Eau Claire County CWD advisory team meeting scheduled June 18

EAU CLAIRE, WI - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff and Wisconsin Conservation Congress representatives will host a public meeting June 18, to discuss surveillance and management options in response to the discovery of chronic wasting disease in a wild deer in western Eau Claire County.
The meeting is Monday, June 18, at 7 p.m., in the River Prairie Center, 1445 Front Porch Place, Altoona. A public comment period will be held during the meeting for citizens who wish to provide comments to the advisory team.
The Chippewa Valley CWD Advisory Team will assist DNR staff in finalizing recommendations regarding sampling strategies and responses to new CWD cases in the area encompassing parts of Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin and Trempealeau counties.
Bryan Richards, Emerging Disease Coordinator of the United States Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center, will provide the advisory team with information regarding CWD history, research, surveillance and management.
For more information about CWD in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CWD."
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR cautions lakeshore property owners about using hydraulic jets

Using hydraulic jets to get rid of “muck” or to uproot aquatic plants in public waters is illegal, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“We remind lakeshore property owners that just because you can buy a hydraulic jet does not make them legal to use in all situations,” said Jon Hansen, aquatic plant management consultant. “You may not use them in any way that disturbs the lake bottom or destroys rooted aquatic plants,”
Aquatic plants help keep water clean and fish populations healthy. Misusing hydraulic jets can destroy fish habitat and muddy the water.  
Hydraulic jets, including products like HydroSweep, Aqua Blaster, Aqua Thruster and Aquasweep, can resemble a fan or trolling motor contained in a short tube and create strong currents of moving water. These products are often advertised to control or remove “muck” and “weeds” from a lake bottom. However, using hydraulic jets in this manner is not allowed in Minnesota.
A person may legally operate a hydraulic jet if it is placed high enough off the lake bed so that it does not disturb the bottom or destroy rooted aquatic plants. It should be directed upward toward the water’s surface, which can prevent dead vegetation and duckweed from collecting around docks and boat lifts. Any displacement of sediment or removal of aquatic plants as a result of operating a hydraulic jet would be deemed a violation and may result in a fine.
Aquatic plant regulations and a guide to aquatic plants can be found at mndnr.gov/shorelandplants. For information on DNR water permits, visit mndnr.gov/permits.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

'Dying' evergreens may recover

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges property owners in the southern part of the state to wait one month before removing evergreens that are showing stress after a harsh winter and late spring. Some will recover.
DNR forest health specialists have received reports of spruce, white cedar, and white pine that appeared to die suddenly in Fillmore, Houston, Freeborn, Goodhue and Hennepin counties. In some cases, up to 90 percent of needles in the upper canopy of spruce trees have fallen off, while the bottom branches remained green.  
“In most instances, this extensive needle loss is the result of severe winter drying,” said Brian Schwingle, DNR forest health specialist. “Warm, windy days with low humidity in late April caused evergreen needles to lose moisture, and the frozen soil in the root zone prevented water from moving back into the needles to replace that moisture.”
Recently planted evergreens and smaller trees were hardest hit.
Schwingle recommends that people keep an eye on their evergreens and wait to see if they regain their canopy with new growth. Trees with 50 percent or more of their needle canopy remaining could recover.
For more information, see hort.uwex.edu/articles/winter-burn.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Slinger High School student wins 2019 state park sticker design contest

MADISON, WI - A pair of hiking boots hitting the trail by Slinger High School sophomore Rory Macha, is the winning design for the 2019 Wisconsin State Park admission sticker design contest.
The winning design will be printed on state park and forest annual vehicle admission stickers and will be displayed on more than 265,000 vehicles.
"This design is a great fit for the Wisconsin State Park System's new OutWiGo initiative that encourages people to hit Wisconsin's thousands of miles of trails and encourages everyone to improve their overall health and wellness by getting out and active in the outdoors," said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Park System director.
Macha will receive an engraved plaque, a 2019 annual vehicle admission sticker featuring her design when they become available in December and a state trail pass. Macha's design was selected from more than 250 entries.
Second place went to Rachel Slaybaugh of Jefferson High School whose entry depicted a hiker and companion dog walking along a state trail, and third place was awarded to Jocelyn Sveum, of Mt. Horeb High School, with a design of fireflies flying by fingers signaling a W.
Honorable mention went to:
Kyle Janssen, Delavan-Darien High School.
Ezra Carlson, Slinger High School.
Maddie Bowman, Cedarburg High School.
Allison Clarke, Arrowhead Union High School.
Paula Scherer, Cedarburg High School.
Erica Horst, Slinger High School.
Samuel Schroeder, Appleton North High School.
The vehicle admission stickers provide access to more than 70 state park, forest and recreation area properties across Wisconsin. The stickers are required on all motor vehicles stopping in state parks and recreation areas. Some state forest and trail parking areas also require a sticker.
Annual admission stickers cost $28 for Wisconsin residents or $38 for nonresidents. A family with more than one vehicle registered to the same household may purchase additional state park stickers for $15.50 for residents and $20.50 for nonresidents. A senior citizen annual sticker for $13 is available for Wisconsin Residents 65 years of age and older. The 2019 admission stickers will go on sale in early December.
This is the 28th year a Wisconsin high school student has designed the Wisconsin State Park admission sticker. The contest is open to students in grades nine through 12 or equivalent, attending public, private or parochial schools or home schooled in Wisconsin.
To see all of the winning entries and to find out more about the contest, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "contest."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Refuge selected for Hot Spot Program

