see if they are eligible to receive a buck authorization sticker. Then, hunters will be asked to fill out and sign a sworn affidavit before they receive their replacement sticker. False claims of deer registration may result in fines and/or legal penalties.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jason Fleener (608) 261-7589 or Keith Warnke - (608) 264-6023



Waterfowl hunters cautioned about high water on the Wisconsin, Mississippi rivers

Hunters urged to be alert for strong currents, floating debris; call ahead for conditions

MADISON - Heavy rains across much of northern and central Wisconsin on Sept. 23 have resulted in record flood levels along the Wisconsin River downstream from the Wisconsin Dells to Prairie Du Chien, and rising water on the Mississippi River.

Waterfowl hunters heading out for the Oct. 2 opener of the southern duck hunting season are being cautioned that some boat landings will be flooded or inaccessible, and are reminded to be alert for strong currents and floating debris.

"We're seeing very significant flooding along the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway and flood conditions are expected to persist through this week and possibly into next week," said Bill Ishmael, Department of Natural Resources wildlife program supervisor at Dodgeville.

Floodwaters are forecast to recede somewhat during the week prior to the Southern Zone duck season opener on Saturday but will still be high enough to create potential hazards for navigation.

The National Weather Service predicts the Mississippi River will crest Tuesday at La Crosse, remain at flood stage throughout the week and then get a second pulse of flooding as rivers in Minnesota contribute another load of high water.

The service predicts the Mississippi will continue to rise all week at Prairie du Chien in Crawford County, reaching its crest on Friday, the night before the southern zone duck opener. Flooding is expected to be moderate, but it will be more than enough to ruin a duck hunt, said warden supervisor Steve Dewald at La Crosse. The Mississippi is normally at 7 to 8 feet on the gauge for the duck opener. After rising more than three feet from current flood levels it will be at 19 feet Friday, the National Weather Service forecasts.

Officials say that public boat landings and parking areas on both rivers may be flooded or flood-damaged or inaccessible on opening weekend, so hunters are being reminded to check local conditions before they go hunting. Warden Mike Cross reports boat ramps in Prairie du Chien will be barricaded. Ramps at Linxville, Ferryville and off State Highway 82 near De Soto will be unsafe and might be barricaded, he said.

Additionally, an emergency slow-no-wake order is now in effect for the Mississippi off Crawford County to protect flooded property. It will remain in effect until further notice.

"Navigating the strong currents and deep water will be a challenge and boaters should make sure their life preservers are in good shape and refrain from overloading their watercraft with passengers and equipment," Dewald said.

Hunters will also find that Mississippi River water levels will be too high for anchoring duck decoys.

"There are few duck hunters who have 20 feet of anchor line for every decoy," notes Cross.

Wildlife officials say the high water may also result in poor hunting conditions on the rivers. With elevated river levels, the water will be too deep for puddle ducks to reach the submerged plants and river bottom where they feed, so ducks and geese will likely spread out into newly flooded areas. As a result, traditional spots of waterfowl concentrations in the marshes adjacent to the river channel may not be holding as many ducks as usual during opening weekend.

"The flooded woodlands of the river floodplain, especially where there are oaks and acorns, are going to be pretty attractive to ducks and, as a result, hunters may actually find better hunting opportunity inland, away from the main river channel and open marshes," Ishmael said.

Warden Dewald notes that the Mississippi River has been gaining in popularity with duck hunters.

"We have some groups that have been hunting the same island or marsh for 25 or 30 years. We don't want them to be disappointed. We'd rather have them wait and make a visit later in the fall."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: DNR Wildlife Supervisor Bill Ishmael (608) 935-1918; Warden Steve Dewald, La Crosse 608-785-9970; Warden Mike Cross, Prairie du Chien, 608-326-2915; Ed Culhane, DNR communications, west central region, 715-839-3715



Plan approved to guide state efforts to control CWD over next 15 years

WISCONSIN RAPIDS - A plan that will guide the state's efforts to manage chronic wasting disease over the next 15 years was approved unanimously by the State Natural Resources Board at its September meeting.

"This new plan provides more specific actions and focuses on responding to disease outbreaks on the periphery of the known CWD area, said Davin Lopez, CWD project leader for the Department of Natural Resources.

The plan proposes a number of actions including:

Besides input from the Natural Resources Board and an independent review panel, the 15-year CWD Response Plan is founded on experience and additional knowledge gained over the past eight years and reflects input from a diverse number of sources, including a citizen Stakeholder Advisory Group, the Conservation Congress and other states.

"Despite the strength of the plan, it will only be successful if it has the support and associated active participation of our partners and the public. Successfully controlling and managing CWD in Wisconsin will require a sustained effort over many years, likely far beyond this 15-year plan. It is very challenging for everyone involved, but the alternative of letting the disease spread uncontrolled is much worse," said Lopez.

The CWD Response Plan is available on the chronic wasting disease management pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Davin Lopez at 608-267-2948 or Greg Matthews at 608-275-3317.



