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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published January 24, 2012

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DNR takes over wolf management; problem areas to be addressed quickly

PARK FALLS, Wis. -- Beginning Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, the gray wolf will no longer be considered a federally endangered species in Wisconsin and other parts of the western Great Lakes region.

In Wisconsin, the state Department of Natural Resources will manage the wolf population outside of tribal reservation lands. DNR officials said areas where wolves have attacked domestic animals will be addressed immediately.

gray wolf
DNR will take over management of the gray wolf in Wisconsin outside of reservations. This photo is of a captive gray wolf at the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center.
Wisconsin Wildlife Federation Photo

"We've been fighting hard to gain this authority, and we are grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for removing gray wolves in the upper Midwest from the lists of endangered and threatened species," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "We are ready and capable of managing Wisconsin's wolf population at a healthy, sustainable level and we welcome the opportunity to begin addressing those areas where problem wolves are attacking domestic animals."

Wisconsin regulations will treat the gray wolf as a protected wild animal, which means that authorization from the DNR is required before a person can attempt to "take" or kill a wolf. There are currently no plans for a hunting season on wolves. This would involve a change in state law and a public rule-making process.

Wisconsin's 1999 wolf management plan and a 2007 addendum to the plan will be the basis of wolf management in the state. These documents outline the conservation strategy for Wisconsin's wolf population, as well as, outlining the approach for controlling depredation situations. Copies of these documents can be found on the department website.

Landowners or people leasing land will have authority to shoot wolves only when in the act of attacking domestic animals on their land. They also will be able to get permits to shoot any wolf coming on their land if they have experienced wolf problems within the last two years.

Any wolf shot or trapped by a landowner or leaseholder must be reported to the DNR within 24 hours. The carcass must be turned over the DNR.

Conditions under which control permits will be issued include the following five situations:

Under the rule published by USFWS in late December, which takes effect Friday, gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment will no longer be considered either endangered or threatened by the federal government. The segment includes the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota and portions of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Along with permits to landowner, the services of U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Service trappers will again be available to trap and remove problem wolves in Wisconsin.

USDA-Wildlife Service, which operates in Wisconsin under a contract with the DNR, will be available to investigate reports of wolf depredations and when wolf depredations are verified would be authorized to capture problem wolves. Because suitable wolf habitat is saturated in Wisconsin, wolves captured at depredation sites will not be relocated but will be euthanized.

With the federal delisting of wolves, states will be required to continue monitoring of the state wolf populations for the next five years. The department currently uses a system of radio-tracking collared wolves, snow track surveys and collection of public wolf observations to track population trends.

The DNR will continue to recruit and train citizen volunteers to assist with wolf management, primarily through tracking surveys.

During the winter of 2010-2011, biologists estimated a population of about 800 wolves in Wisconsin. The results of this winter's surveys will be available in the spring.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven, DNR mammalian ecologist, at 715-762-1363; Ed Culhane, DNR communications, at 715-781-1683, or Bob Manwell, DNR communications, at 608-264-9248

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2012 Winnebago sturgeon spearing season opens Feb. 11

Harvest caps increased in response to sturgeon population growth

OSHKOSH, Wis. - A record number of spearers are expected for the Feb. 11, 2012 opening day of the Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Season and they will find more trophy-sized fish, higher harvest caps for the most prized fish, adult female sturgeon, and the potential for a longer season, state fish biologists say.

2011 sturgeon season
This 185-pound, 80.2-inch female was registered last year at the Calumet Harbor Station by Josh Genske of Sheboygan.
WDNR Photo

"We've seen a steady increase in the adult lake sturgeon stock in the last decade so we've been able to raise the harvest caps again for 2012, which should translate into more spearing opportunities and possibly a longer season," says Ron Bruch, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor in Oshkosh. "That's good news for spearers and for the local economy, which sees an economic impact of more than $3.5 million for the average 10-day season."

In 2011, DNR estimated there were 16,560 females and 30,260 males in the adult spawning stock. The harvest caps for adult females have increased to 745 on Lake Winnebago and 83 on the Upriver Lakes for 2012, up from 711 and 79 respectively.

A record 12,680 people bought licenses by the Oct. 31, 2011 deadline to spear during the upcoming season, up from the previous record of 12,423 set last year, and up nearly 50 percent since 2007. Bruch credits the growing participation in part to excitement over the significant increase in trophy-sized lake sturgeon in the system.

Trophy-sized fish are those 100 pounds or larger, and last year, spearers harvested 94 of them. That's about 7.5 percent of the 1,426 fish harvested, up from less than 1 percent in most years.

And DNR fisheries crews regularly see fish in excess of 200 pounds during spawning surveys on the Wolf River. The record fish of 212 pounds was harvested from Lake Winnebago in 2010.

Regulation changes developed through a joint effort by DNR and the Winnebago Citizens sturgeon Advisory Committee since 1993 have led to the an increase in sturgeon numbers and trophy-sized fish.

"The sturgeon harvest management system we currently have in place on the Winnebago System is a world model," Bruch says. "Key to our success is not only effective control of harvest, but also the process we use to pro-actively involve the public in our sturgeon management program; the public has great ownership and pride in this program."

Ice conditions beginning to shape up

Ice conditions on Lake Winnebago are still relatively poor but much improved thanks to the recent cold weather. Spearers are optimistic there is now a solid base that additional cold weather can build on to make for good travel in most areas come Feb. 9. That is the first day spearers can "cut in" and set their shacks. The other great moderator of spearing success, water clarity, is fair at this point but expected to improve, Bruch says.

Even if the ice thickens, it is never 100 percent safe and those traveling on it need to exercise caution and know where the cracks and thin ice areas are, he says.

Fishing and spearing clubs around the lake system mark and maintain a network of roads on the lakes, as well as bridges over expansion cracks, for safe travel. Roads are marked every one-tenth of a mile with an upright Christmas tree. Christmas trees lying on their sides mark thin or dangerous ice areas.

Season details

The 2012 Lake Winnebago season runs from Feb. 11, 2012, through Feb. 26, 2012, or until the pre-set harvest cap for Lake Winnebago is reached, or the pre-set harvest cap for the entire Winnebago System is reached, whichever comes first.

The Upriver Lakes season runs from Feb. 11, 2012, through Feb. 26, 2012, on Lakes Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan, or until the pre-set harvest cap for the Upriver Lakes is reached, or the pre-set harvest cap for the entire Winnebago System is reached, whichever comes first. Participation in the Upriver season was determined by a lottery for the required sturgeon tag, with 500 people selected from among those who submitted an application by Aug. 1, 2011.

Spearers can only participate in the season for which they have a spearing license. More information on regulations and a list of registration stations is available on the Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Season 2012 page of the DNR website.

Sign up for free e-mail sturgeon spearing updates

People can sign up for an improved e-mail subscription service or wireless updates to make it easier to learn about Winnebago system sturgeon spearing updates. will include a daily summary report from Ron Bruch, DNR fisheries supervisor, daily (and running) system harvest totals, and miscellaneous news from the day.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron Bruch, DNR Fisheries Supervisor 920-424-3059

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2012 international Paralympics Nordic skiing world cup series being held in Cable

Elite athletes will also have opportunity to fish through the ice

CABLE, Wis. -- Some of the world's top cross-country skiers with physical disabilities will be will be skiing for medals and ice fishing for bragging rights during the 2012 International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Cup Series being held in Cable Jan. 26 - 30.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp will attend opening day events at Telemark Lodge in Cable - home of the famed American Birkebeiner ski race.

Cable is the second of three cup series stops this winter and is being held in the U.S. for the first time in seven years. After Cable, the series moves to Minneapolis for the third and final round.

After competing in a biathlon or cross-country race, competitors from at least 15 countries can wet a line in Lake Namekagon thanks to a DNR fish license waiver allowing the participants to ice fish for an afternoon.

"We are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to these inspiring people," Stepp said. "In a matter of a few hours they will be able to participate in two of Wisconsin's best and most popular winter time activities. I'm looking forward to the competition and to the fishing."

"In addition to the competition, the U.S. Olympic Committee really wants us to provide cultural opportunities in the regions where the athletes are participating. We wanted to give them a winter time experience, and one that is enjoyed by many in the north," said Cable Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director James Bolen.

"Thanks to the DNR, which has been an excellent partner, we were able to do so," he added.

