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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 17, 2014

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DNR wardens, local patrols target impaired boat drivers for Operation Dry Water, June 27-29

MADISON -- Get smart, be skilled and stay sober enjoying Wisconsin's waters.

That's the state theme for June 27 - 29 when Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens will join local boat patrols for Operation Dry Water, the annual national boating safety campaign dedicated to increasing public awareness about sober boat operation by removing impaired drivers.

Roy Zellmer, DNR boating safety administrator and conservation warden, says wardens and local boat patrols will be out in force that weekend talking about on-water safety as well as watching for operators whose actions are impaired by alcohol and other drugs, and those whose blood alcohol level is higher than the state limit of 0.08 percent as part of the annual June national safety campaign.

"There are 84,000 river miles and 15,000 lakes Wisconsin for all to enjoy," Zellmer said. "The wardens and the local boat patrols are working as a team to help all have fun, without having to worry about the careless and selfish actions of a very few."

Operation Dry Water, a multi-agency, education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, puts thousands of local, state and federal marine law enforcement officers on the water nationwide the last weekend in June to give operating while intoxicated enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season.

Operation Dry Water focuses on spreading awareness of the danger of boating under the influence.

Wisconsin closed 2013 with 614,399 registered boats. DNR records show there were 87 boating accidents in 2013 that caused 66 injuries and 13 fatalities. Of those who died, nearly all drowned and were not wearing personal flotation devices.

"Operator inexperience and lack of boating safety education also continue to be factors in boating accidents," Zellmer said.

In Wisconsin boaters whose blood alcohol content (BAC) level exceeds the state limit of .08 can expect to be arrested for boating under the influence (BUI). Penalties for BUI include fines, jail, alcohol/drug assessment and completion of a boating safety course. Operation Dry Water patrols will include increased patrols as well as boater education and outreach.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, please visit operationdrywater.org (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Roy Zellmer 608-212-5385 or Joanne Haas, 608-209-8147

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As campaign continues, more anglers drain water to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species

MADISON -- This summer, thousands of Wisconsin anglers will leave the boat landing with a free ice pack to go with their daily catch. The packs come with a friendly reminder from their local boat inspector or conservation warden: Drain water from live wells or buckets to stop the spread of invasive species.

The reminder is part of a statewide "Drain Campaign" taking place this summer to get the word out on a law that is sometimes overlooked. Most anglers and boaters already know to pull weeds and animals off their gear, but it is also against the law to transport lake or river water and live fish. Once fish are out of water, they aren't considered live and can be transported home.

Aquatic invasive species educator Christal Campbell says the rule against moving water between lakes exists because invaders like zebra mussel larvae or Spiny water fleas, which are too small to see, can survive in water left in a live well, bucket, bilge, motor or other equipment and then flourish after arriving at a new lake or river.

Campbell explains, "Once these hitchhikers reach a new lake or river, they can cause problems. Spiny water fleas impact the food web, and zebra mussels can clog gear, cover beaches or lead to increased blue-green algae blooms."

Since last year, the Campbell notes that the program has been successful in raising awareness.

"Anglers are some of the most dedicated stewards of Wisconsin's lakes and rivers. This whole effort came about because they told the DNR in surveys and focus groups, that the rules for transporting live fish and water just weren't as clear to them," says Campbell. "Anglers want to do the right thing and protect the resource, so we're making sure they know how."

Anglers may also hear about the "Draining Campaign" from a couple of big names on the radio this summer. Pro angler Joe Bucher and Wisconsin Foodie chef Kyle Cherek are featured in radio advertisements that air statewide this month to remind anglers of these steps to drain water and to encourage them to put their fish on ice as a way to keep the fish fresh and avoid problems with water-borne invasives.

Follow these steps every time you leave the water to help keep our waters clean and healthy:

*Leftover minnows can be taken away from any state water and used again on that same water. Leftover minnows may be used on another water body only if no lake or river water or other fish were added to their container.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman, 262-719-0740 or Robert.Wakeman@wisconsin.gov

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Blue-green algae blooms appearing in southern lakes, will continue northward

MADISON -- Those heading out to lakes are advised to be on the lookout for blue-green algae blooms beginning to form on lakes and ponds across the state. Reports show blooms are forming on southern lakes and will gradually appear northward as the summer months continue.

"Blue-green algae have 'pea soup' appearance in lakes and contain green, blue, white, red, or brown scums that may be foamy or in mats," says Gina LaLiberte, a research scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "These blooms may cause illnesses for those who come in contact with them or accidentally ingest water containing algae."

The most commonly reported symptoms of exposure to blue-green algae blooms include rashes, gastrointestinal ailments, and respiratory irritation, according to Mark Werner, a toxicologist with the Department of Health Services. People experiencing symptoms that may be due to blue-green algal exposure should contact their health care provider or the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Public health officials encourage people to always wash off after swimming in any lake, pond or river. Dogs should always be rinsed off with clean water to remove algae from their coat. If people have any doubts about the appearance of water, they should stay out. They should ensure that children and pets do not swim in or drink water with an algae bloom.

