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Weekly News Published - November 6, 2018 by the Central Office

 

Get ready for your time in the woods this fall with help from the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast

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

Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record Podcast - Photo credit: DNR
Check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record Podcast for an inside look at work done by DNR staff to improve your time in the outdoors.Photo credit: DNR

MADISON - For a behind the scenes look at work done by Department of Natural Resources staff and partners to improve your time in the outdoors, check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record Podcast.

Whether you are looking to brush up on the regulations or check out the 2018 fall deer hunting forecast, the Off the Record Podcast provides a wealth of helpful information. In addition to hunting content, other topics covered include everything from sturgeon to gray wolves.

This free resource is available at dnr.wi.gov, keywords "Wild Wisconsin" - here, you will find links to all episodes. Each podcast is available on YouTube (search "WIDNRTV"), iTunes, Stitcher and PodBean (search "Wild Wisconsin Off the Record).


Deer hunt 2018 - What to Know Before You Head Into the Woods

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Deer hunters encouraged to get deer tested for CWD and assist with surveillance efforts

Contact(s): Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief, 608-266-3143

MADISON - Deer season is in full swing, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff remind hunters who harvest adult deer, to have those deer tested for chronic wasting disease. This is particularly important in areas affected by chronic wasting disease.

For more information regarding CWD in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CWD."

DNR staff continue to employ disease surveillance objectives (disease assessment and disease detection) statewide and will continue to sample deer within the Southern Farmland Zone and at select locations in other CWD-affected counties. Surveillance will also expand to all 19 counties of the DNR West Central District and parts of northern Wisconsin.

No targeted surveillance will occur in the four-county surveillance area surrounding the Washburn County CWD positive area due to no additional positives being detected during six consecutive years of surveillance since 2012. However, hunters will still have opportunities to have their adult deer tested within this four-county area through hunter service requests and self-service options. Self-service kiosks are available 24/7 for hunters to drop off a deer head to be tested for CWD. Hunters can find kiosk locations by searching the DNR website for CWD sampling, then click on the link for sampling/registration station database, and choosing "self-service kiosk" in the drop down menu under "Station Type."

New for this deer season is the opportunity for local individuals or groups to "Adopt a Kiosk." The goals of the Adopt-a-Kiosk program are to increase CWD sample numbers, improve ease of access and enhance CWD sample submission options for hunters in the world of electronic registration. The program also provides an opportunity for conservation groups or individuals to assist the DNR in its CWD surveillance efforts, and in fact, it is because of this interest that the Adopt-a-Kiosk program originated.

Kiosks are a useful tool in areas without a current a cooperative sampling station. Local DNR staff will work with the Adopt-a-Kiosk participants to identify kiosk location as well as discuss protocols and schedules. Overall feedback from hunters indicates an appreciation for kiosk availability for CWD sample submission.

If hunters choose to have their deer CWD tested through cooperating meet processor or taxidermist rather than using a self-service kiosk, they are reminded to contact sampling stations in advance to verify hours of operation and that CWD surveillance efforts focus on testing adult deer, since older deer are more likely to have the disease. For more information regarding where to take your deer for sampling, search keywords "CWD sampling" or contact local DNR wildlife management staff.

Hunters can search for CWD test results individually or view a summary. Hunters will need a customer ID or CWD sample barcode to search for individual results. The average turnaround time from when the deer is brought to a sampling station to when the results are available is typically two to three weeks. For information regarding CWD test results, search keywords "CWD results".

If test results come back positive for CWD, hunters should follow advice from the Center for Disease Control (exit DNR), Wisconsin Department of Health Services and World Health Organization (exit DNR) to not consume venison from that deer.

The cooperation of hunters and private businesses has become increasingly vital to the success of our CWD sampling process. DNR staff would like to thank all those who continue to assist with CWD surveillance.

Hunters are also reminded to check out the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast to learn more about CWD in Wisconsin. The podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube. Season two of the Wild Wisconsin web series will also feature a segment highlighting CWD in Wisconsin.

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Hunters buying their licenses can make a small donation to boost wildlife habitat work

Contact(s): for field work: Dean Edlin, West Central Field Ecologist, 608-685-3252; Nate Fayram, Southwest Field Ecologist, 608-273-5943; For the Cherish Fund: Nora Simmons, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin communications director, 608-266-3138; Nora.Simmons@Wisconsin.gov

Benefits already seen from work funded by Cherish Wisconsin Outdoor Fund

MADISON - Hunters buying their gun-deer licenses in coming weeks have the opportunity to make a small donation to help improve wildlife habitat on state lands. Before check out on the Go Wild licensing system, on-screen prompts ask license buyers if they want to make a small donation to the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoor Fund.

That public-private fund is a permanent endowment created in 2012 by the Wisconsin State Legislature to enhance Wisconsin's 1.5 million acres of public lands and waters and funded largely through optional, tax-deductible donations made by people when they purchase a hunting or fishing license or reserve a campsite. The Fund is held by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, also known as NRF, a private nonprofit 501c3 organization.

Work underway now at three State Natural Areas receiving the first disbursements from the Cherish fund "show how small donations add up to big benefits for hunters and other outdoor lovers," says Sanjay Olson, who leads DNR's Fish, Wildlife & Parks Division.

"Cherish funds are already making a difference this fall on the ground for wildlife, and for Wisconsin hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts," Olson says. "We are grateful to everyone who has contributed so far, and we invite hunters to donate again this fall to help wildlife habitat when they buy their gun-deer license."

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 10 photos

Results of SNA crews' work at the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest, Bluff Creek State Natural Area. Photo by Josh Mayer.

Cherish funds are enhancing food sources and habitat for wild turkey, white-tailed deer, redheaded woodpeckers and numerous grassland birds at the Chippewa River State Natural Area in Dunn County. DNR State Natural Area crews based in Alma and La Crosse have used a variety of techniques - prescribed burns, forestry mowing, herbicide treatments among them - to remove invasive woody brush on 180 acres of floodplain savanna habitat along the Chippewa River. Restoration of the savanna ground layer also is enhancing nesting and brood-rearing habitat for game species such as wild turkey and waterfowl.

In southeastern Wisconsin, a Cherish grant funded work at two State Natural Areas in the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest that included a 252-acre prescribed burn conducted in spring 2018. Other work included removing 6 acres of woody brush and trees with chainsaws, and 55 acres of mowing and cutting invasive wild parsnip and sweet clover. "Without management, these oak woodlands are giving way to dense invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle that provide poor habitat and food for native wildlife," says Nate Fayram, Southwest Wisconsin field ecologist for DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

Bruce Braun, a board member of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin notes that the Cherish fund has grown dramatically over the past few years and adds, "The future looks good for substantially increasing the Fund since it is apparent our sportspersons really care about taking care of our precious resources."

In addition to donating when buying a hunting or fishing license or reserving a campsite, donations can also be made directly to the Natural Resources Foundation at www.CherishWisconsin.org.

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Online tools show hunters where baiting and feeding is banned

Contact(s): Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist, 608-261-7589

MADISON - Before taking part in upcoming hunting seasons or placing feed for wildlife, hunters and wildlife enthusiasts should be sure to check the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website and verify which counties currently prohibit wildlife baiting and feeding activities.

For more information regarding baiting and feeding, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "baiting and feeding."

Since the end of the 2017 deer season, Milwaukee, Lincoln, Washington, Marinette, Langlade, Florence, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Dodge, Fond du Lac, and Sheboygan counties have been added to the ban. Wood County which was previously subject to deer baiting and feeding prohibitions has reverted back to regulated deer baiting and feeding. It is important to note that baiting and feeding restrictions are in place for 43 of Wisconsin's 55 chronic wasting disease affected counties.

Baiting and feeding bans are enacted for a period of three years in the county of detection when CWD is detected in wild or captive deer and for two years in counties adjacent to counties with CWD detection. Baiting and feeding bans may be lifted if no new CWD detections are found in CWD-affected counties. All current baiting and feeding bans will remain in effect throughout the 2018 deer season with the exception of Marquette County, which will be lifted in December 2018 if no new detection renews the baiting and feeding ban.

Individuals may still feed birds and small mammals, provided feeding devices are within 50 yards of a human dwelling and of a sufficient height or design to prevent access by deer.

For more information regarding baiting and feeding deer, check out the baiting and feeding regulations [PDF].

