Work*Play*Earth Day events scheduled around Wisconsin

MADISON, WI - 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.

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 for "Work Play."
"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
* Merrick State Park - Fountain City, 608-687-4936.
FRIDAY, APRIL 20
* Mirror Lake State Park - Baraboo, 608-254-2333.
SATURDAY, APRIL 21
* Big Foot Beach State Park - Lake Geneva, 262-248-2528.
* Hank Aaron State Traill - Milwaukee, 414-263-8559.
* Heritage Hill State Historical Park - Green Bay, 920-448-5150.
* High Cliff State Park - Sherwood, 920-989-1106.
* Interstate State Park - St. Croix Falls, 715-483-3747.
* Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit - Campbellsport, 262-626-2116.
* Kettle Moraine State Forest-Pike Lake Unit - Hartford, 262-670-3400.
* Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit - Eagle, 262-594-6200.
* Kohler-Andrae State Park - Sheboygan, 920-451-4080.
* MacKenzie Center - Poynette, 608-635-8105.
* Newport State Park - Ellison Bay, 920-854-2500.
* Peninsula State Park - Fish Creek, 920-868-3258.
* Point Beach State Forest - Two Rivers, 920-794-7480.
* Potawatomi State Park - Sturgeon Bay, 920-746-2890.
* Red Cedar State Trail - Menomonie, 715-232-1242.
SATURDAY, APRIL 28
* Buckhorn State Park - Necedah, 608-565-2789.
* Copper Falls State Park - Mellen, 715-274-5123.
* Devil's Lake State Park - Baraboo, 608-356-8301.
* Harrington Beach State Park - Belgium, 262-285-3015.
* Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit - Campbellsport, 262-626-2116.
* Perrot State Park - Trempealeau, 608-534-6409.
* Stower Seven Lakes State Trail - Amery, 715-485-9294.
* Whitefish Dunes State Park - Sturgeon Bay, 920-823-2400.
SATURDAY, MAY 5
* Amnicon Falls State Park - South Range, 715-398-3000.
* Hartman Creek State Park - Waupaca, 715-258-2372.
* Havenwoods State Forest - Milwaukee, 414-527-0232.
* Rib Mountain State Park - Wausau, 715-842-2522.
* Roche-A-Cri State Park - Friendship, 608-339-6881.
* Rock Island State Park - Washington Island, 920-847-2235.
SATURDAY, MAY 12
* Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit- Delafield, 262-646-3025.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Potawatomi State Park observation tower closed permanently

STURGEON BAY, WI - 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.
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.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

It's hatch week on Minnesota's EagleCam

It is “hatch week” in our beloved eagle’s nest.  
Will we see chicks?
Unfortunately, inconsistent incubation and wet, cool spring temperatures are unfavorable conditions for a successful hatch.
We know that eggs are composed of mostly fluid and many factors affect hatchability.  
Just like in humans, there are genetic, nutritional, physiological, and behavioral features of the incubation process that all need to transpire in order for the eggs to hatch into healthy eagle chicks.  Temperature and humidity are important environmental conditions that have not been consistent at the nest.  
Prolonged absence from the eggs we have witnessed make it likely the remaining two eggs will not hatch. Thirty-three to thirty-five days from laying is average hatch date. Monday, March 26, was 35 days from the first egg lay.
While the female continues to incubate, she is not doing so consistently, as most of you have noted. The inconsistent incubation eggs does not bode well for proper development of the chicks.
On March 28, one of the eggs appeared to be missing. We have seen egg fragments in the nest, so we assume one egg has broken and will not hatch.
At this point it is very unlikely the female would lay another egg, even if both remaining eggs don’t hatch. She has laid three eggs and has expended her calcium and energy reserves in her body for the nesting season.  
The male has not been providing much needed support to the eggs or the female. This suggests this new male may be young and inexperienced in nest brooding.  
Frequent close-up images of the eggs do not provide reliable insight into the viability of the eggs. There are some spots on the eggs that appear to be a pip. Wind, grass in the nest and other factors make it difficult to tell a dirt spot from a true pip, but we remain watchful.
To view Minnesota's EagleCam, log onto: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/features/webcams/eaglecam/index.html

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Be aware of bears this spring

Anyone living near bear habitat is reminded to be aware of bears this spring and check their property for food sources that could attract bears.
“Bears are roaming around now with the lack of snow and warmer weather, so interactions with people are going to start in central Minnesota which includes the southern part of the bear range,” said Eric Nelson, wildlife animal damage program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.   
As bears emerge from hibernation, their metabolism gradually ramps up and they will begin looking for food at a time when berries and green vegetation can be scarce. Pet food, livestock feed, bird seed, compost or garbage can attract bears. Attracting bears to yards can lead to property damage and presents dangers to bears.
Only black bears live in the wild in Minnesota. They usually are shy and flee when encountered. Never approach or try to pet a bear. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed.
The DNR does not relocate problem bears. Relocated bears seldom remain where they are released. They may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else.
The DNR offers some tips for avoiding bear conflicts.

Around the yard:
* Do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Coolers are not bear-proof.
* Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which are also attractive to hummingbirds.
* Eliminate bird feeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees.
* Use a rope and pulley system to refill bird feeders, and clean up spilled seeds. Where bears are a nuisance, bird feeders should be taken down between now and Dec. 1.
* Store pet food inside and feed pets inside. If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat.
* Clean and store barbeque grills after each use. Store them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors.
* Pick fruit from trees as soon as it’s ripe and collect fallen fruit immediately.
* Limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly. Do not add food scraps.
* Harvest garden produce as it matures. Locate gardens away from forests and shrubs that bears may use for cover.
* Use native plants in landscaping whenever possible. Clover and dandelions will attract bears.
* Elevate bee hives on bear-proof platforms or erect properly designed electric fences.
* Do not put out feed for wildlife (like corn, oats, pellets or molasses blocks).

Garbage:
* Store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters. Rubber or plastic garbage cans are not bear-proof.
* Keep garbage inside a secure building until the morning of pickup.
* Properly rinse all recyclable containers with hot water to remove all remaining product.
* Store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, inside.
* Store garbage that can become smelly, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site or picked up by refuse collector.
* Take especially smelly or rotting garbage as soon as possible to your local refuse facility so it can be buried.

People should always be cautious around bears. If bear problems persist after cleaning up food sources, contact a DNR area wildlife office for advice. For the name of the local wildlife manager, contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, or visit mndnr.gov/contact/locator.html. For more about living in bear habitat, visit mndnr.gov/livingwith_wildlife/bears.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Frog calling volunteers document American bullfrog comeback

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin's largest frog appears to be staging a comeback, a welcome trend documented over the last generation by hundreds of volunteers who've traveled roads near rivers, lakes and wetlands listening for the breeding calls of male frogs and toads.
The Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey gets underway in coming weeks, and volunteers are likely to hear more of the booming call of the American bullfrog this summer when its mating season begins.
Ranging from 3.5 inches to 8.5 inches from snout to vent, the American bullfrog is the largest frog in Wisconsin and North America and has a foghorn call to match, said Andrew Badje, a Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist, who coordinates survey volunteers.
"Our volunteers are increasingly reporting more bullfrog calls since the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey began in 1984," he said. "That's great news for several reasons. While American bullfrogs are considered a pest in western states where they've been introduced, they are native to Wisconsin and a valuable part of the food chain. Their comeback also shows we can take protective actions and make a difference."
Bullfrogs were widely used in the 1900s for biological supply companies, the bait industry and for use in the food industry as "frog legs." Regulations enacted by DNR have helped prevent the over-harvesting of adult bullfrogs in Wisconsin and have helped the population build again, as have increased conservation education efforts by DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation program and many partners.
Due wholeheartedly to Wisconsin's dedicated volunteer-base, the survey is the longest running citizen science amphibian calling survey in North America, according to Badje.
"Over the years, these citizen scientists have helped DNR conservation biologists define the distribution, status and population trends of all 12 frog and toad species in the state," Badje said.
Volunteers have logged more than 8,700 survey nights and 87,000 site visits since the survey began.
Their data has documented the American bullfrogs' good news in Wisconsin, but also a downward trend for the northern leopard frog over the course of the survey. Spring peepers, boreal chorus frogs and green frogs have been on more stable paths since the survey began.
Volunteers survey three nights a year along a pre-set route in each early spring, late spring, and early summer. Each volunteer makes 10 stops per night (five minutes at each site) and documents the species calling and the relative abundance of each species.
A few 2018 Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey routes are not yet spoken for. See available routes on the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey's website. Interested volunteers also can ask Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey coordinators about open routes or ask to be placed on a waiting list for future years as desired routes or counties become available.
Volunteers also are invited to participate in phenology surveys to help monitor when frogs and toads first start calling. Phenology volunteers choose one wetland to monitor throughout the frog calling season and record data as often as possible for five minutes per night.
Read more about the survey and its results in the April 2016 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


License sales support diverse angling opportunities

Walleye might be Minnesota’s most popular fish, but the state’s waters also are renowned for trophy catfish, muskellunge and smallmouth bass.
All of the state’s large rivers are home to lake sturgeon, which can weigh as much as 100 pounds.
In southeastern Minnesota, trout rise to flies in the region’s cold, clear spring creeks.
Along the North Shore, large migratory rainbow trout known as steelhead provide thrills.  
“Whether you are after the fish of a lifetime or some bluegills for the frying pan, when you buy a license you are helping fund work that sustains Minnesota’s unique fisheries,” said Jenifer Wical, the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife marketing coordinator. “When you share your passion by taking someone else fishing, you are helping sustain the future of great fishing in Minnesota.”There are adult individual angling licenses and licenses for married couples. Anglers can buy licenses for 24-hour, 72-hour and three-year time periods. Lifetime licenses can keep someone fishing long into the future, and come at great prices, especially for children 3 and under and those ages 51 and older. Lifetime licenses also can be given as gifts.
Youth ages 16 and 17 can buy an annual license for $5. Minnesotans 15 and under are not required to buy a license to fish, but must comply with fishing regulations. All nonresidents need a license, except those age 15 and younger do not need one if a parent or guardian is licensed.
Buy licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.
Customers are encouraged to update their customer record online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Adding an email, while not required, allows the DNR to send important hunting and fishing information, and gather input through surveys.
For those who hunt and fish, a sports license includes angling and small game, and a super sports license includes a trout/salmon stamp, small game with pheasant and waterfowl, and a deer tag (archery, firearms or muzzleloader).
This year, license fees increase by $3 for a resident individual angling license, and fees also increase for other license types including deer hunting licenses, sports licenses and lifetime licenses.
To learn more about how the DNR spends hunting and fishing license dollars locally, visit mndnr.gov/LicenseDollarsAtWork and select an area near you.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Elk survey shows slight population increase

Minnesota’s elk range in northwestern Minnesota has three herds with a total of 97 elk, according to the annual aerial elk population survey completed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Kittson, Marshall and Roseau counties.
Past surveys recorded 79 elk in 2017 and 83 elk in 2016.
“People often are surprised to learn we have wild elk in Minnesota,” said Doug Franke, Thief River Falls area wildlife supervisor. “As biologists, our annual elk surveys are one way we collect information we can use to manage these large and often elusive animals.”
Year-to-year, survey results vary depending on the movement of the Caribou-Vita herd that travels back and forth across the Minnesota-Manitoba border. Meanwhile, the smaller Grygla herd in Marshall County remains at low numbers.
“We continue to be concerned about low numbers of elk in the Grygla herd, which has not been hunted since 2012 and remains below our population goal,” Franke said.  
In Marshall County, observers counted 15 elk in the Grygla herd, down from 17 elk counted last year and 21 elk in 2016. The current population goal range for the Grygla elk herd is 30 to 38 animals.
Another elk herd, the Kittson-Central herd, is located near Lancaster in Kittson County. Observers counted 75 elk compared to 61 elk in 2017 and 52 elk in 2016. The current population goal range for this herd is 50 to 60 animals.
Aerial surveys are a snapshot in time, meaning they are only an estimate of the population, not an exact number. The DNR counts elk only on the Minnesota side during its aerial surveys.

Border herd results
This year, the DNR was again able to conduct a joint aerial elk survey with Manitoba Conservation for the Caribou-Vita elk herd, also known as the border herd.
The survey was completed on March 11 and March 12 for the areas close to the border. Manitoba Conservation wildlife staff counted 80 elk near the border, down from 108 elk counted last year. There were 46 elk counted slightly north of Vita, Manitoba, which is down from 55 elk counted there last year.
Observers counted a total of 126 elk on the Canadian side of the border, down from 163 total elk counted last year. The Caribou-Vita herd is Minnesota’s largest herd, with a current population goal range of 150 to 200 elk inhabiting both sides of the border.
Depending on the year and day of the survey, elk numbers on the Minnesota side can greatly vary. Observers in Minnesota counted only seven elk this year in the Caribou-Vita herd. One elk was counted in 2017 and 10 animals were counted in 2016 in the state.
Research continuesIn 2016, the DNR radio-collared 20 cow elk in Minnesota’s three herds to begin research into elk movements and habitat use that should help managers improve the effectiveness of elk population surveys, the knowledge of Minnesota elk biology and movements, and elk depredation management. The study is being conducted by researchers from the DNR and Minnesota State University-Mankato. It will run through June 2018.
This research project is the first of its kind in Minnesota. The goal is to improve understanding of the species and ultimately develop management programs that benefit elk and their habitat, while also minimizing conflicts with landowners.
Funding for the project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources and approved by the state Legislature. The DNR and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are also providing funding.
More information on Minnesota’s elk management can be found at mndnr.gov/elk.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR