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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published May 17, 2011

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Free Fishing Weekend June 4-5

MADISON - People of all ages can fish for free in Wisconsin on June 4 and 5, the state's Free Fishing Weekend, and now it's easier than ever for newbies to cast a few.

Free fishing clinics are set at more than a dozen locations, with more being added all the time; and rods, reels and other gear are on loan for free from nearly 50 locations, says Theresa Stabo, aquatic education director with the Department of Natural Resources.

"Every day is free fishing day for kids 15 and under, so Free Fishing Weekend offers a great opportunity for their parents, friends and older teenagers to join in and find out if fishing is for them," Stabo says. "Instruction and equipment are available at many locations to make it even easier to give it a try."

The weekend is about introducing people of all ages to fishing, Stabo says. "If you're an avid angler, consider taking an adult who has never fished before. Share your passion with someone else."

The free weekend suits the budget conscious too, as fishable waters are close to home for just about everybody.

All the waters of the state are open, including Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and rivers bordering Wisconsin. Residents and nonresidents of all ages can fish without a fishing license (or trout or salmon stamps) over these two days. However, all other fishing regulations apply, including how many fish anglers can keep and limits on the minimum size of fish they can keep.

Free fishing clinics - some aimed at kids and some intended for the whole family - are set for more than a dozen locations so far, with more being posted as details come in. Most clinics are put on by local fishing and conservation clubs, according to Kim Anderson, DNR aquatic education associate. Some of the clinics are sponsored by Wisconsin State Parks on Sunday, which is also State Parks Open House Day, with free admission to state parks, making it an exceptional value.

Fishing rods and reels available for loan from 47 DNR locations

Many of the fishing clinics provide all the equipment people need to fish. But people who cannot or do not want to attend a clinic can borrow fishing equipment from dozens of DNR state parks and offices. Call ahead to the listed contact people to make sure equipment is available, and to arrange to pick the equipment up as DNR service centers are only open limited hours.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Theresa Stabo (608) 266-2272; Kim Anderson (608) 261-6431



State Park Open House June 5

Free admission to all state parks, forests and trails

MADISON - Enjoying Wisconsin State Parks, Forests, Trails and Recreation Areas is a bargain any time of year but on the first Sunday of June they are an exceptional value, as entrance to any state park, forest, trail and recreation property is free.

"Open House Day is an opportunity for all residents and visitors to explore some of Wisconsin's most beautiful natural locations and enjoy a wide variety of outdoor recreation," says Dan Schuller, Wisconsin State Parks director.

"This year Gov. Scott Walker has officially proclaimed June 2011 as Great Outdoors Month in Wisconsin to highlight the benefits of outdoor activity and focuses attention on our natural resources, including parks, forests and other public lands and waters. State Parks Open House Day will allow people across the state to take in a full day of Wisconsin's Great Outdoors hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, or just relaxing."

On State Park Open House Day, no admission stickers are required on vehicles entering state parks, forests and recreation areas, and trail passes are not required for bicyclists, in-line skaters, or horseback riders using state trails that normally require a trail pass. In addition, Saturday, June 4 is National Trails Day and fees are waived to use all DNR-managed state trails on that day as well.

Reservable campsites in Wisconsin state park and forest campgrounds are generally in high demand for the Memorial Day weekend, but there are often campsites available for the weekend of State Park Open House at many parks and forests. Camping fees do still apply on state park open house day. People can check campsite availability or reserve a site (minimum two nights) through the State Parks Web site [].

The event also coincides with Free Fishing Weekend in Wisconsin, so no fishing license is required to fish at the many lakes and rivers located in state parks and forests. Several parks are sponsoring free fishing activities, along with other special events (click on tab for June and then see June 5).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Wisconsin State Parks - (608) 266-2181



Forest tent and eastern tent caterpillars may be highly visible in Wisconsin this spring

MADISON -- State forest health specialists report that populations of two leaf-eating, native caterpillars appear to be on the rise in some parts of the state.

Forest Tent Caterpillar

Forest tent caterpillars
Forest tent caterpillars
WDNR Photo

Forest tent caterpillar populations rose last year after nearly 10 years of low populations. People should expect to see forest tent caterpillar feeding on trees in northern Dane, western Columbia, eastern Sauk and eastern Waupaca counties by early June. Other areas are likely to see increased forest tent caterpillar activity this year as well.

"Ironically, forest tent caterpillars do not make tents," says Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist at the Department of Natural Resources.

