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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published December 20, 2016

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First Day Hikes to be held at 12 Wisconsin State Park properties

Contact(s): Brigit Brown - 608-219-1295 or Paul Holtan, 608-267-7517 or 608-235-2126

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to correct that Harrington Beach State Park will not be having a First Day Hike this year.  Harrington Beach State Park will hold a winter hike on Saturday, Jan. 7.  We regret the error.]

MADISON - People looking to start their New Year's resolution for better health can start the year off on the right foot by participating in any of a dozen First Day Hikes that will be held at Wisconsin State Park System properties on January 1.

Hardy New Year's Day hikers had fun on the 2 mile snowshoe trail where they ventured out to Echo Rock along the lakeside.
Hardy New Year's Day hikers had fun on the 2 mile snowshoe trail where they ventured out to Echo Rock along the lakeside.
Photo Credit: DNR

On a First Day Hike, visitors can enjoy walks through diverse, beautiful natural areas, led by park staff or volunteers. Most hikes include additional activities such as campfires, naturalist guides, wildlife tracking and hot beverages after the hike. A 2017 Wisconsin state park admission sticker is required for entrance to most parks for these events, although the Lapham Peak and Pike Lake units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest are waiving the sticker requirements for their First Day hikers.

All 50 states are participating in the sixth annual event that invites families and friends to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds and wonder of our natural world with fun, guided hikes.

On Jan. 1, 2016, 802 participants hiked 2,300 miles at 9 different Wisconsin state park properties, up from the 507 participants and 1,191 miles hiked at 10 different parks in 2015.

In Wisconsin, First Day Hikes will be held at the following properties:

For helpful cold weather hiking tips, visit the American Hiking Society's website at (both links exit DNR). For a complete listing of all State Park events, including First Day Hikes, search the DNR website for keywords "get outdoors."

All participants are encouraged to log their First Day Hike adventures on social media with the hash tag "#firstdayhikes."



More than 30 candlelight events scheduled this winter at Wisconsin state parks, forests and trails

Contact(s): Paul Holtan, office of communications, 608-267-7517

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to correct that Mirror Lake State Park will hold a candlelight event on February 4 and to list cancelations and rescheduled events. A candlelight ski has been added on Jan. 28 at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, but is limited to 450 vehicles that must pick up a parking voucher prior to the event. A candlelight ski and snowshoe has been added for Feb. 4 at Copper Falls State Park.  A candlelight hike at Yellowstone Lake State Park and an urban candlelight hike at the Hank Aaron State Trail have been added on Feb. 25 . A candlelight hike has been added for Copper Culture State Park on March 11.]

MADISON - Early snowfall that has covered all of Wisconsin, combined with cold temperatures in the forecast to keep the snow around, should create good conditions for the 30 candlelight events planned this winter at Wisconsin state parks, forests, recreation areas and trails.

More than 30 DNR properties will hold candlelight events this winter.  This image is from a candlelight ski last year at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Morain State Forest.
More than 30 DNR properties will hold candlelight events this winter. This image is from a candlelight ski last year at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Morain State Forest.
Photo Credit: DNR

"Most properties are reporting that they are already packing ski trails, and with a bit more snow most will also be able to set tracks for cross-country skiing," said Paul Holtan, communications specialist for the state parks program.

This winter's candlelight events kick off January 7 at Blue Mound State Park west of Madison, Mirror Lake State Park southeast of Lake Delton and Wildcat Mountain State Park near Ontario, and run on weekends through February 18.

Skiing, snowshoeing and hiking by candlelight have become some of the most popular winter events at Department of Natural Resources properties, with some events attracting more than a thousand visitors. Last year a candlelight event at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest attracted so many visitors that all of the available parking at the property filled and entrance gates to the property had to be closed, causing backups and traffic problems.

A candlelight event at Horicon Marsh has become so popular that the Friends of Horicon Marsh Visitor and Education Center has set up shuttle busses running from Mayville and Horicon between 4:30-9:30 p.m. and is encouraging visitors to use them as parking at the facility is limited.

"We encourage people to plan ahead and to consider attending a candlelight event at a property they may not have visited in the past. Also this year we plan to use the DNR Twitter  social media platform to provide current information about specific events," Holtan said.

Some properties offer skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, while others offer just skiing or just snowshoeing and hiking. Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 or 9 p.m. 

Many of the events include additional activities such as bonfires, and hot chocolate and other refreshments may be available for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Some properties have warming shelters that are open for the events. Many of the events are organized by the friends groups of the parks, which provide much of the volunteer labor for the events.

People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website,, and searching keyword "candlelight." For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords "find a park." Regular park and trail fees apply for the events unless otherwise noted.

While most events will not be cancelled due to lack of snow, they still could be cancelled if conditions are icy, extremely cold or have severe wind chills, so people are encouraged to check the website, follow the DNR Twitter feed, or call properties directly to confirm the event will be held if threatening weather is in the forecast.

2017 Wisconsin State Park Winter Candlelight Events

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017



Eagle and osprey surveys document record numbers of nests

Contact(s): Laura Jaskiewicz, 715- 365-8922; Jim Woodford, 715-365-8856

RHINELANDER, Wis. -- Good news for Wisconsin's bald eagles and the people who love to watch them: a record number of occupied nests were observed in spring surveys, signifying the state's largest population since surveys started in the 1970s, according to the 2016 Bald Eagle and Osprey Survey Report [PDF] released today.

Click on image for larger size.
Click on image for larger size.

The survey results continue to document the raptors' comeback from the brink of extinction in the 1960s and 1970s, to removal from the state threatened and endangered species list in the 2000s, to healthy and growing populations today.

The aerial surveys confirmed 1,504 occupied eagle nests, 39 more nests than the previous year and compared to 108 in 1973. Osprey nests also were found in record numbers: 558 occupied osprey nests were observed in 58 of 72 (81 percent) counties, up from 542 in 2014.

"The recovery of bald eagles in Wisconsin is a great conservation success story and one that more Wisconsin residents are seeing up close as eagles expand into new territories," says Drew Feldkirchner, who leads the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation program. "We're also very pleased to see osprey numbers continue to climb and appreciate our partnership with utility companies and other partners to provide artificial nesting platforms for these birds."

Osprey populations in Wisconsin declined dramatically from the 1950s to early 1970s in response to pesticides and the loss of suitable nest habitat - tall trees or snags - as lake shorelines were developed and trees were removed. Now, 75 percent of Wisconsin osprey nests are built on artificial platforms erected on utility poles, cell phone towers and other tall structures.

The 2016 effort marked the 44th consecutive year that the bald eagle occupancy survey has been completed in Wisconsin, which makes it one of the longest running surveys of its kind in North America. DNR staff from the Natural Heritage Conservation and Wildlife Management bureaus completed statewide aerial nesting surveys for bald eagles and ospreys in cooperation with DNR pilots in March and April 2016, according to Laura Jaskiewicz, the DNR research scientist who coordinates the survey and report from Rhinelander.

Bald eagle nesting begins in late January and early February in the Midwest. In 2016, DNR biologists found the highest number of occupied eagle nests in the 44 years of aerial surveys.
Bald eagle nesting begins in late January and early February in the Midwest. In 2016, DNR biologists found the highest number of occupied eagle nests in the 44 years of aerial surveys.
Photo Credit: DNR

Jaskiewicz says the number of occupied nests continues to rise in northern Wisconsin, the heart of eagle country due to abundant lakes and rivers, and in southeastern Wisconsin, where the proportional increase was the largest in the state.

Southeastern Wisconsin has historically had a smaller population of nesting eagles, and this increase in nests, from 11 to 17, may be due to eagle numbers in the north getting close to carrying capacity, so their range is reaching farther than it previously has, she says.

Occupied eagle nests were observed in 69 of 72 (96 percent) counties, with Vilas and Oneida counties continuing to have the most nests.

The 2016 midwinter eagle survey -- some counts done by air by DNR pilots and biologists and others done by DNR staff and volunteers on foot, in cars or in boats -- showed an impressive 87 percent increase in wintering eagles across the state of Wisconsin over the previous winter's count. This increase may have been due to the unusually mild winter enabling more eagles to stay in the state; typically, eagles will move south and congregate along major rivers near open water areas by dams, Jaskiewicz says.

Winter eagle-related events and activities draw tourists, and communities hosting them have lifted the state's visibility as an ecotourism and bird-watching destination. The Ferry Bluff Eagle Council conducted identical economic surveys of eagle watchers in 1994 and 2004 in the Prairie du Sac area and found that about $1,144,000 was generated by visitors throughout the three-month eagle season in 2004, during a time that otherwise would be a slow tourist season for community businesses. That figure represented a 20 percent increase, adjusted for inflation, over the economic impact in 1994. A third economic study is underway now.

Because eagle and osprey populations are healthy and growing, this year DNR did not conduct the second aerial survey it has done in past years to assess the reproductive success of the breeding pairs. Resources are being redirected to other non-game species needing field surveys.

"The reason we continue to survey the statewide nesting eagle and osprey populations is to provide accurate locations of eagle and osprey nests within the state," Jaskiewiczsays. "It's important that we keep our data as up to date as possible so that we can give property owners and managers the best guidance to effectively protect nesting eagles and ospreys."

Eagle nests are federally protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty, which celebrated its centennial in 2016.

Adopt An Eagle Nest, new eagle license plate help continue work to protect eagles

Citizens and organizations can help make sure these important annual surveys continue by sponsoring an eagle nest or purchasing a new eagle license plate, which provides a $25 annual donation to the Endangered Resources Fund. Search the DNR website,, for "eagle plate" for more information.

DNR's Adopt-An-Eagle Nest program allows sponsors, for a minimum contribution of $100, to receive an adoption certificate, an aerial photo showing the location of your eagle nest, results from the surveys and a full-color eagle calendar. Go to and search "AEN" for more information.



County Deer Advisory Councils to discuss chronic wasting disease recommendations at special January meetings

Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist, 608-261-7589; Bob Nack, DNR big game section chief, 608-264-6137

MADISON -- County Deer Advisory Councils will hold special meetings in January for the specific purpose of discussing recommendations for responding to chronic wasting disease statewide and on a local level.

Each council will review information regarding CWD and discuss the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' 15-year Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan. This plan guides the department's approach to addressing CWD in Wisconsin, and is currently under review by DNR, DATCP and the Conservation Congress along with a stakeholder-based CWD Response Plan review committee.

Each council will use current CWD data, preliminary recommendations from the review committee, and online public feedback to submit recommendations on action items in the plan. The response plan covers topics including CWD surveillance and monitoring, hunting season tools, captive cervid regulations, biosecurity and safety, research, and public involvement.

To help council members gather public feedback prior to the meetings, an on-line public input form survey is available on the CWD Response Plan review. Additional public comments will be accepted at each January CDAC meeting.

For CDAC meeting information, search keyword "CDAC" and select the link labeled "Find your county's January meeting location, date and start time." Meeting dates can also be found through the public meetings calendar - search keywords "County Deer Advisory Council."

Final CWD response plan recommendations will be presented to the Natural Resources Board in March 2017.

For more information regarding chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin, search keyword "CWD."



DNR sets January meetings to discuss sustainable harvest framework for Lake Michigan whitefish

Contact(s): David Boyarski, DNR eastern district fisheries supervisor, 920-746-2865,; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

Rule changes on hold until additional public feedback and information can be gathered

STURGEON BAY, Wis. - To address concerns expressed by stakeholders during initial meetings on the commercial and recreational management of Lake Michigan whitefish, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will host a round of meetings the second week of January to find areas of agreement through which a sustainable harvest framework can be developed.

David Boyarski, DNR eastern district fisheries supervisor, said efforts to begin developing new harvest rules will be put on hold until additional public feedback and information can be gathered. Results from stakeholder meetings held in May and subsequent comments collected by the department showed the need to gather more data on whitefish populations, explore the potential for new methods to monitor harvests and find ways to improve dual use of waters where both sport and commercial fishers pursue whitefish.

The January meetings to help find a balance between recreational and commercial interests represent a separate process from the December effort to initiate harvest reporting by Green Bay ice fishing guides who target whitefish. Both efforts by DNR reflect the growing public appeal of whitefish and demonstrate the department's commitment to gathering data and involving stakeholders in the decision making process.

