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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published October 25, 2011

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Deer Hunt 2011 will air Nov 3 & 5 on Public Television and Nov. 10 & 12 on Fox Sports

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: this news release has been updated with additional information on how to view Deer Hunt 2011.]

MADISON - Deer Hunt 2011, hosted by Public Television's Dan Small is set to air on public television on November 3 and 5 and on the Fox Sports Network on November 10 and 12.

This year's show will be packed with interesting deer hunting features. Some examples include: efforts to recruit new hunters and retain old hunters with a drop in on a youth deer hunt; current deer research focused on answering Wisconsin hunters' questions about populations and predators; a new deer hunter outreach effort called Hunt, Harvest, Help; deer season forecasts; hunter safety tips; new rules and regulations; and a fireplace conversation on hunting traditions and values.

How to view Deer Hunt 2011

The Deer Hunt 2011 TV special with Dan Small will be carried by Wisconsin Public Television and Milwaukee Public Television and Fox Sports Wisconsin and Fox Sports North.

Broadcast dates and times:

Please note that Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) now broadcasts on three different channels.

Wisconsin Public Television, which includes stations WHA - Madison; WPNE - Green Bay; WHRM - Wausau; WHLA - La Crosse; WHWC - Menomonie/Eau Claire; and WLEF - Park Falls will carry the show on one of the newer channels which they've named, the "Wisconsin Channel."

The Wisconsin Channel is one of the newer digital channels and not all cable and satellite TV providers offer it.

There are several ways to be sure you see this great show:

Public television will also streamline the show online at the same time it is broadcast on the Wisconsin Channel, so it can be watched on a computer.

Additional viewing options

"The annual outbreak of buck fever is spreading rapidly across Wisconsin as the rut and November gun deer season fast approach," said Tom Hauge, DNR's wildlife program director. "Deer Hunt 2011 is a fantastic way to kick off the fall hunt and keep your fever under control."

Host Dan Small will be joined by DNR wildlife biologists and conservation wardens who will share updates and important information hunters should review before they head to the woods for the November deer hunt.

"This is the 20th season for our annual Deer Hunt Special," Small said. "This year we've decided to broaden our reach to include the Fox Sports Network in an effort to reach even more hunters in Wisconsin and also those in Minnesota, the Dakotas and northern Iowa. Wisconsin offers some of the best deer hunting in the U.S., and we hope to help convey that message to our viewers."

Highlights of the show also will include advice on sighting in a rifle, gear and strategy tips to help hunters improve their chances of success, a look at a hunter recruitment program for college students at UW-Madison and an interview with DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp

Deer researchers will share first year data collected from radio-collared adult deer and fawns on causes of death from predators to vehicles to environmental stresses and how hunters can help by getting involved.

DNR customer service lines will be open during the broadcast and are just a toll-free phone call away nearly every other day of the year. DNR operates its toll-free information line 1-888-WDNR-INFo (936-7463) 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, year round, including right through the hunting seasons when operators have taken calls from hunters sitting on their deer stands on opening morning. The call center is closed only Christmas Eve and Christmas day and New Year's Eve and New Years day.

"I hope you'll join Dan and the rest of the crew in this annual salute to one of our most hallowed traditions, the November deer hunt," Hauge said. "It's part of who we are in Wisconsin and I wish all hunters good luck and safe hunting."

Deer Hunt 2011 is sponsored by: Milford Hills Hunt Club; Safari Club International - Wisconsin Chapter; Whitetails Unlimited; Lightfield Ammunition; Rosen Nissan of Milwaukee; Wisconsin Safes; Legendary Whitetails, The Outdoor Heritage Education Center, TenPoint Crossbows, Fuel Powersports of West Bend and the Department of Natural Resources.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Manwell - (608) 264-9248



Rescued dogs helping determine Wisconsin bobcat population

UW Stevens Point partners in project involving Conservation Canines

MADISON -- Dogs rescued from shelters have been trained to detect the scent of the elusive bobcat in Wisconsin to help scientists determine how many of these North American mammals are at home in the Badger State's central region.

Roughly two years remain on a three-year joint research project involving the Department of Natural Resources and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point that started because of increasing interest in this nocturnal, solitary, and secretive animal.

"We have very little information about the bobcat in areas south of Highway 64," DNR Scientist David MacFarland says. "And the animal is attracting a lot of attention."

Study fueled by bobcat's popularity

Traditionally found in the northern third of Wisconsin, some individuals suggest bobcats have been expanding south in the past decade. At the same time, interest in harvesting them has also increased. In 2009, 13,087 hunters and trappers applied for 475 bobcat permits.

The DNR Furbearer Management Committee asked the department's Bureau of Science Services to initiate research to estimate the number of bobcats south of Highway 64, the southern boundary of the current harvest area. Dr. Eric Anderson, wildlife professor at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, who has been studying bobcats for more than 20 years, was invited to work with DNR scientists to develop the ongoing joint project.

