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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published February 21, 2012

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Deer hunter forums to be held around state and on the Internet

MADISON - The deer hunting seasons might still be months away, but the Department of Natural Resources is already gearing up with a series of deer hunter forums in March. Anyone interested in the opportunity to discuss local deer management issues, hunting seasons, and any other deer topic is encouraged to attend.

Wisconsin has long been known as one of the most publicly-driven deer management programs in the country. And in recent years, thousands of volunteers have gotten involved in deer research projects providing data to estimate the size of the herd and sharing personal observations about hunting success, season structure, and the herd itself.

The March deer hunter forums will put the public in direct contact with the local biologist responsible for managing the local deer herd, and are intended to both share information about deer management and gather information from hunters about deer where they live, hunt or farm.

The format of meetings will vary, but in many cases the local wildlife biologist will provide a brief presentation followed by a question and answer period. Some meetings may also have an open house format, allowing attendees to stop in anytime during the scheduled time.

Everyone interested is encouraged to attend the meetings that cover deer management in areas where they hunt or live, but are also welcome to attend any of the meetings.

If unable to attend a live forum, for the first time this year the public will be able to get unit-specific information and contribute feedback through the DNR website. Check the DNR home page for updates.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Wallenfang, Big Game Ecologist (608) 261-7589, Bob Manwell (608) 264-9248 or area wildlife biologists listed for the meeting locations in the meeting calendar.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: These meetings are not to be confused with those being offered by James Kroll, also known as Dr. Deer, as part of the Deer Trustee's Deer Management Review that is currently underway. Those meetings will take place in April at six locations yet to be announced.]

2012 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Deer Hunter Forum Locations



Deer hunting forums offer opportunity to be active participant in deer management

If you love deer hunting and everything that goes with it as much as I do, November seems like an eternity away. So this time of year we try to find an outlet for our anticipation to make the months go by quicker by going shed hunting, roaming our hunting property, tuning gear, and attending hunting shows to look at new toys and gawk at walls full of mounted trophy bucks taken in 2011.

Unfortunately, many of us skip one of the most important aspects of getting ready for the following year's hunt...spending just an hour or two learning about the big picture of herd management in our local area. Just a little time is needed to connect with the local wildlife biologist for your hunting area and learn the status of the herd, talk about your own observations, and learn how things are shaping up for fall.

About this time every year, the local wildlife biologist responsible for managing deer in your area really starts to dig in and begin making decisions that will impact YOUR fall hunt. Harvest numbers, hunt conditions, hunter densities, season frameworks, and many other factors that influenced your hunt last year are used to make decisions about the coming year. All the information that hunters provided when they registered a deer is compiled, studied, discussed, scrutinized, and studied some more. You can be part of the action.

In March, DNR biologists will hold 35 public deer hunting forums throughout the state to discuss deer herd specifics for each deer management unit (DMUs) of Wisconsin. Local biologists will be there to answer your questions about the unit where you live, hunt, farm, or vacation. On hand are all sorts of interesting unit-specifics like harvest histories, population estimates, sex and age ratios, aging information, fawn to doe ratios, and more. It's interesting information that all plays a role in determining how the local herd is managed. And you, as a hunter, are the key in helping to carry out the herd management strategy that is best for your area.

So come with questions and be an active participant. Doing so is easy and can have a direct impact on the upcoming season.

Can't make the local meeting? Don't like to go to meetings? Live all the way across the state from where you hunt? No problem. You can still learn about your unit and provide your input by going to the DNR website. The feature will be active March 5 through 30, and you will find information about your favorite DMU as well as provide your personal feedback.

Deer season might be months away, but you don't have to just sit and dream about it. Get involved. I promise that the more you know about your unit, the better you'll feel about your own hunting experience.

Thanks for being part of the Wisconsin deer hunting tradition.



Early inland trout season opens March 3 with exceptional fishing prospects on the line

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- Anybody with a fishing rod and an itch to get outside will want to take note: the scant snow and poor ice behind a disappointing winter for sportsmen and women have set the stage for what state fisheries biologists say should be a fantastic early trout season opening March 3 on inland waters.

"Unless a major snowstorm or Arctic blast hits our area, anglers could see one of the best early trout season's on record this spring," says Heath Benike, Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist based in Eau Claire.

"Trout populations are strong across most trout streams right now and fish should be very active especially from early to late afternoon."

Benike's assessment was widely echoed across the state.

Kurt Welke, longtime fisheries biologist for Dane, Green and Rock counties, reports: "There are lots of fine fish and experiences to be had...NOW is the 'good old days' of trout fishing."