Egg collection facilities gear up for Lake Michigan fall salmon runs

Facilities offer open houses, tours to watch egg collection

STURGEON BAY, Wis. -- Lake Michigan trout and salmon soon will start their spawning runs, offering "eggscellent" opportunities to see state fish crews collect the fish eggs needed to produce the next generation of salmonids to test anglers on the big pond.

Egg collection
Lake Michigan depends on stocking of chinook salmon to provide the fishery, a process that begins with egg collection at DNR's Strawberry Creek facility outside Sturgeon Bay.
WDNR Photo

The eggs are collected at three facilities open to the public whenever Department of Natural Resources staff are processing fish, and two of the facilities along Lake Michigan have open houses set for Saturday, Oct. 9, for demonstrations, fishing skills instruction, and other fun.

The C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility located along the Kewaunee River in Kewaunee County offers food, fish and fun at their annual open house, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. with guided tours of the facility at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Root River Steelhead Facility located along the Root River in Racine, also holds its event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will include guided tours of the facility, hands-on demonstrations of fish spawning procedures by fisheries staff, fishing rod casting lessons, knot tying, and fly-tying.

The third egg collection facility, Strawberry Creek Weir outside Sturgeon Bay, does not have an open house per se but all three facilities are open to the public during times when DNR crews are processing fish.

Frequent heavy rains over the summer and into fall have Mike Baumgartner, who supervises the Kewaunee facility, looking for good runs of fish.

"I would expect an above-average return just for the fact we've had more water this year than we probably had in the last 10 years, especially leading in to the run," Baumgartner says.

The pumps that supplement river water flows into the facilities are expected to be turned on Oct. 1 for the Strawberry Creek facility, Oct. 4 at the Root River facility, and Oct. 5 or 6 at the Kewaunee facility.

The fall egg collection marks the start of DNR's propagation process. The eggs will be hatched at DNR hatcheries and raised there until they are stocked into Lake Michigan, at about 4-months old for chinook, and at 1 1/2 years for coho, steelhead and brown trout. The different species are stocked according to the stage in their lifecycle at which naturally reproducing fish would normally leave the tributaries to live in Lake Michigan. That stage is much earlier for chinook.

The vast majority of fish populations in Wisconsin are naturally self-sustaining, but Lake Michigan chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout (all three fact sheets in PDF format) are not. These Pacific coast fish are not native to Wisconsin, but were stocked starting in the late 1960s to control alewives, an exotic species whose populations were exploding because sea lampreys had killed off their main predators.

Wisconsin's tributaries to Lake Michigan lack the clear, cold, well-oxygenated streams needed for successful reproduction by chinook, coho and steelhead. As a result, the egg collection and stocking program is critical to keeping the salmon as a predator and sport fish.

"Great fishing on Lake Michigan starts here," says John Komassa, supervisor of the Root River facility.

Chinook and coho make their spawning runs in the fall, with chinook first. Different steelhead strains run at different times -- some in the spring and some starting in the mid-summer and running well into the fall -- and the Seeforellen strain of brown trout run from October through December.

The fish start congregating in the mouths of the tributary rivers in fall, with the decreasing amounts of daylight and dropping temperatures triggering the fish to start their runs, Komassa says. Rain increasing the water flow is also an important factor in starting the run.

Strawberry Creek is the state's primary collection facility for chinook eggs, with the C.D. Besadny facility on the Kewaunee River and the Root River Steelhead Facility near Racine providing backup. Those facilities are the leading sites for collecting coho, steelhead and Seeforellen brown trout eggs.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Besadny Facility: Mike Baumgartner (920) 388-1025; Strawberry Creek, Scott Hansen (920) 746-2864; Root River, John Komassa (262) 594-6218



Comments sought on Stewardship Land acquisition strategy

MADISON - The public will have an opportunity to comment on a proposed land acquisition strategy for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund at public meetings and via the Internet beginning Oct. 12. The draft "DNR Land Acquisition Strategy for the Stewardship Program" to is available for review on the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program page of the Department of Natural Resources website.

Gov. Jim Doyle's 2007 budget reauthorized the Stewardship program for 10 years at up to $86 million annually, with $50 million slated for state purchase of lands for public use.

The Department of Natural Resources currently manages approximately 1.6 million acres of publicly owned land. Based on available funds, statewide priorities and past cost per acre, DNR real estate specialists anticipate acquiring approximately 10,000 to 15,000 acres annually. State, county and federal public lands in Wisconsin currently total about 5.4 million acres.

State laws and rules establish broad direction for state land purchases but many choices must still be made. The strategy has four components that will guide land acquisition:

  1. A description of the vision, goals, and objectives we seek to accomplish in DNR's land acquisition.
  2. A summary of trends that affect where and what types of lands are most needed to meet recreation and conservation goals.
  3. A system for allocating funds to acquire lands between existing projects and new opportunities as well as criteria to identify priorities at both property and parcel levels.
  4. A description of performance targets generally describing where acquisitions are intended to be focused.