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Hunters encouraged to consider helping families in need through the Deer Donation Program

Contact(s):

Brad Koele, DNRwildlife management, 715-356-5211 EXT. 234

MADISON - Each year, hunters, meat processors, and food pantries help families in need by working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and its partners to donate thousands of pounds of venison to food pantries.


"Whether it's harvesting an extra deer or donating the only deer they shoot, hunters have historically shown their willingness to help others by donating deer to the Deer Donation Program," said Brad Koele, DNR Wildlife Damage Specialist. "As deer hunters begin preparations for this hunting season, we're encouraging them to again consider the Deer Donation Program."

The Deer Donation Program was established in the year 2000. Since then, more than 91,000 deer have been donated and more than 3.6 million pounds of venison have been processed and distributed to food pantries across the state.

"There are a couple ways hunters can help," added Koele. "Hunters can donate a deer at one of the participating meat processors or, when they purchase a hunting license, they can make a monetary donation to help cover venison processing costs."

Hunters are advised to plan ahead by knowing where participating processors are located and whether the deer needs to be tested for CWD. Hunters should also call the participating processor before dropping off a deer to make sure the processor is prepared to accept the deer.

The Department would like to thank all the deer hunters and meat processors that have participated in the deer donation program over the years. For more information about the DNR's deer donation program, a list of participating meat processor, CWD sampling requirements, and more on how you can help, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "deer donation."

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Wisconsin's rarest snake now slightly less so while snake fungal disease found in threatened rattlesnakes

Contact(s): Rori Paloski, 608-264-6040; Rori.Paloski@wisconsin.gov; Rich Staffen, 608-266-4340, Richard.Staffen@wisconsin.gov or John Peterson, UW-Platteville, 608-879-0694

MADISON - One of Wisconsin's rarest snakes is now a little bit less rare. The western wormsnake, a small, nonvenomous and exceedingly rare snake, was found in a new site in Grant County in 2018, bringing the number of known sites in Wisconsin to three.

"It is such a rare snake it was exciting for the species and for conservation that we added a third site," says Rori Paloski, a Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist. "We had not had a new site documented in decades."

Western wormsnakes (Carphophis vermis) are fossorial, meaning they spend nearly all their active time underground or under rocks. Those reclusive habits, their rarity and the fact wormsnakes are one of Wisconsin's smallest snakes, growing to only 12 inches, adds to the difficulty finding them.

Wormsnake - Photo credit: John Peterson
The western wormsnake, Wisconsin's rarest snake, was found in a third site in 2018. Photo credit: John Peterson

That's why the discovery of the new site this summer by University of Wisconsin-Platteville students Caleb Cizauskas and Hanna Tydrich, is such good news. The two were working with UW-Platteville Professor John D. Peterson, under a grant Peterson received, when they discovered the snake.

Peterson, while on contract with the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program to search the two known historical locations for wormsnakes, did confirm a healthy population at one of those sites.

A citizen scientist, John Burris, documented a single wormsnake at the other known location. Burris had just been out for the day with friends looking for snakes when he found a wormsnake in a small section of a fallen tree limb. He reported it to the NHC Program. All three known sites are in Grant County.

Snake fungal disease found in federally threatened massasauga rattlesnakes

Other Wisconsin snake news from 2018 wasn't as positive. NHC biologists successfully captured, measured and tagged eastern massasauga rattlesnakes to begin long-term monitoring for this state endangered and federally threatened species, but their efforts also unearthed the first Wisconsin massasauga testing positive with snake fungal disease.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 13 photos

How to capture and monitor a rare native rattlesnake

Snake fungal disease, SFD for short, to date has been found in 10 snake species in Wisconsin. In other states, including Illinois, it has been known to extirpate local snake populations. SFD can prevent snakes from effectively feeding and drinking, and cause them to bask conspicuously, making them more susceptible to predators, Paloski says.

"It wasn't a surprise to find it but it's unfortunate," she says.

Paloski and other NHC conservation biologists found only the one massasauga with SFD, so they hope it is an isolated incident, but future monitoring will help answer this and other questions about the disease. The fungus associated with SFD is believed to be naturally found in soil at background levels, "but something appears to be causing it to be more prevalent in recent years," she says.

Please submit photos of snakes with symptoms -- lumps along their face, neck and body -- to DNRherptiles@wi.gov.

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Contact information

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