"Whitefish populations in Lake Michigan and Green Bay represent an incredible recreational, economic and biological asset and we appreciate stakeholders' strong interest in our management of the resource," Boyarski said. "We would like to reach consensus on the information needed and a management framework that all stakeholders can accept to help sustainably manage this shared resource. This next round of meetings on January 10 in Green Bay and January 11 in Sturgeon Bay will focus on finding areas of agreement that will allow us to develop an agreed-upon framework to sustain this critical species for current and future generations."

Whitefish populations have changed drastically over the past two decades. Green Bay whitefish populations have increased with many younger year classes present while certain Lake Michigan populations have decreased. Presently, fewer young fish appear to be returning to northeastern Door County to spawn, which may indicate future challenges for that population.

Currently, the commercial whitefish harvest for Lake Michigan and Green Bay is set at 2.88 million pounds, a level established through calculations based on a sustainable harvest of 35 percent of the population's most vulnerable age class. Approximately 12.5 percent or 362,185 pounds may be taken from Zone 1 in Green Bay south of Chambers Island; roughly 75 percent or 2,166,329 million pounds may be taken from Chambers Island north around the top of Door County to Kewaunee; and 12.2 percent or 351,487 pounds may be taken south of Kewaunee.

Commercial fishers are now bringing in substantially less than the overall quota due to reduced populations in Zone 2 and other factors such as overall effort and environmental conditions. However, a strong recreational whitefish fishery has emerged in Green Bay with an annual harvest of well over 100,000 fish for each of the past four years.

DNR annually monitors whitefish populations through netting and electrofishing surveys and also monitors harvest from commercial fishers and recreational anglers. Over the next few years DNR biologists will also be working with university researchers and commercial fishers to examine adult whitefish movement, larval production and recolonization of historical spawning grounds.

"It was clear from the feedback we received that many stakeholders are not comfortable moving forward with specific rule changes at this time but they do want to know more about the commercial fishery, sport fishery and changes in whitefish populations," Boyarski said.

Both meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. The Jan. 10 meeting will be at the DNR Green Bay Service Center, 2984 Shawano Ave., Green Bay, 54313 in the Lake Michigan Room. The Jan. 11 meeting will be at the Door County Government Building, 421 Nebraska St., Sturgeon Bay, 54235.

Boyarski said stakeholders also will be encouraged to participate in an online survey identifying preferences for management of the fishery. The survey will be launched following the first meeting with a link accessible through and the search "Lake Michigan whitefish management." Information presented at the May stakeholder meeting also is available on this webpage.



Cold, windy December day yields important data for Lake Michigan fisheries management

Contact(s): Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes fisheries supervisor,, 414-382-7921; Todd Kalish, DNR fisheries bureau deputy director,, 608-266-5285 Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

ABOARD THE RESEARCH VESSEL COREGONUS - At a time of year when most Lake Michigan anglers are content to count their blessings, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff are out counting fish.

The 60 foot Research Vessel Coregonus plays a critical role in DNR fisheries research including winter yellow perch assessments in early December. The boat is used heavily throughout the year for a variety of scientific data collection and offshore stocking projects.
The 60 foot Research Vessel Coregonus plays a critical role in DNR fisheries research including winter yellow perch assessments in early December. The boat is used heavily throughout the year for a variety of scientific data collection and offshore stocking projects.
Photo Credit: DNR

With a cold northwesterly wind blowing across 5 miles of open water on this December day, it's not an easy job. Lifting two gangs of graded mesh gill net stretching some 1,600 feet, the four fisheries team members aboard the DNR Research Vessel Coregonus are collecting data that will help inform management decisions on yellow perch and round whitefish.

The team is led by Dave Schindelholz, a DNR fisheries technician with more than 15 years of experience who is serving as biologist-in-charge. Working in an enclosed lab and processing space behind the boat's pilot house, Schindelholz alternates between freeing fish from the incoming net and recording data from the entire team so that surviving fish can be quickly released.

Joining him are Brandon Bastar, the research vessel's captain; Tim Kroeff, a fisheries technician based with Bastar in Sturgeon Bay; and Tom Burzynski, a fisheries technician with Schindelholz out of Milwaukee. As the men wait for the hydraulic winch to reel in the next round of fish, they talk casually about how cold air moving over warm water creates bigger waves - seemingly oblivious to the effects of the unpredictable swells as the 60 foot boat pitches forward, backward and side to side.

"The Coregonus is a critical part of our research effort and really allows to us work safely and efficiently in all kinds of weather," Schindelholz says. Commissioned in 2011, the vessel's name derives from the genus of nine species of fish native to Lake Michigan including the commercially important lake whitefish, lake herring and bloater chub.

With safety equipment including a 10-person life raft, emergency positioning beacon, cold water survival suits and watertight compartments to keep the boat afloat if the hull is punctured, the Coregonus represents a major advance over the 74-year-old RV Barney Devine that was retired after the 2010 season. A key feature of the Coregonus is the large winch system used for hauling in weighted gill nets that are hung in established locations and strung together in gangs of up to 2,000 feet.

View a video of the crew of the Coregonus at work on the DNR Facebook page.
View a video of the crew of the Coregonus at work on the DNR Facebook page.

The boat also supports the use of trawl nets and diving survey work. The size and scope of its capabilities keep the Coregonus busy almost continuously from early April through December as fisheries staff conduct assessments of whitefish, lake trout, burbot, forage fish such as alewife, bloater chubs and yellow perch as well as Green Bay offshore stocking activities. From its home port in Sturgeon Bay, the Coregonus travels from northern Lake Michigan and Green Bay south to Algoma, Port Washington and Milwaukee.

The yellow perch work that takes place in early December is conducted over known spawning habitat in 65 to 80 feet of water. To maximize the benefits of the time on the water, Schindelholz and the crew are also collecting data on round whitefish populations and alewife numbers as well as information about the yellow perch.

"Our focus at this time of year is on the yellow perch because we do have ongoing concerns about the survival rates given the changing Lake Michigan ecosystem," Schindelholz says. The spread of filter feeding aquatic invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels reduce the volume of phytoplankton and ultimately zooplankton available to young perch, which also face competition for habitat from invasive round gobies. The December perch surveys follow spawning assessments conducted in early June with both gill nets and dive team members.

The invasive mussels and gobies make their presence known as the gill net rolls up from the depths, streaming in through a sliding window and onto the stainless steel table inside the processing area of the Coregonus. Hung the previous day, the net yields a remarkable diversity of aquatic species -- including invasive mussels that are caught in the plastic mesh and clatter around on the table as the fisheries team members pull them off. Round gobies meet a fitting end as they are tossed back outside the window to a flock of waiting seagulls.

The net also pulls in both stocked and naturally reproduced lake trout. While open water swimming species such as chinook and coho salmon generally avoid the gill nets, alewives, brown trout, burbot and round whitefish fill out the catch of the day. The round whitefish are kept for further data collection back on shore while the other fish are quickly released.

A few young perch have found their way into the net, important evidence that the biologically significant and highly sought-after species continues to reproduce on the historic spawning grounds. It will take additional data collection and analysis in the weeks ahead to determine how overall numbers fit into the broader trends observed in recent years.

Back on shore, inside UW-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences, Schindelholz and Burzynski set to work on the whitefish, measuring, weighing and dissecting them with surgical skill to check on the overall health of the fish and remove the delicate otoliths or ear bones needed to ascertain age. With precision that can only be achieved through years of practice, they take turns with knife and pen, processing and preparing samples for 28 fish in about 30 minutes.

Brad Eggold, DNR Great Lakes fisheries supervisor, said the success of DNR's Lake Michigan management efforts depends on the abilities of the team members as well as the research infrastructure required to support their work in the harshest of conditions.

"We're fortunate to have the dedicated people that we do, as well as access to the tools we need to perform our full range of work," Eggold says. "This type of applied research is critical to understanding the population dynamics of key species and the impacts of lake-wide changes in the Lake Michigan food web. The work is fundamental to our fisheries management efforts."

To learn more, visit and seach "Research Vessel Coregonus." For more information about Lake Michigan management efforts and news of upcoming opportunities for stakeholder engagement, visit "Fishing Lake Michigan."



DNR seeks comments on updated surface water assessment guidance

Contact(s): Ashley Beranek, DNR water resources management specialist, 608-267-9603,; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on guidance that helps evaluate the status of the state's surface water quality.

The Wisconsin Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology, known as WisCALM, provides guidance to assess surface water quality and trends against standards set by the Clean Water Act. The methodology is updated for each biennial surface water assessment cycle and the current guidance is being updated for the 2018 cycle.

Ashley Beranek, DNR water resources management specialist, said this year's updates include:

Beranek said the updates do not increase the number of waters included on DNR's list of impaired waters. Assessing water bodies against water quality standards and identifying impaired waters that don't meet standards is part of the overarching federal Clean Water Act framework for restoring impaired waters.

Under the Clean Water Act, states are required to monitor and assess their waters to determine if they meet water quality standards and support the designated uses they are intended to provide. Wisconsin's surface water quality is good and improving in many areas; by updating the technical guidance and maintaining the impaired waters list, the state works to address changes through targeted improvement plans.

Public comments on the latest WisCALM guidance can be made according to the process described on the following website: Proposed DNR Program Guidance. Comments also may be submitted to: or via mail to Ashley Beranek, DNR, Bureau of Water Quality, 101 S. Webster St. WQ/3 Madison, WI 53707

The public comment period runs from Dec. 20, 2016 to Jan. 27, 2017.

A copy of the draft guidance can be downloaded by clicking on the following link: Draft 2018 WisCALM. For more about these changes, visit and refer to the Water condition assessments & reporting page.



Third-party certification audits find DNR land management exemplary

Contact(s): Mark Heyde, DNR forest certification coordinator, 608-267-0565,; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

MADISON - Wisconsin's forested lands are some of the state's most valuable resources and the Department of Natural Resources is doing a good job caring for them according to audits conducted by SCS Global Services.

Independent, third-party certification means DNR management of its properties meets strict standards for ecological, social and economic sustainability. The words "exemplary" and "superb" were used in reporting audit findings on 1,551,440 acres of state-owned lands.

Department owned lands are certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Both of these nonprofits encourage responsible management of the world's forests. Wisconsin state forests have been certified since 2004 and all other DNR properties were added in 2009.

Both certification programs require annual surveillance audits to confirm that DNR practices continue to conform to certification standards and that continual improvement is being made. Full recertification audits are conducted every five years.

"Forest certification emphasizes the state's commitment to responsible management for a host of ecosystem and economic benefits," said Fred Souba, DNR chief state forester. "Management of multi-use lands involves balancing the goals of conserving forestland, supporting economic activities, protecting wildlife habitat and providing recreational opportunities."

Souba added that forest certification helps Wisconsin remain competitive in the global marketplace where buyers increasingly demand certified raw materials.

Interdisciplinary teams with expertise in forestry, social sciences, natural resource economics and other relevant fields assessed DNR land management practices in August 2016 for conformance to the FSC and SFI standards and policies. Both auditors recently issued reports of their findings. The complete reports are available by searching the DNR website,, for keyword "Forest certification."

The FSC audit team stated, "DNR personnel interviewed during the audit consistently demonstrated a high level of commitment to forest stewardship of the state lands under their management."

DNR land management is a coordinated effort of the Forestry Division and the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division and, true to form, the audit report recognized "exemplary interdisciplinary and integrative collaboration amongst DNR personnel."

Various goals, driven by the master plan and property type, shape the management of DNR properties. State park lands focus on scenic beauty and recreational opportunities, while wildlife areas help sustain wildlife and natural communities. State forests are managed for multiple-use objectives (including a variety of wildlife habitats, a wide range of forest-based recreation and maintaining healthy forest ecosystems) and also support a majority of timber harvests on DNR properties.

"Forest certification does not imply these lands will be managed more intensively for commercial forest products," said Mark Heyde, DNR's forest certification coordinator. "Certification requires continual improvement on property master plans, habitat for diverse wildlife, facilities management, public involvement and other work of great importance to all Wisconsin citizens. Forest certification audits help to assure focus on these important tasks."

