Oneida County renews baiting, feeding ban

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that a wild deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease in Oneida County, in the Crescent Township.
As required by law, this finding will renew Oneida County's existing baiting and feeding ban for another three years. Additionally, this positive will renew the two-year baiting and feeding ban in Langlade County.
The CWD-positive one-year-old doe was harvested on a disease surveillance permit issued within a 10-mile radius of the recent Lincoln County positive detection. This is Oneida County's first CWD-positive wild deer.
"This Oneida County detection is a direct result of our surveillance efforts put in place in response to the Lincoln CWD positive," said Eric Lobner, DNR Bureau Director for the Wildlife Management program. "We will continue to work with local communities to promote CWD surveillance and awareness in the area."
In response to the detection of this new CWD positive deer, the DNR will take the following steps:
* Continue to work with the local County Deer Advisory Council members in disease surveillance around this positive location.
* Conduct surveillance activities to assess disease distribution and prevalence including:
- Encourage reporting of sick deer.
- Sample vehicle-killed adult deer.
- Sample adult deer harvested under agricultural damage permits.
- Sample adult deer harvested under urban deer hunts in the area.
- Establish additional CWD sampling locations prior to the 2018 deer seasons.
These actions are very important for assessing the potential geographic distribution of the disease and if other animals in proximity to the new positive test are infected.
As has been demonstrated in the past in other parts of the state, local citizen involvement in the decision-making process as well as management actions to address this CWD detection will have the greatest potential for success.
For more information regarding baiting and feeding regulations and CWD in Wisconsin, and how to have adult deer tested during the 2018/2019 hunting seasons, visit the department's website, dnr.wi.gov, and search "baiting and feeding" and "CWD sampling" respectively. To report a sick deer on the landscape, search keywords "sick deer" or contact a local wildlife biologist.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


New underwater-themed geocaching challenge begins on Earth Day

A new geocaching challenge called the Aquatic Quest, which focuses on plants and animals that live in Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and ponds, is being offered by the Department of Natural Resources.
“Geocaching has been an effective way for us to connect people, especially kids, with the outdoors,” said Jennifer Conrad, interpretive services supervisor for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Not only will this new treasure hunt be fun, it will also help demonstrate that, beneath the surface, Minnesota’s waters are flowing with interconnected life forms.”
As part of the challenge, camouflaged containers (aka “geocaches,” or “caches” for short) have been hidden at 74 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas (at all of them except the St. Croix Islands State Recreation Area) and at eight state trails. Geocachers will have until Oct. 31, 2020, to find as many caches as they can. Finding the caches involves entering numeric coordinates into a GPS (Global Positioning System) device, which shows how far away and in which direction to go to get started on the treasure hunt.
The clues (aka “coordinates”) to finding the containers will be posted online at 8 a.m., Sunday, April 22, which is Earth Day.
People who don’t have their own GPS device can borrow one from one of the many Minnesota state parks designated as a geocaching checkpoint. The checkpoint parks will also offer Geocaching 101 programs to provide instructions for beginners.
Upcoming Geocaching 101 programs will be offered:
* Saturday, April 21, from 1 to 2 p.m., Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, Onamia.
* Saturday, May 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul.
* Saturday, May 26, from 9 to 10 a.m., Afton State Park, Hastings.
Inside each cache is a logbook and a set of collectible cards featuring color photos of aquatic plants and critters. Cache finders are encouraged to sign the logbook and take one of the cards as a souvenir of their visit.
Geocachers can earn a special “habitat” card after finding 10, 20, 40, 60 and all of the cards. They also can pick up a limited-edition water recreation card (one each year) when they attend a geocaching or water-themed program at Minnesota state parks and trails.
The Aquatic Quest is the fifth in a series of geocaching adventures that have been offered at Minnesota state parks and trails. Previous adventures included the Call of the Wildflowers (2015-2017), the Avian Adventure (2012-2014), the Wildlife Safari (2009-2011), and the History Challenge presented by the retailer Best Buy (2008).
More than 11,000 people reported finding a Call of the Wildflowers geocache in 2017, Conrad said.
For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/geocaching or contact the DNR Information Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays).

