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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published January 31, 2012

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More than 9.000 bear permits available for the 2012 season

MADISON - A little more than 9,000 bear harvest permits will be available for the 2012 black bear season, about the same number of permits as last year.

The Natural Resources Board approved offering 9,015 harvest permits at their Jan. 25 meeting; a number nearly identical to the 2011 permit offering of 9,005, according to Kevin Wallenfang, Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist.

A bear population study completed in 2008 estimated a Wisconsin bear population of at least 22,000. State biologists set the recommended 2012 harvest goal at 4,600 bears.

"I think the state's bear hunters will be pretty happy with the prospects for 2012 and the generous number of permits to be issued," says Wallenfang. "Hunter application numbers increased yet again this year as interest in bear hunting continues to grow."

The annual drawing for black bear harvest permits is expected to take place soon and successful permit applicants should receive notification by mail in late February.

Approximately 27,000 hunters have applied for the 9,015 permits available for the 2012 season. An additional 77,598 applied for a preference point only.

"We would like to accommodate as many hunters as we can while keeping this a quality, memorable hunting experience," said Wallenfang, "But this is something we must approach responsibly and not over-hunt until we have another year of research under our belts. We need to verify earlier findings and evaluate bear population goals. Until then, we will take a cautious approach issuing permits at a level we feel will maintain the population at current levels."

A repeat of the 2008 mark-recapture population study began in spring 2011. Bears were "marked" when baits with tetracycline were placed in prime bear range. Tetracycline is a harmless antibiotic that deposits a marker in bones when consumed. To fulfill the "recapture" part of the study, successful bear hunters must submit one pre-molar tooth and a two-inch piece of rib from the bear they harvest. The samples are analyzed for the presence of tetracycline. The success of the population study relies on the bear tooth and rib samples submitted by hunters.

Wisconsin's preliminary 2011 black bear harvest total stands at 4,246. This number is expected to change only slightly in coming weeks as harvest data are fully entered and verified. Black bear harvests averaged roughly 3,000 from 1998 through 2008 when quotas were based on a lower estimated bear population. In 2009, harvest increased to more than 4,000 bears when permit levels increased 57 percent. Permit levels in 2010 increased an additional 22 percent, while permits levels in 2011 remained about the same as in 2010.

Applicants currently need to have collected between four and nine preference points in order to successfully draw a bear harvest permit. Hunters can check their preference point status in one of three ways: by visiting the Online Licensing Center, by calling Customer Service & Licensing toll-free at 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463), or by contacting a local DNR Service Center.

The permit breakdown by zone for 2012 is as follows: Zone A - 3,425 permits; Zone B - 1,335 permits: Zone C - 2,970 permits; and Zone D - 1,285 permits. The 2012 bear hunting season runs Sept. 5 through Oct. 9.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang - (608) 261-7589



Annual report highlights DNR accomplishments in 2011

MADISON- Being named the state's first "enterprise agency," managing the cleanup of a major timber blowdown in northwestern Wisconsin and launching social media are among the highlights listed in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2011 Annual Report.

The annual report highlighting a number of significant accomplishments and public services achieved over the past year was presented to the state Natural Resources Board during its January meeting. Highlights of the report include:

The Department of Natural Resources Annual Report 2011 power point is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: William Cosh, DNR spokesperson, 608-267-2773,



Study reveals benefits of native plants on water quality, wildlife and property values

Lakeshore restoration projects focus on natural "makeover"

VILAS COUNTY - A sign along Moon Lake's scenic shoreline in Vilas County asks campers to take time to appreciate the flourishing native plants, revived fish populations and nesting birds - all compliments of a natural "extreme makeover" completed by public and private partners dedicated to improving water quality and wildlife habitat.

Found Lake
Richard Kloepfer and family members assisted in restoring their lakeshore.
WDNR Photo

The Wisconsin Lakeshore Restoration Project is a collaborative research study testing how shoreline restorations at developed sites improve water quality and revive native plants and wildlife.

"We are measuring whether these restorations will result in less pollution run-off to lakes and improve fish and wildlife habitat," says Michael Meyer, project lead and research scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Integrated Science Services.

The multi-site project began in 2007 with more than $500,000 in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, state protection grants and local lake organizations.

"Our primary objective is to measure how ell our efforts improve fish and wildlife habitat and to help fish and wildlife populations," says Meyer. "If restoration goals are met, this will result in cleaner water, a healthier lake and likely improved property values."