Top athletes expected include world champion Katarzyna Rogowiec of Poland, who lost both forearms in a childhood farming accident. She claimed victories in the sprint, 5K and 15K at last month's World Cup stop in Sjusjoen, Norway.

U.S. national team members include:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: John Gozdzialski, DNR Northern Region director, 715-635-4002 or Kevin Harder DNR Northern Region public affairs manager, 715-635-4242

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Conservation clubs can apply to receive pheasants under Day-old Chick Program

POYNETTE - Conservation clubs across Wisconsin have until March 5 to apply to receive day-old rooster pheasant chicks to raise and release to provide local hunting opportunities.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources State Game Farm has been operating the Cooperative Day-old Chick program since 1936 to improve localized pheasant hunting opportunities across the state.

Cooperating conservation clubs are provided day-old rooster pheasant chicks by the department at no cost. In return, the clubs agree to cover all expenses related to rearing, feeding, maintaining and properly caring for the pheasant chicks. When the birds mature, the clubs release the pheasants on private and state-owned lands near the club that are open to public pheasant hunting.

"This program is an excellent opportunity for clubs to experience the the fun of raising pheasants and making thir home turf a better pheasant hunting ground," states Bob Nack, State Game Farm manager.

The Day-old Chick program includes a "cost-share" option that allows cooperating clubs to keep a high percentage of the pheasants they raise for their own use, while returning a lower percentage of the birds back to the department. The State Game Farm also provides adult roosters for mentored youth and novice hunting programs at no charge. The DNR provides two roosters per student, with a maximum of 50 roosters per event.

A list of application materials and information on the 2012 Day-old Chick Program is available on the State Game Farm page of the DNR website or by calling the State Game Farm office at 608-635-8120. Completed applications should be sent to the local wildlife biologist by March 5, 2012. To find a local biologist, visit the "find an employee by subject" page of the DNR website and click on "subject" and search for wildlife biologist and then select by county.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Nack, State Game Farm Manager, 608-635-8120

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Learn To Hunt Turkey events are easy to plan, fun to host for all

Event reimbursement, electronic applications ease the process for clubs

MADISON -- Now's the time for hunters and conservation groups to start planning Learn to Turkey Hunt events for spring, and a streamlined application process, reimbursement for costs, and options for insurance make it easier than ever to get started.

"Now is the time to step up to the challenge to protect your hunting heritage," says Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sport coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. "Sponsoring a Learn to Hunt event is a great way to help new people experience hunting and we've made it easier to do.

Girls participating in learn to hunt tukey program
Ashley Wery, left, got a 24.8-pound tom on her first wild turkey hunt in 2011 in Door County. Friend Chloe Volkman, right, talked Wery into the hunting trip after Volkman enjoyed a 2010 Learn to Hunt class and got her first tom that year.
WDNR Photo

"We've streamlined the application process and have made it so you can fill out many of the forms online. We can help you pay for the event, and we can help you find insurance."

Learn to Hunts events combine classroom instruction and field work before an actual hunt with a mentor. The idea is to reach people who otherwise likely would never have a hunting experience and teach them what it takes to get started, Warnke says.

Learn to Turkey Hunt events can be scheduled before, during, or after the six spring turkey hunting time periods. But most are held in late March and early April, and interested individuals and clubs will want to get started now to complete the necessary steps. Learn to Hunt events can also be held to hunt for small game, waterfowl and deer.

Information on the processes and application forms sponsors need to organize a Learn to Hunt event are available on the DNR website.

Sponsors will need to submit a completed application form to the local wildlife biologist for approval, and make sure at least one of the event instructors is a certified Hunter Education Instructor.

Sponsors can apply for reimbursement for event costs, with reimbursements based on $25 per student at your event. The form is on the web page cited above.

There also are insurance opportunities, with details provided on the web site. .

The Learn to Hunt program started in 1998 to provide youth and adults opportunities to experience a genuine hunt with an experienced hunter. In the last two years alone, nearly 4,000 novice hunters have participated in a Learn to Hunt event.

"Hunters have shown they are willing to rise to many challenges," Warnke says. "I am confident they will eagerly embrace the challenge of building the next generation of hunters, and we want to help them succeed."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, Hunting and Shooting Sport Coordinator, 608-576-5243

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 24, 2012




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