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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published August 23, 2011

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Leftover fall 2011 wild turkey permits go on sale August 27

Leftover permits will be sold on an over-the-counter basis

MADISON - Remaining permits for the 2011 fall turkey hunting season will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting at noon on Saturday, August 27.

In total, 95,700 permits were available for the fall 2011 turkey season. There were 41,332 permits issued to hunters who applied by the August 1 application deadline, leaving 54,368 permits available after the drawing for over-the-counter sales. Postcard notifications will be sent to all other customers who were awarded a permit. Permits will be mailed to conservation patrons who were awarded a permit in the drawing. Hunters interested in finding out their results sooner can also check their permit status by using the Online Licensing Center.

Hunters interested in picking up leftover, or over-the-counter, turkey permits should check the turkey zone map [PDF] to verify where they want to hunt and then check the turkey leftover permit availability page to see if permits are available for the zone in which they wish to hunt.

Leftover turkey permit will continue until all permits are sold or the turkey season comes to an end. Hunters are limited to purchasing one leftover permit per day, although there is no limit on the total number of permits that an individual hunter can purchase.

All of the available leftover permits are for turkey management zones 1-5; there were no leftover permits available for zones 6 or 7 after the initial drawing.

The fee for leftover turkey permits is $5 for 10 and 11 year olds, $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents. All permit buyers will also be required to pay the fall turkey license and stamp fees, unless they have previously purchased the license and stamp or are a 2011 Conservation Patron License holder. Residents and non-residents will have equal opportunity to purchase over-the-counter permits. Purchasing these permits will not affect preference point status for future spring or fall turkey permit drawings.

Leftover fall turkey permits can be purchased through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website, at all authorized license agents, at DNR Service Centers (Hours for service centers vary; check the DNR website for service center days and hours of operation; DNR Service Centers are not open on Saturdays), or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

Blaze orange required during any open gun deer season

Hunters are reminded of the requirement for blaze orange on ground blinds on DNR lands during any Gun Deer Season (see page 9 of the 2011 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations for more information). Ground blinds on DNR lands left unattended must also have the owner's name and address or DNR Customer ID number attached near the door opening. Ground blinds may not be left out overnight. These ground blind rules do not apply to ground blinds being used for waterfowl hunting or to blinds built only out of natural vegetation found on the DNR property.

Turkey hunters should also note that during any gun or muzzleloader deer season, including the October 8-9 youth deer hunt, antlerless hunts, and CWD hunts (see the 2011 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations for season dates), blaze orange clothing is required. A hat, if worn, must be at least 50 percent blaze orange.

For more information, visit the wild turkey hunting in Wisconsin page on the DNR website.

Fall Wild Turkey Season Dates & Reminders

2011 Fall Wild Turkey Season Dates

2011 Fall Wild Turkey Extended Season Dates for Zones 1-5 ONLY

** Pending final approval by the Legislature. Please check the DNR website for updates**

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Scott Walter, Upland Wildlife Ecologist: (608) 264-7861 or Sharon Fandel, Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist: (608) 261-8458



VHS fish disease found in yellow perch from Lake Michigan

MADISON -- Recent test results show that healthy-looking yellow perch in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan were infected with VHS virus even though there was no fish kill.

That positive VHS result comes four months after the deadly fish virus was confirmed as the cause of a fish kill that left thousands of gizzard shad floating in the Milwaukee harbor ship canals.

Together, those 2011 findings show that VHS persists in Lake Michigan and remains an active threat to fish in the big lake and in nearby inland waters and fish farms, and that anglers and other boaters need to continue to follow the rules to prevent spreading VHS and other aquatic invasive species, Wisconsin fish health experts say.

Fish health specialists also say VHS seems to be following a common path that infectious disease takes in fish.

"We expect that VHS will periodically recur in the Great Lakes, much the same as other animal and human diseases cycle over time," says Sue Marcquenski, the Department of Natural Resources fish health specialist.

Michigan test results show that VHS returned in 2011 to an inland lake, Budd Lake (exit DNR) after three years of looking for, but not finding the virus. VHS caused a die off in that lake in late April and early May 2011 of largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills, and pumpkinseed sunfish.

VHS, or viral hemorrhagic septicemia, does not affect people nor pets, but can infect several dozen species of fish and cause them to bleed to death.

