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Weekly News Published - May 8, 2018 by the Central Office

 

Wisconsin State Parks encouraging visitors to get active and stay healthy with new OutWiGo initiative

MADISON - Wisconsin State Parks are kicking off a new initiative called OutWiGo -- pronounced "Out-We-Go" to promote good health through the great outdoors. People looking to get moving, get motivated or just get outside will be encouraged throughout the year to visit a Wisconsin State Park System property to participate in outdoor activities with the goal of improving their overall health and wellness.

Wisconsin State Parks are encouraging people to stay fit and healthy in the outdoors. - Photo credit: DNR
Wisconsin State Parks are encouraging people to stay fit and healthy in the outdoors.Photo credit: DNR

"Wisconsin State Parks provide a lot of great opportunities to get outside, recreate and be healthy," said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Parks director. "What makes our parks extra special is they offer something for everyone. Visitors can head out for a hike, dust off the bike, kick back in a kayak, or hit the brakes and soak in the beauty."

The goal of OutWiGo is to encourage 20,019 people to sign the OutWiGo pledge by Jan. 1, 2019, with the key message of "feel good in the great outdoors." The pledge is available to sign on the Wisconsin State Parks OutWiGo webpage.

There will be a kickoff event for the OutWiGo! campaign from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, May 17 at Mirror Lake State Park. The event will include an introduction to OutWiGo by Bergey and other partners, followed by a group hike or kayak. People can bring their own kayaks or rent them at the park, which will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity for people to sign the pledge.

People who aren't able to attend will be able to follow the event via Facebook Live on the Department of Natural Resources Facebook page.

The weekend of May 19 and 20, there will be additional OutWiGo events at park system properties across the state, including a wellness walk at Lake Shore Park in Milwaukee and a led hike up East Bluff at Devil's Lake on Saturday. Additional events may be added. Throughout the year, there will be OutWiGo! themes, events, fun facts, and trail tips to encourage people to stay active and motivated.

People can share their OutWiGo adventures by tagging #OutWiGo in park pictures posted to their social media accounts.

For more information about the campaign and to sign the pledge, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "OutWiGo" To find events search "Get outdoors," and for park information search "Find a Park."

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White-nose syndrome continues to ravage cave bat populations

Gains made in treatment, vaccine research will help surviving bats and other states

MADISON - Winter cave and mine surveys in 2018 show that white-nose syndrome continues to ravage Wisconsin's cave bats and the steep loss of these beneficial insect-eaters is likely to be seen this summer in nighttime skies, state endangered resources officials say.

"We're still seeing new sites with infection and bigger declines in the numbers of bats we're surveying in winter," says J. Paul White, Wisconsin Bat Program lead with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Pepin County was added to the list of those with hibernacula infected with the disease.

DNR Conservation Biologist Jennifer Redell bands a bat as Levi Plath and Mary Dresser from Mississippi Valley Conservancy record notes.  - Photo credit: DNR
DNR Conservation Biologist Jennifer Redell bands a bat as Levi Plath and Mary Dresser from Mississippi Valley Conservancy record notes. Photo credit: DNR

White and other Wisconsin conservation biologists did find some silver linings in their 2018 winter surveys, and federal and university research DNR is assisting with are showing promise and progress in developing WNS vaccines and treatments, White says.

"These efforts can potentially help our remaining bats and also bats in other states where the disease has not yet been detected," he says.

WNS spreads and lack of bats likely in more nighttime skies in Wisconsin

All 60 sites visited in winter 2018 were infected and at those sites, DNR conservation biologists found a 99 percent decrease from historic averages at the first documented infection site; a 92 percent drop at sites in their fourth year of infection, and an 85 percent drop at sites in their third year of infection. Twenty-five of the 28 counties with known bat hibernacula now have WNS or the fungus that causes it.

Severe decreases in populations of hibernating bats are also showing up in the summer nighttime surveys volunteers conduct. For example, the average decline in summer roost populations across the state in 2017 was 80 percent. More information on summer survey results area available in the Wisconsin Bat Program newsletter Echolocator [PDF] (exit DNR).

White, a conservation biologist with the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program, expects more places to notice a lack of bats this summer. "There are some pockets of Wisconsin that have experienced the declines already," he says. "People are telling us they used to have hundreds of bats in their area at night in the summer, and now, nothing."