The department currently has more than 400 active land acquisition projects which may be a park, forest, trail, public hunting or fishing ground or natural area.. Each project has an outer boundary encompassing lands needed to achieve recreation or conservation purposes at the site. Among other policy choices, the strategy helps balance acquisition of key parcels of land from willing sellers inside project boundaries with opportunities for new projects.

All meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates

Written comments may be submitted through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program page of the DNR website from Oct. 12 -31 or mailed to Steve Miller, Bureau of Facilities and Lands, Department of Natural Resources. PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul DeLong, administrator- Div. of Forestry (608) 264-9224 or Laurie Osterndorf, administrator- Div. of Lands (608) 267-7552



Compost leaves this fall to protect air quality and enrich your lawn and garden

MADISON - As leaves start to fall across Wisconsin, state natural resources officials are reminding people that autumn is an excellent time to start composting or improve a home compost pile. Composting can help residents save money on fertilizer, save municipalities money on yard waste collection and protect the state's air quality.

Composting is much better for the environment than burning leaves, branches, weeds and other yard materials.

"Burning yard waste can cause health problems for your family and neighbors, pollute soil and water, and start wildfires," says Kate Cooper, recycling and solid waste section chief for the Department of Natural Resources Waste and Materials Management Program.

State air quality and fire control rules regulate the burning of yard materials in Wisconsin, and a growing number of communities have local rules in place that restrict or completely prohibit burning yard materials.

Composting leaves, grass clippings and branches puts them to good use. "Composting not only helps keep our air clean and prevents wildfires, but the compost itself is a wonderful, valuable product." Cooper says.

Composted yard materials keep soil healthy and provide nutrients for lawns and gardens, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Urban residents who don't compost on their own property often have access to a community compost site.

State law bans yard materials from landfills, but there are a number of ways residents can manage leaves and other compostable materials in their back yard or garden.

Here are a few tips for composting or reusing yard materials:

More information on home composting and vermicomposting is available on the DNR Web site and on the UW-Extension website (exit DNR: search publications for "composting").

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Cooper - (608) 267-3133



Initiative to help deal with closed manufacturing plants receives national honor

WASHINGTON -- A new initiative to help Wisconsin communities weather recent economic hard times has earned national recognition for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR's Wisconsin Plant Recovery Initiative -- a statewide effort to provide environmental and economic assistance to communities and companies struggling with closed manufacturing plants and facilities -- received one of four State Program Innovation Awards from the Environmental Council of States (ECOS), a non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C.

"We are very proud to receive this national award from our peers," said DNR Secretary Matt Frank. "This initiative highlights ways the DNR can partner with Wisconsin's private industry to retain local business and protect the environment."

Frank said the Initiative expedites the agency's cleanup of environmental contamination and protection of public health in areas of the state most impacted by plant closings.

"Through quick action, we can help communities prepare these properties for a productive future and avoid creating brownfields that might languish for decades," said Frank.

The Wisconsin Plant Recovery Initiative was launched in March 2010 by the DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program and offers technical assistance along with financial and liability tools for the cleanup and eventual redevelopment of shuttered factories and plants.

"Contamination can stall any potential new development at a property. Through proper assessments and cleanup, we can help communities ready themselves for economic recovery," Frank said.

The Environmental Council of States announced the award during its annual meeting in Whitefield, New Hampshire. The council is non-profit association made up of state agencies from across the nation with a role in protecting the environment. Other 2010 honorees include the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

More information is available on the Remediation and Redevelopment Program pages of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Savagian, Remediation and Redevelopment Program, 608-261-6422



Crane-watch clinic offered

BABCOCK, Wis. - People have a unique opportunity to join biologists in viewing the daily return of thousands of sandhill cranes to the Gallagher Marsh on Sandhill Wildlife Area, following a day of feeding in surrounding agricultural fields during a "Crane Watch Clinic," being offered by the Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center on Saturday, October 23.

These majestic birds were once nearly extinct in Wisconsin but have rebounded and now number in the tens of thousands. Participants should arrive by 3 p.m. and expect to leave around 7 p.m. Dress warmly in neutral colored clothes (camouflage preferred) and waterproof boots. Cameras, binoculars or spotting scopes are also recommended if participants have them, and attendees should be prepared for rain or shine because it doesn't matter to the birds.

Registration is limited to 25 people on a first-come, first-served basis and is confirmed by mailing in a registration fee of $15 per person by Oct. 15. Checks should be made out to DNR-Skills Center. Include the name of each participant, and the address and daytime phone number of one person in each party. Send your registration fee to: Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center, PO Box 156, Babcock, WI 54413. Inquiries on the status of registrations may be sent via e-mail to:

The Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center is located 20 miles west of Wisconsin Rapids on County Highway X, 1 mile north of Highway 80 near Babcock, Wisconsin on the 9,000 acre Department of Natural Resources Sandhill Wildlife Area.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sandhill Skills Center at: (715) 884-6333 or (715) 884-2437


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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