Sanjay Olson, administrator of the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division, said, "The collaboration across DNR programs results in responsible management for and stewardship of a robust array of values and resources found on the state lands."

Auditors praised DNR's programs to maintain and improve native biological diversity and address conservation of sites with species of concern. One example they noted was on the Rowan Creek Fisheries Area where a blue heron rookery was identified. Staff installed a buffer and denoted the area in the GIS database.

Direct links to the reports are:
FSC report [PDF]  
SFI report [PDF]



Preliminary results for Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey now available

Contact(s): Jes Rees-Lohr, DNR research scientist, 608-221-6349

MADISON - In the first three months of the 2016 deer hunter wildlife survey, 2,626 bucks, 8,502 does, 4,745 fawns, and 745 unknowns were reported in 6,985 hunting trips. Hunters are reminded to record wildlife observations through the end of the 2016 deer hunting seasons.

This fun opportunity allows hunters to share their enthusiasm for wildlife and assist with DNR survey efforts. Department staff can track population changes and improve management decisions, especially for species that may be hard to monitor, with help from hunters throughout Wisconsin. Hunters are encouraged to record all hunting activity, even if no wildlife sightings occur.

At the end of each survey year, participants receive a personalized summary of all recorded wildlife. To access the survey webpage, search the DNR website,, for keywords "deer hunter wildlife." Tally sheets can be filled out electronically or printed directly from the DNR website. The current survey period ends January 2017.



DNR fills district wildlife supervisor positions in southern and west central Wisconsin

Contact(s): Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-282-5334

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources filled two important supervisory positions, as Bret Owsley and Kris Johansen assume the roles of district wildlife supervisors in the southern and west central districts, respectively.

Sample Caption and Alt Text
Owsley will serve as the Wildlife Management District Supervisor in DNR's southern district.
Contributed Photo

Owsley graduated from Iowa State University in 2006 with a degree in natural resources ecology and management with a wildlife emphasis. He spent his first six years after college in various wildlife positions in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Florida. Owsley began his career with DNR in 2012 as the Horicon Area Wildlife Supervisor - during this time, he led development efforts for the Horicon Marsh Explorium and served as the Southern District representative on the DNR Deer Advisory Committee. In his spare time, Owsley enjoys being outdoors (specifically hunting), watching his favorite sports teams and spending time with his family.

"I am very excited to continue my work with the Wildlife Management Bureau and interact with DNR staff and partners across the Southern District in this new capacity," said Owsley.

Johansen graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where he received a bachelors degree in biology with a minor in land use planning. He has held a number of positions since starting his career with the department in 2000, including one year as a limited-term wildlife technician, two years as a project wildlife biologist, three years as a permanent wildlife technician and six years as a wildlife biologist covering Buffalo and Trempealeau counties.

Sample Caption and Alt Text
Johansen will serve as the Wildlife Management District Supervisor in DNR's west central district.
Contributed Photo

Since 2012, Johansen has served as the Wisconsin Rapids and Black River Falls Area Wildlife Supervisor, where he oversaw work on a wide range of issues, including elk translocation, prairie chicken management and conservation agriculture.

Johansen enjoys any activity that gets him outdoors, especially time spent with his eight year old son Anders while hunting, fishing and trapping. He also enjoys cooking and preserving the bounties of the annual harvest through mason jars and smoke houses.

"I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve as the district leader in the wildlife program for the WCD and work with the talented staff within the district and across the state," said Johansen. "I am honored to be serving in this position and look forward to bringing my previous field experiences, supervisory experience and ability to build and maintain internal and external partnerships to this position."

Contact information for these new wildlife supervisors can be found at, keyword "contact." For more information regarding wildlife management in Wisconsin, search keyword "wildlife."



EDITOR'S ADVISORY: No DNR Weekly News, DNR Outdoor Report last week of December

Contact(s): Paul Holtan, DNR Office of Communications, 608-267-7517

There will be no Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Weekly News issued on Dec. 27, 2016. There will also be no DNR Outdoor Report on Dec. 29, 2016. The next DNR Weekly News will be Jan. 3, 2017 and the next DNR Outdoor Report will be Jan. 5, 2017.


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, December 20, 2016

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