Spring Turkey season begins April 18

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Youth hunt runs from April 14-15

MADISON – The 2018 spring turkey hunt is almost here and hunters are reminded to check the regulations and other helpful information on the Department of Natural Resources website to make sure they are ready for another year in the woods.

Spring turkey hunting regulations can be found within the 2017 Small Game Hunting Regulations, 2017 Fall Turkey Regulations, and 2018 Spring Turkey Regulations [PDF]. For more general information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword “turkey.”

The first spring turkey period opens April 18. - Photo credit: Ryan Brady
The first spring turkey period opens April 18.Photo credit: Ryan Brady

Changes with tagging reminder

Turkey tags were updated in 2017 and are now called turkey harvest authorizations. Hunters are no longer required to:

  • validate their turkey tag;
  • attach a tag to their turkey; or
  • keep the tag with the meat.

Hunters are required to carry proof of their turkey license, stamp and harvest authorization while in the field. Valid forms of proof include a printed paper copy, a Go Wild conservation card, a Go Wild authenticated Wisconsin Driver’s License or an original Go Wild digital file on a mobile device.

Harvest registration remains a critical component of wildlife population management and turkey registration is mandatory. Hunters are reminded they must register their turkey by 5 p.m. the day after recovery at gamereg.wi.gov, or by phone at 1-844-426-3734. Hunters will need their harvest authorization number to register their turkey, located on a paper or digital copy of their harvest authorization.

Spring turkey periods run for seven days each

The 2018 spring turkey season will run from April 18 through May 29, with six seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday. All seven turkey management zones will be open for hunting.

Youth turkey hunt set for April 14 & 15

Youth under the age of 16 may hunt during the spring turkey youth hunt on April 14 and 15. Hunters under the age of 12 and youth without hunter safety can participate in the youth turkey hunt under the Mentored Hunting Program. Youth must be accompanied by a qualified adult and follow the youth turkey hunting and mentored hunting program rules. Youth hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, stamp and harvest authorization. A harvest authorization for any time period can be used during the youth hunt weekend, but youth hunters must hunt within the turkey management zone indicated on their harvest authorization.

Wisconsin’s public lands are the perfect place to pursue birds this spring

Each year, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts use Wisconsin’s public lands for a variety of activities, ranging from birdwatching to hunting. For those interested in exploring all Wisconsin has to offer, the department has a number of tools available to help users find a new favorite spot in the wild.

Hunters who would like to pursue turkeys in a state park must hold a harvest authorization for the turkey management zone in which the park is located. Spring turkey hunting is allowed in select state parks during the two-day youth hunt and the first two time periods of the regular season. For more information regarding hunting in state parks, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “state park hunting.”

The Fort McCoy spring turkey hunting season is managed separately from the State of Wisconsin spring turkey hunt. Hunters who do not receive a harvest authorization through the Wisconsin spring turkey drawing are eligible to apply for a spring permit at Fort McCoy. Applications can be obtained from Fort McCoy by calling 608-388-3337 or visiting www.mccoy.army.mil (exit DNR).

Potawatomi State Park observation tower permanently closed

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Significant wood decay requires tower to be dismantled

STURGEON BAY, Wis. – Significant wood decay has been found in the observation tower located at Potawatomi State Park creating unsafe conditions and requiring removal of the tower. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has permanently closed the tower, which has been closed for the winter season since last December.

The Potawatomi State Park observation tower was completed in 1932. Signficant decay has been found and the tower is closed and will be taken down. - Photo credit: DNR
The Potawatomi State Park observation tower was completed in 1932. Significant decay has been found and the tower is closed and will be taken down.Photo credit: DNR

A similar tower located at Peninsula State Park was removed in 2016 after studies found severe wood decay in that tower as well.

Routine inspections of the Potawatomi tower were conducted in the spring and early winter of 2017. During these inspections park staff found visual decay and movement of the structural wood tower members. DNR engineering staff were brought in and conducted additional inspections and recommended further review.

The DNR then again requested assistance from the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, which had gained valuable experience from their inspection of Eagle Tower at Peninsula. Forest Product Laboratory staff conducted an inspection in February 2018 using non-destructive wood-testing methods to examine the wood members and the structural integrity of the tower. Their inspection found significant decay in the structural and non-structural wood members of the tower, and they recommended that the tower be closed to the public and dismantled because the decayed components could not be repaired.

“This is a difficult decision for us because we know how much our visitors enjoy climbing this tower for its panoramic views of Sawyer Harbor, Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay, but public safety is always our number one concern,” said Ben Bergey, director of the Wisconsin State Park System.

The department is currently working with a number of partners to build a new fully accessible observation tower at Peninsula State Park to replace Eagle Tower that will be constructed in late 2018.

