Wolf population increases with rise in deer density

Results from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ 2016-1017 wolf population survey suggest Minnesota’s wolf population has increased 25 percent since the 2015-2016 survey.  
After remaining stable during the past four years, the survey estimates that within Minnesota’s wolf range there were approximately 500 wolf packs and 2,856 wolves. The survey’s margin of error is about plus or minus 500 wolves. The 2015-2016 survey estimated the number of packs at 439 and the wolf population at 2,278.
Minnesota’s wolf population remains well above the state’s minimum goal of at least 1,600 wolves and also above the federal recovery goal of 1,251 to 1,400. The DNR has consistently managed wolf populations at levels that exceed both state and federal minimums.
Survey results suggest packs were slightly larger (4.8 vs. 4.4) and used smaller territories (54 square miles vs. 62 square miles) than the previous winter. Although neither individually represented a significant change from recent years, collectively they explain the increase in the population estimate and are consistent with a continuing increase in deer numbers observed in many parts of wolf range. From spring 2015 to spring 2016, deer density within the wolf range is estimated to have increased 22 percent.
“From approximately 2005 to 2014, a decline in prey appears to have translated into larger wolf pack territories, fewer or smaller packs and a reduced wolf population, said John Erb, the DNR’s wolf research scientist. “Now, the reverse appears to be happening.”
Although other factors such as pack competition, disease and human-caused mortality can influence wolf population dynamics, prey density typically determines the carrying capacity for wolves.
“Changes in estimated wolf abundance generally have tracked those of deer over the past 5 years,” Erb said.
The wolf population survey is conducted in mid-winter near the low point of the annual population cycle. A winter survey makes counting pack size from a plane more accurate because the forest canopy is reduced and snow makes it easier to spot darker shapes on the ground.
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. A winter count also excludes the population spike that occurs each spring when the number of wolves typically doubles immediately following the birth of pups, many of which do not survive to the following winter.
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. Minnesota currently has no direct management responsibility for wolves now because a federal district court ruling in December 2014 returned Minnesota’s wolves to the federal list of threatened species. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service manages all animals on that list.
Visit the DNR website at mndnr.gov/wolves to find the full population survey report, reported wolf mortalities and an overview of wolves in Minnesota.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


New hours set for Minneopa bison range

Hours for the bison range road at Minneopa State Park will change for the month of October due to decreasing daylight hours.
Starting Oct. 1, the range road will be open Thursday through Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The road will be closed on Wednesdays for regular maintenance.
Hiking trails around the bison range provide more bison viewing opportunities. Trails are open daily year round during regular park hours.
A vehicle permit ($7 daily or $35 year-round) is required to enter the park.
Bison range road hours will be adjusted again to follow daylight hours for the winter. Beginning Nov. 1, winter hours will be 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Minneopa State Park’s bison herd arrived in September 2015 and has been a popular attraction for the park since then.
The bison are part of the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd, managed through a formal agreement between the DNR and Minnesota Zoo. The partners are working together to preserve American plains bison. The plan is to grow the herd to 500 animals at several locations, including Blue Mounds State Park, Minneopa State Park and the Minnesota Zoo. Genetic testing of the herd from 2011 to 2014 found them largely free of any genetic material that would have come from cross-breeding with cattle. Less than 1 percent of all American plains bison tested so far have been found free of cattle genes.

Bison viewing tips:
* Bison may be difficult to spot at times. Visitors should drive slowly and keep a watchful eye as they go through the range.
* Remain inside your vehicle while driving through the bison range.
* Bison should be given clearance of at least 75 feet from people and vehicles at all times.
* Dogs can make bison nervous, so pets must be kept on a leash while in the park and hiking around the bison range.
* Bison get nervous around loud noises or lots of activity, so keeping voices down and movements to a minimum may help keep the bison within easy viewing.
* Hiking is not allowed inside the range, but there are hiking trails all the way around the outside of the range that can provide some fantastic views of the bison.
For information on the Minneopa State Park bison herd, see:  mndnr.gov/minneopa-bison.
Resources on bison can be found here:  mndnr.gov/bison.
For more information on Minneopa State Park, call 507-389-5464 or visit: mndnr.gov/minneopa.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Trempealeau NWR to hold Auction for 2017-18 Trapping Units

Please help us spread the word about our upcoming trapping auction set for Tuesday evening, September 19 @ 6 pm at the refuge Outdoor Wonder Learning Center.  
Attached you will find a press release, please post and share so this opportunity is available to all who are interested.
 
 
 
 

New hours set for Minneopa bison range

Hours for the bison range road at Minneopa State Park will change for the month of October due to decreasing daylight hours.
Starting Oct. 1, the range road will be open Thursday through Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The road will be closed on Wednesdays for regular maintenance.
Hiking trails around the bison range provide more bison viewing opportunities. Trails are open daily year round during regular park hours.
A vehicle permit ($7 daily or $35 year-round) is required to enter the park.
Bison range road hours will be adjusted again to follow daylight hours for the winter. Beginning Nov. 1, winter hours will be 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Minneopa State Park’s bison herd arrived in September 2015 and has been a popular attraction for the park since then.
The bison are part of the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd, managed through a formal agreement between the DNR and Minnesota Zoo. The partners are working together to preserve American plains bison. The plan is to grow the herd to 500 animals at several locations, including Blue Mounds State Park, Minneopa State Park and the Minnesota Zoo. Genetic testing of the herd from 2011 to 2014 found them largely free of any genetic material that would have come from cross-breeding with cattle. Less than 1 percent of all American plains bison tested so far have been found free of cattle genes.

Bison viewing tips:
* Bison may be difficult to spot at times. Visitors should drive slowly and keep a watchful eye as they go through the range.
* Remain inside your vehicle while driving through the bison range.
* Bison should be given clearance of at least 75 feet from people and vehicles at all times.
* Dogs can make bison nervous, so pets must be kept on a leash while in the park and hiking around the bison range.
* Bison get nervous around loud noises or lots of activity, so keeping voices down and movements to a minimum may help keep the bison within easy viewing.
* Hiking is not allowed inside the range, but there are hiking trails all the way around the outside of the range that can provide some fantastic views of the bison.
For information on the Minneopa State Park bison herd, see:  mndnr.gov/minneopa-bison.
Resources on bison can be found here:  mndnr.gov/bison.
For more information on Minneopa State Park, call 507-389-5464 or visit: mndnr.gov/minneopa.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Local roads part of Ultimate Fall Drive Showdown

MADISON, Wis. – In anticipation of the arrival of vibrant fall colors across the state, Travel Wisconsin is asking fall foliage fans to join the fun and help pick the this year’s best fall drive in the state.
You can cast your vote for Hwy. 33 and the Wisconsin Great River Road on www.TravelWisconsin.com from now until Oct. 2.
The Wisconsin Great River Road National Scenic Byway offers the opportunity to enjoy history, bluff-top views, outstanding trails and charming river towns along the Wisconsin Great River Road - Wisconsin’s only designated National Scenic Byway.
Hwy. 33 is one of Wisconsin’s “Coast to Coast” routes, reaching both Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River for a total of 200 miles, from Port Washington to La Crosse. The route of Hwy. 33 has remained essentially unchanged since 1934.
Cast your vote today by visiting www.TravelWisconsin.com and click on "Best Fall Drives."
 
SOURCE: Wisconsin Department of Tourism and Explore La Crosse

La Crosse County Deer Advisory Council meeting scheduled

The public has one more opportunity to provide comments on the deer population objective and Deer Management Unit (DMU) boundary recommendations for La Crosse County.
The La Crosse County Deer Advisory Council will hold its final meeting of 2017 at 7 p.m., on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at the State Office Bldg., 3550 Mormon Coulee Rd, La Crosse.  
At this meeting, the CDAC will hear additional public comments before developing its final recommendations.  
The council’s preliminary recommendations suggested maintaining the local deer population and maintaining current DMU boundaries. The La Crosse CDAC is also interested in public opinion regarding the current metro zone.   
Councils statewide considered scientific deer metrics and stakeholder and public opinion when developing their preliminary recommendations at previous meetings. The public was able to review and comment on the council’s preliminary population objective and DMU boundary recommendations through an online feedback form from Sept. 11-22. To develop its final recommendations, the council will consider this input along with professional opinions from Department of Natural Resources’ biologists, foresters and law enforcement.
Final recommendations will be presented to the Natural Resources Board in December.
Approved population objectives and DMU boundaries will go into effect for the 2018-2020 deer seasons.
CDACs will reconvene in March to discuss antlerless quotas, tags, and season recommendations for the 2018 deer seasons.
Additional information pertaining to CDAC population objective recommendations, agendas and membership is available at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/cdac.html, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.
For more information contact Kevin Smaby at 608-386-6850.

Madison man receives DNR Hunter Ethics Award

MIDDLETON, Wis. – Dan Burns gave up his cherished deer hunting location on public property in Washburn County on opening day of the 2016 gun deer season. The recipients of that ethical act were Keith and Alec Halverson, of Esko, Minn.
Burns, of Madison, was hunting that day with Dan Lyksett, of Eau Claire, one of two men who nominated Burns for the annual DNR Hunter Ethics Award. Michael Dettlaff, of Stanley, also nominated Burns.
“I was standing next to Dan Burns on that cold, dark morning and (I) know what it meant to him to make that gesture. It certainly touched me,” Lyksett said.
The annual award, in its 20th year and begun by three La Crosse men, was presented to Burns on Sept. 2 at Vortex Optics Headquarters, Middleton. The Vortex company manufactures binoculars, rifle scopes and range finders among other equipment that helps hunters see the outdoors more clearly. Vortex presented Burns with a cap, shirt, binoculars holster, binoculars, rifle scope and range finder, and his mother, Linda, was given a shirt, too. The prize package was worth more than $1,000. 
“This year’s award winner is synonymous with the exact definition of the hunter ethics award,” said Bob Lamb, one of the men who helped found the award. Lamb is aPaddlers retired outdoors editor (La Crosse Tribune) and continues to serve on the selection committee.
Steve Dewald, a retired warden supervisor and another founder, said: “By being considerate to another hunter and his 9-year-old boy, Dan Burns created a positive outdoor experience for another hunting group. Burns’ actions are consistent with the theme of the hunter ethics award, which is to demonstrate actions that reflect positively on the tradition of hunting.”
This scenario could have concluded in many other ways, most of them negative, but the result was one that may surprise many non-hunters. 
Burns scouts his cherished location each year and did so in November 2016. So did the Halversons, who even made several make-shift blinds from fallen timber. It was the only place they knew how to get to in the dark that opening morning of the hunting season. 
This was Alec’s first deer “hunt” with his father.  He was still too young to be licensed, but he could tag along, observe and help when needed.
On this day, instead of seeing two grown men - experienced hunters -  argue about who had the right to this location, Alec saw Burns say to his father, Keith, “You go to the area you picked out and I’ll go to another location. I know where a ridge is and I’ll go there.”
When Lyksett and Burns returned later in the day, the Halverson truck was gone, but there was a note on their vehicle window. It was written on a hot dog wrapper and said, “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being so kind and selfless to move from your stand for us. We are all defined by moments we choose to touch others’ lives. Your act of kindness was appreciated. Thank you. Keith and Alec Halverson, Esko, MN.”
The impact of that event on Nov. 17, 2016 is likely to stay with young Alec for many years. He and his father did take a deer home that day, but the ethical episode Alec observed will surely stay with him, too.
Each year, anyone in the public can nominate a licensed Wisconsin hunter for the DNR Ethical Hunter Award for an action that took place during that calendar year. While many nominations are made during gun deer season, the ethical action could be during a squirrel hunt, turkey hunt, waterfowl hunting or any other Wisconsin season. 
The licensed hunter nominated need not be helping another hunter but anyone in the outdoors. The nominated person must demonstrate actions that reflect positively on the tradition of hunting, said Dewald.
Past winners have helped wardens, landowners, people lost in the woods and someone unable to drag or load a deer carcass. 
The first ethical hunter award, in 1997, was given to a man and young boy who found a registered deer carcass that had fallen off a truck. They gave up most of their opening weekend to get the deer back to the rightful owner.
 
Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (608) 924-1112