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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published October 11, 2016

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2016 Wisconsin ring-necked pheasant season opens Oct. 15 at 9 a.m.

Contact(s): Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861; Krista Pham, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist, 608-261-8458.

MADISON - Pheasant hunting will again take center stage in Wisconsin when the fall 2016 hunting season opens statewide Saturday, Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. and remains open through Dec. 31.

Several other game bird seasons also open Oct. 15, including bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse (zone B), Hungarian partridge. Like pheasant, the bobwhite quail and Hungarian partridge seasons open at 9 a.m., while ruffed grouse season opens with the start of legal shooting hours. A 2016 Pheasant Stamp and valid small game license are required to hunt pheasants statewide.

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Ruffed grouse hunting in the Southern Zone opens with the start of legal shooting hours Oct. 15.
Photo Credit: Herb Lange

Hunters are encouraged to read the 2016 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations [PDF] for more information regarding regulations and season structure. Some public hunting grounds offer both hen and rooster pheasant hunting, and some properties also have 2 p.m. closure times - these 2 p.m. closure restrictions are only in effect on weekdays from Oct. 17 to Nov. 3.

The 2016 Fall Hunting & Trapping Forecast provides additional information for hunters looking to pursue pheasants and other upland game this fall - visit and search keyword "forecast" to learn more.

"Pheasant hunting offers a fantastic means to experience the outdoors, and it complements the other upland bird hunting opportunities in Wisconsin," said Mark Witecha, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. "Pheasant hunting provides an opportunity to explore new landscapes and habitat types, and the fall season can't be beat with the vibrant colors reaching their peak."

Mild winter temperatures and snowfall left gamebirds in good condition entering the 2016 breeding season. In addition, an earlier-than-normal spring green-up led to good gamebird breeding and nesting conditions. Brood-rearing conditions in Wisconsin in 2016 were above average for temperature, with much of Wisconsin experiencing temperatures about one to two degrees above average for June through August.

Pheasants are one of the most sought-after gamebirds in North America, and populations thrive in southern Wisconsin's agricultural landscape, provided there is habitat present in sufficient quantities to meet food and cover needs throughout the year.

Witecha says hunters should look for areas with adequate winter cover, such as cattail marshes and dense brush, intermixed with cropland, hay and idle grasslands, which provide food and nesting cover. It is important for hunters to identify areas with high-quality habitat and concentrate hunting efforts in those areas.

During the 2015 pheasant hunting season, an estimated 47,154 hunters ventured into the woods in search of pheasants and reported harvesting 298,495 birds. The counties with highest pheasant harvest included Fond du Lac, Waukesha and Jefferson.

Bag Limits

On Oct. 15 and 16, the daily bag limit is one cock, while the remainder of the season (Oct. 17 through Dec. 31) will have a daily bag limit of two cocks. The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.

Please note that the free leg tags previously required on the hen/rooster areas are no longer required. Within these areas, the daily bag limit is one pheasant daily for the first two days of the season and two pheasants daily for the remainder of the season, with a possession limit of three times the daily bag limit. More information is available in the 2016 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations, available online at, keyword "regulations [PDF]." Small Game regulations are also available in Hmong [PDF] and Spanish [PDF].

Wild pheasant populations

The statewide ring-necked pheasant survey was redesigned in 2013 to ensure accurate data collection, efficient use of resources and more reliable pheasant abundance estimates. This redesign helps department staff effectively manage harvest and habitat management programs for ring-necked pheasant.

The 2016 survey estimated 745 roosters along survey routes, up slightly from the estimated 707 roosters observed along the same routes in 2015. The number of pheasants recorded per stop (0.42 pheasants) was essentially the same as in 2015 (0.45) and slightly below the five-year average of 0.48 birds per stop in 2008-2012. Estimated pheasant abundance along survey routes was highest in the west-central portion of the state (St. Croix and the surrounding counties) compared to regions in the southern and east-central portions of the state.