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR crews see productive winter of prairie habitat restoration

With the buzzing of chain saws and constant drone of heavy machines, the landscape on the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area in west-central Minnesota is changing.
Contractors are busy removing trees from the prairie as part of a wildlife habitat restoration project.
“We’re enhancing grassland and removing invasive buckthorn on this parcel known as the Chippewa Prairie,” said Walt Gessler, Lac qui Parle area wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “There are two more projects similar to this that we hope to finish in 2018.”
Gessler added that the restoration is important because Chippewa Prairie is one of the largest contiguous prairies in the state.
As a result, there have been a number of inquiries – both positive and negative – to Gessler’s office this winter and early spring by curious hunters and birdwatchers who are asking questions about the cutting of trees on their favorite areas. It’s a practice seemingly at odds with longstanding management principles.
It’s not just at Lac Qui Parle. Tree removal is a common practice on state and federal wildlife lands in western Minnesota.  
“People are confused when they see groves of trees getting cut down on their favorite hunting lands,” said Greg Hoch, prairie habitat team supervisor. “It’s understandable, because we’ve been told for generations how planting trees is good for wildlife. But it’s not the case when you’re managing for species that historically lived on prairie and grasslands.”
Over the last 30 years, researchers have found that upland game birds like pheasants and prairie grouse are less likely to thrive when nesting near trees that provide habitat that can be attractive to predators like red fox, raccoon and owls. Furthermore, many nongame grassland species require habitat totally free of trees. Birds like dickcissels, meadowlarks and bobolinks tend to return to areas that are restored to their original, tree-free environment. And deer still prosper in grassland environments. Management such as tree removal simply reflects that research.  
“Our former management practices were to either plant trees or to stay ‘hands-off,’” Hoch said. “What we’ve learned is that grasslands are dynamic and need frequent disturbance by fire, grazing or periodic droughts. In the last two centuries, we’ve suppressed wildfires, eliminated the wild herds of bison and elk, and we’ve been in a wet cycle since the early 1990s. Together these factors have allowed trees to grow on our remaining grasslands.”
This new practice eliminates invasive trees like Russian olive, Siberian elm, and buckthorn.
Native trees such as cottonwood, green ash and boxelder also are cut down when growing in areas being managed for grassland wildlife. Their removal also eliminates a seed source, which helps keep new woody growth at bay.
But not all the trees are cut. Oak savannahs remain, as do other native trees like bur oak, black willow or black walnut that are left in appropriate places like creek bottoms or river corridors.
The DNR has employed this management practice for the past two decades, according to Hoch. In 2016, woody removal on grassland wildlife management areas totaled just over $1 million, most of which was funded by Outdoor Heritage Fund dollars. The Outdoor Heritage Fund uses one-third of the sales tax money generated by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment.
Less than 1 percent of Minnesota’s original prairie remains, so the work to properly restore this threatened ecosystem is important. Many of the non-governmental organizations that partner with the DNR also are working to restore these rare grasslands. Groups like Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, The Nature Conservancy and many local clubs raise money for habitat restoration or perform the work themselves.
As for Gessler, it’s been a productive winter in his work area and he is confident this work will soon be productive for grassland species, too.
“The frozen ground allowed our contractors to get a lot of projects finished. We hope to get the last of our winter projects finished before April 15,” Gessler said.
For more information about work done by DNR wildlife in all areas of the state, visit mndnr.gov/areas/wildlife.
 
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


CWD detected in wild deer in Eau Claire County

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that a wild deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease in western Eau Claire County, near the town of Brunswick.
As required by law, this finding will renew Eau Claire County's existing three-year baiting and feeding ban, effective May 1. Because this new CWD-positive result is located within 10 miles of Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin and Trempealeau counties, these counties will now be designated as CWD-affected counties. Additionally, two-year baiting and feeding bans for these five counties will be enacted on May 1.
The DNR collected a two-year-old doe in response to a sick deer call from a landowner and submitted samples for testing. This CWD positive animal is the first confirmed wild deer to test positive for the disease in Eau Claire County.
"While this latest detection is disheartening and is certainly cause for concern in Eau Claire and the surrounding counties, it demonstrates the importance of local involvement in our monitoring efforts," said DNR Secretary Dan Meyer. "Receiving the sick deer call from this concerned landowner allowed us to apply our sick deer response protocol and respond quickly to investigate a potential new CWD detection.
In response to the detection of this new CWD positive deer, the DNR will take the following steps to respond:
* Convene a meeting with the local County Deer Advisory Council members from the 6 counties impacted by this detection to decide on future management actions specific to this detection.
* Establish a 10-mile radius disease surveillance area around this positive location.
* Conduct surveillance activities to assess disease distribution and prevalence including:
 - Encourage reporting of sick deer.
 - Sample vehicle-killed adult deer.
 - Sample adult deer harvested under agricultural damage permits.
 - Sample adult deer harvested under urban deer hunts in the area.
 - Establish additional CWD sampling locations prior to the 2018 deer seasons.

These actions are very important for assessing the potential geographic distribution of the disease and if other animals in proximity to the new positive test are infected.
As has been demonstrated in the past in other parts of the state, local citizen involvement in the decision-making process as well as management actions to address this CWD detection will have the greatest potential for success.
For more information regarding baiting and feeding regulations and CWD in Wisconsin, and how to have adult deer tested during the 2018/2019 hunting seasons, visit the department's website, dnr.wi.gov, and search "bait and feeding" and "CWD sampling" respectively. To report a sick deer on the landscape, search keywords "sick deer" or contact a local wildlife biologist.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Mother Nature forces media/practice day postponement

WEST SALEM, WI - With winter Storm Xanto hitting the Midwest this weekend, officials at the La Crosse Speedway postponed the Saturday, April 14, open practice and media day to Saturday, April 21.
"Mother Nature must have her knickers in a bind," sai Director of Competition Ray Loughan. "The snow was finally gone off the track, the track's been vacuumed, and we even had some teams do some early-season testing. But doggone it, we will just have to try it again next week.
Winter storm Xanto is expected to bring an inch of rain through Saturday morning, before transitioning to ice and freezing rain, before becoming all snow Saturday afternoon.
Upcoming practice dates include Thursday night, April 19, from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., and then the rescheduled media/practice day on Saturday, April 21, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The 2018 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series takes the green flag Sunday, April 22, at 2 p.m., with the sixth annual "Budweiser Frostbuster." Gates open at 12:30 p.m., and at 12:45 p.m., for the first time, the Late Models and Sportsmen will participate in a new format of "Group Qualifying."  
Racing includes the Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery NASCAR Late Models, Dean's Satellite Sportsmen, Auto Value Thunderstox, ANTS Complete Pest Control Hornets and the Auto Value Street Stocks.

SOURCE: La Crosse Speedway


If it’s predictable, it’s preventable: Wildfire Prevention Week

“In a couple of weeks, this snow will melt and we’ll dry out fast - that’s when wildfire season will kick in,” said Casey McCoy, fire prevention supervisor. “The question shouldn’t be ‘if’ wildfires will occur, but rather when and where. It’s good to use this time to look at what we can do now to prevent and prepare for wildfires.”

Simple things homeowners can do now to prepare include:
* Make a wildfire evacuation plan: Make a plan to get out of the house and decide where to meet.
* Assemble a grab-and-go bag: This should include essential documents, prescriptions, a first-aid kit, and enough food, water, cash and clothing to last 72 hours.
* As soon as the snow melts, clean dry leaves out of gutters, rake debris from under decks, and move firewood at least 10 feet away from the house. All of these items can serve as kindling for a fire, so removing them helps to protect your property.
Preparation is only half of the equation, though. The DNR needs everyone's help to prevent wildfires, too.

Some of the best ways to prevent wildfires are:
* Postpone outdoor burning and other activities that may cause a wildfire when fire danger is elevated (windy, dry days, especially after long periods without precipitation).
* Thoroughly extinguish campfires: If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.  
* Never park on dry grass: Hot exhaust pipes can ignite a fire.
Secure trailer hitch chains: Chains that drag on the road can spark a fire.
For more facts and tips during Wildfire Prevention Week, follow @mnforestry on Twitter.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Big changes come to Mosquito Island

Many long-time Winona, MN, residents grew up enjoying the beach on Mosquito Island, a small, non-descript piece of land in the Mississippi River located a short boat ride downstream of town. Over time, wind and waves took their toll and eroded the island away to a fraction of its former glory. But, during the fall of 2017, the island got a much needed facelift!
Following a few years of planning, public comment and permits, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources were able to complete a restoration to the original Mosquito Island.
The USACE Maintenance and Repair crew based in Fountain City, WI, dredged over 50,000 cubic yards of sand and 2,700 cubic yards of organic material from Pool 6 to add a two-acre extension on the upstream side of the island. Over 3,000 ton of rock was used to create vanes and armor at the head of the island to help protect against future erosion.
On April 11, 2018, volunteers joined agency personnel in planting over 1,500 willow sticks along the shoreline to fight the effects of rising water. The island is now ready for its crowning glory - 300 trees.
You are invited to add your chapter to Mosquito Island’s restoration story by planting a tree with us on Saturday, May 5. We will meet at the East End Boat Landing at 9 a.m. RSVP’s are requested and more information is available by calling or emailing Gayle Maule at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, 507-494-6220 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service