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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published May 13, 2014

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June 7, 8 is Free Fun Weekend

New this year, parks admission free for both days

Editor's advisory: A live chat on Wisconsin's Free Fun Weekend begins at noon on Tuesday, May 27. To participate, visit, and look for the box on the right to enter the chat, or search the phrase "ask the experts." Or join the conversation on the DNR Facebook page,, by clicking the "Cover it Live Chat" box on the top of the page. Read the transcript later at the same address.

MADISON - For two days in June, Wisconsin residents and visitors alike can enjoy some of the country's best outdoor recreation for free.

On June 7-8, people can fish for free anywhere in Wisconsin, hike or bike state trails for free, ride public ATV trails for free, and, new this year, enjoy free admission to state parks and forests on both days as well.

"Free Fun weekend is a great way for friends and families to enjoy the great outdoor throughout Wisconsin," says Preston Cole, Natural Resources Board chairman. "And, if you already have your fishing license or parks sticker, take someone new along to enjoy the free fun."

Cole also encourages people to help spread the word by printing off and posting or sharing a flyer on the Free Fun Weekend. Posters are available in English, Spanish and Hmong and are available in letter size as well as 11-by-17 inch size.

Go to and search "free fun" for links to the downloadable posters and more information about Free Fun Weekend.

Free state parks admission

For the first time, vehicle admission fees to Wisconsin State Park System properties are waived for both June 7 and 8. Previously, the state park system's longstanding free open house was only the first Sunday in June; this year, vehicle admission fees have been waived for both the first Saturday and Sunday in June.

People who camp at state parks will still pay for their campsites and other events or programs on those two days may require a fee as well.

Free fishing

Free fishing on June 7 and 8 applies to all Wisconsin waters. No fishing license is needed to fish any waters -- this includes inland trout and Great Lakes trout and salmon fishing, which normally would require a trout stamp in addition to a license. Fishing rules such as limits on the length and species of fish that can be kept do apply, however.

So far, more than two dozen free fishing clinics are scheduled across the state to help encourage people to try fishing. Check back as the free weekend gets closer as more are expected to be scheduled.

Free loaner equipment is available at more than 50 locations, including many state parks, DNR offices, and partner organizations, according to Theresa Stabo, DNR aquatic education director. People interested in borrowing gear should check for a loaner location near them or near where they will be fishing and arrange to get the equipment.

Free state trails

On June 7 and 8, all state trail pass fees on all DNR-owned state trails are waived. Cooperatively-run state trails also may waive fees. Normally, a state trail pass is required for all people age 16 or older biking, in-line skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing or off-highway motorcycling on certain trails. A state trail pass is not required for walking or hiking.

Free ATV riding on public trails open to such use

For the second year, Wisconsin residents and nonresidents can ride their ATVs or UTVs on public trails for free on those two days. A law advanced by the Wisconsin ATV Association and passed in 2012 created the free weekend.

Normally, Wisconsin residents have to register their ATVs or UTVs with DNR for public use to operate on public trails, or other areas open to the public like frozen water bodies. Nonresident riders normally have to buy a nonresident trail pass to ride on these areas in Wisconsin. On June 7 and 8, the registration and trail pass fees are waived. All other ATV and UTV regulations apply during the weekend.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: on Free Fishing Weekend contact Theresa Stabo, angler education, 608-266-2272; on ATVs, Joanne Haas, law enforcement public affairs manager, 608-267-0798; on state parks and trails, Paul Holtan, state parks, forests, trails and recreation public affairs manager, 608-267-7517



Northern zone musky season opens May 24

Anglers will find ice off, spawn in progress, more big fish

MINOCQUA - The northern zone musky season opens May 24 with water temperatures warming up quickly and anglers likely to reap the benefit of more than 20 years of improvement in musky sizes and numbers.

"We had a late ice out but it's warming up quickly," says Steve Avelallemant, longtime DNR northern district fisheries supervisor. "I think it will be a pretty normal opening. Spawning will be a little bit behind but not weeks behind."

Avelallemant expects the musky action to be good for anglers, and chances are getting better that anglers will find themselves fighting and boating bigger fish.

"We've looked at a variety of measures and we've definitely seen an increase in the last 20 years in the number of muskies 45 inches and larger," says Tim Simonson, a DNR fish biologist who chairs DNR's musky committee.

musky chart
Click on image for larger size.

The number of 45-plus inch fish registered by Muskies, Inc., members, and the size of the largest fish caught by participants in the National Championship Musky Open in Eagle River in August and during the Vilas County Musky Marathon, a season-long competition, have all been increasing over the past 20 years, Simonson says.