They can be identified by their blue sides and light colored "keyhole" or "footprint" shapes down their back.

Forest tent caterpillars prefer aspen, oak, sugar maple and a few other tree species. To reduce the number of forest tent caterpillar feeding on trees in yards, people can block them as they crawl up the tree trunk to the foliage by placing a ring of duct tape around the trunk of the tree, silver side out. Then spread a thin layer of horticultural pest barrier such as Tanglefoot or Pest Barrier on the tape. Do not use automotive grease or motor oil. Also, individual caterpillars can be sprayed with soapy water, or insecticide, crushed, or hand picked and drowned in soapy water to kill them.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Eastern tent caterpillar populations have been high in southern and central Wisconsin for several years.

"Eastern tent caterpillars are often confused with gypsy moth or forest tent caterpillars, but they are easily distinguishable," Hillstrom says. "The Eastern tent caterpillar is the only one of these species that makes a tent."

Eastern tent caterpillar
Eastern tent caterpillar
WDNR Photo

Eastern tent caterpillars have a distinctive white stripe down the back.

The tents made by eastern tent caterpillar are found at the base of branches and are most often seen on roadsides or fencerows, or on open-grown trees. Eastern tent caterpillars favor crabapple, apple, wild cherry and wild plum trees though they also feed on oak and some other deciduous trees. The caterpillars are typically done feeding by mid June but their tents will be visible until rain and wind eventually break them down.

Caterpillar tent
Eastern tent caterpillar tent.
WDNR Photo

Caterpillars are already active this year so now is the time to find and kill them when their tents are still small. The easiest, least expensive method is to put on a pair of rubber gloves or use a rake and scrape the caterpillars and tent into a bucket of soapy water. Do this in early evening after most of them have returned to the tent. The next morning discard the soaked tent and dead caterpillars. If the tent is out of reach or if you prefer, tear up the tent with a stick and spray the area with soapy water or a contact insecticide. When the tents are first being formed, spraying a band of Btk based pesticide on the foliage around the tent is also effective. Spraying the outside of intact tents will not kill eastern tent caterpillar.

"Don't cut branches off of your tree to remove the tents. This causes much more damage to your tree than the caterpillars ever would," says Mark Guthmiller, forest health specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Also, do not burn the nets or webs out of the tree. This is dangerous and also kills the branches."

What's The Concern?

In high numbers, forest tent and eastern tent caterpillar can strip the leaves off of infested trees. Native trees such as wild plum, cherry, and maples have co-evolved with these native caterpillars and they can usually tolerate the effects.

"Defoliation from the eastern and forest tent caterpillars occurs early in the season and trees have plenty of time to grow a new set of leaves and produce the energy they need," Hillstrom says.

Healthy trees and shrubs usually recover and look better with more leaves later in the season. However, the production of a second set of leaves does stress the trees. Cumulative stress from defoliation, injury, drought, and more can kill the tree. In a yard setting, it is a good idea to help maintain the overall health of the trees by watering during dry periods, properly mulching, and minimizing injuries to tree trunks. Forest and eastern tent caterpillars also have many predators, parasites and diseases that can help manage populations, unlike the exotic gypsy moth.

What to do about a large infestation?

A bacterial insecticide containing Btk (Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki) can help control caterpillars, especially when they are small. Because Btk has to be consumed by caterpillars it must be applied to the tree's leaves - even up high. Some certified arborists will perform ground based sprays for a fee and have a better chance of getting to a high tree canopy than property owners can on their own. Soapy water or other insecticides that are labeled to control these caterpillars are also effective. Be sure to follow manufacture's label directions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Department of Natural Resources forest health specialists Linda Williams, Green Bay, 920-662-5172; Todd Lanigan, Eau Claire, 715-839-1632; Mike Hillstrom, Wisconsin Rapids, 715-421-7825; Mark Guthmiller, Madison, 608-275-3223; Shane Weber, Spooner, 715-635-4156; Brian Schwingle, Rhinelander, 715-365-8908



Draft American marten management plan available for review and comment

MADISON - Two or more self-sustaining populations of American martens would be maintained in northern Wisconsin with an ultimate goal of upgrading the species status from its current endangered species classification, under a draft management plan currently open for public comment.

The Department of Natural Resources has drafted an American marten (Martes americana) conservation and management plan that updates the status of the species in Wisconsin and replaces an original Marten Recovery Plan in Wisconsin.