Funding for the project stems from two sources. One portion comes from a recent permit application fee increase from $3 to $6. This fee increase was proposed by the Wisconsin Trappers Association, and supported by the department, to generate funds for bobcat research. Additional funding comes from the Pittman-Robertson Fund, a federal wildlife program supported through the sale of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment.

Conservation canines follow the scent

"Most of the population estimating techniques we use rely upon data collected from harvested animals," MacFarland said. "But, bobcats are not harvested south of Highway 64. So we had to think of another way."

They turned to the Conservation Canines (exit DNR) at the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington. Pioneered in 1997 by Dr. Samuel Wasser, the program uses rescued dogs trained to find the feces- also known as scat - of various animals. The dogs have been involved in research in this country and abroad. This time they were trained to find bobcat scat.

"Once we've collected the samples," UW Stevens Point graduate student John Clare said, "we can extract the DNA which lets us identify individual animals."

Clare hopes the samples will provide enough information to estimate bobcat density for some of the areas south of Hwy 64. This summer's work, which covered about 100 square miles, was a pilot study to see if the technique would work in Wisconsin and if enough scat could be found to accurately estimate bobcat density.

A total of 91 samples were collected and are being analyzed by Clare at the Molecular Conservation Genetics Lab at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point.

Trail cameras also feature in the research

In addition to using the scat-detecting dogs, the researchers are placing 16 trail cameras across 25 square mile areas to estimate the numbers of bobcats in an area.

"Individual bobcats can be identified by the unique patterns on their fur," Anderson said. "If we get images of the same animal on multiple cameras, we can use mathematical models to estimate their density."

So far, their cameras have yielded hundreds of images of bobcats.

Private citizens are encouraged to report their own trail camera photos of bobcats. The observations will provide important information on the extent of bobcat range in central and southern Wisconsin. Citizens can find the online form by going to the DNR website and searching for "Wisconsin Black Bear and Bobcat Observations."

"We have completed one sampling season and we have one more year of field work," MacFarland said. "We need to learn more about the bobcat in Wisconsin and this is an effective way to capture critical information."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: David MacFarland - (715) 365-8917 or Joanne Haas - (608) 267-0798



Chinook numbers, size increase this year at egg collection facilities

STURGEON BAY - The king is back!

The chinook salmon, and the eggs they're giving up at Wisconsin's three egg collection facilities along Lake Michigan, are looking good. That's a reversal of sobering trends in recent years, and reflects adequate reproduction of the alewives chinook eat and a lake-wide reduction in stocking that is better matching fish with available food, state fisheries officials say.

"All things considered the chinook return at Strawberry Creek this year took a very positive turn after generally declining trends of numbers and size of fish returning to the weir," says Scott Hansen, the Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist heading up egg collection activities at the Strawberry Creek facility near Sturgeon Bay.

Strawberry Creek Salmon Harvest


    DNR staff help to net the fish.

    Strawberry Creek

    Once the net is full, it's lifted out of the water.

    Strawberry Creek

    The fish then spend a little time in a special solution to help calm them down.

    Strawberry Creek

    Sleepy salmon are then poured out into the holding area.

    Strawberry Creek

    DNR staff pull the fish out of the holding area to get information on each one.

    Strawberry Creek

    They determine the sex of the fish, measure and weigh it. This is part of the record keeping process that's been going on since the 1970s.

    Strawberry Creek

    Eggs from the female salmon are harvested for restocking.

    Strawberry Creek

    Salmon eggs

    Strawberry Creek


    Strawberry Creek

    At the end of the salmon run, DNR staff clean up the pond where the salmon were kept for harvesting, preparing it for winter.

    Strawberry Creek

The fish appeared heavier and in better condition than last year, and the average size of eggs increased considerably this year from last year. "That is another encouraging sign," Hansen says.

Fisheries crews and volunteers at Strawberry Creek handled about 5,400 chinook over six harvest days this season, up from 2,014 last year, collecting about 2.3 million eggs to be hatched and reared at state hatcheries and stocked out next year in Lake Michigan.

The story was the same at the other two facilities collecting chinook this fall, the C.D. Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility in Kewaunee, and the Root River Steelhead Facility in Racine.

Fish immediately began to enter the fish ladder and the collection ponds in Kewaunee as soon as the pumps were turned on Oct. 7, according to Mike Baumgartner, facility supervisor.

"By Friday afternoon the fishway leading to the ladder was so full of fish that we had to block the entrance to the fish way until we could get the fish into the facility," he says. "I've been at this station since 1992 and have not had to do that before.

"I've never seen the fish move into the facility all at once like they did in such a short period of time and in such high numbers."

Fish crews at the Root River also saw lots of fish in good condition. They are collecting coho and brown trout eggs, and their customers are starting to show up.

Bill Horns, DNR's Great Lakes fishery specialist, expects the coho numbers and size will be as encouraging as they were for the chinook.

"The coho fishery was tremendous early in the summer, so we're expecting they'll be showing up in good numbers and good shape this fall," Horns says.

"It's always about whether the fish get enough to eat. Apparently they did, and that is in part because we had adequate reproduction of alewives and also because Wisconsin and the other states surrounding Lake Michigan cut back chinook stocking 25 percent starting in 2006," he says.

"We did the right thing at the right time, and it's paid off in continued great fishing and in improving condition of fish."

Horns says Wisconsin and other lakes surrounding Lake Michigan are now jointly considering stocking levels for Lake Michigan and will be carefully considering the delicate balance between forage and fish numbers, particularly as natural reproduction in Michigan streams increases.

"I wouldn't say we're totally out of the woods," he says. "Alewife reproduction can be unpredictable and there is no guarantee we are secure. But we can take comfort in the size of the Chinooks harvested and in the number and size of fish returning to our egg collection facilities."

2006-11 Salmon Stamp report now available

Anglers enjoying Great Lakes tributary fishing for trout and salmon this fall can see how their purchase of trout and salmon stamps is improving their sport. The Salmon Stamp report for Fiscal Years 2006-2011 is now available online.

DNR's Great Lakes trout and salmon program is supported entirely by anglers and hunters and half of that -- about $1.8 million -- comes from the sale of salmon stamps and two-day Great Lakes fishing licenses. The rest of the funding comes from fishing licenses and other contributed to the segregated Fish and Wildlife Account.

Wisconsin started stocking Pacific strain trout and salmon in the 1960s to help control alewife numbers. The fishery has since grown very popular, and while Wisconsin waters don't support natural reproduction because of higher water temperatures and other factors, Michigan's do.

In the early 1980s, the loss of federal funding for nonnative trout and salmon stocking prompted the creation of Wisconsin's Great Lakes Trout and Salmon Stamp Program to raise money to allow continued rearing and stocking. Since 1982, every angler fishing for salmon or trout in the Wisconsin waters of the Great Lakes has been required to purchase a Great Lakes Trout and Salmon Stamp (commonly referred to as the Salmon Stamp) in addition to a fishing license.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Hansen - (920) 746-2864 or Bill Horns (608) 266-8782



Public shooting range projects under way in north and south

Hunters, shooters to benefit

Duck hunting, youth deer hunts and pheasant hunting - that's October in Wisconsin when the autumn colors are brightest, the temperatures are invigorating.

Gun deer season is just around the corner and it's time to get the rifle out and make sure everything is in good working order this fall. That involves practice and sighting in.

So what's missing? How about a place to shoot, to practice and to have a lot of fun?

We all need a place to shoot. Whether it's recreational trap leagues or to practice and sight-in our rifles for deer season -- access to a range is critical for many hunters. We understand this need at the DNR, and we are working to increase the access you have to shooting ranges.

First of all, I am happy to report we have two large public shooting range renovation projects on the horizon that will greatly benefit hunters and shooters alike. One is the range at Yellowstone Lake Wildlife Area in Lafayette County. This facility's upgrade will start this winter. Next up will be renovations at Snacktrack Range in Iron County.

Both of these ranges will be open for use this fall for hunters to get sighted in for deer season. But to do renovations we will have to close them for a time this winter and next spring and possibly summer.

We are committed to having both open in time for hunters and shooters to begin using them late next summer.

Range access and hours can vary widely. Because of this, I want to share a resource I found very helpful: You can visit this website and search for Wisconsin ranges. The results include helpful information such as range hours, hunter sight-in times, fees, and links to the range's website.

Hunting is a great way for us to learn about -- and gain an appreciation of -- nature and the environment around us. As a result, hunters are among the nation's leading conservationists. Hunting also is a popular and time honored way to get meat for the freezer. Hunters know where their meat comes from and have a vested interest in making sure there is plenty for future generations.

Thanks to all who have demonstrated a genuine commitment to recruiting the next generation of hunters to carry on Wisconsin's heritage.

I wish you the best of luck this fall and remember we greatly appreciate your commitment to hunting. Thank you and hunt safe!



Cormorant population decreasing along Green Bay, Lake Michigan

GREEN BAY - The nearly quarter-century population growth of double-crested cormorants in the Wisconsin waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan may have ended. Numbers had been on the rise since 1986, but in 2011 the population on islands where control efforts were conducted showed an 18 percent decline from the 2009 peak of 15,227 nests. Management efforts resulted in 2011 nest numbers of 12,534.

"I anticipate that this year's removal of around 2,500 adult birds coupled with ongoing egg-oiling efforts will result in future reductions in the cormorant population, and bring us closer to the goals set for the managed islands," said Tammie Paoli, a fish biologist with the Department of Natural Resources in Peshtigo.

Cormorant numbers are estimated by nest surveys completed every few years on approximately 10 islands in Green Bay and Lake Michigan/Door County as a cooperative effort with Wisconsin DNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services.

Cormorants on Green Bay island
Cormorant nesting colony on Cat Island, near the mouth of the Fox River, Green Bay.
WDNR Photo

Cormorants, native to North America and the Great Lakes, were scarce in the 1950s through the 1970s. Their populations had declined as a result of habitat loss and the use of DDT, which contributed to eggshell thinning and cross-bill deformities. They were listed as a state endangered species in 1972, but numbers rebounded reaching problem levels on the islands in this century.

Some research suggests cormorant predation negatively affects yellow perch abundance in southern Green Bay. Fisheries biologists collect and analyze survey and creel data annually to investigate the impacts of double-crested cormorant management on fish populations. This information is used to determine future management actions and strategies.

DNR fisheries surveys documented strong year classes of yellow perch during the last eight years. Still, the adult perch population has not rebounded as expected.

Declines in Green Bay brown trout harvest also coincide with increasing cormorant numbers. This prompted DNR to modify stocking strategies for brown trout to try reducing post-stocking mortality. Fisheries biologists are hopeful a combination of fewer cormorants, more forage fish such as alewives in recent years, and adjustments to stocking strategies will result in improved harvest numbers for brown trout.

Additional background information about the cormorant's history in Northeast Wisconsin can be found in a February 2008 Wisconsin Naturual Resources magazine story Cormorant conundrum.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tammie Paoli, Fish Biologist, Peshtigo (715) 582-5052 or Trish Ossmann, Public Affairs Mgr., NE Region, Green Bay (920) 662-5122



Green your Halloween

MADISON - Halloween revelers don't have to dress up as the Hulk or the Green Lantern in order to green their holiday experience. As with many holiday events, Halloween can end up generating unwelcome trash, but there are ways people can reduce this unnecessary waste and "green their Halloween." Here are some tips from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recycling, reuse and composting program:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Elisabeth Olson at (608) 264-9258



Volunteers needed to help monitor wolf population in the state

Wolf tracking training sessions and ecology courses set

MADISON - People interested in volunteering to locate timber wolves and other forest carnivores in the coming year and help keep count on the elusive animals can learn how to track wolves during a series of upcoming training sessions.

In Wisconsin wolves continue to be an endangered species under federal law, but may be delisted by end of 2011. The state will be required to conduct intense monitoring of the wolf population for the next five years after delisting.

Volunteer trackers are assigned survey blocks in forest portions of northern and central Wisconsin, and are asked to conduct three or more surveys in their assigned block each winter. Data they gather can be compiled with those of other volunteers to aid Department of Natural Resources biologists in evaluating wolf populations.

Wolf and Carnivore Tracker Training sessions are scheduled:

Training sessions run at Ashland, and Babcock will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Applicants should register as soon as possible because space is limited. There is a small fee for the classes. Training run at Treehaven near Tomahawk will be held on December 10-11 will be by world renowned tracker, Dr. James Halfpenny. Cost of the workshop has yet to be determined.

Details about the volunteer tracking program and the wolf ecology and tracking training sessions are available on the Department of Natural Resources Web site.

In late winter 2011, DNR biologists and volunteers counted 782-824 wolves in the state, including 751 or more outside Indian reservations. Normally about one-third of the state packs are monitored by radio-telemetry, the remaining packs are monitored by DNR and volunteer trackers.

In 2011, 137 volunteer trackers surveyed 86, 200-square-mile survey blocks covering 8,232 miles of snow-covered roads and trails. Volunteers averaged 4.1 surveys per block, covering 95.7 miles, conducting 15.4 hours of tracking per block, and detected more than 430 different wolves.

"With the continued spread of the state wolf population and reduced funding for surveys, the volunteer carnivore tracking program is critical for us to obtain accurate counts of the state wolf population," said Adrian Wydeven, DNR mammal ecologist who coordinates the state wolf program. "Despite changes in federal listings these surveys will continue to be important for long-term conservation of wolves and other forest carnivores in Wisconsin."

Volunteers are also helpful in other ways, Wydeven said. Last fall, several volunteers conducted hunter outreach in the field and made contacts with deer hunters across several northern counties. During the spring volunteers helped with wolf trapping, radio collaring, donations of radio collars, and howl surveys as well as staffing educational booths at sport shows and other events.

Training sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please try to register at least two weeks before each session.

Volunteers are also strongly encouraged to take a wolf ecology course if they have not done so already, and biologists recommend taking the ecology course before signing up for track training workshops. Wolf ecology courses will be offered next year on the following dates at the locations listed.

More information about Wisconsin's Volunteer Carnivore Tracking Program is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven - (715) 762-1363


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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