Dr. Tony Goldberg, a UW-Madison veterinary epidemiologist conducting a VHS study in Lake Winnebago says, "I often get asked, 'Why do we have to worry about VHS any more -- it's gone?' The answer is that infectious disease can cycle. You can get peaks of infection every few years, and then valleys. Just because we don't see a disease for a few years doesn't mean it's gone. We may simply be in one of these down cycles and we could be on the verge of an upcycle.

Gizzard shad Silver carp
Young gizzard shad (top) and young silver carp (bottom) are hard to tell apart. VHS rules will help prevent bait harvesters from accidentally introducing silver carp to another water.

"It's also important to realize that we shouldn't expect VHS to simply disappear. Invasive viruses are like other invasive species -- zebra mussels or Asian carp, for instance. Once they're here, they are almost certainly here forever and we're not going to be able to go back to the way things were," he says. "It would be a mistake to let our guard down."

Goldberg is one of the principal investigators in a multi-year study underway in the Lake Winnebago system to see whether the fish virus is still a threat there and to develop a faster, cheaper test to detect its presence. VHS was first detected in Wisconsin in Winnebago System waters in 2007.

VHS found in yellow perch during annual spawning assessment

The yellow perch tested for VHS were collected in June from the Green Can spawning reef offshore of Milwaukee. DNR was conducting its annual spawning assessment and wanted to test the fish for VHS because "we were observing low numbers of male yellow perch in the survey and those males were not sexually mature," says Brad Eggold, DNR southern Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor.

VHS work was done in conjunction with other tests. The Wisconsin Diagnostic Veterinary Laboratory in Madison notified DNR of the positive VHS result earlier this month.

The finding marks the second time VHS has been found in spawning yellow perch at the Green Can reef. The first detection was from fish sampled June 5, 2008.

VHS testing was not done in the intervening years of yellow perch from Lake Michigan; once the virus has been confirmed in a particular fish species from Lake Michigan, DNR directs its limited surveillance testing dollars to monitoring other waters to see if VHS has spread.

The yellow perch lab results show that VHS virus is still present and being shed by yellow perch during spawning. The prolonged spring and cooler early summer water temperatures may have created an extended window for VHS to infect fish in 2011, Marcquenski says.

Despite the yellow perch testing positive for VHS, DNR received no reports of dead or dying fish from anglers, Eggold says. "So at this time it's hard to speculate on the impacts of VHS on the yellow perch population although having a continued threat from an invasive like VHS is not good for the fisheries in Lake Michigan," he says.

Alewives test negative for VHS

Alewivesthat washed ashore Lake Michigan beaches earlier this summer do not have VHS, test results show. It may be a seasonal pattern, Eggold says.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sue Marcquenski - (608) 266-2871 or Brad Eggold - (414) 382-7921



2011 surveillance testing shows VHS has not spread to new waters

Rules helping contain disease, keep other invasives out

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

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

VHS, or viral hemorrhagic septicemia, does not affect people nor pets, but can infect several dozen species of fish and cause them to bleed to death.

DNR collected fish from 19 waterbodies throughout Wisconsin between April 12 and June 1 as part of its surveillance efforts to detect VHS. Tissue samples from 2,773 fish were submitted to three laboratories for the tests, which take a month. None of the fish were positive for VHS, according to Eric Eikenberry, a DNR microbiologist/fish biologist who coordinated the sampling.

Also, fish sampled from three lakes that supply DNR hatcheries with water were negative for VHS, as were DNR hatchery-raised fish tested before they were stocked or moved to other facilities.

While VHS was found in 2011 in waters where it's been found in the past and remains a serious threat, "we're pleased it hasn't spread to new waters," says Mike Staggs, DNR's fisheries director.

"We appreciate the efforts that anglers and boaters have made to keep Wisconsin's fish healthy and we think it's absolutely helping contain VHS and will help prevent the spread of other aquatic invasive diseases and species."

That includes two other aquatic invasive species recently in the headlines, Asian carp and spiny water fleas. DNR announced last week that a bighead carp had been caught in the Lower Wisconsin River and the Minnesota DNR announced that silver carp DNA -- the fish known for its jumping behavior -- had been detected in the St. Croix River. Bighead and silver carp eat plankton and can potentially decrease populations of native fish that rely on plankton for food, including all larval fishes, some adult fishes, and native mussels, says Bob Wakeman, who coordinates DNR efforts to prevent and control aquatic invasive species.

For example, VHS rules that prohibit the harvest of bait from waters known or suspected to have the fish virus will help keep Asian carp out of Wisconsin waters. Without the ban, bait harvesters might accidentally catch a young Asian carp, which looks similar to gizzard shad and many minnows, and take it to another lake or river where it might escape, says Bob Wakeman, who coordinates DNR's efforts to prevent and control aquatic invasive species.

