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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published May 8, 2012

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"Opening Day" for birdwatchers is May 12

Hundreds of birds forecast to give a good show

MADISON - "Opening day" for Wisconsin's birdwatchers is May 12, state bird ecologists say.

"For birdwatchers, this is the day we've been waiting for all year," says Andy Paulios, a Department of Natural Resources biologist who coordinates the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (exit DNR). "It's our opening day."

Paulios says that people bird watch any day in Wisconsin and see birds and have fun, "but International Migratory Bird Day is the best time to see the biggest number and variety of these flashy and colorful birds either returning to nest in Wisconsin or stopping to refuel as they make their way to points north."

Many bird conservation groups, state parks and communities are sponsoring events for their fine-feathered friends, Paulios says. A list of community festivals is found at Wisconsin Bird City; listings for the 15th Annual Horicon Marsh Bird Festival May 11-14 are found at Horicon Marsh Bird Club, and a list of park events are found below.

More than 350 bird species documented in Wisconsin in May

Records dating back to the 1900s show that more than 350 different species of birds have been reported sighted in Wisconsin in May, a reflection of the state's importance as a nesting or refueling station for migratory birds that spend part of their life cycle elsewhere, Paulios says.

International Migratory Bird Day highlights these travelers, and this year, more than 50 communities and scores of birding groups, nature centers, state parks and others will host festivals or birdwatching events to help celebrate the return of migratory birds.

Paulios says the day is a focal point for birders in Wisconsin -- and that's a lot of people. More than 40 percent of the adult population is involved with bird watching, according to the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, which surveyed Wisconsinites on 74 different outdoors activities between 2004 and 2009.

That's the same number as in 2001, when another national survey ranked Wisconsin third in the percentage of residents who participate in bird watching.

Paulios says that International Migratory Bird Day also is a great time to learn more about these birds and all that Wisconsin citizens are doing to help them.

State park events for the May 12 International Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Wisconsin State Park admission sticker is required for entry to state parks, but events are free unless otherwise noted.

Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Grantsburg, Spring Birding Tour. Join expert birders Jim Hoefler, John Menge and Dick Sandve as they explore the wetlands and prairies for spring migrants and returning resident birds. All tours depart from the Education Center and carpool to the various sites in the wildlife areas. $5/person. Registration required by calling the visitor center at 715-463-2739. The first 10 people may reserve space in the van. Dress for hiking and outdoor weather. 8-10 a.m.

Havenwoods State Forest, Milwaukee, Drop in on Birds. All birds have feathers, beaks, wings, and feet. But they come in an amazing variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Through activities and crafts, you can discover the lives of birds. Then borrow some binoculars to search for birds at Havenwoods. Families, friends, and youth groups are invited to "drop in" anytime from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Interstate Park, St. Croix Falls, Morning Bird Walk. Join Robin Maercklein of the National Park Service for a 2-hour Morning Bird Walk on the Silverbrook Trail from 7-9 a.m. Meet at the Pines Group Camp. Bring binoculars and a bird field guide if you have them.

Kohler-Andrae State Park, Sheboygan, Birds of Wisconsin. Well-known wildlife photographer Myron LaPean shares a narrated slide presentation of Birds of Wisconsin, including those that reside year-round, those that migrate through our area, and those that just spend their summers here. No pets allowed. Sanderling Nature Center. 1:30 p.m.

Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Kansasville, Bird Migration Hike. Experience the miracle of migration. Bring your binoculars and we'll look and listen for newly-arrived birds, especially warblers. Meet at the vista picnic area. 7 - 9 a.m.

Wisconsin Birding Fast Facts

Sources: 2011-2016 Wisconsin Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan;

State of Wisconsin Birds, 2011; Birding in the U.S.: A Demographic and Economic analysis - [PDF; exit DNR]

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Andy Paulios - 608-264-6137 or Lisa Gaumnitz - DNR Office of Communications - 608-264-8942



Baiting and feeding banned in Polk, Burnett, Washburn and Barron counties as of May 10

MADISON - A ban on baiting and feeding white-tailed deer in Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn counties will go into effect on May 10, 2012.

The Department of Natural Resources is taking the action, in accordance with existing state law, due to the discovery on private land in Washburn County of a wild white-tailed deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease. Both state and federal veterinary laboratories confirmed the finding. Later DNA testing confirmed that the deer is from the area.

Barron, Burnett and Polk counties are within a 10-mile radius of the location of the Washburn County property on which this CWD-positive deer was found. State law requires that counties or portions of counties within a 10-mile radius of a game farm or free-ranging CWD-positive are included in the baiting and feeding prohibition. With the addition of these four counties, baiting and feeding of deer is banned in 32 Wisconsin counties.

"While we lament this news, we welcome the positive response we've heard from area deer hunters," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "We held an informational meeting with local citizens and nearly 200 showed up and stayed for hours asking good questions of our wildlife, law enforcement and wildlife health staff. In the end, my executive assistant Scott Gunderson asked the crowd how they felt about an immediate baiting and feeding ban and it was overwhelmingly supported."

No changes are planned for the 2012 deer hunting season rules in the affected counties other than the ban on baiting and feeding, said Tom Hauge, director of the DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management. Hunters will be asked to provide tissue samples from deer killed within a 10-mile radius of the CWD positive doe for further surveillance testing. Samples will also be collected from road kills and possibly taxidermists and meat processors. Details of the sampling and testing program will be shared widely in subsequent news releases and on the DNR website keyword CWD, as the details are finalized.

"Baiting and feeding of deer unnecessarily increases the risk of spreading CWD and other diseases," Hauge said. "Animal health is important to preserving our great hunting tradition and is a foundation of tourism and vital to local businesses."

Baiting and feeding increase risks of spreading communicable diseases, like CWD, by concentrating deer in one spot. Deer using one spot are more at risk for spreading a disease.

Individuals can still feed birds and small mammals provided the feeding devices are at a sufficient height or design to prevent access by deer and the feeding device is within 50 yards of a human dwelling. This ban does not affect the use of bait for hunting bear or training bear dogs.

Learn more about CWD at (exit DNR) or go to the DNR website and search "CWD."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Zeckmeister, DNR northern region wildlife supervisor - 715-635-4090; Dave Zebro, DNR northern region law enforcement leader- 715-635-4093; or Bob Manwell, DNR Office of Communications - 608-264-9248



Helping musky find their way back to Green Bay

GREEN BAY -When state fisheries staff hit the water last week in search of Great Lakes spotted muskellunge, they weren't sure how many they would find in their nets along the bank of the Fox River just south of Green Bay. It didn't take long for them to realize they hit the jackpot.

Musky netting
DNR fisheries staff collect musky which made their way into the nets.
WDNR Photo

It took several hours on a sunny but windy day to handle 44 musky, some as large as 51.5 inches long and weighing as much as 37.5 pounds.

Musky eggs
DNR staff harvesting eggs from a female musky.
WDNR Photo

Department of Natural Resources staff captured all the musky in four fyke nets set out the day before. Biologists worked quickly to gather data, sometimes taking a powerful tail slap in the process.

"These fish are fighters," noted Steve Hogler, senior DNR fisheries biologist.

Each fish is weighed, measured and tagged. Biologists took a genetic sample and blood sample to check for viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) disease, and eggs and milt are harvested from as many fish as they could.

"A lot of what we are able to do in a day comes down to timing," Hogler said. "Are the fish spawning? How many of them are in the nets and how many females are at a point where we can safely harvest their eggs?"

On this day, four females provided approximately three quarts of eggs. Those eggs were then fertilized with milt from more than two dozen males to maintain diversity in the genetic pool.

"Seeing the musky, and the size of some of them, is satisfying. Two decades ago, you couldn't find these fish here but with the help of musky clubs, we're bringing them back," Hogler said.

The fertilized eggs are now at the Besadny Fish Facility in Kewaunee where they will be raised to be approximately a foot long. DNR hopes to stock 3,000 fingerlings this fall at a several sites around Green Bay. Last year, 5,242 fish were raised and released.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Hogler - 920-662-5480 or Trish Ossmann, DNR northeast region public affairs manager - 920-662-5122



Public meeting set on draft plan for managing lower Wolf River bottomlands properties

MADISON - Protection of aquatic resources and habitats -- including walleye and sturgeon spawning areas -- and high-quality and rare natural communities are among the objectives of a draft plan for the management and use of Department of Natural Resources properties scattered along the Wolf River between the Shawano Dam and Lake Poygan.

The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the Lower Wolf River Bottomlands Natural Resources Area Draft Master Plan and Environmental Assessment at two upcoming public meetings.

The draft plan describes proposed future land management strategies and recreational opportunities for the properties, which include wildlife areas, fisheries area and State Natural Areas. The draft master plan does not propose any modifications to the property boundaries.

The lower Wolf River bottomlands project started as a master planning effort for individual properties in 2002. Public input at the time expressed strong support for expanding the scope of planning beyond individual property boundaries in order to connect and protect the area's significant ecological resources and recreational opportunities. That led to a feasibility study resulting in the current project boundary.

The following properties are covered by the planning process: Navarino, Deer Creek, Maine, Mack, Mukwa, Outagamie, Rat River, Wolf River, and Wolf River Bottoms (Herb Behnke and LaSage units) wildlife areas; Wolf River Bottoms, Hortonville Bog, and Shaky Lake state natural areas; Wolf River Fishery Area; and other scattered wildlife and fisheries lands.

Highlights of proposed management include:

Due to the large size of the plan area, one public meeting will be held in the northern portion and one in the southern portion. The meetings will both run from 6-8 p.m. and include the following agenda: 6-6:30 p.m. -- open house with informational displays will be available and staff will be present for one-on-one questions and discussion; 6:30-6:45 p.m. -- formal presentation providing an overview of the draft plan; 6:45-7:15 p.m. - formal question-and-answer period; 7:15-8 p.m. - an additional open house and one-on-one questions and discussion. The meetings will be held:

The proposed action is not anticipated to result in significant adverse environmental effects. The department has made a preliminary determination that an environmental impact statement will not be required.

The Draft Master Plan/Environmental Assessment, along with maps and other background information, will be available for viewing at the public meetings. They can also be found by searching the DNR website for keywords "Lower Wolf master plan."

Copies of the Draft Master Plan/Environmental Assessment will also be available at the Navarino Nature Center, the Mosquito Hill Nature Center, the DNR Oshkosh Service Center, and at the public libraries in New London, Clintonville, and Shawano.

Comments or questions about these documents can be offered at the public meetings, online at the above Web site, or submitted to Ellen Barth by mail at 625 E. County Road Y, Suite 700, Oshkosh, WI 54901, by phone at 920-424-4003, or by email at

The DNR will receive comments through Friday, June 22, 2012.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ellen Barth, Area Wildlife Supervisor, Oshkosh, 920-424-4003 or Yoyi Steele, DNR master planning - 608-266-8169 or Paul Holtan, DNR Office of Communications - 608-267-7517



Cooperative effort leads to major rifle range improvements

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated with the rifle range reopening date. The Wautoma rifle range will reopen at 8 a.m., June 23, 2012.

WAUTOMA, Wis. -- What began as an idea is turning into reality at a rifle range near Wautoma in Waushara County. The original range, built on state property in the 1960s, was becoming increasingly unsafe due to its layout.

"The berms between the shooting lanes were very, very low," said Paul Samerdyke, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources. "People walking up to the range had to come through a wooded area, which led them right up against the range itself."

Wautoma rifle range
This aerial photo shows berms being constructed at the new Wautoma rifle range.
WDNR Photo

When discussions began about renovating the range, Operating Engineers Local 139 based in Coloma stepped forward, making a significant donation of time and resources toward the project. About 25 students and their trainers began by designing a layout for the new range and within a day, dug a sample on their own property for DNR staff to see.

Then the heavy machinery arrived on site, 16 pieces to be exact, ready to move sand and top soil from the property into four separate range lengths: 50 feet for handguns and 50, 100 and 200 yards for shotguns and rifle shooting.

"The new design makes it significantly safer for everyone enjoying the range," Samerdyke said.

"There are 25 foot high backstop berms for the shooting. There are 14 foot high berms between each shooting range so now there will be no stray bullets," explained Dan Sperberg of Operating Engineers Local 139, "The old road went through wetlands. We reclaimed that land by taking the road out and restoring it to its natural state."

The next best thing to the cooperative effort is the funding. OE 139 spent approximately $2,400 a day in fuel and did the work free of charge. Gravel to pave the new road and walkways came from wildlife and sharecrop funds that are allocated for infrastructure use. DNR is currently seeking donations to cover the costs of grass seed.

In addition, the Wautoma High School shop class is building a handicapped bench for the facility. DNR is looking at restoring some of the benches, which were previously there, while prison officials in Redgranite contacted the agency about building picnic tables and benches as well.

The Wautoma rifle range will reopen at 8 a.m., June 23, 2012. The range is located on County Highway C west out of Wautoma about two miles. Turn north onto Bicentennial Road. The range is after the second 90 degree turn. GPS coordinates are 44.085264, -89.339980.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Samerdyke - 920-787-7428 or Trish Ossmann, DNR Northeast Region public affairs manager - 920-662-5122



La Crosse receives grant to cleanup contaminated Black River waterfront property

MADISON - The city of La Crosse will be able to bring back one of its riverfront gems thanks to a $250,000 brownfields grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR awarded a Ready for Reuse grant to La Crosse to cleanup the old Patros scrap yard and steel supply company, located just north of the confluence of the Mississippi, Black and La Crosse rivers.