"The goal of this plan is to ensure that American martens remain a viable member of Wisconsin's natural heritage today and for generations to come," says Jim Woodford, a conservation biologist with the Department of Natural Resources in Rhinelander.

American martens have cultural significance to the Ojibwe Indians of Wisconsin. In addition they are one of the best indicator species for a contiguous, diverse, and healthy northern forest ecosystem.

In states and provinces where American martens are harvested, marten furs received the second-highest in total dollar sales of all wild furbearers sold in North America in 2010. In the western Great Lakes states, martens are legally trapped in northern Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Woodford says martens were found nearly statewide throughout the forested regions of Wisconsin prior to European settlement, but their numbers and distribution decreased due to unregulated trapping, habitat loss, and subsequent wildfires. Even though marten trapping was prohibited in 1921, martens were considered extirpated from the state by 1925.

Martens (a member of the weasel family) were listed as a state endangered species, and a recovery plan was developed in 1986. Three major reintroduction projects have occurred since then to reestablish martens to the forests of northern Wisconsin.

Marten populations in Wisconsin are monitored annually by winter track surveys in two core population areas. These surveys have not provided definite population trends, in large part due to low density of animals. Researchers estimated between 160 and 282 martens in one core area in 2005. A partnership between DNR, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission are currently completing a three year project that reintroduced 90 martens into the other core area.

The draft management plan calls for, among other things, developing a more accurate population estimate of martens in Wisconsin, maintaining the established two marten protection areas, developing and implementing forest management guidelines to protect and improve marten habitat, and protecting and enhancing corridors for marten movements between isolated groups of martens.

The Draft Management and Conservation Plan for American Martens in Wisconsin (pdf) is available on the DNR website or by request to: Jim Woodford, Conservation Biologist, 107 Sutliff Avenue, Rhinelander, WI 54501, (715)365-8856, Interested individuals or groups can submit comments on the draft plan to Woodford via written, e-mail, or oral comments through July 5, 2011.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Woodford - (715)365-8856



Federal funding allows for stepped up efforts on aquatic invasive species

MADISON -- Two hundred Wisconsin lakes with boat landings will be surveyed this summer in a search of new or never been reported populations of zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil and other aquatic invasive species.

The monitoring is part of stepped up efforts to help stop the spread of the invaders by alerting managers to invasions when they are still new and may be possible to contain or control.

"We hope this increased monitoring will help us detect invasions earlier, when we stand a greater chance of controlling them," says Bob Wakeman, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.

"The baseline monitoring also will help us better understand how prevalent these invaders are, whether the rate of their spread is changing, and how effective our outreach and enforcement efforts are."

Three quarters of Wisconsin lakes with public access are free of Eurasian water milfoil and zebra mussels and other key invaders. Aquatic invasive species are a problem because they can crowd out native species, which in turn can have an impact on fish and wildlife that depend on native species for food and habitat. Aquatic invasives can also: interfere with recreation, as Eurasian water milfoil does when thick mats of the plant tangle in boat propellers; decrease property values, as a recent UW-Madison survey (exit DNR; pdf) found in Vilas County; and cost property owners, government and industry millions of dollars each year to try to prevent their spread or control them.

DNR is able to pursue the expanded monitoring because of federal funding received through competitive grants under the Obama administration's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The money is paying for additional state staff to coordinate and conduct much of the monitoring work.

In the past, DNR has relied heavily on volunteers to look for invasive species and report them when they find them. Waters were checked where volunteers were interested and available to do the monitoring, Wakeman says.

"They've done yeoman's work," he says. "The federal money will help us broaden that effort to make sure we get a true statewide picture of what's going on."

Over the next five years, the DNR hopes to sample 200 lakes each year. The new surveys will include searches for invasive species by staff in snorkeling gear and using handheld nets with small mesh sizes to capture free-floating organisms like juvenile zebra mussels and plankton, according to Scott Van Egeren, who will be coordinating the monitoring.

Some of the species that will be searched for include Eurasian water milfoil, zebra mussels, spiny water fleas and Chinese mystery snails. The also program will be using the smart prevention principles outlined by Jake Vander Zanden, a professor at the UW-Madison Center for Limnology.

Only lakes with a boat landing and in which the habitat is suitable for establishment of an invasive species will be searched, Van Egeren says. For instance zebra and quagga mussels need a certain amount of calcium to form their shells, so only lakes that are known to have appropriate calcium concentrations will be searched for these species.

A slide show of some of these aquatic inasive species is available on the DNR website.

"If we do find something, we'll inform the local lake manager and the lake community so they can step up efforts to keep the invasive species from spreading to neighboring lakes and rivers. Such early detection will also give them the best chance for success if they implement control efforts," Wakeman says.

Local law enforcement and DNR conservation wardens can check to see if boaters and anglers are complying with state aquatic invasive species laws before leaving a launch.

The expanded monitoring effort is among several recent Wisconsin initiatives to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. New regulations for ballast water discharges by vessels arriving in Wisconsin's Great Lakes ports, a recent classification system that makes it illegal to buy, sell, trade and possess certain invasive species, and increased grants to local governments and other partners to help prevent and contain the spread of aquatic invasive species are among the efforts.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman (262) 574-2149; Scott Van Egeren (608) 264-8895


DNR maintains real-time data showing which of Wisconsin's 15,081 lakes and more than 40,000 miles of streams and rivers have been confirmed to have aquatic invasive species. Find more information at the Aquatic Invasive Species pages of the DNR website.

To prevent accidentally spreading aquatic invasive species and fish diseases like viral hemorrhagic septicemia, all boaters and anglers should:



'Tis the slow the spread of invasive species

MADISON -- As residents and visitors to Wisconsin gear up for camping, fishing, hiking, and other recreation activities, state invasive species control specialists are asking them to consider how these activities can inadvertently spread invasive plants around the state.

"As we venture out to enjoy nature, everyone should be mindful of how humans and our activities can play a critical role in either increasing or slowing the spread of invasive plants," says Tom Boos, an invasive plant control specialist with the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.

At this time of year, Boos says, garlic mustard is one of the most recognizable invasive plants in woodland settings and it is easily spreads by seed.

"Simply scraping mud off your boots or shoes before and after spending time in garlic-mustard infested areas and removing any seeds stuck to clothing can dramatically reduce the risk of spreading this and other invasive plants to new areas," Boos says.

After camping, people should shake out and brush off equipment to avoid spreading invasive species to the next spot they set up camp. When fishing excursions come to an end, anglers should never dump worms or other bait in the water or out "in nature."

"It is best to dispose of unused worms in the trash to avoid introducing worms into a nearby forest where they greatly harm the forest," Boos says. "And remember to always remove any aquatic plants from boats and trailers and to drain all water before leaving a boat landing to avoid spreading aquatic invasive species or fish diseases."

People take the time to visit parks and other wild areas because of their beauty and biodiversity, Boos notes, so taking these easy steps can help protect those valuable natural resources.

Regardless of the type of recreation activities people are participating in, there are simple actions they can take to minimize the spread of invasive species.

The Wisconsin Council on Forestry Invasive Species Best Management Practices [] (exit DNR) lists preventative steps for a wide range of outdoor activities from motorized sports and horseback-riding to hiking, biking, camping and hunting. There are also activity based handouts on the website that you can share with others that send the basic message of "Slow the spread by sole and tread".

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Boos - (608) 266-9276



Reminder to leave wild animals wild

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: - An audio public service announcement on leaving wildlife in the wild is available in MP# format for downloading.

POYNETTE - White-tailed deer fawns are starting to be seen in Wisconsin, and state wildlife officials and conservation wardens are receiving calls from people concerned about "abandoned" fawns.

"Fawns left alone in the woods are not abandoned," says Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "When fawns are born they have very little scent to them, and does intentionally leave them alone as a way of protecting them from predators. The mother is almost always nearby and keeping an eye on the fawn. She returns to the fawn to nurse when she feels it is safe. Deer living near residences have been known to leave fawns on patios, in backyards and other places. The best thing people can do if they come across a fawn is to move away from the area and leave the fawn alone."

State wildlife and health officials say the same is true for almost all young wildlife seen in the wild. Most wildlife species will leave their young unattended for periods of time so they can go feed or find food to bring back.

"Closely approaching or contacting wild animals presents a risk of injury to humans and the animal. For that reason, the best and safest policy for people and animals is to leave them alone," Kehrli said.

People should avoid contact with all wild animals, but especially those acting abnormally, whether they appear sick or unusually friendly. While unlikely, it is possible for sick wild animals to transmit some illnesses, including rabies, to humans.