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge has been selected to participate in the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics - Hot Spot Program.
The Hot Spot Program is in its seventh year of raising community awareness and bringing solutions and preventive measures to popular natural areas around the country facing the impacts associated with heavy recreational use.
The refuge was selected from over 200 applicants to participate in the 2018 program due to increased trash on islands, damaged vegetation and trees, and increased dispersal of invasive species over recent years.
A team of Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers are partnering with the refuge to host community events and educational activities in the Winona/Wabasha, MN, and La Crosse, WI, areas between July 9 and July 16.  
The week-long event will include training for open space, park and recreational area managers and educators. Public events include an evening workshop in Winona on Friday, July 13, and a river cleanup on Upper Mississippi River Pool 4 (Wabasha area) on Sunday, July 15. The Traveling Trainers will also be available at the Youth Outdoor Fest held at the Veteran’s Freedom Park (West Copeland) in La Crosse on Saturday, July 14.  
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national nonprofit organization that protects the outdoors by teaching people how to enjoy it responsibly. Their Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers are mobile teams of educators that visit 48 states every year delivering Leave No Trace programs such as Hot Spots to over 15 million people. For more information, visit: www.LNT.org.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Time to report turtle sightings, turtle road crossings

MADISON, WI - With turtle nesting season beginning for many Wisconsin turtle species, Department of Natural Resources conservation biologists are asking citizens to submit their turtle sightings, with an emphasis on road crossing hot spots, to DNR's Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program.
"Citizen reports in past years have been very important for turtle conservation," says Andrew Badje, who coordinates the turtle conservation program for the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Bureau.
"Such reports have helped us identify problem road crossings throughout the state, and helped us document previously unknown populations of rare turtles."
Since the project began in 2012, more than 1,300 citizens have reported nearly 3,000 turtle sightings throughout Wisconsin and have identified more than 1,300 turtle road crossing hotspots. Those hotspots include 38 sites where turtles were being run over by cars at high rates.
From May through July, female turtles cross roads to find suitable nesting areas in sunny uplands with sand, gravel, and loose soil. Turtles getting run over by cars is considered a leading cause of decline in turtle numbers in Wisconsin, especially in highly fragmented areas and areas with high traffic volumes, Badje says.
"Keeping these adult, breeding-age, females around is critical in managing sustainable turtle populations," Badje says. "The loss of even one adult female can have a large effect on future population numbers, especially in species like the wood turtle and Blanding's turtle, which can take from 12 to 20 years to reach reproductive age."
Citizen reports have helped DNR identify significant problem areas throughout the state to advance work with local officials to address turtle mortality areas. For example, reports of one deadly crossing in central Wisconsin led to DNR, state transportation officials and UW-Stevens Point collaborations to install and monitor a wildlife underpass when a highway resurfaced. That project has decreased turtle mortality at the site by 85 percent and has shown how similar projects can be undertaken to duplicate this success. Read more about this project in the article "Tunnel Vision" in the December 2017 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.
In southeast Wisconsin, additional reports from Waukesha County residents spurred the county highway department to create its own road stencil and apply it to those sites where residents have reported turtle crossings, Badje says.
In addition to saving turtles, citizen reports to the website have also provided DNR information on new locations of state-threatened wood turtles and Blanding's turtle, a protected species of "special concern" status, because its populations are low.
To report turtle crossings and other turtle sightings, or for additional information about Wisconsin turtles, search online for Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Great Wisconsin Birdathon urges bird lovers to help reach goal

MADISON, WI - As Wisconsin's bird migration peaks, bird watchers ranging from Mr. Dargatz's kindergarten class in Sussex to a trio of hard-core birders seeking to find 200 bird species in a single day are fanning out across Wisconsin's wetlands, forests, grasslands and school yards to help the birds they love.
They are participating in the Great Wisconsin Birdathon to raise money for bird conservation. The event is like a walkathon for birds. Participating teams tally as many bird species as possible in a day while collecting pledges and donations.
Bird lovers can join existing teams, start their own, or donate to individual teams, individual team members, or a general fund, all through the Great Wisconsin Birdathon website. To join or donate, visit www.WIBirdathon.org.
"Wisconsinites love birds and the Birdathon is a great way for people to go beyond the birdfeeder to help conserve the birds they love," says Ryan Brady, a DNR Natural Heritage Conservation biologist who serves on the steering committee for the event and participates on a team, the Lake Superior eBirders.
"All Wisconsin birds benefit from the funds raised by Birdathon participants, and the funding is key for priority efforts including restoring Kirtland's warblers and whooping cranes," says Brady.
The DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program is a partner in the Birdathon, which is organized and run by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Brady and several other DNR bird biologists participate on the event's steering team and on teams themselves.
Last year's Birdathon raised a record $90,000 for bird conservation projects and organizers have set an ambitious goal of $100,000 for 2018, says Diane Packett, birdathon coordinator at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.
Many of this year's teams are heading out a bit later than usual due to the later spring, but as usual, clever names and creative ways of birding abound.
The River Raptors teams will be birding by canoe and kayak and the Peddling Paddling Prius Pewees who cruised Dane County roads and trails by bike last year, are adding paddling routes and travel via a hybrid car.
The Secretary Birds, who have recorded 190 bird species in each of the last two years running a Door County through Green Bay to Horicon Marsh route, are shooting for observing 200 species and raising $1,500.
"The Birdathon got off to slow start this year because of the late snow storms and cold weather, so teams are still signing up and just beginning to go out birding," Packett says. "With spring migration happening and birds setting up breeding territories, we expect a lot more action in the coming weeks. We know Wisconsinites will mobilize to join the campaign to protect their birds."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR