Blue Mounds State Park prairie, bison tours continue
An autumn prairie view is stunning enough, but add a herd of Minnesota bison and that view becomes spectacular. Ninety-minute weekend-only prairie and bison tours continue through Oct. 21 at Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota. A special tour truck will take visitors into the prairie to see the bison. Same-day tickets can be purchased at the park office until 15 minutes before the tour starts. Reservations are recommended. Visitors are reminded that October days can be chilly and that the tour truck is open air, so dress for the weather. The tours are at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and teens age 13 and older, and $6 for children age four to 12. Children under four years of age are not permitted on the tour truck due to safety restrictions. A vehicle permit is needed to enter Minnesota state parks. The cost is $7 per day, or $35 per year for unlimited visits to all the state parks. In the event of severe weather, rain or poor trail conditions, the tour will be canceled. Check the park website for visitor alerts the day of the tour. For more information on the tour and the park, go to mndnr.gov/bluemounds. To make a reservation, call 866-857-2757.
SOURCE: Minnesota DNR
Near-misses mark fourth season of comprehensive bird survey
MADISON - Four bird species rarely if ever confirmed as breeding in Wisconsin were sighted, but not confirmed in 2018, tantalizing near-misses among the most notable results from the fourth season of a comprehensive bird survey. "2018 was a year with a lot of exciting sightings, but ultimately, near-misses," says Ryan Brady, Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist and science coordinator for the survey, known as Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II. "So check barns for barn owls, and keep an eye out for these other species to see if we can claim them as Wisconsin breeding birds in our final year of data collection." The four species sighted, but not confirmed as breeding included a pair of eared grebes in Columbia County and a yellow-crowned night heron in Jefferson County. The most talked about finds were a pair of American three-toed woodpeckers in Bayfield County and several barn owls found in southwestern Wisconsin. American three-toed woodpeckers had been photographically documented only twice in Wisconsin since 1986 and never documented breeding here. The bird, named for having three instead of four toes like most woodpeckers, prefers boreal forests in Canada. Unfortunately, this year's Bayfield County pair departed in May before any further evidence of nesting was found, as recounted in this blog post by Brady, the observer. Barn owl populations have rebounded somewhat in more favored breeding areas of Iowa and Illinois, Brady says. "With sightings in Wisconsin slightly on the rise, it might not be long before they attempt to breed again in our southern or western grasslands," he said. Through four survey seasons, more than 1,700 volunteers have observed 242 bird species and confirmed 225 of them as breeding in Wisconsin. The total of new species confirmed breeding in Wisconsin since the first atlas survey 20 years ago still stands at 12. The five-year atlas effort aims to document every bird species breeding in Wisconsin, and where and when breeding occurs, to help guide conservation efforts. "Preliminary data is showing some species groups like grassland and aerial insectivores on the decline compared to the first survey, while other species, particularly those that may be benefiting from more forest cover, on the increase," says Nick Anich, Atlas survey coordinator for DNR. The data collection portion of the survey is slated to wrap up in 2019 after the summer breeding season ends and coordinators are still looking for more volunteers. "While 85 percent of priority survey areas are completed or well underway, there are still over 500 survey blocks in which we need more help! Volunteer to survey one of these areas, and/or report birds nesting or engaging in other breeding behaviors," Anich says. The biggest remaining gaps are in northern and western Wisconsin, but there are still opportunities in every area of the state to help," Anich says. The best way to get involved is visit the project website, https://wsobirds.org/atlas and contact the County Coordinator for your county. Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, which is sponsoring the survey along with the DNR, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, says it's easy to participate and people don't have to be an expert birder to help.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR
Brooks to fill some big shoes at Oktoberfest races
Annual Swan Watch Bus Tour on tap Nov. 17
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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.
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
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
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.