State wildlife health officials say skunks and bats are the most likely species to carry rabies in Wisconsin, although dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes and even livestock have been infected. People should keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for dogs, cats, and ferrets.

If a person is bitten by a bat, woodchuck, skunk, raccoon, fox or coyote, all of which can carry rabies, it's important to safely capture or kill the animal without injuring the brain. Brain tissue can be analyzed to determine whether or not the animal had rabies. Most domestic animals can simply be observed by a veterinarian and do not need to be tested in order to rule out rabies. Treatment for a rabies exposure can prevent the disease if initiated before symptoms occur.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sara Kehrli, Wildlife Biologist, (608) 635-8123



Comments sought on water conservation and water use efficiency goals

MADSON - People can help shape development of a statewide voluntary water conservation and efficiency program by commenting through June 15 on draft goals and objectives.

The water conservation and efficiency program is aimed at meeting requirements of the 2008 state and federal laws that implement the Great Lakes Compact, according to Shaili Pfeiffer in the Department of Natural Resources water use section.

The proposed water conservation and efficiency goals call for:

To achieve those goals, the state proposes improving monitoring and data reporting, adopting water conservation measures to limit the demand for water, which in turn limits the need to invest in additional water supply facilities, and guiding programs toward long-term sustainable water use. Wisconsin also would develop education programs for all water users and develop science, technology and research to help achieve the goals, Pfeiffer says.

The Great Lakes Compact is a formal agreement among the Great Lake states. A parallel agreement includes the two Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. In these compacts the states and provinces agree to manage the water in the Great Lakes watershed collectively. The agreements also ban Great Lakes water from being "diverted," or piped out of the basin with a few limited and strictly regulated exceptions.

The Great Lakes Compact became effective on Dec. 8, 2008, after final consent from the U.S. Congress. This date began the ban on diversions of water out of the basin and started the five-year clock for each of the Great Lakes states to develop a water management program with the elements required by the compact, including a statewide water conservation and efficiency program.

People interested in learning more and comment on the goals can find a complete copy available at the Water Use webpage. Comments can be emailed to or mailed to Steve Elmore, DG/5, Department of Natural Resources, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

The statewide water conservation goals and objectives will be finalized this summer. .

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Shaili Pfeiffer, (608) 267-7630 or Steve Elmore, (608) 264-9246



Large Water Withdrawal Registration required by June 30

[Editor's note: Only people that have a water supply system with the capacity to withdraw 100,000 gallons per day or 70 gallons per minute or more on their property are required to register with the state by June 30, 2011. You are not required to register if you have multiple water supply systems on your property and each system has a capacity of less than 100,000 gallons per day (70 gallons per minute). Please be aware, however, that these types of systems may need a DNR High Capacity Well Approval or a DNR Great Lakes Basin Water Use Permit. The press release below and accompanying web pages have been corrected to reflect this information.]

MADISON -- Industries, large irrigators, cranberry growers and other facilities that have a water supply system that can withdraw 100,000 gallons per day or 70 gallons per minute or more on their property are required to register with the state by June 30, 2011.

Properties with high capacity well approvals or surface water irrigation permits are already registered with the Department of Natural Resources. Operations that pull surface water from a pond, lake, stream or ditch and that are not covered by an irrigation permit that have a capacity to withdraw 100,000 gallons per day must also register by the June 30 deadline, according to Kristy Rogers, the DNR water specialist coordinating the registration program.

A new law requires the registration and annual reporting of water use to enable Wisconsin to understand how much water is being withdrawn, where, and how it's being used, Rogers says.

"Operations most likely needing to register their withdrawals are facilities that take water from ponds or rivers," she says. Examples include aquaculture facilities, cranberry operations, and large farms that withdraw water from ponds and reservoirs.

A withdrawal is the taking of water from surface water or groundwater. Water may be withdrawn through a water supply system such as a well, intake pipe, ditch or other means. Even if the water is returned to the source, the new law still considers it a withdrawal and the registration requirement applies.

There is no fee to register; however, there is an annual $125 fee for each registered property. In addition, very large withdrawals in the Great Lakes Basin, above 50 million gallons per year, are subject to additional fees determined by actual withdrawal amounts. Fees support programs to protect water supplies in Wisconsin.

Anyone with a question about whether they need to register, add a water source to an existing registration, or whether their water use is considered a water withdrawal should contact the DNR Water Use program at (608) 266-2299 or

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristy Rogers, (608) 266-9254


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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