Upper Mississippi River Refuge trap tags available

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that refuge special use permits and trap tags for the 2018-2019 furbearer trapping season on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge will be issued beginning Oct. 1, at the following locations:
* Savanna District, 7071 Riverview Rd, Thomson, IL; Phone: 815-273-2732; Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Trap tags will be issued beginning on Oct. 9, at the following locations:
* Winona District, 51 East 4th Street, Room 203, Winona, MN; Phone 507-454-7351; Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
* La Crosse District, N5727 County Road Z, Onalaska, WI; Phone 608-779-2399; Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
* McGregor District, 470 Cliffhaven Road, Prairie du Chien, WI; Phone 608-326-0515; Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
If traveling from a long distance, please call and confirm that staff will be in the office to issue tags.
Regulations require that trappers possess a refuge permit and trap tags to trap furbearers on the refuge.   
Trap tags must be obtained in person and trappers must have a valid 2018-2019 state trapping license in their possession when obtaining trap tags.
Wisconsin residents must provide printed proof of trapping privileges at time of application. Refuge employees do not have access the WIDNR electronic system to verify privileges via conservation card or driver's license.  
Each trapper will receive 40 trap tags with their permit. All traps placed on the refuge must have a tag attached. Refuge trapping permits are issued for a fee of $30 for trappers 18 years or older and $5 for trappers under age 18. Only cash and checks can be accepted.  
Trappers, who did not return their fur catch report for the 2017-2018 seasons, will not be issued a trapping permit for this year.
Additional information can be found in the refuge’s Furbearer Management Plan available on the web at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/upper_mississippi_river/ or by contacting one of the district offices.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Brooks to fill some big shoes at Oktoberfest races

WEST SALEM, WI - The 49th annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend is just over a week away and officials are busy getting prepared for the four-day event on Oct. 4-7 at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway.
One noticeable change to this year’s competition guide is who will be overseeing the rules for the Futures and Dick Trickle 99 presented by JE Pistons Super Late Model events.
Last February, longtime Oktoberfest Super Late Model tech inspector Mike “Lumpy” Lemke passed away after a brief illness. The loss of Lumpy put the Oktoberfest Race Weekend officials in a position to find a suitable replacement.
With the variety of competitors coming from not only around the Midwest, but from other parts of the United States and Canada to participate in the Super Late Model events, officials have asked longtime Super Late Model Tech Director Ricky Brooks to provide his expertise for the event.  
Brooks will oversee Thursday’s Futures and Friday’s Dick Trickle 99 presented, and will work in unison with the ARCA Midwest Tour team for Sunday's Oktoberfest 200.
“After Lumpy passed away, I told Gregg McKarns that if he needed any help just to let me know,” Brooks, who is the Tech Director for the Snowball Derby, New Smyrna Speedweeks, SRL Southwest Tour and other big Super Late Model events said. “He asked me if I had any interest in Oktoberfest and I said I would be interested because it’s a big event and I have always been hoping to come up to see it in person. Now I am not only coming up, but it’s another event on my list that I can say I have worked, and I am looking forward to coming up and being a part of it.”
When asked about coming in and filling the shoes of his friend, he quickly thought about the memories of Lumpy.
“I have always respected Lumpy and I miss his stories that he would randomly share with me over the phone or whenever we saw each other in person,” Brooks said. “Honestly, he really didn’t care what anyone thought about him and I am pretty much the same way, and we both aren’t really politically correct, but we both enjoy being at the track and working with the teams.
“Another thing that Lumpy and I have in common is that we always have the best interest at the heart of the racers, Brooks added.  "We are there to do our job, yet at the same time provide a level playing field for everyone who is there to compete. We both try to work with the teams and make this a good experience for everyone.”
Gregg McKarns, co-promoter of the Oktoberfest Race Weekend, is grateful to have Brooks coming to help this year.
“Ricky and Lumpy have been working together for years to try to make our rules come together with other Super Late Model series, and I have a lot of respect for Ricky with his knowledge and help,” McKarns said. “His resume will show that he has worked many Super Late Model events and we wanted to bring in someone with the experience and knowledge of working events like Oktoberfest to help keep the tradition of how we operate over the four days smooth for everyone involved from the competitors to the fans.”
The 2018 Oktoberfest Race Weekend Competition Guide, Rule Book, and Entry Blank can be downloaded the OktoberfestRaceWeekend.com website.
For those competitors competing in The Futures and Dick Trickle 99, call or email Brooks with questions 850-324-6821, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.

Wisconsin State Park System to launch enhanced campsite reservation system

MADISON - Beginning Dec. 17, people booking a campsite at Wisconsin State Park System properties will be able to use a new, improved - and less expensive - reservation system.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is contracting with a new reservation provider, Camis USA, Inc., that was awarded the reservation contract through a competitive bidding process. Camis USA currently operates reservation systems for Michigan, Maryland and Washington state parks.
"We're really excited to launch this new system because we are so confident our customers will find the enhanced system easier to use, will have more options for booking facilities, and it will cost them less than under the previous system," said Ben Bergey, state park system director.
All reservations that are booked through the current provider, Reserve America, will be transferred to the new system.
Under the new system it will cost users $7.75 to make a reservation, compared to the current price of $9.65. Customers can also expect many enhancements when making reservations, including better searching for campsites, and a mobile-friendly website that makes it easier than ever to make a reservation from a phone or tablet. The new system will also accommodate reservations for shelters and amphitheaters.
Camis plans to open a call center in Kenosha that will employ between 12 and 15 operators depending on the season.
During the first two weeks in December, there will be a transition period to the new system, and campsite reservations will not be available. On Dec. 17, the Camis system will be open to make reservations. Campers can make reservations for sites up to 11 months in advance of their arrival, either online or by phone.
All customers who have previously made reservations with Reserve America will receive email notifications confirming their reservations are in the new system.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Updated 2018 Wisconsin wildlife reports now available

MADISON - Results are available for several wildlife surveys completed during the first half of 2018, which include data collected from small game, big game, waterfowl and non-game categories.
The following reports for 2018 are viewable on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "reports."

SMALL GAME
* Small Game Harvest, 2017-2018.
* Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey, 2018.
* Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Survey, 2018.
* Rural Mail Carrier Pheasant Survey, 2018.
* Spring Ring-Necked Pheasant Survey, 2018.

BIG GAME
* Black Bear Population Analyses, 2018.
* Archery Deer Hunting Questionnaire, 2017.
* Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims Program, 2017.
* Agricultural Deer Damage Shooting Permits, 2017.
* Spring Turkey Hunting Questionnaire, 2018.
* Winter Severity Indices, 2017-2018.

WATERFOWL
* Wisconsin Youth Waterfowl Hunt, 2017.

FURBEARERS
* Bobcat Harvest, 2017.
* Fisher Harvest, 2017.
* Otter Harvest, 2017-2018.
* Bobcat Population Analyses, 2018.
* Fisher Population Analyses, 2018.
* Otter Population Analyses, 2018.
* Bobcat Hunter/Trapper Survey, 2017.
* Winter Track Counts, 1977-2018.
* Beaver Trapping Questionnaire, 2017-2018.
* Fur Trapper Survey, 2017-2018.
* Wisconsin Fur Buyers Report, 2017-2018.

NONGAME
* Central Wisconsin Greater Prairie-Chicken Survey, 2018.
* Frog and Toad Survey, 2017.
* American Marten Winter Track Surveys in Northern Wisconsin, 2017-2018.
* Moose Observations, 2017.
* Rare Carnivore Observations, 2017.
Department of Natural Resources staff would like to thank volunteers who assisted with survey efforts for their continued commitment to Wisconsin's wildlife.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Minnesota’s wolf population remains stable

Minnesota’s wolf population estimate was 2,655 wolves and 465 wolf packs during the winter of 2017-2018 within Minnesota’s wolf range, an estimate that is statistically unchanged from the previous winter, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“Subtle changes in wolf population numbers year to year indicate that Minnesota supports a healthy wolf population and the long-term trends demonstrate that the wolf population is fully recovered,” said Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist for the DNR.  
The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus about 700 wolves and makes the estimate statistically unchanged from the previous winter’s estimate of approximately 2,856 wolves and 500 wolf packs.
The population survey is conducted in mid-winter near the low point of the annual population cycle. Immediately following birth of pups each spring, the wolf population typically doubles, though many pups do not survive to the following winter. Pack counts during winter are assumed to represent minimum estimates given the challenges with detecting all members of a pack together at the same time.
Survey results suggest pack sizes were the same as last year (4.85 versus 4.8) and packs used larger territories (61 versus 54 square miles) than the previous winter. Although neither individually represented a significant change from recent years, slightly larger pack territories last winter explain the lower population estimate and are consistent with estimated changes in deer numbers in many parts of the wolf range.
“The accuracy of our wolf population estimate is dependent on radio-collaring a representative sample of wolf packs,” said Dr. John Erb, DNR wolf research biologist.
Annual wolf capture efforts are focused on areas for radio-collaring that are believed to collectively represent the overall wolf range, particularly with respect to land cover and deer density. Capture success varies each year, some collared wolves die or disperse, and some radio-collars prematurely fail, creating annual variability in the degree to which collared packs are representative of the entire population.
“Nonetheless, confidence intervals for the past two surveys widely overlap, indicating no significant change from last year,” Erb said.
Although wolf population estimates have been conducted annually since 2012, the portion of the survey that is used to calculate total and pack-occupied wolf range is completed every five years. This past winter’s survey estimated a 9,321 square mile increase in total wolf range from the 2012-2013 wolf population survey; however, the survey results indicated that only about 23 percent of this new area, or 2,175 square miles, was deemed to be occupied by resident wolf packs during the winter of 2017-2018.
Minnesota’s wolf population remains above the state’s minimum goal of at least 1,600 wolves and is above the federal recovery goal of 1,251 to 1,400 wolves.
The DNR’s goal for wolf management, as outlined in the state’s wolf management plan, is to ensure the long-term survival of wolves in Minnesota while addressing wolf-human conflicts. Wolves in Minnesota returned to the federal list of threatened species as a result of a Washington, D.C. federal district court ruling in December 2014.
Visit the DNR website at mndnr.gov/wolves to find the full report, an FAQ and an overview of wolf management in the state, including the wolf management plan.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Trempealeau County game warden rescues owl

