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Weekly News Published - February 12, 2019 by the Central Office

 

Hunters register 3,782 birds during 2018 fall turkey hunt

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

MADISON - Hunters registered 3,782 birds during the fall 2018 wild turkey season, very similar to the 3,971 turkeys registered during the 2017 fall season.

In total, 73,915 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2018 fall season, an increase of 7,099 from 2017. Of the 73,915 harvest authorizations issued, 70,420 were awarded with a fall turkey license and 3,495 were sold over the counter as bonus harvest authorizations.

The fall 2018 season marked an important change - rather than a draw, anyone with a fall turkey license and stamp was awarded one harvest authorization for the zone of their choice. In addition to the harvest authorization included with a fall turkey license, a total of 13,000 bonus harvest authorizations available for purchase in zones 1-4.

The 2018 fall hunter success rate of 5.1 percent was a slight decline from 3017. - Photo credit: DNR
The 2018 fall hunter success rate of 5.1 percent was a slight decline from 2017.Photo credit: DNR

Although a higher number of harvest authorizations were issued, the number of birds registered declined compared to last year. This resulted in a harvest success rate of 5.1 percent, a decrease from 5.9 percent in 2017. Success rate is calculated based on the number of harvest authorizations sold and is not corrected for non-participation.

"We have seen a steady decline in the number of turkeys harvested in the fall over the past decade," said Mark Witecha, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. "Recent reductions in harvest are largely due to a decline in hunter effort--the annual fall hunter survey shows that more and more hunters are pursuing turkeys secondary to other species.

The department first initiated a fall turkey season in 1989 after an increase and expansion of turkeys throughout the state. Since then, hunters have been able to pursue turkeys during both fall and spring seasons.

To learn more about wild turkey management in Wisconsin, be sure to check out an episode of the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast featuring Mark Witecha. Podcasts are available on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher and PodBean.


Wild Turkeys in Wisconsin Podcast

For more general information regarding Wisconsin's wild turkeys, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "turkey."

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Winter weather conditions can pose challenges for ducks

Contact(s): Nancy Businga, DNR wildlife disease specialist, 608-221-5375

MADISON - As winter continues in Wisconsin, harsh weather conditions can pose challenges for Wisconsin's ducks.

Freezing drizzle and ice can make road surfaces look like water to many species of ducks, including a group of species known as diving ducks. The position of their legs makes diving ducks suited to diving underwater for food but can also make takeoff from land extremely difficult. When diving ducks mistake ice for open water, they can become stranded.

Diving ducks can also become injured from landing on roads or from being hit by motor vehicles.

"People should not put their own safety or the safety of others at risk to assist stranded ducks," said Nancy Businga, wildlife disease specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "Diving ducks found stranded on land need to be assessed for injuries before being safely returned to water areas."

Those interested in assisting a stranded duck should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. For more information regarding ducks in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "waterfowl."

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Willow River State Park dam reconstruction proceeding on schedule

Contact(s): Cameron Bump, Wisconsin State Parks, 715-839-2786

HUDSON, Wis. - Reconstruction of the Little Falls Dam in Willow River State Park, which began in the summer of 2018, is on schedule to be completed later this year.

The initial work that was completed this past summer and fall included building a diversion channel for the Willow River to flow through during construction. Once the channel was completed, an access road was built across the river to the site of the old dam. The remaining components of the old dam were removed so the site could be prepared for the new dam foundations.

Construction of the Little Falls dam at Willow River State Park is on schedule and should be completed by this fall. - Photo credit: Little Falls Dam webcam
Construction of the Little Falls dam at Willow River State Park is on schedule and should be completed by this fall.Photo credit: Little Falls Dam webcam

Parts of the dam that were recently completed include the grout mat and grout curtain, as well as concrete footings for other components. The intake tower, which will act as the primary gate for the flowage, is currently being built. This tower will enable downstream water temperatures to be regulated as necessary.

The general contractor for the project is Miron Construction Company, Inc. of Neenah Wis.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff will soon begin working on providing additional fish habitat in Little Falls Lake. Crews will take advantage of the frozen ground to install boulder clusters in selected locations on the lakebed. These boulder clusters will attract smallmouth and largemouth bass once the lake is refilled. More habitat work is planned for later in the year. In addition to bass, the department is also planning to stock bluegills, crappie and perch once the dam project is complete and conditions allow for their introduction.

The Little Falls Dam is being replaced in response to inspections identifying significant deficiencies to the structural integrity of the dam. The department initially breeched the dam in 2015 to draw down the flowage and alleviate safety concerns. The design process began later in 2016 after the department determined that dam replacement was the best option moving forward.

For more information or to view the construction progress, visit dnr.wi.gov and search for "Willow River State Park" then select "Little Falls Dam" in the right-hand column.

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Donations via state tax form are an easy and important way to care for Wisconsin's endangered species

Contact(s): Drew Feldkirchner, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation, 608-235-3905

MADISON - Wisconsinites have an easy, private and important way to help endangered species in their home state: donate to the Endangered Resources Fund on their Wisconsin income tax form.

Endangered Resources tax checkoff - Photo credit: DNR
Watch an Endangered Resources tax checkoff video on the DNR YouTube channel.Photo credit: DNR

"Every donation is matched by the state, doubling donors' impact for endangered species; such contributions have helped restore bald eagles, trumpeter swans and other species while keeping many of Wisconsin's rarest species from disappearing," says Drew Feldkirchner, who leads the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation staff charged with caring for endangered species and State Natural Areas.

