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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published November 30, 2010

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Hunters register a preliminary tally of 218,144 deer over nine-day season

MADISON - A survey of Wisconsin deer registration stations conducted by the state Department of Natural Resources has yielded a preliminary tally of 218,144 for the just-ended, nine-day November gun deer hunt, an 11 percent increase over the 2009 nine-day season. The opener was highlighted by good hunting conditions on opening day and no firearm-related fatalities for only the second time on record (see related news release).

Statewide, hunters registered 102,006 bucks (a 17 percent increase over 2009) and 116,138 antlerless deer (a nearly 7 percent increase over 2009). Gun deer license sales totaled 621,094 at the close of the hunt.

The nine-day harvest numbers are preliminary and are expected to change before a final report is published in late winter. It 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 2009 was 196,688.

A table of county by county (pdf; 39kb) harvest broken down by DNR region, with a comparison to the 2009 preliminary harvest is available on the DNR Web site.

"This season included more regular units with a substantial number of buck only units as many units in the northern and central forest regions are close to population goals or are below goals," said Keith Warnke. "Wildlife management and especially deer management is a process of continual adjustment. This season's structure was influenced by deer hunters, population goal changes, last year's deer harvest, and the resulting estimated local deer populations."

Late seasons now open

"There are still days to hunt in 2010," said Warnke. "The muzzleloader hunt is already underway for hunters holding unused gun buck and antlerless deer tags and there's the statewide antlerless deer hunt Dec. 9-12."

Hunters are reminded that the antlerless deer hunt Dec. 9-12 is open only to hunters with a valid antlerless deer tag for the unit in which they are hunting. That means that in many units in northeast Wisconsin, there will be little or no hunting during that four-day season.

There is the Holiday hunt in CWD zones in south central Wisconsin that starts Dec. 24 and lasts until Jan. 9, 2011.

In February, DNR biologists will use unit-level harvest numbers to develop overwinter population estimates and will propose season structures for 2011 in March. The Natural Resources Board will approve season structures at their April meeting.

Hunters asked to participate in online Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey

The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is still active until the end of all deer seasons and wildlife managers are asking hunters to keep sending in reports or to send in a report of what they saw during the just completed 9-day gun hunt.

"The observations of over 600,000 hunters spread out all across Wisconsin are invaluable to biologists watching for trends in wildlife populations," said Brian Dhuey, DNR research scientist who compiles most of Wisconsin's wildlife harvest and survey statistics. "The more observations the better in terms of tracking trends in species abundance and distribution."

Hunter volunteers being recruited for deer research starting this winter

Following the close of the 2010-11 deer hunting seasons, DNR and UW researchers will shift into high gear with several multi-year deer research efforts.

Volunteers are needed to accompany and assist researchers in obtaining permission to access private property, live-capturing deer, fitting them with radio transmitters and then observing the marked deer for causes of death, fawn production and fawn survival. This research effort is intended to answer hunter questions regarding the role of predators on deer populations, factors affecting fawn recruitment and hunter harvest rate of bucks. Interested volunteers can find out more information and sign up on the White-tailed Deer Research Projects page of the DNR website.

Young hunters prove themselves safe and responsible

"What is really exciting, is the 11,331 mentored gun deer hunting licenses purchased by 10- and 11-year olds," said Diane Brookbank, chief of DNR's licensing and customer service unit, "an increase of more than 1,400 licenses over 2009. These are the future hunters who will step into the woods in place of the hunting 'retirees' as our population ages."

Wardens reported no firearm incidents among these young hunters.

More than 621,000 gun deer licenses sold

DNR's automated License Issuance System, known as ALIS, peaked at 330 transactions per minute at 5:30 p.m. on the Friday before gun season. The 621,094 gun licenses sold through the end of the season on Nov 28 was a 3 percent drop from 2009 gun deer sales.

Archery license sales stayed with recent trends and increased by 510 licenses compared to the same period in 2009.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke - (608) 264-6023, Jason Fleener - (608) 261-7589 or Bob Manwell - (608) 264-9248



2010 gun deer season free of firearm fatalities for second time in state's history

Volunteer hunter education instructors big factor in safety's home run

MADISON - Wisconsin ended its 2010 gun-deer season free of hunter fatalities, a feat first and last seen in 1974.

"No one was shot and killed while deer hunting this year in Wisconsin," said Tim Lawhern, Department of Natural Resources hunter education administrator and conservation warden. "This has happened once before in the state's history of gun-deer seasons. And that was 36 years ago."