By JOANNE M. HAAS
Wisconsin DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement

Wisconsin DNR Conservation Warden Meghan Jensen (pictured) has answered the call of wildlife in tight conditions before - but this one was a first.
And it ended happily on a wing and - a team.
Warden Meghan, who serves Trempealeau County, got a call the morning of Sept. 23, from a driver who believed he had killed an owl while traveling a local road the night before. He believed the bird was dead, after getting jammed into his vehicle's front end. He decided he would handle the aftermath in the morning.
Amazing the surprises a bright morning daylight can deliver! He went to the vehicle, prepared for the sad task and discovered the owl wasn't dead. It was just hanging out - in a really uncomfortable position.
Who's he going to call? Warden Meghan. She's always up for a challenge! She was in his area and drove right over.
"The owl was stuck! Just the wings and head were sticking out of the grill," she said. "The rest of its body was lodged in tight." Teamwork was the answer as Warden Meghan and the driver worked carefully and freed the owl from the grip of the grill. "It appeared uninjured." Wow.
To be safe and sure, Warden Meghan took the bird to the Coulee Region Humane Society for a checkout. AOK! That calls for another wow.
Time to get the little guy home. She then drove this lucky bird to the wooded area in the general vicinity of the unfortunate incident the night before, and successfully released it back into its wild home.
Next time, this bird needs to look both ways - then left again before crossing. "What an adventure for this fella!" And for Warden Meghan, too.
If you have information regarding natural resource violations, you may confidentially report by calling or texting: VIOLATION HOTLINE: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained staff relay report information to conservation wardens.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Annual tree seedling sales begin Oct. 1

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reforestation program will be accepting orders starting Oct. 1, from Wisconsin forest landowners for trees and shrubs to be planted in spring 2019.
The high-quality seedlings are native species appropriate for planting throughout Wisconsin.
Seedlings grown at state nurseries are used for reforestation and conservation plantings on private, industrial and state/county forest lands. A minimum order consists of a packet of 300 trees or shrubs of the landowner's choosing in increments of 100 of each species, or 500 shrubs or 1,000 tree seedlings. Seedlings can also be purchased by youth groups and educational organizations for their reforestation and conservation planting projects.
"The DNR Division of Forestry grows 3-5 million seedlings annually," said Joseph Vande Hey, reforestation team leader at the Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel. "However, since some species sell out quickly, customers are encouraged to place orders early.
"Planting trees or shrubs is a great way to improve wildlife habitat, increase land value, reduce soil erosion, produce future wood products and improve the overall aesthetics of your property," Vande Hey said. "Planting trees is also a great activity that involves all ages of family members. It provides an educational experience and an opportunity to become more invested in the stewardship of the environment."
Forest landowners may place orders starting Oct. 1, using an online form found on the DNR website (keyword "tree planting") or by printing the order form, completing it and mailing it in. Customers may also contact the reforestation staff or the DNR forester who serves the area where their property is located for personal assistance. Printed copies of the order form are also available at local DNR offices.
In addition to the online form, customers can also find the following items on the reforestation section of the DNR website:
* Current tree and shrub inventory to ensure their tree choices are available.
* A seedling catalog with detailed information on seedling species available.
* A Frequently Asked Questions page with information on the ordering process, payment options, minimum order requirements and more.
* Links to contact information for a local DNR forester and the Griffith State Nursery (for anyone having specific questions).
* Links to additional tree planting information (including an app to help customers create a personalized tree planting plan; tree planting tips; reforestation supplies; site preparation; publications, webcasts, and videos; and information on planting for windbreaks and wildlife).
* Listing of private nurseries in case the state's inventory of a desired species is depleted.
In addition to growing seedlings for use in Wisconsin, the reforestation program participates in research efforts, including tree improvement, nursery soils, nursery insect and disease and reforestation monitoring efforts. The DNR nurseries also purchases tree seed collected by state residents.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR