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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published April 1, 2014

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2014 Spring Fish and Wildlife Rules Hearings and Conservation Congress County Meetings to be held April 14

MADISON - A revised and improved proposal to allow anglers to use the fishing technique called trolling on inland waters statewide is up for a vote at the 2014 Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings on April 14 around the state.

The trolling rule change is the only proposed specific rule change to be voted on at the 2014 hearings, which will be held in each Wisconsin county starting at 7 p.m. However, people interested in natural resources management have an opportunity to provide their input by advisory vote and testimony to the Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Congress on many other advisory questions that may affect future fish and wildlife regulations.

The spring hearings cover three major areas: elections for county Conservation Congress delegates; DNR proposed wildlife and fisheries rule changes; and Conservation Congress proposals for possible future rule development.

The list of meeting locations [PDF], the combined questionnaire [PDF], and more information about the Conservation Congress is available for review by searching the DNR website for keywords "spring hearings."

Delegate elections

People who are residents of the county in which they attend the meeting, and are at least 18 years of age may vote for the delegates to represent their county on the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. A photo ID is required in order to receive ballots to vote for delegates. Each April, there is one 2-year term and one 3-year term available for each county. Attendees at the annual county meeting have the opportunity to nominate themselves or another resident. Citizens of that county in attendance at the meetings then have the opportunity to vote on the nominees.

Deer herd status meetings

New for 2014, the annual spring deer herd status meetings will be held in conjunction with the Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings. Herd status meetings provide an early opportunity for hunters and other interested individuals to discuss the current status of the deer herd and ask other deer management questions.

Local wildlife biologists will present information about new deer hunting rules and regulations that were recently adopted as part of the deer trustee report's two-year management review. The herd status updates and new rules for 2014 presentation will follow the Conservation Congress delegate elections and discussion on the proposed fisheries rule change.

Trolling proposal revised since last year's vote on the same

Under the 2014 trolling proposal, anglers on inland waters could troll with one line anywhere in the state without having to consult the regulations booklet for county- or water-specific rules. There also will be many inland waters where trolling will continue to be allowed with three lines per angler and additional areas where three-line trolling would be allowed. "Trolling" means trailing a lure or bait from a boat being propelled by means other than drifting or rowing.

"This is an improved version of the statewide 'three-line' proposal that was voted on last year at the hearings," says Tim Simonson, DNR fisheries biologist and co-chair of DNR's musky team. "After last year's mixed vote results, local biologists and Conservation Congress representatives developed this compromise version with several key opponents and county delegations to gain broader support."

Simonson says that one key goal of the compromise proposal was to allow musky anglers to trail a sucker behind a boat, under power, while casting with another rod.

Under current rules, trailing a sucker or other minnow behind the boat while under power, however briefly, is considered trolling and is allowed in a confusing patchwork of counties and locations. Trolling is currently allowed on all waters in 18 counties; on one or more specific waters in 45 counties (105 total waters); and on the boundary waters with Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan, except on Vilas County boundary waters. Trolling is not allowed on any other waters, except that certain disabled anglers can troll anywhere by special permit, Simonson says.

The compromise was adopted by the Natural Resources Board last May; the Governor's Office on Regulatory Compliance then asked the board to get broader input on this modified rule at this year's spring hearings.

Trolling has no known harmful biological effects where this method is already allowed in Wisconsin or in surrounding states and provinces, Simonson says

Fish advisory questions on trout, bass and panfish

Attendees at the hearings and meetings will also get the chance to help shape future panfish, trout and bass fishing management in Wisconsin. Reviews of panfish and trout management and regulations are underway, and DNR will soon be launching a review of bass management.

"The spring hearings provide another vital avenue to gauge desires from our angling partners attending the hearings," says Jon Hansen, a DNR fish biologist involved in an ongoing panfish management planning effort and a leader of a coming effort to review bass management and regulations.

"Public input has thus far revealed a mixed bag of interest regarding how we manage panfish, but most of the attention has been on statewide regulation changes. The upcoming spring hearing questions build off what we have learned so far by asking attendees whether they want to attempt to manage for larger panfish on individual lakes that are currently not meeting management goals," he says.

Bass questions focus on an increasing interest in using regulations that liberalize harvest but protect larger bass, with one of the questions attempting to get an updated perspective on what anglers consider a "trophy bass," Hansen says. "Responses from the hearings will help inform our coming effort to review what bass regulations we have in Wisconsin and how they are applied to the diverse array of lakes we manage."

Finally, a suite of advisory questions allow anglers to weigh in on ideas for expanding trout fishing opportunities by extending trout seasons.

Wildlife advisory questions

Among the DNR wildlife advisory questions are whether people who fail to apply for limited draw hunting or trapping permits for three or more years to maintain preference points they have previously acquired and whether people who have missed a limited draw permit application should still be allowed to apply for a preference-point-only.

Wisconsin has established limited draw preference systems for bear, bobcat, fisher, otter, wolf, and turkey hunting management. All of these preference systems have slight variations but two rules or laws are consistent between the drawings: people who do not apply for three consecutive years lose any preference points they have earned in previous years when they were not successful in the permit drawing and people must apply for the permits by established deadlines and there are no exceptions, even for people who have missed the application deadline but would still like to apply for a preference-point only.

Other wildlife questions are whether people should be able to transfer a limited draw harvest permit or points by simply allowing transfer to any other person who is legally able to hunt or trap in this state and whether Wisconsin should allow the use of foot cable restraints during the latter potion of the furbearer harvest seasons, beginning on December 1.

Natural Resources Board advisory questions

The state Natural Resources Board has an advisory question on establishing a single hunting stamp which would be purchased by all hunters but would be less expensive, earmarking funds for waterfowl/wetland, pheasants/grassland, and turkey management purposes as in the past and allowing any additional funds to be available for forest management and hunter recruitment. Currently Wisconsin has separate stamps for turkey, pheasant, waterfowl, inland trout and Great Lakes trout and salmon.

Other Natural Resources Advisory Questions are on restricting deer baiting and feeding 10 days before and during the traditional nine-day firearm season and legalizing the harvest of white and albino deer statewide.

Conservation Congress advisory questions

The Conservation Congress also has a large number of advisory questions from the executive committee and the various study committees. Among the advisory questions are whether to ask the Wisconsin Legislature to give the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources authority to develop a hunting season for tundra swans; whether Wisconsin should offer additional deer registration opportunities to include in-person, phone in, or online; and whether there should be legislation that would allow the owner of a hunting dog the ability to retrieve their hunting dog without landowner's permission.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: on the fisheries questions Tim Simonson, 608-266-5222; on wildlife questions - Scott Loomans, 608-267-2452; on Conservation Congress - Kari Lee-Zimmermann at (608) 266-0580



Helping the helpers: DNR Secretary Stepp unveils 'Keep Wildlife Wild' initiative

MADISON -- Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp today launched a multi-agency partnership dedicated to helping citizens understand how to best help their wildlife neighbors.

The initiative is called "Keep Wildlife Wild," and Stepp says the partnership is built upon the best part of Wisconsin.

"Wisconsin is filled with people who want to help, who want to do the right thing for wild animals," Stepp says. "That's what makes this state great."

However, Stepp says, well-intentioned citizens may not understand how best to help a wild animal when viewed as possibly being injured or orphaned and in need to some kind of human intervention.

"The top option is to leave an animal that is not injured in its natural world - where it lives," Stepp said. "If you see an animal and you can see it is injured, please do not touch the animal and call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or the DNR for help."

Stepp said chances are in many cases the animal may not need any assistance from humans, but people sometimes equate what a human may need to what an animal may need.

"While the intention is admirable and generally comes from a core value for compassion, the reality is such help could cause harm to a wild animal or break up a wildlife family," Stepp said. "No one wants that to happen - especially the people who want to help."

The Keep Wildlife Wild initiative is intended to help prevent unfortunate situations that may result in unintended consequences to wild animals or the people trying to help.

"This is a good time to review these important points about our wildlife with your family, too, as our wild animals about to start having their young," Stepp said. "Observing wildlife is a fun and exciting outdoor event you can enjoy with your family and friends."

Joining the DNR in this long-term public outreach effort include the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology and several licensed Wisconsin wildlife rehabilitators from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Council. . Online information, social media messaging, Project Wild curriculum, and public appearances by licensed wildlife rehabilitators and DNR experts are just a few of the outreach activities as the initiative will use.

