DNR to host virtual CWD committee meeting Dec. 10

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will host a virtual Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Response Plan Committee meeting on Friday, Dec. 10 from 9-11 a.m.
The DNR’s 15-year CWD Response Plan, in effect through 2025, helps guide the department’s approach to addressing CWD in Wisconsin. The plan was developed to fulfill its public trust responsibility to manage wildlife and ensure the health of Wisconsin’s wildlife populations. As part of the plan’s implementation, the DNR will review progress toward meeting its goals and objectives every five years.
The committee is comprised of a group of stakeholders representing conservation, business and hunting organizations and tribal governments. During its meetings, the committee will develop input on the plan’s implementation and actions to consider as it completes this second five-year review.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal, infectious nervous system disease of deer, moose, elk and reindeer/caribou. The Wisconsin DNR began monitoring the state's wild white-tailed deer population for CWD in 1999. The first positives were found in 2002.
More information on chronic wasting disease is available on the DNR's CWD webpage at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/cwd.html.
Additional information on the DNR’s CWD response plan is available on the DNR’s website at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/cwdplan.html. 
The public is invited to watch live on the DNR’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3pQhlEGdkc.
There is no registration required to attend, and a recording of the meeting will be posted to the DNR website at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/cwdplan.html.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR to rescind rule banning farmed deer movement

An emergency rule temporarily prohibiting the importation and movement of farmed white-tailed deer into and within Minnesota will be rescinded on Monday, Dec. 6.
The temporary rule, which has been in effect since Oct. 11, is one tool the Department of Natural Resources has used to reduce further spread of chronic wasting disease and protect the health of Minnesota’s wild deer.
The Oct. 11 rule was in response to the discovery that a CWD-positive farm in Wisconsin shipped 387 farmed white-tailed deer to farms in seven states, including Minnesota. In enacting the rule, the Minnesota DNR sought time for it, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, and other state and federal agencies to track the movement of deer from the infected farm and understand the potential risk to other herds.
The DNR worked to obtain all available information from agencies outside Minnesota that are involved in the regulation of farmed deer, but has concluded that learning more won’t be possible due to loss of records, variability in the ways other jurisdictions monitor CWD in deer farms and in wild deer, and the lack of testing in some other states. As a result, the DNR cannot fully determine the risk these deer pose to Minnesota’s wild and farmed deer populations, but believes it has done all it can to understand the risks posed by the Taylor County, Wisconsin farm.
“This temporary ban gave the DNR time to do our due diligence and attempt to gather relevant information. It’s deeply disappointing that there are gaps in data and that more information isn’t available to help us better understand the movement of deer from the CWD-infected farm in Wisconsin,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said. “However, we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to reduce the spread of CWD and protect our wild white-tailed deer, which are vitally important to Minnesota.”
The DNR built on its CWD-surveillance efforts during this year’s deer season by managing 87 sampling stations in the state’s mandatory and voluntary sampling areas. More than 7,000 samples were collected, which will provide invaluable additional insight regarding the geography and presence of CWD in Minnesota. In addition to its ongoing CWD-surveillance efforts, the DNR will work in cooperation with the BAH to strengthen permanent rules pertaining to interstate and intrastate movement of farmed cervids.
People can find out more about the DNR’s efforts to monitor and manage CWD on its website at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/cwd/index.html.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

St. Paul DNR License Center resumes in-person services

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will resume in-person services at its St. Paul License Center on Dec. 1.
The License Center stopped providing in-person services on March 27, 2020, as a safety precaution in response to COVID-19. License Center staff have continued to serve customers without interruption via telephone, mail and online.
“We’re thrilled to work with customers in person again,” said Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director. “Given the continued public health situation, License Center staff will be following COVID-19 safety protocols including wearing masks, and we recommend that customers also wear masks when they visit us.”
License Center staff assist customers with registering watercraft, off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles, as well as in purchasing hunting or fishing licenses, creating DNR customer records, applying for permits, and other DNR licensing needs.
License services remain available online at mndnr.gov/BuyALicense, at 1,500 license agents located throughout the state, and by visiting a local deputy registrar’s office.
The License Center is located in the lobby of the DNR’s Central Office at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Surveys find decades age old mussels in St. Croix River

ST. CROIX FALLS, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced that federal and state endangered native mussels first discovered above the St. Croix Falls dam in the St. Croix River in 1987 are still alive and estimated to be more than 100 years old.
In August 2021, biologists from the DNR, University of Minnesota and the National Park Service searched a stretch of river upstream of the St. Croix Falls Dam where spectaclecase mussels (Cumberlandia monodonta) had been previously discovered 34 years ago, and found a cluster of the native mussels.
Due to mussel shell erosion, biologists were not able to determine the mussels’ age on-site by counting their growth rings. Instead, biologists estimated the specimens at more than a century old based on when the river was dammed.
The live spectaclecase mussels (pictured) were safely returned to their habitat. Dead spectaclecase shells were saved and will be cross-sectioned this winter to verify their age.
“Native mussels can live a long time, but these mussels were pushing the limits,” said Lisie Kitchel, DNR Conservation Biologist. “Finding some alive was amazing since the host fish species needed for their reproduction have been prevented from getting upstream as a result of the St. Croix Falls dam built in 1907.”
After female spectaclecase mature, they expel their larvae, known as “glochidia,” which must attach to the gills or fins of a specific fish to continue developing into a juvenile mussel before dropping off and growing into an adult mussel. Using fish as a host allows spectaclecase to move upstream and populate habitats it could not otherwise reach.
Recent research has identified mooneye and goldeye fish as host species for spectaclecase. These species are not present above the dam, but are found downstream. That means reproduction can occur downstream, and surveys have found younger spectaclecase downstream.
Because of the mussels’ advanced age, biologists are taking action to preserve their genetic stock while they are still alive.
“Now we can implement strategies to propagate and augment the spectaclecase population there or re-introduce mooneye or goldeye above the dam to allow the spectaclecase to reproduce,” said Jesse Weinzinger, DNR Conservation Biologist.

Collaborative Partnership Seeks To Restore Spectaclecase Mussels
The St. Croix River surveys are part of a collaborative multi-state, multi-agency effort to help recover spectaclecase. The DNR, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, University of Minnesota, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working to provide necessary data for spectaclecase recovery and implementing conservation, restoration and propagation priorities.
Spectaclecase mussels can grow up to nine inches long and are named for the shape of their shells, which are elongated and sometimes curved. Historically, the spectaclecase was found in at least 44 streams of the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri River basins in 14 states. It has vanished completely in three states and today is rarely found in only 20 streams, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Their current distribution and status in the Mississippi River and St. Croix River were poorly known until the recent surveys by the DNR and other partners in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Wisconsin has 50 native mussel species, with 24 endangered, threatened or in need of conservation. Native mussels are important to keeping Wisconsin rivers clean. They filter pesticides, mercury and other pollution from the water and keep it out of fish. They provide food for otters, raccoon, muskrats, ducks, fish and other wading birds. They also help indicate problems that may affect whole lake or river ecosystems. 

Students, Volunteers Help Place Hatchery-Raised Mussels In Rivers
The DNR teamed up with partners across Wisconsin to deliver and place more than 1,200 hatchery-raised mussels in several Wisconsin rivers where past water quality problems had taken a toll on mussel populations.
“Propagation and re-introduction are a useful conservation strategy to increase the abundance and distribution of native mussel populations,” said Weinzinger. “We’re thankful for the partnerships that made it possible to augment mussel populations in these streams and provide research going forward to help us shape recovery efforts.” 
Weinzinger said that Genoa National Fish Hatchery raised thousands of fatmuckets (Lampsilis siliquoidea) as part of an experiment to research optimum water quality parameters and feeding rates for best survival.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students worked with the DNR conservation biologists to place over 700 mussels at two streams in Portage County to monitor the growth and survivorship of the animals. Results from this student-led project will help determine the feasibility for future reintroduction efforts.
In southern Wisconsin, DNR partnered with the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association to place an additional 500 fatmuckets into the Sugar River to augment existing populations.
To learn more about how the DNR and our partners work to conserve our native mussels, visit the DNR’s Wisconsin Mussel Monitoring Program webpage at https://wiatri.net/inventory/mussels/. Read the Clam Chronicle newsletter at https://wiatri.net/inventory/mussels/news/ to see how the DNR works with volunteers to build projects, programs, and tools for citizen-based monitoring efforts.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
PHOTO: Marian Shaffer, National Park Service

Minnesota DNR seeks input on license system

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is looking for input on how Minnesotans currently access the electronic license system, and what they want in the future as systems are modernized.
Feedback from current and potential users - including anglers, boaters, hunters and recreational vehicle operators - is critically important. States throughout the nation are updating their license systems to take advantage of new technology and to improve customer experience.
“We hope people take a minute to provide feedback and share their experiences,” said Jenifer Wical, marketing coordinator with the Fish and Wildlife Division outreach section. “The more people we hear from, across all types of recreation and all users, the better we’ll be able to create a system that meets the diverse needs of people who recreate in Minnesota.”
To access the survey, visit the DNR’s engagement page at mndnr.gov/ELS. The survey is open from Monday, Nov. 29 to Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Minnesotans can find updated list of infested waters online

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regularly updates the state infested waters list, which includes Minnesota lakes and rivers containing certain aquatic invasive species.
If you harvest bait, fish commercially, or divert or take water from lakes or rivers on this list, you may need to follow special regulations.
The most complete and up-to-date list of infested waters is an Excel spreadsheet available on the DNR website at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/ais/infested.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.
Using the Excel spreadsheet, you can sort, search or filter the list by water body name, county, species, or year. If you have questions about what the information means, see the tab called “Column descriptions”.
Contact us at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/ais/contacts.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery with questions about aquatic invasive species.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

$2.4 million available for emerald ash borer management

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages local and tribal governments to apply for grants to help manage and reduce the impacts of emerald ash borer on their community forests.
The DNR is accepting grant applications from Monday, Nov. 29 through Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.
Tribal and local units of government in Minnesota, including cities, counties, regional authorities, joint powers boards, towns and parks and recreation boards in cities of the first class (more than 100,000 residents), are eligible to apply.
“Ash tree management is an important tool to reduce the impact of EAB on community forests,” said Emma Schultz, DNR community forest project specialist. “Even for communities that EAB has yet not reached, now is the time to take advantage of grant funds to prepare for its arrival.”
Grant-eligible activities include treating and removing ash trees, planting a diversity of trees, conducting public tree inventories, developing EAB management plans, hiring technical assistance, and engaging and educating citizens. Priority will be given to projects that remove and replace ash trees that pose significant public safety concerns or benefit under-served populations or areas of concern for environmental justice.
This grant provides funding to cover the cost of chemically treating ash tree on public or tribal land within 10 miles of a known EAB infestation.
“Treating some ash allows communities to maintain their urban tree canopy and extend the stormwater and shade benefits of priority trees, while working to remove and replace other ash trees,” Schultz said.
With $2.4 million available, applicants can request a maximum of $150,000 (there is no minimum). No match is required for this grant. All work must be done on public or tribal land.
A full list of eligible activities, application materials and a list of frequently asked questions are available online at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/grants/forestmgmt/protect-community-forests.html. Completed applications can be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. Applicants will be notified by Feb. 14, 2022, if they have been awarded a grant.
Funding for this project was provided from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR