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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published November 5, 2019

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2019-20 Ruffed Grouse Hunting Season Shortened in Zone A

Ruffed Grouse - Photo credit: Ryan Brady
Ruffed GrousePhoto credit: Ryan Brady

Contact(s): Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, 608-267-7861, or Alaina Gerrits, DNR assistant upland wildlife Ecologist, 608-261-8458,

MADISON, Wis. - An emergency rule will move the season closing date for ruffed grouse hunting in Zone A from Jan. 31, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2020. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved this emergency rule at its Sept. 25 meeting. The rule will go into effect on Friday, Nov. 8.

 - Photo credit: DNR
Photo credit: DNR

The ruffed grouse season opened Sept. 14 in Zone A. The emergency rule does not impact season dates for Zone B, which runs from Oct. 19 to Dec. 8. Bag limits remain at five birds in Zone A and three birds in Zone B.

Emergency rules are effective for 150 days, so the early closure only applies to the 2019-20 season. However, the Department of Natural Resources' draft ruffed grouse management plan recommends a permanent rule change to close the ruffed grouse season in Zone A on the Sunday nearest Jan. 6. The management plan and permanent rule changes will be presented at the December Natural Resources Board meeting.



Blue Mound State Park Master Plan Management Alternatives Available for Public Review and Comment

Public Invited to Review and Comment on Options for Future Management Online and in Person at Nov. 19 Meeting

View from the east tower at Blue Mound State Park - Photo credit: Katie Godding
View from the east tower at Blue Mound State Park Photo credit: Katie Godding

Contact(s): Phil Rynish, DNR property planner, 608-266-5854,

[EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to clarify that this meeting is to review alternatives for the proposed master plan. There is not currently a draft master plan for the park.]

BLUE MOUNDS, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources encourages the public to learn about and provide input on management alternatives being considered for the Blue Mound State Park Master Plan online or in-person at the upcoming public meeting on Nov. 19.

In March 2019, the DNR initiated the Blue Mound State Park master planning process with a public input opportunity. The input received at that time helped shape the management alternatives that the public can now review and comment on.

The Blue Mound State Park management alternatives are options or concepts the DNR planning team is considering for recommendation in the eventual draft master plan. Management alternatives include topics such as project boundary adjustments, camping, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and forest and grassland management. A master plan, guided by Chapter NR 44, Wisconsin Administrative Code, establishes the level and type of resource management and public use permitted on department-managed properties.

The public can learn more about and engage in the planning process by attending an upcoming public meeting that will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19, at Mount Horeb High School Auditorium, 305 S. 8th St, Mount Horeb.

The meeting will include a presentation beginning at 5:45 during which the public will have the opportunity to learn more about the alternatives and submit their input. Following the meeting, the public will have the opportunity to discuss the alternatives with staff during an open house.

In addition to the public meeting, people can review information about the proposed Blue Mound State Park Master Plan alternatives online which is also a great way to learn about and give input on the management alternatives. The public can read the management alternatives document and submit comments using the interactive public input form. Downloadable input forms that may be sent it via U.S. Mail are also available.

Printed copies of the management alternatives document are available to read at the Blue Mound State Park Office or Friends Shelter. Hard-copy input forms are also available to submit at the park.

Perched atop the highest point in southern Wisconsin, the more than 1,100 acre Blue Mound State Park offers spectacular views, opportunities to see and learn about unique geological features and a variety of recreational facilities. Over 20 miles of scenic trails, access to the Military Ridge State Trail, bike-in campsites, a family campground, summer swimming pool, and a rustic cabin for people with disabilities make Blue Mound a popular year-round destination.

"The Blue Mound State Park Master Plan Management Alternatives reflect the many public uses and ecological capabilities of the property. We hope all who are interested in the park take the opportunity to learn more about the alternatives and have their voice heard in this next step of the planning process" said Diane Brusoe, DNR Property Planning Section Chief.

In addition to the opportunities to offer input online, at the property or at the public meeting, people may contact DNR Planner Phil Rynish, by email at, phone at 608-266-5854, or U.S. mail at Phil Rynish, Wisconsin DNR, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI, 53707-7921.

The public comment period for the management alternatives is open through Dec. 2, 2019. Visit the DNR website for more information on property planning.



Public Hearing on Lake Michigan Lake Whitefish Rule to be held Nov. 20

Whitefish have historically been pursued by commercial fishers in the waters of Lake Michigan.  - Photo credit: DNR
Whitefish have historically been pursued by commercial fishers in the waters of Lake Michigan. Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Brad Eggold, Great Lakes district fisheries supervisor, 414-303-0138,

CLEVELAND, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will hold a public hearing on a permanent rule regulating bottom trawling for lake whitefish on Lake Michigan. The hearing will take place on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Lakeshore Technical College (Lake Michigan room) in Cleveland.

Written comments on the rule and its potential impacts will be accepted through Nov. 23 to the address on the hearing notice. For hearing information and additional details on the proposed permanent rules visit the DNR website.

Bottom trawling for lake whitefish has occurred since 2015 in an area of Lake Michigan near Two Rivers as part of a cooperative study between the department, Sea Grant and a commercial fishing company. Under this proposed rule, commercial fishers could elect to bottom trawl in this area as an alternative to using nets to fill their preexisting lake whitefish quotas.

"The trawl study was created, designed and implemented to determine the feasibility of using a bottom trawl to harvest lake whitefish in this specific area of Lake Michigan," said DNR Great Lakes fisheries supervisor Brad Eggold. "Statistically sound data and science from the study provided the basis for the development of the rule, which provides for the sustainability of lake whitefish harvests using bottom trawls and protects important game species. This rule will create consistent regulations for all commercial fishers that choose to bottom trawl while minimizing incidental catch of important game fish such as lake trout."

This rule would standardize gear, monitoring and reporting requirements for trawling for lake whitefish. Limits on the area open to trawling, number of licenses, trawl dimensions, trawling season, amount of time per trawl drag and the overall whitefish quota will prevent overharvest of lake whitefish and minimize incidental catch.

To learn more about Lake Michigan commercial fishing, visit the DNR website and search "Lake Michigan fisheries."



2020 Keep Wildlife Wild Poster Contest Invites Students to Celebrate Wisconsin Wildlife

Sofia Crowley won first place in the sixth-grade category for her submission in 2019. - Photo credit: DNR
Sofia Crowley won first place in the sixth-grade category for her submission in 2019.Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Amanda Kamps, Wildlife Health Conservation Specialist, 608-712-5280,

MADISON, Wis. - The Department of Natural Resources' Keep Wildlife Wild initiative is announcing its second annual poster contest, inviting students to create artwork celebrating the initiative's mission to ensure that Wisconsin's wildlife stays healthy, safe and, most of all, wild. Students currently participating in fourth through sixth grade instruction may submit a poster for the contest.

"Last year, our first annual poster contest was a huge success, with more than 200 entries submitted," DNR wildlife health conservation specialist and chair of KWW Amanda Kamps said. "We are excited to see the students' creativity again this year and look forward to their help spreading the Keep Wildlife Wild message."

Posters submitted for the contest must adhere to the following guidelines:

The contest runs Nov. 1, 2019 to Feb. 14, 2020. First, second and third place finalists will be selected for each grade level, and finalists will be announced April 5-11 during the third annual Keep Wildlife Wild week.

The Keep Wildlife Wild initiative began in 2014, with a focus on providing information about wildlife species natural behaviors, tips on how to determine if a wild animal is truly orphaned and what to do if someone finds a wild animal in need of assistance.

Winning posters from last year's contest and additional details about contest rules and submission procedures are available by visiting the DNR website and searching the keyword "Keep Wildlife Wild."



TABK: Follow the Four Rules of Firearm Safety for a Safe and Successful Hunting Season

Remember to always carry your firearm so the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction and to treat it as if it always loaded.
Remember to always carry your firearm so the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction and to treat it as if it is always loaded. Photo credit: DNR

Contact(s): Jon King, DNR Hunter Education Administrator, 608 575 2294,

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recreational safety specialists and the state's 4,100 volunteer hunter education instructors urge all hunters to keep your safety and the safety of those around you in mind at all times this fall.

Hunters following the four firearm safety rules has resulted in a 94% percent reduction in hunting incidents since 1967.

DNR Hunter Education Administrator Jon King said conservation wardens investigate every hunting incident and provide information to the Hunter Education Program to gain a better understanding of how and why incidents occur. "When we look at all of the incidents, we see at least one of the four firearm safety rules being violated every time," King said.

Hunters commonly refer to the four firearm safety rules as TABK.

T: Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

Never assume a firearm is unloaded even if you are watching as it is unloaded. Make it a habit to treat guns like they are always loaded.

When carrying a gun, setting it down, working with it, putting it away, or getting it out, it is always smart to check the action to make sure that it is unloaded and the safety is on. Be sure to plan on unloading your firearm whenever you are not hunting, which will help you reduce the chance of an accidental discharge.

A: Always point your muzzle in a safe direction.

When you are hunting with your family and friends, there are many ways to carry your firearm. No matter which way you carry your gun, make sure it never is pointed at another person, building or vehicle. A safe direction is one where the bullet will do no harm in the event of an unwanted discharge.

B: Be certain of your target, what is in front of it and what is beyond it.

Positive target identification is a must. Do not shoot at movement. Know what is between you and your target and what is beyond your target. You must be sure of your target before deciding to shoot. Remember your bullet can travel a long way after shooting it; make sure you have a safe backstop.

K: Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

Almost every year, there are incidents of people shooting themselves, friends, houses and vehicles while handling a gun. The main thing to remember when holding a gun is never to put or rest your finger inside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

"It is not enough to remember the rules, you have to practice them while using a firearm all the time," King said. "Wisconsin hunters have done a great job of practicing the safety rules, and reminders from time to time help keep everyone safer."


Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 05, 2019

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