Six projects have already been completed, including the 2009 project at Moon Lake. The study focused on the Moon Beach Camp property, used by about 2,000 visitors annually. Researchers found willing partners with 27 lakefront property owners and groups involved including the United Church Camps Incorporated, which owns the Moon Beach Camp property in St. Germain Township.

Meyer and other DNR staff also joined forces with Vilas County Land and Water Conservation Department and the Alma Moon Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District to work on 1,300 feet of shoreline, ushering in native plants and trees for erosion control that in time should support habitat for more nesting birds and fish.

Fifty years of campsite operations had caused sediment build up in the lake and erosion along the Moon Beach Camp shoreline, leaving little native vegetation and putting at risk mature white and red pine trees. To restore the area, rain gardens and biodegradable erosion control products were developed to halt run-off. Native trees, shrubs and ground cover were planted. Local landscapers with years of experience conducting riparian restoration projects helped plant and provide materials.

"I grew up in Vilas County and have watched the lakes change as the county population has grown. We focused our efforts where the habitat impacts are significant," Meyer says.

Project researchers targeted five lakes in Vilas County - Found, Moon, Lost, Crystal and Little St. Germain. The project also worked on the DNR Crystal Lake campground shoreline in Vilas County as well as city of Ashland waterfronts at Chequamegon Bay and Memorial and Bayview parks.

For every project lakefront where scientists are removing invasive species and restoring the habitat, they are comparing their work to a nearby, developed lakefront that is not being restored. "We predict the wildlife habitat value and wildlife populations will improve at the restored sites over the 10 years the sites are monitored," says Meyer.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Meyer, DNR research scientist, Ashland, 715-365-8858,



Report looks at impacts of silica sand mining in Wisconsin

MADISON - The rapid expansion of sand mining in Wisconsin has generated much interest from members of the public, reporters, local government officials, state legislators and others.

In response, the Department of Natural Resources has prepared a detailed report that summarizes the best current information on silica sand mining; its possible environmental impacts; and local, state and federal regulations that address sand mining and processing.

A key reason for the expansion of sand mining in Wisconsin is the quality of our sand for hydraulic fracturing gas and oil wells elsewhere. It is the best for "hydrofracking."

There are no oil or gas wells located in Wisconsin, nor are there any plans for such wells, so the DNR report does not address issues surrounding hydrofracking.

The report will be updated periodically as any significant new information becomes available.

The report is available on the Nonmetallic Mining in Wisconsin page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Woletz, DNR natural resources manager, 715-839-3765; Ed Culhane, DNR communications, 715-781-1683.



Sponseller named DNR air management bureau director

MADISON - Bart Sponseller has been appointed as the new director of the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Air Management. Sponseller, 39, of Madison, began his duties on January 30.

The Air Management Program is responsible for implementing federal and state air pollution laws and developing plans for achieving nationally-set standards. The bureau issues air emissions permits, assures compliance, develops policy and monitors the state's air quality.

"We are absolutely thrilled to have Bart heading the Air Management Bureau," said Pat Stevens, division administrator of the DNR Air and Waste Division. "Bart brings great leadership and strategic vision for the air program and the air and waste division. I am looking forward to working with him as part of our division team."

Sponseller has worked in the department since 2004, beginning as a contract employee for the Lake Michigan Air Directors' Consortium, working on policy and science issues for the DNR. Since 2008, he has been the leader of the state's air monitoring program.

He is co-investigator on a science team for NASA that is researching the integration of data products from satellites for use by policy makers and analysts. The NASA grant is administered by Dr. Tracey Holloway of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.

In 1999, Sponseller earned a master's degree in air resources management from the UW-Madison Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. He also has a bachelor's of environmental sciences, with honors, from the University of Delaware, where he also majored in German.

Last year, Sponseller was the co-organizer of an American Council on Germany (ACG) Conference at the UW-Madison that focused on the reinvention of the industrial heartland and its auto industry and the development of sustainable supply chains. The ACG also selected him as one of 15 experts to participate in a December, 2011 study event in Germany on public policies and research relating to energy, environment and economic development.

"I believe that an open and collaborative approach, both internally and with stakeholders, is the best approach to achieving superior environmental results, while continuing to grow Wisconsin's economy," Sponseller said.

In addition to his DNR experience, Sponseller was the air toxics program coordinator for the state of Vermont, an environmental consultant in Germany, a factory line worker in a German auto plant and vegetable farm worker in the United States.