And rules to drain water from boats, live wells, fishing equipment and containers before leaving a boat landing will help keep spiny water fleas from being moved elsewhere. These microscopic aquatic animals compete for the same food as small native fish and have been documented in three Wisconsin lakes so far. Lake Mendota, the site of the most recent discovery, was in the news recently when lake experts predicted worsening problems with toxic blue-green algae as the fleas decimate populations of a zooplankton that helped keep the algae in check.

"These are potentially serious threats to our lakes and rivers and fishing," says Wakeman. "All of the preventative steps will help, and they're all needed. If you just do one thing, you're missing the boat. All of these steps together can help protect our lakes and rivers and keep our fishing healthy."

More information on rules to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and VHS can be found on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON VHS TESTING CONTACT: VHS testing Eric Eikenberry (608) 264-9257;




Hook and line sturgeon season opens Sept. 3

"Excellent" fishing forecast for some waters

MADISON -- Anglers looking for a unique fishing opportunity don't have to look far. The 2011 hook and line season for sturgeon season opens Sept. 3 on about a dozen waters statewide and gives anglers the chance to reel in one of Wisconsin's largest and oldest fish.

The opening date is wrong in the Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations 2011-2012, anglers should note, and Sept. 3 is the correct opening day.

Lake sturgeon can grow to more than 200 pounds and live more than 100 years. The 2011 season marks the fifth year that the minimum length for harvesting sturgeon is set at 60 inches, with a one-fish limit per season. The season runs through Sept. 30, 2011.

There is a catch and release season only on a stretch of the Menominee River downstream from the Hattie Street dam to Green Bay from Sept. 3-30.

And anglers will find an extra catch-and-release opportunity on the lower St. Croix River from St. Croix Falls Dam downstream to the Mississippi River from Oct. 1 through Oct. 15. This catch-and-release season allows Wisconsin and Minnesota to have the same regulations for the same species.

There are signs that the 60-inch length limit Wisconsin put in place is working to increase fish size and protect the vulnerable female population on some waters, fisheries biologists say.

"Sturgeon fishing on the Chippewa River in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties should be good to excellent," says Heath Benike, fisheries biologist for those counties.

"Sturgeon surveys conducted this field season on the Chippewa River in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties showed that 10 percent of the lake sturgeon captured were over 60 inches in length."

The largest lake sturgeon was just over 67 inches and weighed almost 60 pounds. There also are a good number of mid- to upper-50 inch fish that will be available for anglers who prefer catch and release angling, Benike says.

The length limit is also helping boost the sturgeon population in the upper Menominee River, according to Mike Donofrio, fisheries supervisor in Peshtigo. "Our assessment indicates likely very few sturgeon over 60 inches in the upper Menominee river but for those anglers interested in catch and release, the population estimate of sturgeon over 50 inches from the White Rapids dam to the Upper Scott dam is more than 1,000."

Sturgeon fishing on Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay should be good this fall and into the ice fishing season consistent with previous years, according to Peter Stevens, Lake Superior fisheries team supervisor. Stevens says 30 percent of sturgeon captured in spring surveys were larger than 50 inches with the largest fish coming in at a little over 64 inches and about 68 pounds. Surveys continue to show good recruitment with the bulk of the fish in the 30 to 40 inch range.

"Catch per hours of effort continues to show a steady upward trend, indicating that the best days of fishing may still be in front of us," Stevens said.

The Lower Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin both support healthy populations of lake sturgeon. Previous to the implementation of the 60 inch size limit the harvest would often exceed 30 percent of the estimated adult population, according to David Rowe, DNR fisheries biologist at Poynette.

"With the higher size limit harvest has been maintained below the 5 percent safe harvest limit except for 2010 when harvest was estimated at 6 percent," Rowe said. "There appear to be many fish between 50 and 60 inches as observed in spring and fall gillnet surveys and fishing should continue to be good for these big river wanderers. There are several radio tagged lake sturgeon in the Lower Wisconsin River and we continue to follow their movements from the Mississippi River and deep water habitat where they spend the summer, through their long swim back up the river this fall and begin to stage for spawning next spring."

The 60-inch limit was enacted because harvest rates on some waters were significantly above 5 percent, the level of harvest DNR considers safe. Lake sturgeon are slow-growing, late maturing fish, with females spawning for the first time when they are 20 to 25 years old and then only every four to five years thereafter. Because females are larger than males, they are often targeted by anglers, and their overharvest can cause population declines that may take years to recover.