"A good rule for identifying blue-green algae is that if adults are in knee-deep water and can see their feet, the risk from blue-green algae is low to moderate, but it's still a good idea to avoid swallowing water," LaLiberte says. "When you can't see your feet, keep children and dogs out of the water, and consider having the whole family pursue another activity that day."

People are also encouraged to help out by reporting potential algae-related illnesses in both people and animals to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services by filling out an electronic form [www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/bluegreenalgae/ (exit DNR) or calling 608-266-1120.

Animals have a higher risk of dying after exposure to blue-green algae toxins because they are smaller in size and may ingest large amounts of toxins from drinking lake, pond, or river water or licking algae from their coat. Symptoms in dogs can include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or even seizures. If your animal shows any of these symptoms contact your veterinarian immediately.

Blooms tend to grow when there is a lot of sunlight, water temperatures are high, and there is little wind, with the number of blooms peaking from July to September.

Some bloom-forming blue-green algae species produce toxins that can cause rashes or gastrointestinal illness with ingestion. If ingested in high levels the toxins can harm the neurological system, liver or kidneys of people, pets, livestock and wildlife. Not all cyanobacteria produce toxins, but the presence of blue-green algae blooms in lakes, ponds, or rivers serves as an indication the public can use to identify a potential health hazard, according to LaLiberte.

The DNR will be hosting an online blue-green algae chat July 1 at noon where participants can logon and ask a panel of experts questions on blue-green algae and ways to stay safe this summer when spending time on the water.

More information is available by searching the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "blue-green algae."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gina LaLiberte, DNR research scientist gina.laliberte@wisconsin.gov 608-221-5377 OR Mark Werner, Department of Health toxicologist, 608 266-7480, Mark.Werner@dhs.wisconsin.gov

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New southern zone bobcat hunting and trapping season will be offered in Wisconsin

MADISON - Wisconsin will offer a southern zone bobcat hunting and trapping season beginning in fall 2014. State wildlife officials say the creation of a southern management zone will make new opportunities available for people to hunt and trap bobcats.

The southern management zone, which includes all of Wisconsin south of Highway 64, is the result of recent research regarding bobcat population density and habitat use in central Wisconsin conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The effort was supported by hunters and trappers who asked for a surcharge on the fee for bobcat permit applications; these charges were used to fund the research.

The northern harvest zone will remain unchanged.

Bobcat hunting and trapping period dates will remain the same, and are as follows:

Those interested in hunting and/or trapping bobcats will need to apply to a specific zone (north or south) and time period (period 1 or 2) for the upcoming season. The application deadline for bobcat permits is always August 1. It is important to note that applicant preference points will continue as in the past.

Since the number of people who would like to hunt or trap bobcats exceeds the number of permits that are available, a lottery system is in place to distribute permits. Those who were unsuccessful in a previous year's drawing are awarded a preference point each year. Previously accumulated preference points can be used in applying for either a southern or northern zone permit.

Those who have already applied for a 2014-15 bobcat permit will be allowed to change their application and will be notified via mail with instructions explaining how to do so. Final permit numbers for each zone will not be known until early August and will be published on the DNR website once finalized.

While education requirements are not necessary to apply for a harvest tag, all hunter education and trapper education requirements apply in order to legally harvest a bobcat. For more information on bobcat hunting and trapping in Wisconsin, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "trap."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: John Olson, DNR furbearer ecologist, 715-685-2934

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Disabled deer hunters are encouraged to sign up for a sponsored hunt by Sept. 1

MADISON -- Eligible hunters interested in participating in the 2014 gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities are reminded to contact a land sponsor and enroll before the Sept. 1 deadline.

As of the June 1 deadline, 67 landowners have enrolled more than 73,000 acres of land across 39 counties for this year's deer hunt. In 2014, the disabled gun deer hunt will take place Oct. 4 to 12. For a list of sponsors for the 2014 season, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "disabled deer hunt."

"We are excited to work with both landowners and hunters to provide this unique opportunity," said assistant big game ecologist Dan Kaminski. "By opening their land for this hunt, these sponsors are instrumental in making Wisconsin's deer hunting tradition accessible to all hunters."

Hunters should contact sponsors directly and be prepared to provide their name, contact information and DNR customer ID number. To be eligible, hunters must possess a valid Class A, Class B long-term permit that allows shooting from a vehicle or Class C or D disabled hunting permit. As in the past, eligible hunters must also possess a gun deer license.

It is important to note that some properties are able to accommodate more hunters than others. "Some of the smaller properties may only allow a few hunters this season, so people are advised to contact a potential sponsor as early as possible to determine if space is available," said Kaminski.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Kaminski, Assistant Big Game Ecologist, 608-261-7588

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 17, 2014




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