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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published October 2, 2012

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Wisconsin's first modern-era wolf hunt begins October 15

MADISON - Wisconsin's inaugural wolf hunt will commence on Oct. 15, marking the transition from wolf recovery to wolf management in the state.

"This is a landmark moment in conservation history," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "Hunters and trappers engaging in Wisconsin's first state-managed season can hang their hats on being part of a pivotal chapter in wolf management, a story that can be shared with generations to come."

Between opening day and Feb. 28, 2013, up to 1,160 state licensed hunters and trappers will take to the field, aiming to harvest no more than 201 wolves from a population of more than 850. With wolf numbers and depredations at an all-time high, the goal of the closely managed hunt is to reduce the wolf population to a more biologically and socially acceptable level.

"The recovery of the wolf to being a harvestable species is a remarkable success story in wildlife conservation," Stepp said. "It's amazing to think that some of our hunters and trappers were children when the wolf was nearly eliminated from the landscape, and now will be part of hunting a solid population."

The species was listed for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. With wolf populations eight times higher than delisting goals and far exceeding the goal for hunting in accordance with DNR's state wolf management plan [PDF], wolves were delisted in Wisconsin this past January and management authority was returned to the state.

"This wouldn't have happened without the dedication of hunters, trappers, volunteers, agencies and research institutions that assisted with gray wolf recovery," said Stepp. "We are successfully out of species recovery mode and into species management mode. We look forward to working with these same partners as we continue to write the story of the wolf in Wisconsin."

Season specifics

For more information on the wolf hunt, regulations, and maps, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search "wolf."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kurt Thiede, DNR Land Division Administrator, 608-266-5833 or Bill Cosh, DNR Spokesperson, 608-267-2773

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Comments sought on economic impact of
proposed changes to Endangered Species list

MADISON - Businesses, developers, scientists and citizens with comments about the potential economic impact of adding eight plants and animals to the state endangered species list and removing 16 other ones from the list are invited to submit comments through Oct. 24.

The Department of Natural Resources will use the information submitted regarding the potential costs and benefits of the proposed changes to the list as staff prepare the economic impact analysis now required by law.

Comments about the economic impact may be submitted electronically to: DNRBureauofEndangeredResources@Wisconsin.gov or may be mailed to: Wisconsin DNR- Bureau of Endangered Resources, E/T EIA Solicitation, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707. Comments are to be postmarked no later than Oct. 24, 2012.


Other steps in the rule making process and opportunities for public involvement are found on the DNR website by searching for keywords "ET list" and scrolling down to the bottom of the page.

Any local governmental unit that is affected by the proposed additions and removals to the endangered species list also may request to coordinate with DNR on preparation of the economic impact analysis. That governmental unit must notify DNR of its request to coordinate when it submits comments on economic analysis.

DNR is proposing the changes to the list after a comprehensive review and in keeping with a requirement to evaluate the list of endangered and threatened species every five years. Some of the 16 species proposed for removal responded well to protections given to listed species and management efforts to increase their populations, while others were found to not be as rare as once thought or no longer occur in the state.

Those proposed for removal are: the greater redhorse, a small fish; the barn owl, snowy egret, and Bewick's wren, the pygmy snaketail, a dragonfly, and two reptiles. The Blanding's turtle review determined there are large, stable populations and wide distribution. In the case of Butler's gartersnake, new genetic analysis indicated greater abundance and range than previously believed.

The other species proposed to be removed from the list are plants: the American fever-few, bog bluegrass, Canada horse-balm, drooping sedge, hemlock parsley, prairie Indian-plantain, snowy campion, yellow gentian, and yellow giant hyssop.

Eight species are proposed to be added to the list because they are in jeopardy now or in the near future. Protected status would make it illegal under Wisconsin's Endangered Species Law for people to kill, transport, possess, process or sell the species.

Species being recommended for listing to protect declining populations include three birds -- the black tern, Kirtland's warbler, upland sandpiper; and five invertebrates -- the beach-dune tiger beetle, ottoe skipper, a leafhopper, an Issid planthopper, and fawnsfoot mussel.

A preliminary draft of the rule order along with detailed information on the species proposed for listing and delisting is available on the DNR website dnr.wi.gov, keyword "ET List". Administrative rule documents are also available at: Wisconsin Administrative Rules website (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca Schroeder 608-266-5244

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Waterfowl hunters are reminded of season splits in South and Mississippi river zones

Season will close for five days in the South and 12 days in the Mississippi zone

MADISON - Hunters in Wisconsin's south and Mississippi river waterfowl zones are reminded of season splits that will occur this month. A split is a short closure that helps to balance the desires of hunters who wish to hunt earlier with those who prefer later season dates.

The Mississippi river zone closed Oct. 1 and the South zone will close Oct. 8. Both will reopen on Oct. 13. As a reminder, goose hunting in these areas will also be closed at this time, except within the Horicon zone.

The north and Mississippi river duck zones both opened in Wisconsin on Sept. 22. The south zone opened Sept. 29.

"Overall, field reports indicated that despite low water levels, hunter participation was relatively high and people were seeing and bagging good numbers of ducks," says Kent Van Horn, waterfowl ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. "In particular, numerous teal and wood ducks were reported along the Mississippi river."

Preliminary estimates indicate around 21,000 Canada geese were harvested during the early season which ran from Sept 1-15. Overall it was a very successful hunt, with the 2012 early season harvest ranking as the 3rd highest since the season began.

For more information on waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin search for "waterfowl" on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn - (608) 266-8841

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Waterfowl hunters cautioned that swans and cranes to begin migrating

MADISON - With migratory songbirds, trumpeter swans and as of late last week, whooping cranes, flying through Wisconsin skies en route to their winter homes, waterfowl hunters are reminded to carefully identify all birds before shooting, state endangered resources and enforcement officials say.

"Hunters have done a great job in learning the differences between swans and geese and whooping cranes," says Sumner Matteson, Department of Natural Resources avian ecologist. "Unintentional shootings of trumpeter swans are still an issue, however, so we urge hunters to continue to be vigilant in identifying their game."

In 2011, two trumpeter swans were shot; one died and the other recovered at a rehabilitation center in Minnesota and was released, Matteson says.

Successful efforts to restore trumpeter swans in Wisconsin removed them from the state endangered species list in 2009 and have helped boost the number of nesting pairs to about 200 in 23 counties, according to preliminary results from 2012 surveys. The birds are still protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to kill them.

Whooping cranes, which are protected under the state and endangered federal species laws and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, are found mostly in central Wisconsin as the result of an ongoing reintroduction project. Whooping crane chicks reared at DNR's White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake County took off Sept. 28 behind an Operation Migration (exit DNR) ultralight plane and are making their way out of Wisconsin and to their winter home at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (exit DNR) near Tampa, Fla. Captive-raised chicks placed among wild cranes at Horicon Marsh are due to be released from their rearing pens later this month, hopefully to follow adult whooping cranes as they migrate to the Florida site.

Trumpeter swans, tundra swans and snow geese are white with a black bill and can look similar from a distance. The best way to distinguish the species is by their calls. Observers have described the trumpeter's call as resonant, deep, loud, and trumpet-like. The snow goose has a high-pitched, quavering call. More tips and photos to help identify swans are available on Identifying Swans [PDF].

The unintentional shooting of a protected swan can result in state fines and restitution costs exceeding $2,000. The state penalty for intentionally shooting a whooping crane is a fine not less than $2,000 nor more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than nine months or both. In addition, violators face a three year revocation of all hunting privileges. Federal penalties can be substantially higher. Additional federal penalties also would likely apply.

More information about trumpeter swans and whooping cranes is available on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sumner Matteson (608) 266-1571; Thomas Van Haren (608) 266-3244

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Hunters may harvest deer with tags and collars

Wisconsin wildlife researchers ask for basic, valuable information in return

MADISON -- Wildlife researchers are looking for assistance from Wisconsin hunters who may harvest any of the more than 240 white-tailed deer marked with radio-collars and approximately 200 deer marked with ear tags during the archery and gun-deer seasons.

The researchers say hunters' help may play a role in how Wisconsin's white-tailed deer herd is managed for generations to come. That's a big impact for help that may take each hunter who harvests a marked deer only a few minutes to provide. The start of the early archery season a few weeks ago marked the start of an important phase of the project that involves collecting harvest data from marked deer.

"These deer were marked in 2011 and 2012 as part of a study to better understand how long deer live and how they die," said Michael Watt, Natural Resource Research Scientist. "Hunters are free to harvest these marked deer. And if they do, we would like some basic information that shouldn't take more than a minute to provide."

The requested information about marked deer include:

Hunters are being asked to call Watt at 608-221-6376 to report this information.