"We are excited to use these funds to help move the site forward toward cleanup and eventual reuse," said Ed Pryztarski, president of the City of La Crosse Redevelopment Authority.

Pryztarski said the work at Patros is part of a broader effort to cleanup and redevelop a 65-acre area near the confluence of the three rivers, including the adjacent former Exxon-Mobil/Bob Johnson bulk oil terminal.

"By cleaning up the Patros property in an environmentally friendly way, we hope to open up that entire Black River waterfront for public use," said Pryztarski.

Ready for Reuse grants are federal funds given to communities by the DNR to clean up contaminated properties known as brownfields. The funds will be used by the city to remove soil at the former salvage yard contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

"Ready for Reuse funds continue to serve as seed money for community's looking to spur environmental cleanup and economic growth," said Darsi Foss, brownfields section chief for the DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment Program.

Foss added that the DNR has additional Ready for Reuse funds available, which can be awarded as either grants or loans. The grant awarded to the city required La Crosse to provide a 22 percent match. However, Pryztarski noted total cleanup costs are estimated at $500,000.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Darsi Foss, DNR, 608-267-6713 or Andrew Savagian, DNR Remediation and Redevelopment outreach specialists - 608-261-6422



Volunteers needed to assist with recovery efforts for karner blue butterfly

MADISON - People interested in helping protect the "Karner blue butterfly - a federally listed endangered species found in Wisconsin - can attend one of two upcoming training sessions.

The Karner blue is also found in six other states, including New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota, all of which are helping to recover the species, but Wisconsin supports the greatest number of butterflies.

Conservation biologists with the Department of Natural Resources are looking for assistance with Karner blue butterfly population surveys and vegetation surveys of habitat for the 2012 field season from June through August. Volunteers will be trained to conduct butterfly surveys at recovery sites in central and western Wisconsin to assess the health of populations, and monitor habitat to determine suitability for the butterfly.

"Information obtained from these surveys will help determine how to improve the habitat that is critical for the recovery of this butterfly species," said Joan Voigt a conservation biologist with the Department of Natural Resources Karner blue butterfly recovery team.

The Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is a small butterfly, having a wingspan of approximately 1 inch, about the size of a postage stamp. Rare oak savanna and jack pine barrens where wild lupine grows provide habitat for the Karner blue. Wild lupine is essential for the Karner blue's survival, as it is the only host plant the caterpillar will eat. Adults need other nectar plants that bloom later in the summer for food.

Populations have been identified in the White River, Greenwood, and Meadow Valley wildlife areas, Mecan River Fishery Area and Black River State Forest.

Volunteer Karner blue butrerfly training [PDF]) includes plant identification in the morning and field work in the afternoon. Volunteers should bring along a bag lunch, beverage and water bottle. Training will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following dates:

People interested should register by May 17 by emailing or leaving a message at 920-622-3527, ext. 209.

For more information on efforts to protect the species, search for "Karner blue" on the Department of Natural Resources website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Joan Voigt - 920-622-3527, ext. 209 or Bob Manwell, DNR Office of Communications - 608-264-9248



2012 Laboratories of the Year recognized

MADISON - Two municipal wastewater treatment facilities in Wisconsin were recognized recently for the outstanding work their laboratories have performed to help ensure the facilities are protecting water quality in the state.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp and Environmental Science Services Section Chief Camille Turcotte presented the 2012 Laboratory of the Year Awards to the City of Whitewater Wastewater Treatment Plant and Village of Saukville Wastewater Treatment Facility at the Natural Resources Board meeting in Madison on March 28, 2012. This is the 17th year that the DNR Environmental Science Services Section has recognized outstanding registered laboratories.

"The award recognizes laboratories that demonstrate a commitment to continually evaluating and improving their procedures to produce the best data possible," Turcotte said. "Having high quality data to make resource management decisions is critical to the DNR's mission of protecting and enhancing the environment."

Whitewater lab award
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp with the large registered laboratory award winners from the City of Whitewater Wastewater Treatment Plant : Cathy Stepp, Melody Wunderlin, Tim Reel, left to right
WDNR Photo

The Laboratory of the Year award is presented each year to a small and a large registered facility. The recognized laboratories were chosen for this prestigious award from 235 registered laboratories in Wisconsin.

The City of Whitewater Wastewater Treatment Plant received the 2012 Large Registered Facility Award. They were nominated for their excellent analyst training program, extra quality control samples, and detailed investigations to any quality control problems that may be encountered.

The DNR auditor who nominated the laboratory wrote: "The laboratory documentation, corrective action process, and general organization are the best I've seen in the 30 laboratories I audited during 2011. Frankly, their quality system rivals that of many commercial laboratories that have a full time QA Officer. This laboratory is one of the cleanest, best organized laboratories I've seen in my 39 years in the environmental laboratory field."

Saukville lab award
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp with the small registered laboratory award winners from the Village of Saukville Wastewater Treatment Facility : Cathy Stepp, Barbara Dickmann, Gerald Dickmann, Ray Hartmann, left to right
WDNR Photo

Stepp presented the award to Tim Reel, Wastewater Superintendent and Melody Wunderlin, Laboratory Technician/Primary Operator.

The Village of Saukville Wastewater Treatment Facility received the 2012 Small Registered Facility Award. They were nominated for their systematic approach to corrective action, extra quality control samples, and detailed recordkeeping.

The DNR auditor who nominated the laboratory wrote: "The laboratory staff takes great pride in their facility and this clearly carries over in the quality of the data they generate."

Secretary Stepp presented the award to Barbara Dickmann, Village President, Gerald Dickmann, Utility Superintendent, and Ray Hartmann, Lead Operator.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Trainor, DNR Audit Chemist, 920-662-5475 or Joanne Haas, DNR Office of Communications - 608-267-0798



Now a good time to test private well water, particularly in flooded areas

MADISON - Flooding in some parts of northeastern Wisconsin is adding urgency to water officials' annual reminder that now is a good time for private well owners to test their water to make sure it's safe to drink.

"We encourage private well owners to test their well for bacteria at least once a year, regardless of where you live, and it's particularly important for well owners in flooded areas to have their wells tested," says Steve Ales, Department of Natural Resources section chief for private water. "If your well is surrounded or overtopped by floodwaters, it shouldn't be used until after you have it tested and the water is found to be safe to drink."

The DNR recommends that well owners sample their wells once a year for bacteria and any time they notice a change in taste, odor or color. When flooding occurs, well owners should suspect that their drinking water is contaminated by floodwaters if the well casing becomes inundated; if there's a change in taste, color or sediment; or if the well does not have a deep casing and you are near areas that have been flooded. Wells located in pits and basements are especially susceptible to contamination.

More information on wells in flooded area and testing can be found by searching for coping with flooding on the DNR website.

Wisconsin has about 1 million private wells, and about 14,000 new wells are drilled every year. Private well owners are responsible for testing their wells to make sure the water is safe to drink.

Most private wells provide safe drinking water, but there tends to be an increase in well contamination problems after spring thaw when melting snow soaks into the ground; those problems are exacerbated when there's flooding, Ales says.

Some wells may become contaminated with bacteria that are not filtered out as the water soaks into the ground. Surviving bacteria can finds their way into the groundwater by moving through shallow fractured bedrock, quarries, sinkholes, inadequately grouted wells or cracks in the well casing. Insects or small rodents can also carry bacteria into wells with inadequate caps or seals.

The DNR recommends that people test their private wells at least once a year for bacterial contamination and any time they notice a change in how their water looks, tastes or smells,

Well owners may want to test for other contaminants, like nitrate, arsenic or agricultural chemicals depending on the surrounding land use practices in the area, Ales says.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Ales (608) 267-7649 or your local drinking water specialist



Dane County habitat restoration project may result in incidental take of rare turtle

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Wisconsin's endangered species law (s. 29.604, Wis. Stats.) requires the Department of Natural Resources to notify the public when it proposes to authorize the incidental taking of a state endangered or threatened species.]

MADISON - Restoration of wetland habitat at the Brooklyn Wildlife Area in Dane County may result in the incidental take of a rare turtle under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes grant for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant for restoration and enhancement affecting approximately 900 acres of Brooklyn Wildlife Area. The goal of this project is to return the hydrology back to the historical flows by removing large sections of agricultural ditch that result in uneven water flows and increase disturbance to the wetland.

The presence of the state-threatened Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the species is likely present due to the presence of suitable habitat and that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some turtles. However, they concluded that the proposed project will minimize the impacts to the turtle by adhering to conservation measures; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of these turtles or the whole plant-animal community of which they are a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action.

The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the threatened species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the Blanding's turtle are available by searching for incidental take public notice on the DNR website or by contacting Rori Paloski at 608-264-6040. Public comments will be taken through June 5, 2012 and should be sent to Rori Paloski, DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources, 608 PO Box 7921 Madison WI 53707-7921.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rori Paloski - 608-264-6040


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 08, 2012

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