The 75-foot tall Potawatomi tower was completed in 1932. It was financed by an organization known as the Sawyer Commercial Club, which promoted economic development in the Village of Sawyer, the original name for Sturgeon Bay’s west side before it was annexed in the late 1800s.

“At this time there are no plans to replace the tower, but we welcome opportunities to work with partners to provide additional recreation opportunities at the park, which could include new observation facilities in the future,” Bergey said.

Any new structure would have to meet state and federal building codes and be fully ADA compliant and accessible.

The department will begin planning deconstruction of the tower immediately with the intention to complete it as soon as practicable.

Work*Play*Earth Day events to be held around the state in 2018

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MADISON – People will again have additional opportunities to celebrate Earth Day while helping out and enjoying a Wisconsin State Park System property during the 10th annual Work*Play*Earth Day events that will be held around the state.

This year there are 32 properties holding events, up from 31 in 2017. Volunteer events are sponsored by the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks and Department of Natural Resources properties. This year events will be held April 14, 20, 21, 28 and May 5 and 12.

Volunteers can join DNR staff, local friends group members, and people from nearby communities to help repair and enhance park, forest and trail properties.

“These volunteer events are a great way to get out in the spring and shake the cobwebs off after the long winter,” said Janet Hutchens, volunteer coordinator for the Wisconsin State Park System. “These events are not only a great way to give back to park properties you enjoy using throughout the year, they are great opportunity to socialize with others who share your love of the outdoors and want to help protect our environment.”

Hutchens said the events are also important for the properties that hold them in getting ready for the busy summer. Last year 1,437 volunteers participated donating more than 4,000 hours.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 9 photos

Work Play Earth Day events

In addition to tree planting, other activities taking place around the state include installing benches, removing invasive plants, painting picnic tables and other structures, raking and cleaning up leaves and picking up litter. Lunches or refreshments are often provided by the many park friends groups that help sponsor these events.

Hours vary by event, but most begin either at 9 or 10 a.m. and run through noon or early afternoon. For complete details, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “Work Play Earth Day.”

“When the work is done, volunteers join staff in hiking or biking park trails, visiting nature centers or interpretive displays, or enjoying any of the recreational opportunities available at the different properties,” Hutchens said.

2018 Work*Play*Earth Day Events

Friday – April 14

Friday – April 20

Saturday – April 21

Saturday – April 28

Saturday – May 5

Saturday – May 12

CWD captive deer detected in Washington County

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Findings will result in new baiting and feeding bans for Washington, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties

MADISON – The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection confirmed a captive deer in Washington County tested positive for CWD in early March.

As required by law, this finding will establish baiting and feeding bans for Washington, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties effective April 2, 2018. The ban for Washington County will be enacted for three years. Because Fond du Lac County is adjacent to a county with a CWD positive test result, a two-year ban will be enacted. Sheboygan County is already under a baiting and feeding ban and that ban will be renewed with this newest detection.

The Department of Natural Resources will also take the following steps:

  • establish a 10-mile radius disease surveillance area around this positive location;
  • conduct surveillance activities to assess disease distribution and prevalence including:
    • Encourage reporting of sick deer
    • Sample vehicle-killed adult deer
    • Sample adult deer harvested under agricultural damage permits
    • Sample adult deer harvested under urban deer hunts in the area; and
  • establish additional CWD sampling locations prior to the 2018 deer seasons

These actions are a very important next step in further understanding the potential geographic distribution of the disease and if other animals are infected within Wisconsin’s deer herd in the area.

As seen in the past in other parts of the state, local citizen involvement in the decision-making process as well as management actions to address this CWD detection will have the greatest potential for success.

For more information regarding baiting and feeding regulations and CWD in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “bait” and “CWD sampling” respectively.

Natural Resources Board to meet April 11 in Madison

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MADISON – A request for adoption of the proposed 2018 waterfowl hunting seasons, a request to purchase property for a new Milwaukee service center and an update on elk management and Wisconsin’s first planned elk hunt are among the items the state Natural Resources Board will address at its April meeting.

The board will convene at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 11, in Room G09 of the State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 S. Webster St., Madison.

The Department of Natural Resources is proposing waterfowl hunting seasons very similar to recent years, with a 60-day duck season–continuous in the northern zone and with a five-day closure split southern zone–and a 92-day exterior zone goose season, There a couple changes this year, which include: north zone duck season opening on Sept. 29, which is a week later than previous seasons; a regular season Canada goose season bag limit increase to three geese per day; and elimination of the Horicon Canada Goose Hunting Zone.

The board also will consider a request to purchase 2.1 acres and lease 1.8 acres from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in Milwaukee to develop a new DNR Southeast Region Headquarters and Service Center in the Menominee River valley area;

The board also will hear informational items on an update of the elk management plan and on the state first upcoming elk hunt to be held this fall.