Watt and his colleagues marked the deer in the northern counties of Rusk, Sawyer and Price, and the east central counties of Shawano, Waupaca and Outagamie as part of the buck mortality study and fawn predation study sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Safari Club International (SCI), Wildlife Restoration Funding, Union Sportsmen's Alliance, Whitetails Unlimited, Applied Population Laboratory, Menn Law Firm, and private donations from Wisconsin citizens.

"I want to stress that hunters should treat these deer like any other deer you might see. These deer may be harvested, but the information that hunters provide is important to the research and the future of our deer herd," said Watt.

While the DNR uses a deer population modeling system built upon sound science and data, Watt says challenges remain.

"The distribution and numbers of predators has changed in the last 20 years and we hope this study can shed some light on how these changes are affecting our deer herd," Watt says. "Not only is this a wildlife issue, it is an economic issue - Wisconsin's tourism relies upon its healthy and abundant natural resources. Deer hunting is part of that tourism industry. Our deer hunters have expressed concerns about the impact that predation may be having on deer population growth and recruitment rates across the state - the department is listening to their concerns and trying to better understand predation impacts with our ongoing collaborative research."

And this is where the hunters come in, Watt says.

"The only way we will be successful in our deer herd management is through hunters' participation," Watt says. "And the research partners who make it possible for us to increase our ability to gather this key information."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Watt - (608) 221-6376 or Joanne Haas - (608) 267-0798

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EHD Confirmed in three additional counties

Addition of Jefferson, Marquette and Iowa brings counties with outbreak to eight

MADISON - State wildlife officials have confirmed that samples submitted from deer found dead in Jefferson, Marquette, and Iowa counties have tested positive for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD. EHD has now been confirmed in Columbia, Rock, Sauk, Dane, Waukesha, Jefferson, Marquette and Iowa counties.

Department of Natural Resources wildlife health specialists submitted the samples for testing to Michigan State University's Diagnostic Center for Population & Animal Health or Southeastern Wildlife Disease Study, which confirmed they died of EHD. Additional tests of a deer from Marinette County are pending.

EHD outbreaks have been confirmed in at least 15 states this year, including neighboring states of Michigan, Iowa and Illinois, said Eric Lobner, DNR southern Wisconsin wildlife supervisor.

"It is a fairly common disease carried by midges, commonly referred to as no see ums, which are not a threat to humans, so there is no cause for alarm. We are optimistic, with the cold overnight temperatures recently that we will soon see this outbreak come to an end," Lobner said

EHD is often fatal, typically killing an infected deer within seven days. The last EHD observation in Wisconsin was in 2002 in Iowa County where 14 deer died from the virus. EHD is common across southern states and occasionally shows up as far north as the upper Midwest.

Individuals that observe deer exhibiting the following signs are encouraged to report their observations to the DNR:

Wildlife officials say there is no risk to people or pets from deer that have died of EHD and that the venison is safe to eat. Deer carcasses can be left on the landscape to decompose. The DNR will not be collecting or removing deer that have died as a result of this outbreak.

As a result of this confirmation, the DNR is no longer collecting samples from dead deer found in Columbia, Rock, Dane, Sauk, Waukesha, Jefferson, Marquette and Iowa counties; however, officials do want to take samples from dead deer reported in counties where EHD has not been confirmed. Also, in order to monitor the geographic distribution and the number of deer affected by this EHD event, the DNR does want people to continue to report sick or dead deer within Columbia, Rock, Dane, Sauk, Waukesha, Jefferson, Marquette and Iowa counties.

To report a sick deer observation please call the DNR call center toll free at 1-888-WDNR- INFo (1-888-936-7463), email DNRInfo@Wisconsin.gov, or use the chat feature on the DNR website. Staff are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Please be prepared to provide details about the condition of the deer and the exact location where the deer was observed. Individuals interested in finding more information on sick deer in Wisconsin can visit the Wisconsin DNR website at dnr.wi.gov keyword "sick deer."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Lobner 608-235-0860 or Bill Cosh, DNR spokesperson, 608-267-2773

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Reminder that October four-day deer hunt suspended in CWD zones

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding hunters that the October four-day deer gun hunt has been suspended in the state's south central Chronic Wasting Disease zone.

The elimination of the four-day October hunt is one of the recommendations in the Deer Trustee report. The suspension restores the traditional nine-day season in the disease zone and aims to reduce the negative impacts an early doe harvest may have on deer behavior, reducing the buck harvest during the gun season, according to James Kroll, who authored the report.

The Chronic Wasting Disease zone includes all or parts of Columbia, Sauk, Vernon, Richland, Crawford, Grant, Lafayette, Iowa, Green, Dane, Rock, Jefferson, Dodge, Waukesha, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties.

For more information on deer hunting, regulations and zone maps, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search "deer." Kroll's deer report can be found on the Department of Administration website, doa.wi.gov, and search "Kroll" at the bottom of the page.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jennifer Pelej, DNR public affairs manager, 608-264-9248 or Bill Cosh, DNR Spokesperson, 608-267-2773

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Order trees seedlings now to plant next spring

MADISON -- Wisconsin landowners can begin ordering tree seedlings in October for planting next spring.

State forestry officials say planting trees or shrubs is a terrific way to improve wildlife habitat, increase land values, reduce soil erosion, produce future wood products, and improve the beauty of property. Planting trees, they add, is a fun family activity that leaves a legacy and creates an environmental learning experience.

"I often have customers tell me how they planted trees with their dad or grandfather 50 years ago and now those trees are large enough to harvest," says Jim Storandt, the superintendent at the Department of Natural Resources Griffith State Nursery in Wisconsin Rapids.

Customer-friendly process for ordering state nursery tree, shrub seedlings

"The nursery program places a strong emphasis on customer service and we're trying to make ordering seedlings as customer-friendly as possible," Storandt said. "Customers can order online, or print the order form from the state nursery page of the DNR website and mail it in. Customers can also contact their local DNR forester to receive the form or pick up one up at a DNR Service Center."

To order online, search the DNR website for "tree planting."

In addition to the online form, customers who use the Internet have easy access to the following items.

"The seedlings grown at our state nurseries are high quality, native species," according to Pat Murphy, DNR nursery team leader, "and we strive to sell products to our customers at economical prices."

Seedlings from the state nurseries are used for private, industrial, and state/county reforestation and conservation plantings. They can also be purchased by state youth groups and educational organizations for their reforestation and conservation planting projects. Seedlings that Wisconsin's Grade 4 students receive as part of a school's Arbor Day observance are also grown at the state nurseries.

According to Joseph VandeHey, superintendent of the Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel, since their creation in 1911, the state nurseries have produced more than 1.5 billion seedlings. The nursery program also participates in research efforts such as a tree improvement program, a soils research project and an insect and disease research. There is also an active seed collection program which purchases tree seed from state residents.

The state nursery program begins accepting orders for trees and shrubs the first week in October, according to Murphy. Anyone thinking about buying seedlings is strongly encouraged to place an order early because some species sell out quickly. Landowners also need to consider fall site preparation to ensure long term planting success.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Pat Murphy, Nursery Team Leader, 715-839-3760.

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Fall naturalist programs underway at Horicon Marsh

HORICON, Wis. -- Horicon Marsh, designated as "A Wetland of International Importance," is one of the premier birding locations in Wisconsin and fall visitors can enhance their visit to the marsh by attending one of the naturalist programs held at the Horicon Marsh International Education Center each fall.

"Horicon Marsh is an outstanding natural resource that thousands of people visit each year," said Liz Herzmann, Department of Natural Resources natural resources educator at Horicon. "Public naturalist programs are offered in spring and fall at the height of the migration when wildlife is most active and visible."

The naturalist programs are intended to help visitors understand the marsh, its wildlife and management.

"We want to connect people with our wildlife and enhance their understanding and appreciation of our natural heritage," Herzmann said .

The 32,000 acre Horicon Marsh includes an 11,000 acre Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area, with the remaining land designated a National Wildlife Refuge. The marsh received the prestigious title of "A Wetland of International Importance" (exit DNR) in 1991 and it's also designated a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve and recognized as a Globally Important Bird Area (exit DNR).

Programs will be conducted at the International Education Center, located at N7728 Highway 28 between the cities of Horicon and Mayville. All programs are free and open to the public. No registration is required.

More information about activities at Horicon Marsh can also be found on the Friends of Horicon Marsh International Education Center website at www.horiconmarsh.org (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Herzmann, natural resources educator - 920-387-7860

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DNR seeks additional staff to broaden management of industrial sand sites

MADISON - In an effort to expand the state's management of natural resources in and around industrial sand sites in Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources has asked for two additional Air Program staff in its biennial budget request to the Department of Administration.

"We understand the growing concern for environmental protection as this industry continues to expand," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "We are committed to dedicating staff time and resources to ensure we protect Wisconsin's public health and our natural resource treasures."