Remember to buy a harvest tag

If anglers do plan to harvest a sturgeon this season, they must purchase a harvest tag before they fish. The sturgeon harvest tag was implemented for the first time in the 2006 hook and line season. All revenues from the harvest tag sales go directly to projects dedicated to the improvement of sturgeon populations and habitats and therefore, better fishing opportunities. No tag is needed if anglers are catch and release fishing only.

The harvest tag is available throughout the season and costs $20 for residents and $50 for nonresidents. It can be can be purchased: over the Internet through the Online Licensing Center; by calling toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4236); at license sales locations; or DNR service centers during their regular business hours.

Anglers who harvest a legal-size fish must immediately attach the harvest tag to the fish and take it to a registration station by 6 p.m. the next day for registration.

All anglers must have a Wisconsin general inland fishing license unless they are under 16 years old, or were born before Jan. 1, 1927. Military personnel who are Wisconsin residents and in active service but on furlough or leave are eligible to receive a free annual fishing license. They still need to purchase the $20 lake sturgeon harvest tag if they plan to keep a lake sturgeon.

Additional Menominee River sturgeon registration station

Of note on the Menominee River sturgeon season is that one more registration station has been added on the Wisconsin side this year. A complete list of lake sturgeon registration stations is available on the hook and line sturgeon fishing page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Karl Scheidegger, (608) 267-9426; Heath Benike, (715) 839-2877; Mike Donofrio, (715) 582-5050



Now is time to look for gypsy moth egg masses

MADISON - Now is the time for land owners and managers to start looking for gypsy moth egg masses to predict the pest's population size and potential damage to trees next year. Most egg masses will be found on tree trunks and the undersides of branches, but they can also be found on buildings, firewood, vehicles, and other outdoor objects.

Gypsy moth egg masses on tree
Gypsy moth egg masses on a tree.
WDNR Photo

"We have seen very little gypsy moth activity this summer and do not expect to hear of many areas with gypsy moth populations high enough to justify aerial spraying in 2012," said Bill McNee, regional gypsy moth suppression coordinator with the Department of Natural Resources Northeast Region. "There was a large die off of the caterpillars in June of 2010 and 2011 due to diseases, and in addition to spray treatments these two years, there are hardly any areas where enough survived to predict heavy defoliation in the summer of 2012. However, if your property was heavily defoliated this summer and egg mass surveys predict heavy defoliation again in 2012, it is usually worth spending the money to spray."

For more information on management or how to conduct egg mass surveys to predict damage visit the Wisconsin Gypsy Moth website [] (exit DNR), e-mail, or call 1-800-642-MOTH (6684) for help.

State forestry officials say that if there are several egg masses per tree over a large area, such as a neighborhood or woodlot, spraying from the air next spring is the best method for minimizing defoliation. The egg masses are tan-colored, about the size of a nickel or quarter, and feel firm. Older egg masses that are soft and faded are not a concern because the eggs hatched this past spring.

Managing gypsy moth populations

Spring spraying should be supplemented with other actions for best results though - starting now. Homeowners with egg masses on individual yard trees can help to reduce the population by applying a horticultural oil spray labeled for gypsy moth, available online and at some retailers and garden centers, or by removing egg masses within reach and drowning them in soapy water for two days.

Egg masses on downspout
Gypsy moth egg masses on the rain gutter downspout of a home.
WDNR Photo

Treating egg masses with a horticultural oil spray is one of the best tools available to homeowners for reducing gypsy moth populations and helping to protect yard trees from defoliation by gypsy moth caterpillars next summer. The best time to oil egg masses is anytime after the first hard frost in fall through the first week in April, on a day with at least 40 degree temperatures. Although this strategy is not feasible in woodlots or on large acreages and will not relieve an outbreak on its own, it is very helpful as a supplement to insecticide treatments such as the aerial Suppression Program sprays in yards and urban settings.

Aerial spray program

The Department of Natural Resources offers an aerial Suppression Spray Program to communities, lake associations, and landowners that are suffering from very high populations of gypsy moth. The program is offered through participating counties which sign up areas at the request of local governments, lake associations, and individual landowners within that county. Eligible areas must be 20 acres or more, but this area can cover multiple landowners. The spraying is usually paid for by the entity requesting the spraying, although federal money may be available to offset up to half the cost.

Who to contact to request aerial spraying

"The purpose of this aerial spray program is to prevent heavy defoliation that may kill the tree," said Mark Guthmiller, DNR South Central Regional gypsy moth suppression coordinator.