Overall, there were 12 hunting incidents during the nine-day deer gun season. Lawhern said that for the families of those injured hunters, 2010 didn't feel like a success. The agency only tracks firearm-related incidents and does not keep track of deaths or injuries due to heart attacks, tree stand falls or other causes.

"Any shooting incident is one too many," Lawhern said. "We wish them all speedy recoveries."

Lawhern, who also serves as the president of the International Hunter Education Association, says several factors are behind the successful hunt.

Education, guidelines and technology

High on Lawhern's list as a key factor behind the second-only fatal-free season in Wisconsin's history of the gun-deer hunt is the participation in the DNR Hunter Education Program - which began as hunter safety classes in 1967.

"The year before hunter education began in Wisconsin, the incident rate was 44 injuries for every 100,000 hunters," Lawhern said, adding the 1967 course was six hours long and covered firearm safety only.

Things have changed since 1967.

"Since that time, we have seen things like the creation of opening and closing hours for hunting, mandatory blaze orange for hunters, full safety harnesses, firearm restrictions, global positioning satellite devices, cell phones and more," he said. "All of these have contributed to the increased safety for hunters."

Wisconsin's hunter education certification program became mandatory for all hunters born or after Jan. 1, 1973 in 1985. That meant any hunter 12, the youngest legal hunter, beginning in 1985 had to complete the hunter education program.

"We have certified almost one million graduates. Our program has led the way both nationally - and internationally - with improved delivery, curriculum and outreach regarding safe and responsible hunting," Lawhern said of the program taught by volunteer instructors statewide. Wisconsin's hunter education program has had many firsts, including the nation's first online course, instructor academy and a junior instructor program.

"The hunter education program also has evolved into more topics including knowledge, responsibility and ethics," he said.

While the fatal-free season is a victory for safety, Lawhern says it wasn't a complete surprise.

Predicting the fatal-free season, and the four rules of firearm safety

Lawhern says considering all the progress made in hunting, along with looking at the records behind every shooting incident of past seasons, made it easy to predict the fatal-free season was coming.

"We know a tremendous amount about hunting incidents. We can predict who is going to be shot. We can predict how many, where and what they are going to be doing at that moment," Lawhern said. "We just don't have the names and addresses."

Lawhern's analysis shows about one-third to one-half of all injuries is related to deer drives. The self-inflicted injuries will be one-third to one half of all the total of the gun-deer season.

"We also know the shooters younger than 18 will make up about 20 to 30 percent of the shooting injuries. The vast majority will occur on private land and half will happen on opening weekend," he said. "Ultimately, nearly all are linked to a violation of one or more of the four basic rules of firearm safety - treat every firearm as if it is loaded, never point your firearm at a person, never put your finger in the trigger until you are ready to shoot and know what is behind your target."

And, Lawhern says, the most significant contributors to hunting incidents are those 35 and older - the hunters not covered by the mandatory hunter education course rule. "All hunters should take the hunter education certification course - no matter the age."

Safety doesn't take breaks

"Our hunter education program is revered as one of, if not the best in the country," Lawhern said, adding most of the volunteer instructors have never experienced a gun-deer season free of fatalities. "Those instructors, along with other factors, are major contributors to the success and safety of hunting."

The course helps all hunters to make safety a habit.

"Safety does not take a vacation. Either you are safe all the time, every time, or you are not. You are only as safe as the next hunt," he said.

Lawhern says he hopes those who haven't completed the hunter education certification course will make it a priority in 2011 to make the next gun-deer season the third fatal-free in the state's history. More information about hunter safety education is available on the DNR website.

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



31 communities apply for Brownfield Site Assessment Grants

MADISON - Thirty-one Wisconsin communities have submitted a total of 55 applications for grants to assist them in starting environmental investigations on abandoned, idle or underused industrial or commercial properties where redevelopment is hindered by real or perceived contamination.

The Department of Natural Resources Remediation and Redevelopment Program received applications requesting $2.6 million in funding for the $1.5 million in Brownfield Site Assessment Grants available from for the fiscal year that runs from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011. Applications will be scored based on a set of criteria, including tax delinquency, public health impacts and location of the properties to nearby water sources. The department anticipates announcing grant awards in early 2011.

The list of communities applying for SAG grants is available on the DNR website.

Any local government entity or tribe is eligible to complete an application for a grant. While SAGs do not fund cleanups, the grants do fund the following activities:

Applicants requested $933,600 in small grants and $1.67 million in large grants. Small grants range between $2,000-$30,000 and large grants range from $30,001-$100,000. This is the twelfth round of SAG grants, created in 1998 by the State Legislature based upon recommendations from the Brownfields Study Group.