In addition, pheasant abundance in Wisconsin is indexed annually using a rural mail carrier survey [PDF]. In late April, mail carriers record the number of pheasants observed while driving. Rural mail carrier sightings of pheasant in 2016 increased by 26.9 percent compared to 2015 levels, but are still below the long term mean. The number of pheasants seen per 100 miles driven was 0.42 in 2016, an increase from 0.33 in 2015, but still lower than the long term average of 0.57. In 2016, the number of rural mail carriers participating in the survey decreased by 0.61 percent.

In late April, mail carriers record the number of pheasants observed while driving.
In late April, mail carriers record the number of pheasants observed while driving.
Photo Credit: DNR

The number of pheasant broods seen per observer-hour was down 46 percent in 2016 compared to last year. Pheasant production was down in both the primary (44 percent decrease) and secondary (33 percent decrease) pheasant range, compared to 2015 levels. Pheasant brood size saw an increase in 2016, with an average of 4.3 young per brood in 2016 (compared to 4 in 2015).

Precipitation levels were above normal in 2016, with several severe and large events. While these events were not followed by cold weather, the overall severity of this precipitation may have led to brood losses in those areas.

Weather conditions in early June are most critical for turkey, pheasant and grouse broods - this is when recently-hatched chicks are most susceptible to hypothermia if they become wet. While summer 2016 was warm, it was also saw wet conditions and may have led to less than ideal conditions for brood rearing and survival.

"While pheasant breeding numbers have rebounded a bit from a few harsh winters in 2013 and 2014, overall breeding numbers have been declining for several years and overall population numbers are down from the highs seen in the 1990s," said Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife survey coordinator. "While brood rearing conditions may have impacted pheasants in 2016, overall pheasant numbers are likely impacted by declining grassland habitat due to losses in Conservation Reserve Program grassland acres throughout the pheasant range."

For more information regarding pheasant hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "pheasant."

Pheasant Hunting Opportunities through the Mentored Hunting Program

The Mentored Hunting Program gives hunters age 10 or older, born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, the opportunity to obtain a hunting license and hunt without first completing Hunter Education, provided they hunt with a mentor and comply with all of the requirements under the program.

"Pheasants are a popular gamebird, and they offer a great hunting experience to both novice and experienced hunters," said Witecha. "I wish hunters a safe and successful experience this fall."

For additional information and the requirements of the program, search keywords "mentored hunting."



2016 fall pheasant stocking numbers will provide for another exciting fall pheasant hunt

Contact(s): Kelly Maguire, DNR state game farm supervisor, 608-635-8120

MADISON - This fall, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists plan to release roughly 75,000 game farm pheasants on 90 public hunting grounds throughout Wisconsin.

Pheasants remain one of the most popular game species in Wisconsin.
Pheasants remain one of the most popular game species in Wisconsin.
Photo Credit: DNR

These numbers are slightly lower than 2015 stocking efforts, but represent a strategic effort to remain within the available operating budget. State game farm production goals will remain at 75,000 birds moving forward.

In addition, pheasants raised by conservation clubs through the Day-old Chick Program will also be released this fall on both designated public hunting grounds and private lands open to public pheasant hunting. Hunters are reminded to notify landowners before hunting on private property open to public hunting as part of this program.

Students at Richland Center High School release a batch of pheasants.
Students at Richland Center High School release a batch of pheasants.
Photo Credit: DNR

A summary of stocked properties and other helpful information is available at, keyword "pheasant."

FFLIGHT remains a valuable tool for gamebird hunters in Wisconsin

Hunters are encouraged to use the Fields and Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool to locate and explore properties stocked with pheasants (along with ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat and managed dove fields). FFLIGHT also gives hunters access to aerial maps, topography and measuring tools to easily navigate and identify areas of interest and make hunting trips more productive and enjoyable. For more information, search keyword "FFLIGHT."



In its second year, GameReg gives hunters options for easy and timely registration in the field or at an in-person registration station

Contact(s): Todd Schaller, DNR Chief Warden, 608-381-8927

MADISON - In its second year, GameReg gives hunters a number of options when registering harvest in 2016 without having to travel to a registration station.

To help ensure every hunter is aware of registration options in 2016, a helpful tutorial is now available online. This video can be viewed in the field or at home, and provides a step by step look at what to expect in 2016.

Video Credit: DNR

All harvested deer, turkeys, and bear will be registered electronically in 2016. The system will prompt hunters to answer a series of questions, beginning with the carcass tag number and date of birth.

GameReg will generate a 10-character confirmation number, which must be written on the paper carcass tag that accompanies the harvested animal. Hunters are reminded to carry a pen or pencil to write the 10-character number on the tag. When this registration number is written on the tag, the animal is considered legally registered.

All deer, turkey and bear must be registered by 5 p.m. the day after the game is recovered, and hunters must retain the tag with confirmation number as proof of registration until the meat has been consumed.

Hunters will have three options for registering their harvest:

A link to the GameReg system is available through the Pocket Ranger app for mobile devices. For more information regarding electronic registration, search "GameReg."

Carcass tagging FAQ gives helpful overview of tagging procedures

Go Wild offers several options for displaying a hunting license, including an authorized Wisconsin Driver License, Conservation Card or electronic PDF image. However, deer, turkey, bear and goose hunters are required to carry the appropriate paper carcass tag.

The carcass tagging FAQ (search keywords "tag it"), will help hunters make sure they are ready for another year in the field, while the frequently asked questions offers additional information regarding changes for 2016.

Deer Show 2016 webpage features "sneak peeks" leading up to the nine-day hunt

Early segments from Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2016 with Dan Small will help hunters prepare for another fall deer hunt - these short videos are now available and will allow viewers to get ready for deer season on-the-go. These early segments give hunters a sneak peek before the full Deer Show airs later this fall - for a preview, search keywords "deer show" or visit the department's Youtube page, select "playlists" and select "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2016 with Dan Small."

2016 Wisconsin Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast available online

Many fall hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin are just around the corner, and the 2016 Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast is now available.

To view this year's hunting and trapping forecast, visit and search keywords "forecast" or "hunt."

People who missed three August live chats regarding deer hunting can review chat records online - search keyword "expert" and choose the chat of your choice.

To receive email updates regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, visit and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page titled "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "white-tailed deer" distribution list (found within the "hunting" list).

For more general information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."



Peninsula State Park Eagle Tower deconstruction completed

Contact(s): Missy VanLanduyt, Wisconsin State Parks, 608-266-7617 or Paul Holtan, Office of Communication, 608-267-7517

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY--CORRECTION: The dates for Forest Product Laboratory programs was listed incorrectly.  The programs will be held Oct. 18 and 19.  We regret the error.]

FISH CREEK, Wis. - The deconstruction of Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park was competed the Week of Sept. 19 through. 23 and all roads and trails within the park have reopened.

Contractors working for the Department of Natural Resources used a 9-ton, 140-foot crane and two smaller cranes to take down the tower in sections, which was completed in one day. Once on the ground, the sections were further deconstructed and all materials were moved to a secure holding area.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 10 photos

Eagle Tower deconstruction slideshow

In October, staff from the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory will assess all wood elements to determine the existing structural integrity and level of deterioration. Peninsula State Park and Forest Products Lab staff will conduct a presentation on the process laboratory staff will use to assess the wood at 4 p.m. on October 18 at the Fish Creek Town Hall. This presentation is open to the public. Additionally, DNR staff along with the Forest Products Lab team will do a presentation for the Woods class and Gibraltar School students on October 19.

Current plans are to rebuild a new structure to look as similar as possible to the existing tower, while complying with building codes, accessibility and taking into consideration new technologies.

The park closed the tower to public use in May 2015 to protect public safety after an inspection report raised significant concerns over its structural integrity and an inspection by the Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory staff found considerable deterioration of the structural and non-structural wood members.

The Friends of Peninsula State Park in cooperation with interested community members has formed a subcommittee, the Eagle Tower Fund Committee, which is raising funds to rebuild Eagle Tower.

People can also sign up to receive email updates on tower progress by searching the DNR website,, for "Eagle Tower" and clicking on the "subscribe for Eagle Tower updates" email icon.

People who are interested in donating to the reconstruction of Eagle Tower can find more information and a link to the donation website through the Friends of Peninsula State Park website at



Sustainable forestry in Wisconsin recognized nationally

Contact(s): Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084

MADISON - Forest certification initiatives in Wisconsin received national honors from the Forest Stewardship Council with presentation of the 2016 FSC Leadership Award to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at the recent national Greenbuild conference.

The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent nonprofit organization created in 1993 to help consumers and businesses identify products from well-managed forests.

"The FSC Leadership Awardsrecognize organizations and people who distinguish themselves in efforts to promote responsible forest management,"said Corey Brinkema, president of the Forest Stewardship Council US. "The FSC leaders show that with a bit of creativity and dedication, it's possible to make a big difference for our forests, wildlife and communities."

Forest Stewardship Council US President Corey Brinkema (left) presents the 2016 FSC Leadership Award to Mark Heyde, coordinator of forest certification programs at Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Forest Stewardship Council US President Corey Brinkema (left) presents the 2016 FSC Leadership Award to Mark Heyde, coordinator of forest certification programs at Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Photo Credit: Submitted

He added that "award winners show we can conserve forests, even as we use forest products in our daily lives."

"An important role of the state forestry program is to evaluate various certification efforts targeting sustainable forestry practices that contribute to the state's economy while providing a variety of ecological and social benefits," said Darrell Zastrow, acting Forestry Division administrator with Wisconsin DNR. "We're honored to receive this national award recognizing the agency's leadership in sustainable forestry."

The Forest Stewardship Council award recognizes DNR for long-term dedication to responsible forest management on state forest lands and for managing the world's largest group certificate under the Managed Forest Law program.

More than 6.5 million acres of forest land in Wisconsin are third-party certified as sustainably managed under one or more of the three major forest certification systems used in the United States. Wisconsin DNR lands (1,551,440 acres) and Wisconsin county forest lands (1,483,893 acres in 27 counties) are dual certified under the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standards.

Forest landowners enrolled in the state's Managed Forest Law program (38,474 private landowners holding 2,595,142 forested acres) participate in the American Tree Farm System and Forest Stewardship Council group certification programs.

"Each of these three systems provides assurance to the public that Wisconsin forests are being cared for responsibly to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous practices," Zastrow said. "This award really recognizes the partnership work of all forest landowners to implement sustainable forestry practices on the 17.1 million acres of forestland in Wisconsin."

For more information, visit the DNR website at, keyword "forest certification" or contact DNR Forest Certification Coordinator Mark Heyde,, 608-267-0565.



Chart Energy & Chemicals pursues Tier 2 of Wisconsin's Green Tier

Contact(s): Tom Nowakowski, DNR, 608-266-8226

MADISON - The Department of Natural Resources seeks public input on proposed contract negotiations with Chart Energy & Chemicals, Inc. Located in La Crosse, Chart Energy & Chemicals is seeking participation in Tier 2 of the Green Tier program.

In Tier 2 of Green Tier, participants negotiate customized contracts with DNR. Tier 2 of the program is designed for companies with a fully functional Environmental Management System (EMS) and with a history of superior environmental performance.

The public has an opportunity to help develop the Tier 2 contract by contacting DNR with comments, requests to participate in negotiations or requests for a public informational meeting through November 11, 2016.

Chart Energy & Chemicals incorporated an EMS and received ISO 14001 certification in 2011. This "plan-do-check-act" tool helps a company understand its environmental impacts and set benchmarks to measure future environmental performance. The state Green Tier contracts seek to enable significant environmental improvements and may allow for certain types of regulatory flexibility. Chart Energy & Chemicals is currently not seeking regulatory flexibility.

Chart Energy & Chemicals, a division of Chart Industries, Inc., designs and manufactures cryogenic equipment used in many parts of the liquid gas supply chain. Its products are used in the separation of oxygen, nitrogen and noble gases in the processing of natural gas. In addition, its distribution and storage division produces products that are fundamental to the delivery and end-use of liquid gases in many industrial and energy applications.

Public comments on the contract may be directed to Tom Nowakowski, Wisconsin DNR, OB/7, PO BOX 7921, Madison, WI 53707, by email to or at (608) 266-8226.

More information on the Chart Energy & Chemicals application may be found on the DNR's Green Tier web page.  or by going to the DNR's web site at and searching keywords "Green Tier."


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 11, 2016

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