White-nose syndrome causes hibernating bats to frequently wake, depleting their energy and causing them to die from starvation, dehydration or exposure to the elements.   - Photo credit: DNR
White-nose syndrome causes hibernating bats to frequently wake, depleting their energy and causing them to die from starvation, dehydration or exposure to the elements. Photo credit: DNR

White-nose syndrome does not affect people or other animal species, but causes hibernating bats to frequently wake, depleting their energy and causing them to die from starvation, dehydration or exposure to the elements. Since the discovery of white-nose syndrome in 2006 in New York, more than 6 million bats have died and the disease has spread to 32 states, says Owen Boyle, species management section chief for the NHC program.

While there has been some evidence of bat populations starting to come back on the East Coast, it's too early to tell in Wisconsin, Boyle says. DNR conservation biologists and research partners banded more than 100 bats this winter to be able to keep tabs on them in coming years. The biologists want to understand how many bats survive, if some hibernation sites have better survival rates than others and if surviving bats moved to new hibernation sites, and other information that might help guide bat recovery efforts.

Bats play an important role in Wisconsin's ecosystems and are voracious insect eaters. A 2011 North American study estimated that bats save Wisconsin's agriculture industry between $658 million to $1.5 billion annually in pesticide costs. University of Wisconsin research now underway analyzing bat guano collected at sites across Wisconsin confirms that bats consumed 17 distinct types of mosquitoes, including nine species known to carry West Nile virus.

"These animals continue to impress and amaze me, whether it's through their longevity or diversity of diet," White says. "I'm hopeful that they will continue to amaze by being able to persist against insurmountable odds."

Progress in vaccine and UV treatment are silver linings in the fight against WNS

DNR conservation biologists continue to assist federal and university research partners pressing to find WNS treatments and vaccines, White says. There is good news on those and other fronts including:

More information about efforts by DNR and research partners is available in the Wisconsin Bat Program newsletter Echolocator [PDF] (exit DNR).

How Wisconsin residents can help surviving cave bats

People who want to help cave bats surviving white-nose syndrome are encouraged to build and install a bat house following instructions on the DNR website, to participate in summer bat counts, to donate to the Endangered Resources Fund and to volunteer at the Wisconsin Bat Festival Aug. 25 in Ashland.

WNS timeline. Click on image for larger size. - Photo credit: Heather Kaarakka
WNS timeline. Click on image for larger size.Photo credit: Heather Kaarakka

Bat houses provide a warm, protected place for mother bats to care for their young, and they can provide helpful stop over sites in the spring as bats are emerging from their winter hibernation sites and moving toward their summer roosts, and in the fall, as bats move from their summer roosts to their hibernation sites. Find a list of needed supplies, research-based instructions on construction and placement of bat homes, and videos, on dnr.wi.gov and search "bat house."

People are encouraged to participate in the Great Wisconsin Bat Count on June 1-3. Volunteers identify bat roosts and sit outside the roost entrance in the evening to count the bats as they emerge just after sunset, and for the next 40 minutes or so. To learn more and enter your counts, search "Wisconsin Bat Program" (exit DNR) online.

People wanting to donate to DNR's Wisconsin Bat Program to help continue winter surveys and banding of bats, summer habitat research, and research into WNS prevention and treatment can donate online to the Endangered Resources Fund. All donations are matched dollar-for-dollar and are tax deductible. Go to dnr.wi.gov and search "NHC" and click on "donate." Select "bats" from the special funds drop down menu.

Finally, help raise awareness of bats and their importance by volunteering at the 2018 Wisconsin Bat Festival (exit DNR), set for Aug. 25 at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center (exit DNR) in Ashland. Contact Jennifer Redell at Jennifer.Redell@Wisconsin.gov for more information about volunteering.

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Enjoy the flood of migratory birds at your feeder, festivals and birding hotspots

MADISON - Millions of migratory birds have flooded into Wisconsin in the last week and more are on their way, so bird lovers will want to grab their binoculars and get ready for the big show.

"The next two weeks are going to be awesome," says Ryan Brady, a conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and bird monitoring coordinator for the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative. "Migration is catching up thanks to warm south winds. We're getting birds around the time they'd normally be here."

Brady uses web-based birding forums, the powerful eBird database, and other citizen-based observations to track bird movement patterns in Wisconsin and compile a weekly birding report emailed to subscribers every Thursday. Read his latest report and subscribe now to get the next one.

Warm south winds in late April brought the first wave of Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and a remarkable 29 species of warblers to the state. "So far, the action has been heavily centered in southern Wisconsin but this is just the first wave for most migrants," Brady says. "There are plenty more to come in the next few weeks."

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 10 photos

29 warbler species were reported in Wisconsin in the first week of May. See some of these songbirds.

Wisconsin birders are fortunate to be located along major migration pathways, Wisconsin's Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River flyways. Records dating to the 1900s show that more than 350 different species of birds have been reported in Wisconsin in May.

State residents celebrate that bounty, with Wisconsin ranking second nationally in birdwatching participation. One-third, or 1.68 million Wisconsin residents 16 and older, watch birds, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Festivals, viewing guides and birdfeeders help birders see their favorites up close

Festivals across Wisconsin in coming weeks provide great opportunities for bird watching, as do birding hotspots identified in the five online Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail guides developed through the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, says Craig Thompson, a DNR conservation biologist and Neotropical migratory bird expert.

Bird lovers also can get prime viewing in their backyard as well, Thompson says. Migratory birds are attracted to native plants and to bird feeders. Find resources on adding native plants to benefit birds on the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative (exit DNR) website.

"Keep your bird feeders out and have the hummingbird and grape jelly feeders ready as well," he says. Provide orange halves and jelly for Baltimore orioles, sunflower seeds for rose-breasted grosbeaks and indigo buntings, and sugar water for hummingbirds. Be sure to keep feeders clean and be mindful of bear activity in your area.

Such feeding is especially beneficial to these species given the late spring, he says. "In some places, the availability of insects is limited this year compared to a normal spring."

Hummingbirds, for instance, are arriving and in western Wisconsin, as of May 4 the Virginia bluebells and columbine they get nectar from were not even close to budding, Thompson says.

Festival and event listings

Find birding events at state parks and other properties on the DNR Get Outdoors calendar, and check the Bird City Wisconsin (all following links exit DNR), community, nature center and local birding club websites for other events.

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Pope and Young Club to hold archery rendezvous at MacKenzie Center June 8-10

POYNETTE, Wis. - The 2018 Pope and Young Club Bowhunters Rendezvous will be held June 8-10 at the MacKenzie Center in Poynette.

The Rendezvous will begin at 9 a.m. June 8 and run through 5 p.m. June 10. This event is a family-oriented bowhunters' shooting event and social gathering that is great for all ages and skill levels.

Aerial archery at a flying disk range is one of the activities at the rendezvous. - Photo credit: Pope and Young
Aerial archery at a flying disk range is one of the activities at the rendezvous.Photo credit: Pope and Young Club

Just 25 miles north of Madison, the MacKenzie Center is one of the most diverse outdoor skills and environmental education centers in Wisconsin with hiking trails, exhibits, and museums. MacKenzie is a wonderful place to visit and learn about the natural world.

The Rendezvous is an opportunity to check out new archery gear and participate in hands-on demonstrations of the latest traditional and modern archery equipment. Attendees will find themed 3-D courses, a long-range competition, an iron bear challenge, an aerial disk station, an adventure race, bowhunting seminars and clinics, great food, hunt and target auctions, gear giveaways, prize drawings and much more. All proceeds benefit the Pope and Young Club's Conservation, Education and Outreach Fund.

Admission to the property is free, but event activities may require pass or ticket purchases. Onsite registration and walk-ins are welcome.

For full details and a schedule of events, visit www.pope-young.org/rendezvous (exit DNR). Learn more about MacKenzie Center events and activities at dnr.wi.gov, keywords "MacKenzie Center."

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DNR highlights successes during Clean Air Month this May

MADISON - Throughout the month of May, the Department of Natural Resources is highlighting clean air successes and reminding citizens that DNR is committed to clean air in Wisconsin.

Clean Air Month is held annually each May to recognize positive trends in air quality in Wisconsin. The DNR's Air Program provides information about air quality, tips for reducing air emissions and links for signing up for air quality notices.

New this year, the Air Program developed a video on Wisconsin's clean air successes. The 60-second video, which will be available later in May on DNR's YouTube channel [Exit DNR], highlights some of the key successes in pollution reductions.

According to the most recent Wisconsin Air Quality Trends Report, based on 2016 data, concentrations of most pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act have been decreasing over the past decade across the state.

"The overall decrease in pollutant concentrations is encouraging and is the result of cooperative regulatory control programs reducing emissions from vehicles and sources in Wisconsin and surrounding states," said Gail Good, Department of Natural Resources Air Program director.

Good added that the DNR will continue to work with local, state and federal groups in order to attain all air quality standards.

The DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, has many resources for reducing air emissions. To learn more about Clean Air Month and about voluntary actions to reduce air emissions, please visit the DNR's Do A Little Save a Lot web page.

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2018 Wisconsin Volunteer Stream Monitoring award recipients announced

STEVENS POINT, Wis. -- The University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recognized individuals and organizations for their efforts leading to increased participation in stream monitoring, collecting stream data, and sharing their knowledge and data with awards presented recently at the Water Action Volunteers Symposium in Stevens Point.

Stream monitoring award
Stream monitoring award recipients and program staff attending the event included (from left): Patricia Cicero accepting for Jaime Weigel; DNR Monitoring Section Chief Tim Asplund; John Zehren and Joe Fritsch, Southern Brown Conservation Club; John Delaney, Valley Stewardship Network; Bob Jozwowski, Central Wisconsin Trout Unlimited; Bill and Debbi Hiller; Jean Abreau; Ilana Haimes, DNR Water Action Volunteers Coordinator; Peggy Compton, UW-Extension Coordinator for Water Action Volunteers.Photo credit: Doug Moore

Outstanding Organization: Central Wisconsin Trout Unlimited Riverkeepers

The Central Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited has been involved in water monitoring for over ten years, modeling the positive impacts of gaining and sharing knowledge through citizen science. The Riverkeepers monitor 25 sites in multiple counties while continuing to seek new volunteers and new stream sites. They work closely with DNR staff to monitor high priority streams where data is needed, and where their monitoring can save DNR staff time and money. The organization is also involved in the assessment of fish habitat structures, streambank restoration, and the expansion of water quality projects.

Outstanding Employee: John Delaney

John Delaney, the Water Quality Program Coordinator for Valley Stewardship Network was nominated for his extensive water quality activities while acting as an exceptional role model for co-workers and volunteers alike. Delaney has been a key leader in Water Action Volunteers trainings and hands-on-stream monitoring experiences in cooperation with other coordinators and local partners. He has monitored, analyzed, and presented his findings in phosphorus sampling from 14 different sites.

Outstanding Individuals: Bill and Debbi Hiller

Bill and Debbi Hiller, as trained Water Action Volunteers with the Crawford Stewardship Project, show their dedication for water quality monitoring and conservation through an eagerness to learn new things and take on new responsibilities. The Hillers have attended advanced training sessions in macroinvertebrate identification and aquatic ecology, and have participated in phosphorus monitoring and a Karst Survey of Crawford County Project.

Rookie of the Year: Southern Brown Conservation Club

Since 1986, the Southern Brown Conservation Club has been an active chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, passionately seeking to protect the local natural resources. They annually host spring stream clean-up projects and are passionate about educating youth on watersheds and water quality issues. Since 2016, members have been involved in developing the league's National Clean Water Challenge, striving to monitor 100,000 streams nationwide by 2022 and improving water quality across the country. In the spring of 2017, the club collaborated with Water Action Volunteers Stream Monitoring Program to host a water quality training that drew participants not only from the club, but also from a nearby environmental engineering firm, students from the UW-Green Bay, and from the community.

Outstanding Teacher: Jaime Weigel

For the past three years, Weigel has introduced the wonders of stream biology to seventh graders at Whitewater Middle School, in Whitewater. Weigel successfully secured funding to purchase stream monitoring equipment and transportation to a local monitoring site. For the past three years, she has organized field trips to study stream health at Bluff Creek. During these field trips, seventh graders test the water by measuring dissolved oxygen, stream temperature and water clarity. Students also examine macroinvertebrates to calculate a biological health index score. These field studies have been collaborative affairs bringing together the seventh grade science teachers and facilitators with the Kettle Moraine Land Trust, the Rock River Coalition, and volunteers with the DNR State Natural Areas. Over 200 students have been involved in these field studies.

Outstanding Teacher: Jean Abreu

From 1998 through her retirement in 2016, Abreu, monitored a site on the Rib River with her students. During this time, she also worked with the Marathon County Land Conservation Department to share her monitoring results with them and others who were interested in the data she had collected. Abreu also contributed to documenting the water quality in the Big Eau Pleine Flowage, and worked with the Big Eau Pleine Lake Association in completing river planning grant goals.

Milestone Award Recipients

Volunteers were also recognized for reaching a milestone of monitoring and reporting data for five years (27 individuals) 10 years (Jim Gennrich, Brian LaFave, Donna Mrugala, Marilyn Starzewski) and 15 years (Kathy Bridge and Anne Miller.)

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773