"Things are definitely getting better," he says. "Most of it is due to the voluntary release of fish by avid musky anglers in combination with more restrictive regulations through time." Background on this trend is detailed in "Long live the kings," a Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article.

A 40-inch size limit in effect statewide since 2013 is expected to help increase the number of larger fish even more, Simonson says. "We know from our evaluations that it takes at least 10 years to see any population level effects, but based on what we've seen on waters that have had the 40-inch limit, we can expect to see continued improvement in size structure."

The 40-inch limit applies to 94 percent of musky waters in Wisconsin. There are 41 waters that continue to have either lower size limits or higher size limits. Starting this year, waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan north of Highway 10 carry a 54-inch minimum size limit. The bag limit is 1.

Check the Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations for specific waters or check DNR's online regulation database to find size limits on the inland lake you plan to fish for musky.

Find where to fish for trophy musky or fast action waters, along with information on safely releasing musky, and musky management in Wisconsin, by searching for "musky

Musky forecasts in Wisconsin for 2014

Fish biologists from across the state filed musky forecasts for some of their more popular waters where recent surveys revealed fish size and abundance information. Those forecasts are found in the 2014 Wisconsin Fishing Report musky forecasts.

Musky Fast Facts

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Avelallemant 715-365-8987; Tim Simonson, 608-266-5222 or local fish biologists



Select anglers asked to report what they caught and kept in statewide "creel" survey

MADISON -- In an effort to learn more about statewide catch and harvest numbers for popular Wisconsin fish, state fisheries researchers are mailing monthly fishing logs to randomly selected license holders and asking them to record where they fished and what they caught and kept and to mail the report card back at the end of the month.

"The goal of the fishing creel survey is to get a firsthand representative account from anglers on fishing trends, catch and harvest rates and to see what kinds of fish species are favored in Wisconsin," says Jordan Petchenik, research sociologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "This useful information will ultimately help the agency to make more informed decisions about managing our fisheries."

The creel survey will run from May 2014 until April 2015 with more than 1,000 surveys sent each month to a new group of license holders. The DNR has completed two surveys in the past in 2006 and 2001.

"The survey is entirely voluntary and can be a fun way to keep track of your fishing outings over the course of a month, while helping to improve our fisheries," says Petchenik.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Hansen, fisheries biologist, 608-266-6883 or Jordan Petchenik, resource sociologist, 608-266-8523



DNR publications provide tips for proper disposal of medical sharps

MADISON - A new series of publications from the Department of Natural Resources is available to help the public properly dispose of medical sharps.

Medical sharps such as needles, syringes and lancets pose an injury risk for anyone who comes into contact with them.

"The DNR publications provide helpful tips for people to safely and properly dispose of medical sharps," said Barb Bickford, Medical Waste Coordinator. "Proper disposal will help protect public health and keep sharps out of our environment."

The publications are available in English, Hmong and Spanish by searching the DNR website for "medical sharps" and clicking on the tab for "Correct Disposal" or by searching the online Waste and Materials Management Program's publications list for "medical waste."

Safe disposal saves money and lowers injury risk

According to the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal, about nine million syringe users nationwide annually administer at least three billion injections outside of health care facilities.

To reduce public health risks, Wisconsin rules require all residents to manage sharps safely. It is illegal to put sharps in the trash or with recyclables. Sharps must be packaged safely and treated either at a licensed medical waste incinerator or by methods that render the sharps non-infectious, broken and unable to be reused.

However, medical sharps are often found in household garbage and recyclables or improperly flushed down the toilet. "When these needles end up in the solid waste stream, they can injure waste haulers, landfill operators and recycling workers," said Bickford. "When they're flushed down toilets, they may cause problems in plumbing and wastewater treatment plants, or may end up on our beaches."

Bickford noted that needlestick injuries are one of the most common workers' compensation injuries in Wisconsin's waste collection industry. Needlestick injuries require costly testing, may cause emotional stress and increase the risk of exposure to infectious diseases such as hepatitis B.

Some of the tips mentioned in the publications include:

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Barb Bickford, 608-267-3548



Standard Process Inc. seeks Green Tier status

PALMYRA, Wis. -- The public has an opportunity to comment on an application for Wisconsin's Green Tier program by Standard Process located in Palmyra, Wisconsin.

Standard Process is applying for Tier 1 of the Green Tier program, which is designed to encourage, recognize and reward companies that are committed to superior environmental performance. Green Tier encourages businesses to voluntarily collaborate with the Department of Natural Resources and applicants must also have a good environmental record as well as implement an Environmental Management System.

Standard Process Inc. is an 85 year-old Wisconsin business that manufactures dietary supplements that are sold through licensed health care professionals. The third generation, family-owned company's corporate headquarters, manufacturing facility and 450-acre certified-organic farm are all located in Palmyra.

