Holland named Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation interim CEO

MISSOULA, MT - The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced that the Board of Directors has asked Nancy Holland to serve as president and CEO on an interim basis.
“To join the team at this time is very exciting. RMEF has a special place in my heart,” said Holland. “Stepping into this new role, forefront in my thoughts and actions are our members, donors, sponsors and fellow staff members and the conservation mission they have entrusted us to carry forward.”
Holland is taking a leave from the RMEF Board of Directors, where she served since 2016, while the search continues for a long-term replacement. She and husband, Howard, are staunch supporters and life members, who also served together as co-chairs of RMEF’s Habitat Council.
“Throughout my time with RMEF I have been blessed to meet and befriend wonderful, passionate people," she added. "It is these people, individuals, families and corporations that are the essence of RMEF. We come together in our passion for the future of elk and other wildlife, wild places and our tradition of hunting. It’s what makes RMEF great.”  
A graduate of St. Louis University, Holland has 35 years’ experience in investment and finance including managing a team of global investment professionals working on behalf of their international clients. Since 2009, she served as managing partner of Sapphire Point Partners LLC, which specializes in business consulting and real estate investment.
“RMEF has a strong financial footing, solid membership growth and an environment that supports our mission. We have a 5-year plan that we have been executing," Holland said. "We are solidly on our way to accomplishing those goals and surpassing them. At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering mission. It’s why we are all here.”

SOURCE: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation


Mid-winter Wisconsin waterfowl survey results show increase

MADISON, WI - Results from Wisconsin's 2018 mid-winter waterfowl show an increase in waterfowl seen compared to 2017 totals.
Despite sub-zero degree weather during much of the survey, Wisconsin saw an increase in waterfowl in the state compared to 2017. Winter weather varies each year - so far, 2018 has seen milder weather compared to last winter. Species like mallard ducks and Canada geese that move with the snowline were both observed during the January 2018 survey.
"Department of Natural Resources biologists visited any open bodies of water they could find from Jan. 2 through Jan. 8 to count waterfowl and eagles," said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist. "Work done by our biologists is part of coordinated efforts nationwide to survey waterfowl in areas of major concentration on their wintering areas and provide winter distributions of species using aircraft, vehicles and boots on the ground."
DNR biologists counted 123,883 total waterfowl in the state during the January survey work - observed species totals are:
* 58,357 Canada geese (47 percent of total number of waterfowl observed).
* 26,778 mallard ducks (21 percent of total number of waterfowl observed).
* 20,170 common goldeneye (16 percent of total number of waterfowl observed).
Finger said this survey serves as a primary source of data for developing population trends for some species that breed in remote Arctic locations and are difficult to survey during the breeding season. This survey also lets us monitor where species of ducks, geese, and swans are concentrated and distributed during winter, while helping identify population trends and informing our management decisions.
For more information regarding Wisconsin's waterfowl species, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "waterfowl management." Additional survey information can also be found on the department website.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation eyes new leadership

MISSOULA, MT - Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation officials announced Monday that chief executive officer David Allen is stepping down effective Jan. 31.
“With David’s cooperation, RMEF has been able to implement a transition plan to ensure RMEF’s continued success in the years to come,” said Philip Barrett, RMEF chairman of the board. “David and his family have become an integral part of the RMEF family. We thank him for his contributions and leadership and wish him the best of success in his future endeavors.”
As the RMEF moves forward, it maintains a focus on its longstanding conservation mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and elk hunting heritage, according to a news release.
 During Allen’s tenure, RMEF recorded nine consecutive years of record membership growth, conserved or enhanced nearly 1.8 million acres of wildlife habitat, opened or improved access to nearly 600,000 acres of public land and erased $16 million in debt to become debt-free for the first time ever. The organization also increased its volunteer base to more than 11,000 and assisted with successful elk reintroductions in Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Additionally, RMEF significantly boosted its hunting heritage outreach and advocacy efforts, secured in excess of $50 million in endowed funds, including the establishment of the Torstenson Family Endowment, and launched the Elk Network, an online digital platform dedicated to all things elk and elk hunting.  
“I have enjoyed every day of my nearly 11 years here at RMEF. This is a great organization with some of the best wildlife professionals anywhere,” said Allen. “I support the board of directors’ search for a new CEO to take RMEF to the next level. I expect great things for RMEF in the future. I have other projects that interest me and this is a great time to pursue those opportunities.”
The RMEF will release developments in its search for new leadership in the near future.

SOURCE: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation


Deer Management Assistance Program application deadline March 1

MADISON, WI - Landowners, hunters and land managers with properties of 160 acres or more are encouraged to enroll in the Deer Management Assistance Program prior to March 1, 2018.
Applications submitted prior to this deadline will receive priority access to the program's perks, including a site visit in 2018 by a professional wildlife biologist and forester.
DMAP provides informational resources and professional assistance regarding wildlife habitat management techniques for properties of any size to help participants improve habitat for wildlife.
Neighboring landowners with properties within one-half mile are encouraged to enroll as a group cooperative. Landowners in a DMAP cooperative with a combined acreage of 160 acres or more are eligible to receive a site visit and management plan. Group cooperatives also provide an opportunity to monitor local wildlife populations and share costs and equipment on habitat projects to benefit deer and other wildlife over a greater area.
For more information regarding DMAP and to apply, go to dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "DMAP."
To receive DMAP email updates and other information, click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and select the "Deer Management Assistance Program" option, found under Wildlife Management.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Bird lovers raise record amount for priority bird projects

MADISON, WI - Endangered Kirtland's warblers, the Wisconsin Stopover Initiative, and the five-year Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas project to document birds that nest in Wisconsin will get more help in 2018, thanks to 49 teams of bird lovers across the state, who raised more than $90,000 through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon in 2017.
"A group of dedicated birders came together, once again, to benefit important conservation efforts in their state," said Drew Feldkirchner, who directs the Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation Program. "We are grateful to everyone who participated, donated and sponsored, along with our partners at the Natural Resources Foundation who created and led the effort."
DNR is a partner in the birdathon, which is organized and run by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. The event is like a walkathon for birders. Participating teams tally as many bird species as possible on a day of their choosing between April and June, and collect pledges and donations.
The funds raised through the annual event allow for the continued advancement of priority bird initiatives in Wisconsin including monitoring and protection for the federally and state endangered
Kirtland's warbler.

How Birdathon donations benefit birds
Local birders also benefit.
Funds raised by the birdathon will go toward the creation of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II, a follow-up to the breeding bird survey from 1995-2000 that resulted in a reference book still used routinely today to guide species conservation and land management planning. Organizational teams such as several representing Madison Audubon Society that participated in the birdathon got to keep half the funds they raised for their own conservation efforts.
Diane Packett, foundation birdathon coordinator, described the event as a competition of who can spot the most bird species, but also a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with friends and family. In 2017, a record number of teams participated across the state and saw donations from a total of 796 donors. The total amount raised was $91,000, exceeding the 2017 goal of $75,000.
"We're so impressed with how Wisconsin birders mobilized for the birdathon last year, surpassing our goal by 20 percent," said Packett. "We've set an ambitious goal of $100,000 for the Great Wisconsin Birdathon 2018, and we're really excited to engage even more of the community to protect Wisconsin's birds."
A total of 10 priority local bird conservation projects received funding from the birdathon proceeds, including three new project recipients. These new projects involve bird conservation and monitoring in the Peruvian Amazon, where many Wisconsin birds overwinter, colonial water bird monitoring in east-central Wisconsin, and water bird and waterfowl monitoring on Lake Michigan.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Walter new Wisconsin DNR large carnivore specialist

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has named Scott Walter as the state's new large carnivore specialist.
Walter will oversee the development and coordination of wolf, bear and cougar management within Wisconsin. Walter will be stationed in the Madison DNR office, and is coming to this position from the Ruffed Grouse Society, where he served as director of conservation programs. In his former position, he worked with staff, members, DNR personnel and the public to develop and apply a variety of programs and projects.
Walter previously held the upland wildlife ecologist and Farm Bill coordinator positions at the DNR from 2011-2015. Walter has a bachelor's degree in biology from Beloit College and a master's degree and doctorate in wildlife ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"As a Wisconsin native, I've always appreciated the diversity of our wildlife community and been particularly fascinated by the many biological and social issues surrounding large carnivores," said Walter. "Certainly, there is a lot of public interest in wolves and bears in the state, and I very much look forward to engaging with our committed partners and the public as we explore opportunities and address challenges related to the management of these important species."
To learn more about Wisconsin's Wildlife Programs, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "wildlife." Search keywords "bear", "wolf" or "cougar" for more information regarding Wisconsin's large carnivore programs.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Cougar presence in Wisconsin carries into 2018

MADISON, WI - Department of Natural Resource staff confirmed trail camera photos of a cougar in Fond du Lac County in early January in addition to confirmation of a cougar moving through Lincoln and Langlade counties in mid-December.
The December photos were captured on one property northeast of Merrill on the same day with two separate trail cameras. Eight days later, two separate photos were captured on a property south of Antigo. Later in January, another cougar photo was confirmed near Rosendale.
The properties near Antigo and Merrill are roughly 23 miles apart, and these photos present the possibility that this was the same cougar, moving in an easterly direction. It is unknown whether these photos show the same animal photographed on multiple trail cameras in central Wisconsin between early August and late October, or of the cougar reported in Douglas County in mid-November.
Cougars can travel long distances in a short time period. Without biological material for genetic testing, department staff are unable to confirm whether this is one or multiple cougars. As a reminder, suspected cougar sightings can be reported by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for large mammal observation form.
There is currently no evidence that cougars are breeding in Wisconsin. Biologists believe the cougars known to have entered Wisconsin are male cougars dispersing from a breeding population in the western United States.
Cougars are a protected species in Wisconsin and hunting is not allowed. Cougars are not considered a threat to public safety, and in the unlikely event that a person is confronted by a cougar, face the animal and spread your arms and open your coat or jacket to appear larger. If a cougar approaches, make noise and throw rocks or sticks.
Confirmed cougar sighting trail camera photos and maps with confirmed sighting locations can be found on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching keyword "cougar."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR