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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published April 30, 2019

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Most northern lakes expected to be ice free for May 4 inland fishing opener

Contact(s): Todd Kalish, Fisheries Management deputy bureau director, 608-266-5285; Mike Vogelsang, Fisheries Management north district supervisor, 715-356-5211 ext. 239; Tim Campbell, Water Quality aquatic invasive species specialist, 608-267-3531

WOODRUFF - More than 2 million anglers spend $1.5 billion in Wisconsin annually on fishing, and the early season anglers who venture out on opening day, May 4, 2019, of the regular inland season stand a good chance of enjoying fast action and big fish.

Windy, warmer weather over coming days is expected to open up the remaining frozen lakes in northern Wisconsin, while waters in the southern two-thirds of the state are already open and some major rivers are experiencing flooding.

"Not having a crystal ball it's hard to say exactly what we'll find opening day, but I'm thinking most ice will be off the lakes several days prior to the opener," says Mike Vogelsang, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor for northern Wisconsin.

2019 Wisconsin Fishing Season Opener

"Usually when you have these late ice outs it's a good thing for anglers. More walleye are up in the shallows and ready to eat," he says. "We'll hope for cloudy weather with a little bit of a chop to start the season off with a bang for anglers."

Walleye spawning should take only three to five days on many lakes due to the late ice-out, though once the spawn is over fish will be hungry and linger close to the shore where they are more easily targeted by anglers.

Walleye are anglers' number one target, according to surveys, and Wisconsin has hundreds of waters with naturally self-sustaining populations. In addition, more walleye fishing opportunities will be available this year as more than 1.926 million extended growth walleye stocked in 2013, 2014 and 2015 under the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative are now at catchable size.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 9 photos

Wisconsin walleye are waiting

Anglers interested in pursuing other species will find good prospects as well; read the 2019 Wisconsin Fishing Report for fishing forecasts by species for specific waters across the state. Such forecasts often include recent survey results about the population size and structure, and other notes to help anglers find the fishing experience they want.

Trout anglers may also want to check the list of hundreds of waters where DNR crews have been stocking catchable size trout. About 600,000 rainbow, brown, brook and lake trout are planned for stocking. These fish were raised at hatcheries in Fitchburg, Osceola, and St. Croix Falls. To find the locations, species and numbers of trout stocked this spring, search the DNR website for "catchable trout."

Regulations and reminders of bass and musky season dates

The 2019 hook-and-line game fish season opens May 4 on inland waters for walleye, sauger, and northern pike statewide.

The southern bass zone season opens on May 4, with harvest allowed for largemouth and smallmouth bass. The northern bass zone also opens on May 4, with largemouth bass allowed for harvest and a catch-and-release season for smallmouth bass through June 14. The harvest season on smallmouth bass in the northern bass zone opens June 15. Statewide, the harvest seasons for bass have a minimum length limit of 14 inches with a daily bag limit of five fish in total. There are some exceptions to the statewide length and bag limits, so please be sure to check the 2019-20 Wisconsin hook and line fishing regulations for your fishing area.

Musky season opens May 4 in the southern zone and May 25 in the northern zone. The northern zone is the area north of highways 77, 64 and 29, with Highway 10 as the dividing line.

3 convenient ways to buy a license and options to fit every need

Wisconsin residents and nonresidents 16 years old or older need a fishing license to fish in any waters of the state. Residents born before Jan. 1, 1927, do not need a license and resident members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty are entitled to obtain a free fishing license when on furlough or leave.

The regular annual fishing license is $20 for residents and $50 for non-residents. Anglers who have never purchased a fishing license -- or who haven't purchased a fishing license in 10 years -- can get a discounted "first time buyers" license. Residents' discounted license is $5 and non-residents' is $25.75 for the annual licenses.

If a person is eligible for the first-time buyer's license, that license will be the first listing on his or her computer screen, and it's also what the license agent will see when an eligible buyer comes in seeking a license.

People can buy fishing licenses through the online Go Wild site, or purchase in person at any authorized license agent or DNR service center.

Reeling in big numbers of fish and dollars impact

Wisconsinites love fishing, reflected in the fact that American Sportfishing Association estimates that nearly 2,068,470 anglers spend $1.5 billion while fishing in Wisconsin with an overall economic benefit of $2.3 billion to the State of Wisconsin. Nationally, there are an estimated 49 million anglers with a $125 billion economic impact.

Twice as many Wisconsin adults fish as the national average, for good reason, and with a significant positive impact on the state's economy, quality of life, and attractiveness to visitors and prospective residents alike. Read on to learn more:

Prevent transport of aquatic invasive species

DNR and UW Division of Extension staff would like to remind anglers that one of the best ways to maintain quality fishing opportunities through this season and beyond is to take action to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. "Whether you're boating or wading, it only takes a few minutes to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect our waters," says Tim Campbell, an aquatic invasive species specialist for Extension and the DNR. "Through our research and evaluation efforts, we know that these actions are effective and that every little bit helps."

Anglers can help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by performing the following actions:



Public meetings on statewide inland trout management plan

Contact(s): Joanna Griffin, trout coordinator, 608-264-8953

MADISON - The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on a draft statewide Inland Trout Management Plan at a series of upcoming meetings.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff will present information on the draft 10-year statewide management plan and invite all interested members of the public to learn about trout management in Wisconsin. The department will also be accepting public feedback at these meetings and through a public comment period.

The Trout Management Plan provides direction for inland trout management in Wisconsin. It covers brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and lake trout in inland lakes, ponds and streams of Wisconsin. This includes tributaries of the Great Lakes upstream from the first impassable barrier such as a dam and naturally occurring falls.

The inland trout management plan will addresses many important fisheries management activities such as habitat improvement, stocking, land management, land/easement acquisition and more. - Photo credit: DNR
The inland trout management plan will addresses many important fisheries management activities such as monitoring and research, habitat improvement, stocking, land management, land/easement acquisition and more.Photo credit: DNR

The plan communicates the direction and focus of the DNR fisheries management program on inland trout management for the next 10 years. Specifically, it guides the allocation of resources, identifies constraints, and prioritizes management activities. This plan addresses many important fisheries management activities such as monitoring and research, habitat improvement, stocking, fishing regulations, land management, and land/easement acquisition.

The draft plan will be available for review before the meetings sometime in mid-May by searching the DNR website,, for Inland Trout Management Plan.

The meetings will be held:



Wisconsin DNR joins effort to "Protect the Source" during Drinking Water Week

Contact(s): Adam DeWeese, 608-264-9229

MADISON, Wis.-In the spirit of the Year of Clean Water, an initiative launched by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for 2019, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will join with other water resource organizations nationwide May 5-11 to celebrate Drinking Water Week.

Established in 1988, Drinking Water Week recognizes the vital role drinking water plays in everyone's daily lives. This year the focus is on ways in which water consumers can take personal responsibility in caring for their tap water and protecting it at its source.

It is important to do what we can to protect our drinking water sources in the present so that we have safe and plentiful supplies for future generations.  - Photo credit: DNR
It is important to do what we can to protect our drinking water sources in the present so that we have safe and plentiful supplies for future generations. Photo credit: DNR

"Few people recognize that drinkable water is a finite and vulnerable resource," said Kyle Burton, field operations director for the DNR Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater. "Less than 1% of all the water on earth is available for human consumption, and significant amounts of that is highly susceptible to contamination by activities on the landscape, so it's important to do what we can to protect our drinking water sources in the present so that we have safe and plentiful supplies for future generations. When we, as consumers and community stewards, learn about and gain an appreciation for our drinking water sources, it becomes easy to understand the importance of protecting them."

Wisconsin residents rely on both groundwater and surface water for their source of drinking water. Most of the drinking water used by Wisconsinites comes from surface water sources. Several large metropolitan areas around the state use the Great Lakes and Lake Winnebago as their source water. Groundwater is used by most small municipalities and by millions of people living in rural Wisconsin. Below are several helpful steps people can all take to help protect and preserve precious drinking water sources:

To commemorate the week, water utilities, water organizations, government entities, environmental advocates, schools and other stakeholders will celebrate the importance of drinking water through presentations, events and festivals to provide information on how consumers can understand and appreciate their water. For more information about how to protect surface and ground water, search the DNR website,, for "drinking water."



Landowner Incentive Program accepting proposals for Driftless Area private lands restoration

Contact(s): Dawn Hinebaugh, DNR Landowner Incentive Program coordinator, 608-266-5243; Darcy Kind, private lands biologist, 608-267-9789

Technical and financial help for projects for pollinators, other rare species

MADISON - Private landowners, conservation organizations, and land trusts can now apply for funding and technical help through the Landowner Incentive Program to create and enhance habitat for pollinators and other at-risk species in Wisconsin's Driftless Area.

"Many of our native bees, butterflies and moths are in decline and they are important for Wisconsin's native wildflowers, ecosystems, agricultural crops, and natural areas which depend upon them," says Drew Feldkirchner, who leads the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation Program that runs the Landowner Incentive Program.