"We'll be issuing more information about how Wisconsin citizens can help Keep Wildlife Wild in Wisconsin, and how to help when help is really needed," Stepp said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tami Ryan, Bureau of Wildlife Management, 608-266-3143; Joanne Haas, Public Affairs Management, 608-209-8147



Six private and three tribal hatcheries get grants to increase walleye production capacity

MADISON - Six private and three tribal fish hatcheries will get a total of $2 million in one-time grants for projects that will increase their capacity to produce larger walleye for stocking in Wisconsin by 470,000 fish per year, state fisheries officials say.

The hatcheries are receiving the grants from the Department of Natural Resources as part of a competitive grant process funded through the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative.

"This is a big victory for everybody who loves walleye," says DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "These grants invest in shovel-ready projects that will expand the capacity of private and tribal hatcheries to produce larger walleye for stocking in Wisconsin's waters well into the future."

Grant recipients are required to stock walleye produced in their new facilities into Wisconsin waters, and DNR has received $500,000 through the initiative to buy 1 million of these larger fish. Almost 200,000 of these should be available for stocking this fall from grant recipients whose projects will be completed this year, with the rest coming as projects are completed through 2018.

The grant awards are an important part of Wisconsin's plan to boost walleye fishing by stocking more of the larger walleye in lakes where natural reproduction isn't sufficient. The plan, known as the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, is a $12 million funding package developed by Gov. Scott Walker and DNR to boost walleye stocking statewide of the larger fish known as "extended growth" walleye.

Such fish, which are 6 to 8 inches long, have been shown to survive at significantly higher rates in some settings than the 1.5 to 2-inch fish typically stocked. DNR's stocking strategy is to stock these larger walleye in some walleye waters with the hope of restoring naturally reproducing populations, and in others to increase walleye numbers in lakes that will continue to rely on stocking to provide fishing opportunities.

The initiative was funded by the Legislature for two years and provides increased operating funds to DNR grow the larger, more expensive fish; allows for $8 million in upgrades at state hatcheries; invests in expanding capacity at private and tribal hatcheries; and provides money for DNR to purchase larger walleye for stocking from private and tribal hatcheries.

Already, the extra funding the initiative provided in 2013 enabled state hatcheries to produce more than four times the typical number of larger walleye for stocking in fall 2013.

The competitive grant program for private and tribal hatcheries required applicants to submit proposals including the number of fish they will produce and the price, and to commit to stocking those within Wisconsin for at least three years.

Grant recipients are required to stock walleye produced in their new facilities into Wisconsin waters, and DNR has received $500,000 through the initiative to buy 1 million of these larger fish. Almost 200,000 of these should be available for stocking this fall from grant recipients whose projects will be completed this year, with the rest coming as projects are completed through 2018.

The 13 applications DNR received for the hatchery capacity grants were reviewed by a technical review panel that included DNR staff with expertise in walleye and cool-water species hatchery production and management, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fisheries expert and a University of Wisconsin - Extension fisheries expert.

Applicants were ranked based on criteria including their experience in raising walleye or other cool-water fish, cost effectiveness, and having a shovel-ready project that would significantly increase their production of walleye.

The hatcheries receiving the grants and the grant amounts are:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Staggs, 608-267-0796; Brian Goodman, (608) 267-0848; Heidi Nelson, 608-267-7499; Jeff Soellner, 608-267-7152



Existing Wisconsin state park turkey hunting zones remain in place in 2014

Hunters need park-specific permit to hunt those parks; other parks are open to any hunters

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to reflect the third turkey period ends on May 6 and that turkey hunting in state parks will go through May 6.

MADISON - Turkey hunters interested in hunting in a Wisconsin state park during the 2014 Wisconsin spring turkey hunting season should note that the 16 state parks that were open to spring turkey hunting prior to 2014 are still designated as special turkey hunting zones.

"To hunt in the 16 state parks with designated turkey zones, a person must have a turkey hunting permit that is issued specifically for that zone," said Scott Loomans, wildlife regulations specialist for the Department of Natural Resources. "The 2012 law opening state park properties to hunting did not eliminate the established state park turkey zones that are set in current administrative codes."

State park spring turkey zone permits are issued through the same permit application process as permits for regular turkey zones. Hunters had to apply for those permits by the Dec. 10 application deadline, and all available permits for state park units were issued through the application process, so there are no state parks zone permits available for over-the-counter sales.

Loomans says the other state parks that are now open for spring 2014 turkey hunting are open to any person who holds a turkey hunting permit for the general turkey hunting zone (zones 1-7) [PDF]for which that particular state park is located within.

All state park properties, including those in designated state park turkey zones, are only open for the first three turkey hunting periods, which end May 6; they are not open for the last three periods.

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board recently voted to remove individual state park turkey zones. Thus, beginning in 2015, the existing state park turkey zones will be eliminated, but they remain in place this spring because changes to Wisconsin Administrative Code procedures can now take up to two years to change rules.

State parks that have turkey zones include: Belmont Mound, Buckhorn, Devil's Lake, Governor Dodge, Hartman Creek, Interstate, Mirror Lake, Natural Bridge, Nelson Dewey, New Glarus Woods, Newport, Rocky Arbor, Straight Lake, Wildcat Mountain, Willow River and Wyalusing, and the Loew Lake Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest.

A list of the state parks which have their own special zone designation, as well as a map of the state turkey management zones can be found in the Small Game and Turkey Hunting regulations pamphlet [PDF].

Hunting is only allowed within the parks in areas designated as open. Closed areas include within 100 feet of designated use areas, such as parking lots, campgrounds and picnic areas, as well as within 100 feet of certain trails. Additional areas within parks may be closed due to safety concerns. Also some state parks have property that is within municipal boundaries where the discharge of firearms is prohibited.

"It is each hunter's responsibility to know what areas within a park are open to hunting and which areas are closed," Loomans said. Maps indicating closed and open areas are available on the DNR website, at park offices, and will be posted at parking areas and other locations within parks.

Wisconsin State Parks Director Dan Schuller notes that while early spring is a lower use time at state parks, it is also a very popular time for many bird watchers to visit parks to observe migrating spring birds, so hunters should expect to encounter other people using the park during spring turkey hunting periods.

And while most turkey hunters wear camouflaged clothing while hunting, all visitors are encouraged to wear blaze orange or other brightly colored clothing when hunting seasons are open, including turkey hunters while walking to and from their hunting locations.

For more information search the DNR website for keywords "turkey" and "hunting state parks."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Loomans - 608- 267-2452 or Paul Holtan, state parks, forest, trails and recreation public affairs manager - 608-267-7517



Master planning efforts begin for state Glacial Lake Grantsburg properties

Wildlife and natural areas topic of April 16 open house

SPOONER, Wis. - The public will have an opportunity to contribute ideas and discuss how three properties in Burnett County should be managed for recreation and resource protection, at an upcoming open house meeting.

The Department of Natural Resources is developing a new master plan for the Glacial Lake Grantsburg properties of Crex Meadows, Fish Lake and Amsterdam Sloughs state wildlife areas, in the Northwest Sands Ecological Landscape. The properties contain a rich mosaic of nearly 48,000 acres of oak/pine barrens, wetlands, forests and streams within the St. Croix River watershed.

The area was once covered by a vast glacial lake created during the last advance of the Wisconsin glacier, as it blocked the St. Croix River. This natural ice dam gave the area its name, and when the dam melted, a series of shallow lakes and extensive marshes remained.

These properties are among the most popular and frequently visited wildlife areas in the state, known for their grand scale of wetlands and globally rare oak/pine barrens habitat. Visitors come for abundant hunting, trapping, gathering, wildlife watching and educational opportunities; many of which are supported in part by the Friends of Crex. The properties are:

"The Glacial Lake Grantsburg properties provide important recreational and economic benefits to the region," said Mike Zeckmeister, DNR District Wildlife Manager overseeing the planning effort.

The Glacial Lake Grantsburg properties are also a vital contributor to the preservation of oak/pine barrens, a rare and globally imperiled natural community. The barrens extend from northern Polk County to southern Bayfield County and cover 1,900 square miles. The property's important natural communities include: wild rice beds amidst vast emergent marshes, northern hardwood swamps, northern dry-mesic forests, and oak and pine barrens.

Crex Meadows Wildlife Area is a recognized Wisconsin Important Bird Area (exit DNR) that draws significant numbers of visitors to view large populations of wetland, barrens and grassland species, including thousands of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and sandhill cranes.

The open house will be held on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Crex Meadows Wildlife Education & Visitor Center, (102 East Crex Ave) located approximately one mile north of Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

Background information about the properties, maps, and a preliminary vision and goals document are available online. Visit and search "master planning." Below the heading "Master Plans in Progress," open "Glacial Lake Grantsburg Properties." These materials are also available to the public at the Spooner DNR Service Center at 810 W. Maple Street, and the Crex Meadows Wildlife Education & Visitor Center at 102 East Crex Ave, north of Grantsburg.

Public input is welcomed throughout the master planning process, and two formal 30-day comment periods are provided -one following the open house meeting on April 16 and a second for review of the draft master plan sometime during the coming winter.

Comments may be provided at the April 16 public meeting, submitted by April 30 through an online survey available on the on the "Glacial Lake Grantsburg Properties page of the DNR website or mailed to:

Beth Kienbaum at Wisconsin DNR - LF/6, PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707-7921 or

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Beth Kienbaum, 608-266-3219 or Michael Zeckmeister, 715-635-4090



Spring sports are a great opportunity to reduce, reuse and recycle

MADISON -Whether on the field or in the stands, athletes and fans can get active this spring by reducing, reusing and recycling at the game. Recycling specialists at the Department of Natural Resources advise a few simple steps that can cut sports' carbon footprint and ensure that everybody wins in the long run.

Tips for teams and athletes

Lots of athletes, teams and families already pitch in by recycling any aluminum cans or glass bottles they bring to the games, buying from sports resale shops or using hand-me-downs, but there are plenty of other ways to reduce or recycle.

For instance, when you buy sports equipment, don't forget to reuse or recycle the plastic film, hard plastic and cardboard packaging the equipment came in. If you bike or skateboard to games or practice, you might be interested to know that bicycle and skateboard recycling is growing in popularity. Check with your local bike or resale shops to see if they recycle bikes or parts. You can also recycle old athletic shoes through programs like ShoeBox Recycling and Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe (both links exit DNR).

There are ways to help the earth on the sidelines, too. Lots of teams fuel up on snacks like apples and oranges - the good news is these items are completely biodegradable! You can save cores, peels and rinds for backyard composting.

Finally, many sports teams make group pledges to help the local environment by taking on a recycling challenge, adopting a local park or highway or committing to some other sustainable practice as a group. It's a fun way to promote the team, build team spirit and help keep your home field clean!

Tips for fans

Fans, too, can play their part. An easy but often overlooked way to help keep your sports venues green is to promote the use of recycling and trash bins in public areas.

If you are hosting a sporting event or are in charge of an event venue, you can point people in the right direction. Be sure to place trash and recycling bins in easily accessible, visible locations where visitors will be able to see and use them. The DNR offers tips on how to promote recycling and waste reduction at your event [PDF].

Other tips for fans include reusing paper and cardboard from packaging materials to make signs and banners, carpooling to games and purchasing reusable souvenir cups that can be reused at the event or at home.

For more reuse and recycling ideas to use throughout the year, see the DNR's tips on recycling and waste reduction for all seasons.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Elisabeth Olson, 608-264-9258



Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine is taking it outside with trips and more to move you

MADISON - Spring is here. Don't let that lingering ice on the lakes convince you otherwise. The April/May issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine is ready to get outdoors and joins the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin in encouraging people to join field trips around the state to places they might not have known even existed. The Foundation offers 150 field trips this year ranging from tagging butterflies to taking a dip to discover native mussels. A companion piece is meant to get people flocking to the 2014 Great Wisconsin Birdathon in May.

The sad but true passenger pigeon story is brought to life in, "Remembering a lost bird." It's been 100 years since the passenger pigeon became extinct and commemorative events are being planned around the state.

"Wisconsin turtle populations at a crossing" provides advice for helping turtles make safe spring travels to nesting sites. "Building a path along Wisconsin's 'Gift of the Glaciers'" suggests other volunteer opportunities with the Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crew.

"Your fish wish answered" unwraps the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative and how it just might improve angler chances of landing a keeper. "A healthy dose of flavor" makes a case for eating Wisconsin fish as a source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

The author of "Talking turkey with my nephew" recalls a successful Learn to Hunt Turkey program that leaves a young man smiling. Looking for land to hunt on? The magazine has you covered for that, and other outdoors exploration, in "Public Access lands Atlas opens the doors to the outdoors."

The "Back in the Day" column is sure to get people talking baseball and more since it features photos of celebrity anglers like Ted Williams who wet a line in Wisconsin waters. "Traveler" takes us to a The Clearing in Door County. Fire-up the grill again with some barbecue sauce advice in the recipes column. Then gear up for the spring fishing season with a newspaper-style insert, "The Wisconsin Fishing Report 2014."

Remember to consider Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine as a thoughtful and inexpensive gift that gives all year. 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 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.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 01, 2014

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