At approximately noon the board may convene in closed session under the authority of s. 19.85(1)(e) Wisconsin Statutes to discuss the Department of Natural Resources’ competitive bargaining and negotiation position with respect to a potential real estate transaction in northern Wisconsin.

The complete April board agenda is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for keyword “NRB” and clicking on the button for “view agendas.”

The public is welcome to attend. Those that want to testify at the board meeting must pre-register with Laurie Ross, board liaison, Public participation deadline: Board liaison receipt of your request to testify or written comment is 11 a.m. on Friday, April 6, 2018. No late requests or comments will be accepted. Registration information is available on the agenda on the DNR website.

Board meetings are webcast live. People can watch the meeting over the internet by going to the NRB agenda page of the DNR website and clicking on webcasts in the Related Links column on the right. Then click on this month’s meeting. After each meeting, the webcast will be permanently available on demand.

DNR awards grants for 61 surface water management projects in 36 counties

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MADISON – Sixty-one lake, river and aquatic invasive species projects designed to improve the state’s waterbodies and wetlands in 36 Wisconsin counties will soon receive more than $4 million in grant funding through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources surface water grant program.

Aquatic invasive species projects will receive $2.1 million dollars to control established AIS populations, of which $500,000 will support research to help improve future AIS management. Lake protection and restoration projects garnered more than $1.7 million, while about $224,000 is for river management. The following is a breakdown of the number and amounts of grants by type:

“These grants help communities put lake management plans into action by implementing projects to protect and improve water quality and aquatic habitat, and, at the same time, control and prevent the spread of AIS,” said Carroll Schaal, chief of the DNR lakes and rivers section.

Funding for the grants comes from a portion of the state tax on gasoline consumed by motor boats. Grant awards from the DNR cover a large portion of the total project cost. Applicants must contribute at least 25 percent of project costs; the exact amount of applicant investment varies depending upon the grant sub-program.

The following are a handful of the projects that received funding:

  • Fish Creek (Door County) and Colburn Creek (Forest County) will get new fish passages, while nearly a mile of the Blue River (Grant County) will get a trout habitat makeover.
  • Restoration work on a Root River tributary (Wild Cat Creek) is planned to enhance water quality and improve flood control.
  • Modifications to the fishway at Thiensville Dam in Mequon will help sturgeon access more upstream habitat on the Milwaukee River.
  • Residents of the Chetek Lakes (Barron County) where tornadoes caused severe damage will restore native plants, manage runoff on denuded shorelines and repurpose damaged trees as ‘fish sticks’ to become in-lake wildlife habitat.
  • Projects on Chute Pond (Oconto County) and Park Lake (Columbia County) will divert and control storm water runoff, establish natural native vegetation to improve habitat, and serve as demonstration projects to allow people to see what lake restoration looks like.
  • Lake Owen (Bayfield County), one of the states deepest, cleanest and clearest lakes, will use $182,000 for lake protection efforts including the installation of two boat decontamination devices.

“The legislature and governor provided a one-time $500,000 increase to the AIS grant fund, so we were able to provide support for all the eligible applicants that applied this year,” Schaal said.

The DNR received a total of 71 applications. Seven projects are unfunded due to insufficient funds and three applications were not eligible for a grant.

To see the full list of awards, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “surface water grants.” Links to awarded grants can be found on the right-hand side of the Web page under “Related links” on a desktop computer, or under the “Show more” dropdown on mobile devices.

Public meetings set for Superior Coastal Plain, Northwest Sands, and Northwest Lowlands Ecological Landscape regional master plans postponed due to weather

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Public comment period will be extended through May 3

ASHLAND, Wis. – With a spring snow storm set to impact much of the state, the public open house meetings for the Superior Coastal Plain, Northwest Sands, and Northwest Lowlands Ecological Landscapes have been postponed. Concerns over safety for the public and staff traveling to the meetings drove the decision to reschedule.

The public open house meetings will be held later in April. Both meetings run from 5 to 7 p.m. and will be held:

  • Tuesday, April 24, Ashland at Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, 29270 County Highway G
  • Wednesday, April 25, Spooner at DNR Service Center, 810 W Maple St.

While the public meetings have been postponed, people can still learn more about and engage in the planning processes for Superior Coastal Plain, Northwest Sands, and Northwest Lowlands regional master plans online by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords “master planning” and selecting the ecological landscape they would like to learn about. People will also find opportunities to offer their input on the planning and management of the properties.

In addition to the opportunities to offer input online or at public meetings, people may contact DNR Planner Phil Rynish, by email at phillip.rynish@wisconsin.gov, phone at 608-266-5854, or US mail at Phil Rynish, Wisconsin DNR, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI, 53707-7921.

The public comment period for the first phase of planning will now remain open through May 3, 2018.

Baiting and feeding bans go in effect for Washington, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties

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Move follows confirmation of CWD positive captive deer in early March

MADISON – The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection confirmed a captive deer in Washington County tested positive for CWD in early March.

As required by law, this finding will establish baiting and feeding bans for Washington, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties effective April 2, 2018. The ban for Washington County will be enacted for three years. Because Fond du Lac County is adjacent to a county with a CWD positive test result, a two-year ban will be enacted. Sheboygan County is already under a baiting and feeding ban and that ban will be renewed with this newest detection.

The Department of Natural Resources will also take the following steps:

  • establish a 10-mile radius disease surveillance area around this positive location;
  • conduct surveillance activities to assess disease distribution and prevalence including:
    • Encourage reporting of sick deer
    • Sample vehicle-killed adult deer
    • Sample adult deer harvested under agricultural damage permits
    • Sample adult deer harvested under urban deer hunts in the area; and
  • establish additional CWD sampling locations prior to the 2018 deer seasons

These actions are a very important next step in further understanding the potential geographic distribution of the disease and if other animals are infected within Wisconsin’s deer herd in the area.

As seen in the past in other parts of the state, local citizen involvement in the decision-making process as well as management actions to address this CWD detection will have the greatest potential for success.

For more information regarding baiting and feeding regulations and CWD in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “bait” and “CWD sampling” respectively.

County Deer Advisory Councils to gather feedback on season recommendations

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Antlerless quota, permit levels, and season structure; final meetings in April

MADISON — County Deer Advisory Councils will release their preliminary antlerless deer quota, permit level, and season structure recommendations for the 2018 deer hunting season next week. An online public comment period will begin April 2 and run through April 12 to collect feedback on these preliminary recommendations.

To view your county’s recommendations and provide feedback, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “CDAC.”

Antlerless quota recommendations and hunter success rates from previous hunts help determine the number of antlerless tags available for the 2018 deer hunting season, and help the Department of Natural Resources and councils work to reach deer population objectives within their county.

“The impact that CDACs are having on deer hunting in Wisconsin is impressive and growing,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. “The public has a real voice in local deer management, and the council members weigh their decisions heavily on public feedback. So, if you have an interest in helping to shape the deer season in your county, this is an important opportunity.”

Wallenfang says that CDACs are considering a variety of factors like harvest data, population trends, and winter severity when they discuss harvest objectives and tag levels for 2018.

After the public comment period has ended, each council will reconvene during the week of April 16-19 to evaluate public feedback and determine final recommendations for the 2018 deer seasons which will be adopted by the Natural Resources Board in May. All meetings are open to the public and provide the opportunity for attendees to address the council. Meeting details for each county can be found at dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “CDAC.”

Over $34 million in federal funding allocated to Wisconsin for important management activities

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HORICON, Wis. — Wisconsin will receive over $34 million in funding for 2018 generated through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts.

These funds will be used to enhance habitat for fish and wildlife, among other important duties, and help bolster the state’s status as a world class outdoor destination. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visited Horicon Marsh March 20 to announce more than $1.1 billion in annual national funding for state wildlife agencies throughout the nation.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (left) presents a check to Sanjay Olson, DNR Fish, WIldlife and Parks administrator. - Photo credit: DNR
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (left) presents a check for more than $34 million to Sanjay Olson, DNR Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division administrator.Photo credit: DNR

“American sportsmen and women are some of our best conservationists and they contribute billions of dollars toward wildlife conservation and sportsmen access every year through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts,” said Secretary Zinke. “The best way to increase funding for conservation and sportsmen access is to increase the number of hunters and anglers in our woods and waters.”

PRDJ dollars support a wide range of management activities. These funds, which are distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are derived from excise taxes paid by the hunting, shooting, boating and angling industries on firearms, bows and ammunition and sport fishing tackle, some boat engines, and small engine fuel.

“Whether through ensuring access to fishing spots, managing Wisconsin’s many habitat types for wildlife, or supporting any number of other important work done by DNR staff, this federal funding is extremely important to ensuring Wisconsin remains a world class outdoor destination,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Daniel L. Meyer. “We greatly value the partnerships we have with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior.”

Wisconsin boaters generate $1.18 billion of economic impact annually, while hunting contributes $2.5 billion annually in economic impact. Angling creates over 21,000 jobs while contributing roughly $2.3 billion to the economy annually.

Allocations of the funds are authorized by Congress. To date, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed more than $20.2 billion in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects.

For more information regarding the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, visit wsfrprograms.fws.gov [exit DNR].