Since 2006, LIP grants to private landowners have helped improve more than 11,000 acres of habitat in Wisconsin for more than 240 at-risk species, including red-headed woodpeckers, monarch butterflies, rusty patched bumble bees, and gophersnakes. - Photo credit: DNR
Since 2006, LIP grants to private landowners have helped improve more than 11,000 acres of habitat in Wisconsin for more than 240 at-risk species, including red-headed woodpeckers, monarch butterflies, rusty patched bumble bees, and gophersnakes.Photo credit: DNR

"Landowners are key to conserving our pollinators and we're very pleased we can provide funding to increase high-quality habitat in the Driftless Area."

Wisconsin Landowner Incentive Program staff teamed up with Minnesota DNR to secure the competitive $500,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's State Wildlife Grant Competitive Program. The grant brings to more than $4.6 million the amount LIP staff have secured in the last 15 years for such restoration work for at-risk species.

Landowners should visit the Landowner Incentive Program website to review details of the application process, project ranking criteria, and eligible work. Search the DNR website,, for "LIP."

Who is eligible and how to apply

Any privately-owned land with prairie, savanna and/or oak woodland habitat within the Driftless Area is eligible, including traditional private parcels and land trust holdings, according to Dawn Hinebaugh, the DNR conservation biologist who coordinates the Landowner Incentive Program.

Projects must clearly provide benefits to pollinators and other at-risk species and their habitat. Eligible work includes, but is not limited to, prescribed burns, planting native vegetation, and invasive and woody species removal, Hinebaugh says.

For landowners who are new to the program, applying for LIP funding is a two-step process that includes a pre-proposal and, if accepted, a full proposal.

"The pre-proposal allows us to review your project before you invest time in drafting a full project proposal," Hinebaugh says. "If your pre-proposal is approved, you'll be invited to submit a full proposal, which includes more detailed information such as a budget, project objectives, and work schedule."

A site visit by a biologist may also be required to assess the project proposal. Applicants who have received funding in the past can contact program staff directly to receive a project application.

Funding is provided to highly ranked projects on a first-come, first-served basis, and projects generally last one year. Applicants may request up to $25,000; however, most awards are around $4,000 to $8,000. DNR reimburses a landowner up to 75% of the cost for on-the-ground practices. Landowners are required to contribute the remaining 25% share through out-of-pocket costs (cash match), or as an in-kind labor and equipment match. The grant also will also fund DNR efforts work to inventory and monitor priority species within the Driftless Area.



Even adding a few native plants to your yard or balcony can benefit wildlife

Contact(s): Amy Staffen, 608-261-0747, or Kelly Kearns, 608-267-5066,

Plant lists, list of native plant nurseries and sales available on DNR website

MADISON - With monarchs and many other butterflies and bees in decline, homeowners can do their part to help conserve these and other wildlife they love by adding native plants to their backyards or balconies. Even adding a few native plant species, or a single "wildlife workhorse," can help feed and shelter wildlife.

Native plant lists, lists of native plant nurseries and sales, and more information can be found on the Department of Natural Resources website,, by searching "native plants."

Wild bergamont is a "wildlife workhorse," a single species you can plant to benefit an array of wildlife. Here, an endangered rusty patched bumble bee collects nectar and pollen. - Photo credit: Jay Watson
Wild bergamont is a "wildlife workhorse," a single species you can plant to benefit an array of wildlife. Here, an endangered rusty patched bumble bee collects nectar and pollen.Photo credit: Jay Watson

"Native plants are the best choice for backyard habitat," says Amy Staffen, a DNR conservation biologist with an expertise in native plants. "They are hardy, low maintenance, and there are native plants to suit every purpose, whether it's for formal landscaping or providing habitat."

Adding native plants can help for reasons including:

Native plants also are ideal shelters for native animals to breed and to hide from predators and weather, and they also can help keep Wisconsin lakes and rivers and drinking water clean, Staffen says. Their deep and complex root systems filter pollutants from runoff and slow it down.

DNR Conservation Biologist Amy Staffen admires native rue-anemone in her yard. - Photo credit: DNR
DNR Conservation Biologist Amy Staffen admires native rue-anemone in her yard.Photo credit: DNR

Read Amy Staffen's story of turning her urban lawn into a native plant garden and rain garden, and her "Four ways to incorporate native plants into your home landscape" in the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program landowner newsletter [PDF].

Add one or two "wildlife workhorse" species, or more to bloom across the seasons

Homeowners wanting to start small can add a single "wildlife workhorse" species like American hazelnut (Corylus americana) or wild bergamont (Monarda fistulosa) to their backyard and help a variety of wildlife, Staffen says. Both of these attractive plants grow statewide in a wide variety of conditions from sun to shade.

Homeowners interested in diving a little deeper can plant specifically for monarchs, pollinators, birds and other wildlife. A variety of lists provide a selection of plants that bloom from spring to fall so homeowners can help wildlife across the seasons while having a colorful garden.

"Be sure to plant species native to Wisconsin and to your specific area," Staffen says. For the best chance of success with the plants, buy native plants sourced from within 50 miles north or south and from within 100 miles east or west of your property.

Native plant nurseries and native plant sales part of growing options for buying native plants

Options for buying native plants in 2019 include the growing number of Wisconsin native plant nurseries [PDF] and native plant sales [PDF] put on by conservation organizations and nature centers. These are the native plant sales DNR is aware of that are sponsored by nature centers and conservation organizations.



DNR highlights environmental assistance services in recognition of National Small Business Week

Contact(s): Jennifer Feyerherm, environmental assistance coordinator, 608-266-5207

MADISON, Wis.-The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is joining with organizations nationwide to shine a spotlight on the vital contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners during Small Business Week, May 5-11. Wisconsin's 450,000 small businesses employ half the state's private work force representing 1.2 million jobs.

"We at the Department of Natural Resources are committed to supporting our small businesses," says DNR Secretary Designee Preston Cole in a video that will air on social media. "We have dedicated staff at the ready to help you reduce your risks, improve your profits, and contribute to a cleaner Wisconsin."

DNR's business support services can help businesses every step along the way, including:

"Whether your business has been around for decades, or looking to break ground, the Department of Natural Resources is here to help you improve your environmental footprint," Cole says.

For more information about the programs available to assist small businesses, please search the DNR website,, for keyword "business."



Landowners encouraged to host deer hunters with disabilities in 2019

Contact(s): Matthew Gross, DNR assistant big game ecologist, 608-261-7588

MADISON - Sponsors and landowners interested in hosting a gun hunt for deer hunters with disabilities in Wisconsin are reminded that the deadline to submit an application is June 1. Both landowners and those hunters with a Disability Hunting Permit can enroll in the Gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities Program, which helps provide opportunities for everyone to enjoy hunting in Wisconsin. The 2019 deer hunt for hunters with disabilities will take place Oct. 5 to 13.

For an online application, search the DNR website,, for keywords "disabled deer hunt." If sponsors do not have access to an online application, please contact Matthew Gross at 608-261-7588 for a physical copy. Sponsoring landowners should own at least 60 acres of land and must allow opportunity for at least three disabled hunters to use their land during the disabled deer hunt.

In 2019, 81 landowners made more than 78,000 acres of land available to hunters with disabilities. Sponsors and landowners provided opportunities for more than 360 disabled hunters to get out into the field and enjoy the outdoors.

"We've simplified the application process for sponsors, and we're here to help with any questions about the program and how to apply," said Gross. "Hunters with disabilities are able to see which properties are enrolled in the hunt and contact sponsors sooner than in previous years. Our sincere gratitude goes out to all of the hunt sponsors, landowners and volunteers."

A full list of landowners sponsoring a hunt will be available on DNR website after June 1. Qualified hunters are encouraged to contact sponsors soon after the list is made available.



DNR seeking public comment on statewide fish passage guidance

Contact(s): Jean Romback-Bartels, Secretary's Director, Northeast Region, 920-662-5114

MADISON -The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released for public review and comment a draft fish passage guidance that sets forth the department wide procedures for decisions related to fish passage at dams in Wisconsin and is applicable to all department divisions and programs.

The draft guidance is be available for public comment from April 30, 2019 for 21 days, through May 20, 2019. The department developed the guidance based on the agency's Strategic Analysis of Fish Passage in Wisconsin in 2018. The guidance also outlines the communication pathways, integrated internal evaluation and decision-making procedures for fish passage projects.

"We hope citizens, local municipalities, tribes, partner agencies and businesses that have an interest in how the department evaluates and makes decisions related to fish passage will review and provide their input on this important guidance document," said DNR Northeast Regional Secretary's Director Jean Romback-Bartels, who led a multi-disciplinary work group that created the strategic analysis and assisted with developed of the draft guidance.

Written comments may be submitted to Jean Romback-Bartels. For more information about fish passages, please visit the DNR's website at and search "fish passage."


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 30, 2019

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