Since their inception, SAGs have helped communities begin investigation and cleanup activities on more than 1,600 acres in 205 communities across the state. These activities include 825 site assessments and investigations, the removal of 710 storage tanks and containers and the demolition of 629 structures and buildings.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Savagian, 608-261-6422



New information available on upcoming landfill ban of used automotive oil filters

MADISON -- Starting January 1, 2011 it will be illegal in Wisconsin for anyone to dispose of automotive engine oil filters or oil absorbent materials, including granular absorbents, cloth absorbents, and paper towels in landfills.

A new media kit describing what materials are banned, and how to recycle these materials, is now available on the Department of Natural Resources website.

Wisconsin Act 86 is intended to keep used oil filters and absorbents out of Wisconsin landfills. Each year, Wisconsinites throw away an estimated 187,000 gallons of oil in used oil filters and 1.6 million gallons of oil in oil absorbents. Oil is a valuable, reusable material. By recycling filters and absorbent materials, used oil can be extracted and reused. Filters also contain steel components that can be recycled. Approximately nine million filters currently enter the landfill and recycling these will save over 4.5 million pounds of steel for reuse.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Cooper at (608) 267-3133 with additional questions.



December Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine features elk update

MADISON -- The December issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine provides a mix of stories about outdoor experiences, natural resource progress and environmental successes.

The story, A herd in the balance, provides an update on the 15-year program to build and sustain an elk population in Wisconsin. The article discuss strategies to help the struggling herd. The piece also describes how elk are monitored and steps biologists are taking to protect elk from predators and vehicle collisions, major causes of elk losses.

The feature story A place for first hunts and new outdoor pastimes shares the experiences of young hunters and first-time hunters who get training, workshops and the chance to hunt deer at a special hunt at DNR's Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center in Babcock.

Feeding an idea and a community looks at a new magnet school that will offer middle school students the chance to learn about urban agriculture and a way to grow local jobs to revitalize local economies through raising healthy foods. The school opens in 2011 and provides a model that could be tried in many places around the state.

Nearer the earth describes the enduring traditions of Wisconsin deer hunting that remain a sweet memory for one family transplanted to the southeastern U.S.

In Sterling North, Wisconsin storyteller, readers visit the boyhood home of a native son who crafted classic children's literature about the outdoors and the freedom enjoyed in outdoor experiences.

As a bonus, the issue contains two special inserts -- a four-page summary recounting environmental achievements during the past two years and a two-sided poster that is a 2011 wall calendar with beautiful photos showing progress we continue to make on outdoor issues and programs even in a tough economy.

Consider the magazine as a thoughtful, inexpensive holiday gift that can share what you value about the outdoors with family, friends and professional colleagues. Six colorful issues are delivered to reader's doors all year for less than $1.50 a copy. Year-round the magazine shares ways and places to enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors for only $8.97. Subscribe toll-free at 1-800-678-9472, online at or by mail. Subscription blanks and single issues are also available from our circulation office at P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: David L. Sperling, editor, (608) 266-1510.



Free or low-cost gift ideas to make the most of the outdoors

MADISON - If Black Friday and Cyber-Monday failed to meet all your seasonal gift-giving needs, eight low or no-cost gifts available online from the Department of Natural Resources can help finish the job and bring smiles and benefits to the recipients for years to come.

These eight gift ideas -- ranging from state park passes, to free coupons you can give someone for a future fishing trip, to publications about the outdoors -- will help you, your family and your friends make the most of the state's beautiful lakes, rivers, state parks and other special places.

They won't break the bank (some are even free); they're convenient to get and give; and they'll leave everyone, including Mother Earth, feeling better, and, will make you smarter.

"Head out for a daily dose of green space," counsels Jane Brody, longtime health writer for The New York Times, in an article Nov. 30, 2010 (exit DNR). She details how the National Wildlife Federation, state agencies, insurance companies and others are banding together to help more people engage in physical activity in parks and other natural environments.

"As for its health and educational benefits, the federation cites scientific findings that outdoor play enhances fitness, raises blood levels of vitamin D (which in turn protects against bone loss, heart disease, diabetes and other health problems), improves distance vision, lowers the risk of nearsightedness, reduces symptoms of stress and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, raises scores on standardized tests and improves students' critical-thinking skills," Brody writes.

The online guide will put you a click away from most of these gifts. In some cases, you may need to make a call or e-mail someone to secure the gift.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Gaumnitz (608) 264-8942


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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