"We thank everyone who has donated to the Endangered Resources Fund in past years, and encourage you to donate again in 2019, so we can help other species in need - a gift of any amount is doubled and can make a big difference for endangered species."

To donate, look for the donation section on your Wisconsin income tax form (or tax preparation software) and fill in a dollar amount. The line differs on different tax forms; for example, the donation section is found on line 35 of Form 1. If you are working with a tax professional, make sure to let them know you want to donate to the Endangered Resources Fund.

Competitive grants and private contributions, including through tax return donations, are responsible for about 20 percent of the annual funding for Wisconsin's endangered species conservation.

Contributions to the Endangered Resources Fund help pay for things like:

Feldkirchner invites people to find out about recent efforts and successes in the latest "Field Notes" which highlights some of the program's work last year and to sign up for periodic email or text updates on endangered species news.

Wisconsin taxpayers who already filed for 2018 can still donate online or by mail. To donate or learn about other ways to help endangered species, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "ER."

 - Photo credit: DNR

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Want to be a rare plant detective? Workshops set for Rare Plant Monitoring Program volunteers

Contact(s): Kevin Doyle, DNR conservation botanist, 608-416-3377

MADISON - Plant lovers and others who enjoy searching for rare plants or "botanizing" can put their passion to work by attending free volunteer training for the Wisconsin Rare Plant Monitoring Program and then helping track down rare plant populations.

Training sessions are set for Cable, Green Bay, Oconomowoc and River Falls in March and April; to see workshop dates and locations and to register, search online for Wisconsin's Rare Plant Monitoring Program.

Volunteers who complete the training will be sent out this spring and summer to check on some of Wisconsin's rarest and most beautiful native plants in some of the state's most pristine places, says Kevin Doyle, who coordinates the Rare Plant Monitoring Program for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

Volunteers for the DNR Rare Plant Monitoring Program look for rare plants in a southern Wisconsin prairie.  - Photo credit: Kevin Doyle
Volunteers for the DNR Rare Plant Monitoring Program look for rare plants in a southern Wisconsin prairie. Photo credit: Kevin Doyle

"If you already enjoy searching for rare plants or "botanizing," we invite you to put your effort to a direct conservation benefit," Doyle says. "Volunteers' contributions are critical to native plant conservation in Wisconsin."

The vast majority of these rare plant populations are found on publicly owned or publicly accessible land. The information volunteers collect is provided to property managers and added to the Natural Heritage Inventory, a statutorily required system of collection, storage and management of rare species information. DNR staff use inventory information when developing master plans for state properties and conservation strategies for species and communities and when reviewing proposed projects to ensure they avoid impacts to rare species and in conducting research.

In 2018, citizen scientists trained through DNR's Rare Plant Monitoring Program and assigned to specific sites collected data on dozens of priority species. In 2017, citizen scientists submitted data on 185 surveys - more information on Wisconsin's rare plants than all previous years combined. Read the 2017 Rare Plant Monitoring Program report to see what they found.

Citizens scientists significantly increased knowledge about jeweled shooting star locations.  - Photo credit: Roberta Herschleb
Citizens scientists significantly increased knowledge about jeweled shooting star locations. Photo credit: Roberta Herschleb

DNR relies largely on trained volunteers to help find and collect data on rare plant and animal species. Wisconsin has roughly 1,900 native plant species and 16 percent of them are endangered, threatened or special concern species, meaning their populations are low or declining. "Even with the growing number of volunteers, Doyle has been prioritizing rare plant surveys "to steer surveys toward populations where we're likely to find them and where we can make a difference," he says.

"Protecting the hundreds of rare plant species and thousands of rare plant populations in Wisconsin is more than any one agency can handle," Doyle says. "Volunteers make this possible. We're truly grateful for their help and invite more Wisconsinites to get involved in rare plant conservation by taking the training."

The Rare Plant Monitoring Program is funded largely by the DNR Endangered Resources Fund. Donate now through your Wisconsin income tax form and your donation is doubled.

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Head to a Nest Box Seminar March 2 at Horicon Marsh and do your part to help Wisconsin's birds and bats

Contact(s): Liz Herzmann, DNR wildlife conservation educator, 920-387-7893

HORICON, Wis. - Head to the Horicon Mash Education and Visitor Center March 2 for a hands-on look at how to build bird and bat houses.

This event will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. - speakers will discuss everything from bluebird and wood duck houses to new topics, like bats and raptors. This event is free to the public, and all ages are welcome.

Live raptors will be onsite for viewing - planned events are as follows:

Dscover the best ways to make your nest boxes
Discover the best ways to make your nest boxes "pro-duck-tive."Photo credit: DNR

For those who wish to purchase a bluebird or wood duck box onsite, the Friends of the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center will provide kits and fully assembled boxes for sale. Donuts and coffee will also be available for purchase.

Classrooms sessions will feature displays from local bird conservation organizations, including Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin, Horicon Marsh Bird Club, Marsh Haven Nature Center, Wood Duck Society, Horicon NWR and Wisconsin DNR.

For more information regarding this event, call 920-387-7893. The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located between Horicon and Mayville on Highway 28. For a detailed list of all Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center special events, please visit the Friends of Horicon Marsh website at www.horiconmarsh.org [EXIT DNR].

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
Sarah Hoye
Director Of Communications
Office Of The Secretary
(608) 267-2773