Jordan Weeks, fisheries biologist for Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties, agrees:

"Anglers are going to find a lot of fish," Weeks says. "They are going to find hungry fish and easily accessible streams because of no snow. They're going to be able to go where they want to go. I think it's going to be fantastic as long as we don't get a big rain or snow to slow or stop it."

Weeks noted that even though his area was supposed to get snow overnight on Feb. 20, a predicted warm up later in the week would likely melt the snow with little effect on the streams.

Season details

The early catch-and-release trout season opens at 5 a.m. on March 3 and runs until midnight April 29.

Most trout streams are open to early fishing with the exception of most Lake Superior tributaries and most streams in northeast Wisconsin; check the current trout fishing Regulations pamphlet for specific waters.

Anglers are not required to use barbless hooks but must use artificial lures and flies.

Trout population reports for 2012

Trout populations have generally increased statewide, and the number of fish in all sizes examined have increased, since 1950, according to a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point analysis released in 2011 and discussed in "A Trout Treasury," an April 2011 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Heath Benike - 715-839-2877, Kurt Welke - 608-273-5946 or Jordan Weeks - 608-785-9002



Ice conditions pose constant threat: Best to stay off

Dodge County weekend snowmobile fatality on lake shows dangers

BEAVER DAM, Wis. -- The tragedy in Dodge County Feb. 18 when four snowmobiles drove into open water on Beaver Dam Lake again demonstrates the poor ice conditions all over Wisconsin.

Todd Schaller, recreation safety chief for the Department of Natural Resources, says this season has been anything but a normal Wisconsin winter.

"During a typical Wisconsin winter, poor ice conditions is a big topic early in the winter and late in the season. This year, ice conditions and safety have been the topic for the entire winter," he says.

This season's non-traditional winter with its warmer temperatures has not allowed the development of a solid foundation of ice. "We're now at that point in the season when run-off, longer days, and sun angle deteriorates ice at a faster rate," Schaller said.

One person died and three others had to be rescued from the icy waters of Beaver Dam Lake Saturday night.

Conservation Warden Heather Gottschalk, stationed in Beaver Dam, says the ice on Beaver Dam Lake has been cracking and heaving since the first ice.

"That indicates it is unstable and constantly moving," she said. "We advise people to stay off the ice. However, if people feel the need to go on the ice, they must consider if it is worth the risk."

Schaller says if ice thickness is unknown, use common sense; stay on the shore and stay dry. "You can enjoy the winter and stay safe at the same time," he said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Schaller - 608-267-2774



Ice anglers may want to remove ice fishing shelters before deadlines

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The news release has been updated to correct the date for removal of ice shelters north of Highway 64. The correct date for 2012 is Sunday, March 18.

MADISON - With very a mild winter and many southern lakes having poor ice conditions, state recreational safety specialists are cautioning that anglers may want to remove their ice fishing shelters prior to established deadlines.

The first of a number of deadlines for ice anglers to remove ice fishing shelters from inland and boundary waters was this week, when all ice fishing shelters had to be removed from Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters by Monday, Feb. 20. This earlier date, affecting the Mississippi River south of the Minnesota-Iowa border, is set to correspond with Iowa regulations.

The deadlines for the other two boundary waters are March 1 for Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters and March 15 for Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters.

For inland Wisconsin waters, ice fishing shelters must be removed daily and when not occupied after the first Sunday following March 1 for waters south of Highway 64 and after the first Sunday following March 12 for waters north of Highway 64. For 2012, those dates are: Sunday, March 4 for waters south of Highway 64; and Sunday, March 18 for waters north of Highway 64.

But this year, with poor ice conditions on many lakes, safety specialists say anglers may not want to wait until the deadlines. Open water has been appearing on an increasing number of southern lakes, and many shorelines have thin ice, making access for removing shelters treacherous.

Failure to remove a shanty or ice fishing shelter by these deadlines could result in a forfeiture of $263.10. Additional costs may be incurred if the DNR must arrange to have the shanty removed or if the shanty or ice fishing shelter breaks through the ice and must be recovered and disposed of.

After these dates for removing ice fishing shelters from a frozen lake or river, an angler may continue to use a portable shelter but must remove it daily and when it is not occupied or actively being used.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Schaller - 608-267-2774



Manure runoff risk advisory forecast available online

New tool to help farmers prevent manure runoff from fields

MADISON - Farmers can now go online for the latest forecast showing the risk that runoff from manure spread on their fields could pose to lakes, rivers or groundwater, state agricultural and natural resource officials say.

Wisconsin's runoff risk advisory forecast shows what parts of the state are at high risk over the next three to 10 days for runoff based on rainfall, snowmelt, soil conditions, temperatures and weather forecasts. The forecasts are updated three times a day by the National Weather Service.

"With our new runoff risk advisory forecast, farmers don't have to guess how risky it is to spread manure," says Jim VandenBrook, water quality section chief for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The forecast is part of the Wisconsin Manure Management Advisory System that state and federal agricultural and natural resource agencies and the University of Wisconsin have put in place to help Wisconsin farmers know when conditions are right to spread manure on their land. The advisory available on the web at: [] (exit DNR) and also can be easily reached by searching online for "manure advisory system."

"By checking the forecast, farmers will know when conditions are right to spread manure so that it stays on the fields and fertilizes the soil instead of risking pollution of streams and groundwater," VandenBrook says.

Public service announcements promote runoff risk advisory forecast

Public service announcements promoting the runoff risk advisory are being sent to radio stations across the state this week, and will be aired on agricultural programming on several stations starting next week, according to Tom Bauman, Department of Natural Resources agricultural runoff coordinator.

"We think this is a valuable tool to help farmers protect their bottom line and Wisconsin waters," Bauman says. "This ensures that runoff warnings are based on the latest information about conditions on the ground, not what the calendar says they might be."

The risk advisory also contains recommendations if farmers cannot avoid spreading manure on days when the risk of runoff is high, and links to a DNR video showing precautions farmers can take if they must spread, including finding lower-risk fields, and how to respond if a manure spill or runoff does occur.

The runoff risk advisory joins the nutrient application restriction maps featured on the Wisconsin Manure Management Advisory System for several years. The restriction maps help farmers develop nutrient management plans that guide where, when and how much manure can be spread. Following such plans can avoid long-term phosphorus build-up in soils, reduce the chances of nitrogen leaching into groundwater, and cut the risk of winter spreading on fields where it should be avoided, VandenBrook says.

The mapping website is a joint project of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-National Weather Service River Forecasting Center; U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service; University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Soil Science Department; Discovery Farms; UW-Platteville and its Pioneer Farm; and U.S. Geological Survey.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim VandenBrook, DATCP, 608-224-4501, or Tom Bauman, DNR, 608-266-9993



Angler education workshops set for March

Get the training and materials to start a kids' fishing program

MADISON -- Fishing club members, youth leaders, classroom teachers, and leaders of afterschool and summer recreation programs are encouraged to attend free angler education workshops in March in Madison, Menomonie, Milwaukee and Stevens Point.

"Our basic angler education training workshops will help you start your own fishing program for kids," says Theresa Stabo, aquatic education coordinator for the Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources. "It's a great opportunity to share your passion for fishing by introducing kids to the sport, and at the same time, helping them learn about Wisconsin's aquatic resources and gain important life skills."

Basic Angler Education instructor training certification workshops focus on teaching spin casting and incorporating related topics in a K-12 curriculum or youth development program. Some workshops feature fly fishing or complementary aquatic resources education programs.

Unless otherwise noted, all workshops are free of charge and include lunch or dinner, Stabo says. However, there is a $15 workshop commitment fee that is returned upon completion of the course. Pre-registration is required; download the form and return to the designated contact.

Basic angler education instructor workshop schedule

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Theresa Stabo (608) 266-2272; Kim Anderson (608) 21-6431



Seminar looks at how nest boxes enhance habitat for cavity dwelling birds

Participants have opportunity to build nest boxes

HORICON, Wis. -- With spring fast approaching so is the return of many native birds that will be looking for a cavity or nest box in which to lay their eggs and raise young.

People can learn how to assist native cavity nesters by providing and monitoring suitable nest boxes for them during a nest box seminar that will be held at the Horicon Marsh International Education Center on Saturday, March 3. The seminar will help people learn how they can enhance bird habitat and provide nest boxes and will also address songbirds and raptors that use nest boxes. All events are free and open to the public.

Members of the Horicon Marsh Bird Club and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have organized the seminar that will be held at the education center at Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area, which is located north of Horicon on Highway 28. There will be displays by the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW), the Horicon Marsh Bird Club, Marsh Haven Nature Center, the Wood Duck Society, Bird City Wisconsin, Friends of Horicon Marsh International Education Center, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area and the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory.

Members of these organizations will be available during the event to answer questions and discuss their role in providing "housing" for native cavity nesters. An indoor demonstration nest box trail will be set up to walk and learn from.

There will also be a demonstration on how to raise mealworms, and information on sparrow control techniques. People of all ages can build their own birdhouses (great activity for children) assisted by carpenters of the Beaver Dam Senior Center's woodshop. Various nest boxes and kits can be purchased.

Admission to the event is free. Lunch will be available for purchase from the Friends of Horicon Marsh International Education Center. No registration is required.

The program schedule is available on the Horicon Marsh Bird Club website [] (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Herzmann - 920-387-7893


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 21, 2012

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