Stepp noted that the two new staff will work in the Air Program on compliance and permitting issues at sites around the state, including industrial sand sites.

Sand and gravel mining has existed in Wisconsin for decades. However, a recent growth in the industry is occurring nationally, attributed largely to hydrofracking, a technique used by the petroleum industry to extract natural gas and crude oil from rock formations. The technique requires a certain quality of sand, known as frac sand, which is prevalent in Wisconsin. The high demand for the state's sand resources has generated an equally high interest from legislators, local governments and the general public.

"With this high demand we've seen a significant increase in our air and water permitting programs, as well as an increase in requests for endangered and threatened species and archeological reviews," said Tom Woletz, special projects coordinator in the DNR's Water Division and the agency's frac sand expert.

Woletz said state and local authorities have been working for more than two years on a number of management issues, including air, water quality and quantity and post-mine reclamation, which are typically administered by the counties with DNR oversight.

Sand mines must also follow the same state requirements as other nonmetallic mining operations in Wisconsin, said Woletz, including getting necessary air and water permits and following state reclamation laws.

"We're also working with the newly formed Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association (WISA)," said Woletz. "By engaging this organization, along with other groups and the general public, we hope to keep an open dialogue that helps us provide the best management possible for the protection of our state's public health and the environment."

To learn more about frac sand mining, please go to the DNR's web page dnr.wi.gov and type in the key words "frac sand."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Woletz, 715-839-3756

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Whooped up over the October issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

MADISON -- The cover story for the October Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, "Helping whoopers find their way," follows the history of the Operation Migration program to help whooping cranes, the most endangered of the world's 15 species of cranes, make a population comeback and to migrate in Wisconsin skies.

October Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine
October Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

A grandma from Sauk City tells the exciting tale of tagging the buck of a lifetime in "Grandma's hunting tale." Another hunting story, "A historic hunt protects public water rights," tells the story behind the precedent-setting Diana Shooting Club v. Husting case.

"After nature's fury" recaps what state parks crews are up against when storms, such as the one in the summer of 2011 in Door County, hit the parks hard. "Life at its longest is short" profiles a respected longtime Wisconsin conservation warden and reveals his lessons for success on the job.

"Branching out" follows an oak tree from its felling to finding new life as helpful products in the home. The sentimental value of trees and the local business benefits are key to this story. "Travel Green Wisconsin" explains why tourism in Wisconsin takes natural resources into serious consideration because it is the right thing to do and often helps the business bottom line.

"We asked - readers answered" is a compilation of letters from readers who wanted to share their ideas for fostering a healthy conversation between hunters and non-hunters.

Spiders get a jump on the author in the Creature Comforts column and fall in love with fall in the Wisconsin Traveler column.

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine is a thoughtful, inexpensive gift that can share what you value about the outdoors with family, friends, customers 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 www.wnrmag.com 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 at (608) 261-8446.

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Grants available to help Wisconsin municipalities deal with nuisance wildlife

MADISON - Wisconsin municipalities have until Dec. 3 to apply for matching grants to help them develop long-term management solutions for dealing with problems caused by white-tailed deer or Canada geese.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is accepting grant applications for the Urban Wildlife Damage Abatement and Control Grant Program, which provides 50 percent matching reimbursement grants up to a maximum of $5,000 to communities to help them solve wildlife control problems.

Applications will be judged according to the following criteria:

In order to be eligible for grant consideration, an applicant must be an urban area pursuant to s. 86.196(1)(c), Wis. Stats. Municipalities can check the Urban Wildlife Damage Abatement and Control Grant page of the DNR website to see if they are designated as an urban area and eligible for the grant. Application materials are available on the website or are available by contacting Kari Beetham, UWDAC Grant Manager at 608-264-9207.

Application materials must be complete and be postmarked on or before Dec. 3, 2012.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on grant applications contact Kari Beetham, DNR Bureau of Community Financial Assistance, 608- 264-9207; on technical assistance related to urban areas, wildlife plans, or urban wildlife, contact Brad Koele, wildlife damage and urban wildlife specialist, 608-266-2151

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EDITOR'S ADVISORY: online chat Oct. 10 on whooping cranes

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The DNR will host an online chat with Davin Lopez and Joan Garland at 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 10. They will answer questions about whooping cranes and the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (exit DNR). To participate, visit the DNR home page, dnr.wi.gov, and look for the advertisement or search the word "chat."

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 02, 2012




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