Bart bikes, hunts and spends time with his wife and two children.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Pat Stevens - 608-264-9210 or Bart Sponseller - 608-266-1058



Natural Resources Board elects officers

MADISON - The seven-member State Natural Resources Board elected its officers at its Jan. 25 meeting in Madison.

Dr. David Clausen, DVM, was reelected as chair. Clausen is a veterinarian from Amery. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior for pre-veterinary medicine. Clausen received B.S. and DVM degrees from the University of Minnesota. In 1973, he founded Apple River Animal Hospital in Amery. His professional career includes 25 years as a large animal veterinarian with an emphasis on herd health and reproductive medicine. Clausen was appointed to the board on Feb. 19, 2006, and reappointed May 1, 2007. His term expires May 1, 2013.

Preston D. Cole was reelected vice-chair. Cole holds a senior level appointed position as Director of Operations for the city of Milwaukee Department of Public Works and acts as the deputy commissioner of public works. His span of control covers approximately 2,400 employees, $300 million operation and maintenance and enterprise budgets along with a $108 million capital budget. Prior to his promotion to director of operations, Cole has served as the environmental services superintendent and city forester. He has been employed by the city of Milwaukee Department of Public Works since 1991. Cole was appointed to the board on August 2007. His term expires May 1, 2013.

Christine Thomas was reelected secretary. Thomas is dean and professor of resource management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources. In addition to her role as a university educator, Thomas developed "Becoming an Outdoors-Woman," a program that teaches women outdoor skills. Thomas has a B.S. in biology from Central Michigan University, an M.S. in Water Resources from the UW-Stevens Point and a Ph.D. in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thomas was appointed to the board in March 2004 and reappointed July 10, 2009. Her term expires May 1, 2015.

The Natural Resources Board sets policy for the Department of Natural Resources and exercises authority and responsibility in accordance with governing statutory provisions. Chapter 15 of the Wisconsin Statutes delineates the formal duties of the seven-member board. Board members are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the state senate. Three members each must be selected from the northern and southern portions of the state and one member serves at large.

The board meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month except for August and December. The board does not meet in July and November. Board meetings are held at the State Natural Resources Building in Madison from October through May and at locations throughout the state from June through September. Board meeting dates and locations are listed in the Natural Resources Board calendar. Board meetings outside of Madison in 2012 are June 26-27 in Siren; August 7-8 in Germantown; and September 25-26 in Eau Claire.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Laurie Ross, Board Liaison, (608)267-7420



Get a taste of warmer weather in the February Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Get ready for spring with look at kayaking, bird watching in Wisconsin

MADISON - The February issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine teases readers about what's on tap when the snow and ice melt. Get out on the water and get ready for bird migrations.

February Issue

WDNR Photo

The cover story, Kayak Wisconsin, leaves winter in its wake and gets readers ready for paddling season with safety advice and suggestions for what to look for if you're in the market for a new ride.

African savannas and Wisconsin state parks recaps one writer's encounters with children as they make some curious comparisons.

"Our" Birds is a light-hearted story of the author's adventures to find Wisconsin birds wintering in Costa Rica. A companion story, Wisconsin snow birds, follows a tour group on their bird watching adventure, a trip that benefitted habitat protection on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula.

Readers are reminded with Every drop counts to check for leaks during Fix a Leak Week March 12-18.

A state for sturgeon celebrates success in restoring an ancient species to its ancestral waters in Wisconsin. Several factors mesh to make the 21st century one of the most promising for a species whose continued existence depends on humans successfully managing their populations within razor thin margins.

The face of Wisconsin hunters continues the discussion of courting a land ethic among hunters. Many hunters learn to appreciate the land from family members and other mentors. A teen hunter's story follows a young hunter who bags a buck with his grandpa. Creature Comforts suggests reasons cats sometimes skip the litter box. Traveler delivers a smorgasbord of short junkets to brighten the midwinter doldrums.

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

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Natasha Kassulke, editorial, at (608) 261-8446 or Karen Ecklund, circulation editor, at (608) 267-7410.



EDITOR'S ADVISORY: Winnebago system lake sturgeon and spearing season feature

MADISON - From Feb. 5-14 the Department of Natural Resources will highlight the Winnebago System Lake Sturgeon seasons with features covering different aspects of this unique season, the fish themselves, and the DNR management program and citizens behind the world's largest lake sturgeon population. Then, starting Feb. 11, daily harvest totals from the 2012 season will be available. Find these daily features on the News Features page of the DNR website. The schedule includes:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Gaumnitz - 608-264-9248


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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