A core value of Standard Process is to be a steward of the land by using environmentally safe farming, manufacturing and business practices. Moving forward, Standard Process will continue its long tradition of commitment to the environment by focusing on the following:

DNR will accept public comments on Standard Process' Green Tier application through June 13, 2014. Comments may be directed to Chris Lilek, Wisconsin DNR, N7725 Highway 28, Horicon, WI, 53032, or by phone at 920-387-7898 or at

More details about Standard Process can be found at For more information about the Standard Process Green Tier participation, search the DNR website for Green Tier and click on the tab for applicants.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Lilek: 920-387-7898



Comment Period begins for Bergquist Green Tier application

PRESCOTT, Wis. -- The public has an opportunity to comment on an application for Wisconsin's Green Tier Program by Bergquist Company. The application is for Bergquist Company's Prescott facility in northwestern Wisconsin.

Bergquist Company is applying for Tier 1 of the Green Tier program, which is designed to encourage, recognize and reward companies that are committed to superior environmental performance. Green Tier encourages businesses to voluntarily collaborate with the Department of Natural Resources, and applicants must also have a good environmental record as well as implement an Environmental Management System.

The Bergquist Company is a privately-held, family-owned business started by Carl Bergquist in 1964. The company began by distributing electronic components in the upper Midwest and consists of three main divisions: Thermal Products, Membrane Switches and Touch Screens. Today Bergquist supplies the world with some of the most well-known brands in the business: Sil-Pad thermally conductive interface materials, Gap Pad electrically insulating and non-insulating gap fillers, Hi-Flow phase change grease replacement materials, Bond-Ply™ thermally conductive adhesive tapes, and Thermal Clad insulated metal substrates.

Bergquist Company is committed to document, implement, and maintain an effective Environmental Management System, which through environmental aspect identification, evaluation, control and continual improvement, maintains compliance with all acceptable regulatory and legal requirements and actively strives towards its internal objectives and targets for pollution prevention while effectively communicating EMS activities internally and to the public.

Bergquist Company's corporate headquarters are located in Chanhassen, Minnesota. They have two other facilities in Minnesota, as well as one in South Dakota. Bergquist also maintains sales offices in The Netherlands, Germany, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, and China as well as sales representatives in 30 other countries.

The DNR will accept public comments on Bergquist Company's Green Tier application through June 13, 2014. Comments may be directed to Gregg Breese, Wisconsin DNR, OB/7, PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707, by email to, or by calling 608-509-5046.

More details about Bergquist Company can be found at (exit DNR) For more information about Bergquist's Green Tier participation search the DNR website for Green Tier and click on the tab for "Applicants".

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gregg Breese, 608-509-5046



EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The 2013-14 Wolf Season Report available

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The 2013-14 Wolf Season Report [PDF] has been posted at, search keyword "wolf." The report provides an overview of the state's second modern-era wolf hunting and trapping season, including a summary on permit numbers, hunting or trapping methods and results, biological sample collection and law enforcement activities. Contact: David MacFarland, DNR large carnivore specialist, 715-365-8917.]



Great blue heron chicks hatch to delight of nest-cam watchers

HORICON, Wis. - Success! Just in case you are wondering, the great blue heron couple and their nest that are the focus of a newly installed nest-cam in the heron rookery at Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center, hatched two of three eggs over the weekend, just in time for Mother's Day.

"We're thrilled that the herons were able to successfully hatch the chicks both for the enjoyment of our nest-cam watchers and for the growing heron population at Horicon," said Bret Owsley, Department of Natural Resources area wildlife supervisor. "We're waiting and watching like everyone else to see if egg number three hatches which could be today or tomorrow."

Chick number one hatched Saturday morning and chick number two pecked its way to daylight on Sunday. Typically, eggs are laid about one day apart. With three hungry chicks, the parents will have work to do feeding the rapidly growing youngsters.

"The male and the female will share the feeding duties," says Owsley, "they will consume up to four times their usual amount of food, which they will regurgitate at the nest to feed the chicks. It will take about 55 days for the chicks to grow their flight feathers and be ready for their first flight which should be sometime around the fourth of July."

The heron rookery on Horicon reached its pinnacle in the 1970s with an estimated 4,000 birds using the site. Over time, a combination of bad weather and Dutch elm disease caused the trees that supported the rookery to decline which resulted in a decrease in the number of tall sturdy trees the birds use for roosts. Wildlife management staff placed artificial nests, near the original location during the winter of 1992-93 consisting of telephone poles and angled slats of wood to bring the colonial nesting birds back. Additional structures and the nest-cam were added this year.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Herzmann, Horicon wildlife educator, 920-387-7893 or Bob Manwell, DNR communications, 608-275-3317


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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