"County and community participation usually depend on the number of gypsy moth reports they receive from their residents, so call local contacts soon if you had gypsy moth problems this summer and are interested in having your property sprayed next spring," advises Guthmiller.

Homeowners in residential areas should report their gypsy moth problem to their local gypsy moth contact, lake association, or community government. Woodlot owners should contact their town government or the county coordinator for gypsy moth directly. Infestations should be reported by the end of September if possible, as counties must apply to the DNR program by early December.

A list of county coordinators and municipal contacts is available online at Wisconsin Gypsy Moth. Click on your county on the red and white Wisconsin map on that webpage.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill McNee, Gypsy Moth Suppression Coordinator for eastern Wisconsin (920-662-5430); Mark Guthmiller, Regional Gypsy Moth Suppression Coordinator for south central Wisconsin, (608) 275-3223; Brian Schwingle, Forest Health Specialist for northern Wisconsin (715) 365-8908; Andrea Diss-Torrance, Gypsy Moth Suppression Program Coordinator, (608) 264-9247; or Colleen Robinson Klug, Statewide Forest Health Educator, (608) 266-2172.



End of online game bird brood survey period

MADISON -- Saturday, August 20 marked the end of the online game bird brood survey being conducted by Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials. While the survey period is over, wildlife watchers may still report observations until September 1.

Game bird brood observations can be reported by going to the DNR website and keyword search 'game bird'. A survey link is provided at the bottom of the web page.

The wildlife surveys group of the DNR asked outdoor enthusiasts and hunters to report the number and size of game bird broods they observed from June 12 through August 20.

"We are most interested in sightings of wild turkey, pheasant, ruffed grouse, gray partridge, sharp-tailed grouse, bobwhite quail, and greater prairie chicken broods," said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife researcher.

"Preliminary data shows that 43 percent of turkey hens had a brood and the brood averaged 4.4 poults. Brood size for ruffed grouse was 6.3 young per brood. Of the ring-necked pheasants reported, 47 percent of the hens had a brood and the brood averaged 6.5 young per brood," Dhuey said.

This survey will provide the DNR with another estimate of game bird brood production. The hope is to pool this information with other spring and summer surveys done by DNR personnel and use the information to determine the overall status of game birds in the state.

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



Wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamp design contest entries and winners on display

MADISON - The public is invited to view an exhibit of original wildlife art submitted for the 2012 Wisconsin Wild Turkey, Pheasant, and Waterfowl Stamp Design Contests at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The contest event will take place on Saturday, August 27, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

"For the second year, Wisconsin's three wildlife stamp contests are being held at the same time," said Scott Walter, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. "We've assembled a great judging panel this year, comprised of some of Wisconsin's finest experts in wildlife ecology and the biology and management of wild turkeys, pheasants, and waterfowl."

Those attending the event will have the opportunity to view wildlife artwork by artists from across the state, and will get a "sneak peek" of the winning designs for the 2012 wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamps.

The event space will be open to the public from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., with the exception of the block of time set aside for judging from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to use this time to explore the many exciting features the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center has to offer.

The venue, Baraboo's Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, was chosen as a unique setting in which to celebrate the contributions of wildlife art to habitat conservation. The 1,500-acre Leopold Memorial Reserve illustrates some of the earliest attempts at habitat restoration in Wisconsin and will serve as the perfect backdrop for the judging of the stamp design contests.

For directions to the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, please visit the Center's website at [] [exit DNR].

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Krista McGinley, wildlife stamp coordinator: (608) 264-8963



Frequently Asked Questions...answered this week by the DNR call center

MADISON - Can I fish from the Minnesota side on the Mississippi with a Wisconsin fishing license? What are the rules with regards to having dogs at state parks? I missed the application deadline for fall turkey, what are my options? How does the new CWD rule work? How many people and tents are allowed per campsite? How can I get a duplicate of my hunter's safety card? Is it legal to possess a magnifying scope on a crossbow? What is the proper way to measure the length of a fish to make sure that it meets the size requirements?

These are just a few of the questions that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Call Center handles on a weekly basis.

Now, a new feature on the DNR website will highlight each week some of the frequently asked questions received and answered by the DNR Call Center. Past questions and answers will also be available as a helpful resource to others with the same question.

The DNR Call Center answers a wide variety of questions each week from Wisconsin residents and visitors. Call Center staff are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call toll free 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Cosh, DNR spokesperson, (608) 2 67-2773


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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