MADISON - From the first winter free fishing weekend to a massive wildfire in Douglas County, to the first year of expanded hunting in state parks, to the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, to the launch of a new Department of Natural Resources free hunting and fishing mobile app and a new Public Lands Atlas, here is a look back at the natural resources issues and highlights of 2013.
- First winter free fishing weekend set for Jan. 19 and 20
Wisconsin's first winter Free Fishing Weekend is set for Jan. 19 and 20. Residents and nonresidents alike can fish anywhere in Wisconsin for free. No licenses or trout stamps are needed. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.
- Aerial eagle survey finds hundreds of eagles along lower Wisconsin River
An aerial survey of bald eagles that state wildlife biologists conducted Jan. 8 along the lower Wisconsin State Riverway found 434 adult and juvenile birds between the Petenwell Flowage and the Mississippi River
- New biologist takes the reins as Wisconsin sturgeon specialist
For the first time in 22 years, people gathered at sturgeon registration stations around the Lake Winnebago system will hear a new voice on the radio and see a new face at the scales. Biologist Ryan Koenigs officially takes over Feb. 9 as the new leader of Wisconsin's efforts to manage lake sturgeon.
- Wisconsin total deer harvest continues increasing trend, sets archery buck record in 2012
Hunter-supplied numbers indicate that 366,747 deer were harvested in Wisconsin for the 2012 seasons, a 5 percent increase from 2011. Of the archery season total, 45,775 were bucks, making it the new record buck archery harvest of all time for Wisconsin.
- New plastics recycling study shows potential for economic growth
Wisconsin could realize substantial economic rewards and jobs growth by recycling more of the valuable plastics that currently end up in its landfills, concludes a recent study commissioned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
- Hunters Register 7,054 birds in 2012 Fall Wild Turkey Hunt
Wisconsin wild turkey hunters registered a total of 7,054 birds during the fall 2012 wild turkey season, an increase of 28 percent from the 5,523 registered during the 2011 season. Success rates also increased, from 10.1 percent in 2011 to 12.9 percent during the 2012 season.
- Trout anglers being asked to report incidents of gill lice in brook trout
Alert trout anglers' reports to state fish biologists have brought to light a potential threat to Wisconsin's native brook trout, and all trout anglers are now being asked to help track that threat.
- DNR's Facebook page exceeds 11,000 fans
Less than 16 months after its launch more than 11,000 people "like" the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Facebook page. The page focuses on recreating in Wisconsin's outdoors.
- Work*Play*Earth Day events to be held at 20 state park properties
People looking for a good way to celebrate Earth Day while giving back to and enjoying their favorite Wisconsin state park property will be able participate in any of 20 upcoming Work*Play*Earth Day events around the state.
- Visitors to Wisconsin State Parks reminded parks open to hunting in April.
Visitors to Wisconsin State Parks are being reminded they may encounter hunters on park properties this April, under a new state law that went into effect this year.
- Wisconsin Rapids will host National Archery in the Schools state tournament
Hundreds of keen-eyed young athletes will soon converge on East Junior High School in Wisconsin Rapids for the 2013 National Archery in the Schools state tournament. The two-day event, April 5-6, is open to spectators and admission is free.
- Monitoring confirms that boaters, not ducks, moving aquatic invasive species around
Preliminary results from systematic monitoring of Wisconsin lakes for aquatic invasive species confirm that boaters, not ducks or other birds, are spreading the invaders around, state and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers say.
- Study finds Ice Age Trail attracts 1.2 million visitors annually
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail attracts an estimated 1.2 million visitors every year and trail users contribute approximately $113 million annually to Wisconsin's economy, according to surveys conducted last year of trail users and businesses along the trail.
- Comment sought on Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act rule revisions
The public will have an opportunity at three upcoming public hearings to review and comment on proposed changes to the way Wisconsin environmental officials evaluate the environmental impacts of pending decisions as well as the mechanisms they use for seeking and considering public input on those decisions.
- MacFarland named new DNR carnivore specialist
David MacFarland, who has worked as the wolf, bear and furbearer research scientist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources since 2010, has been named to the position of carnivore staff specialist for DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management.
- 330,000 catchable trout to be stocked before opening day
Nearly 330,000 catchable size trout are being stocked in dozens of inland trout waters across Wisconsin before the May 4 inland fishing season opener. A list of waters receiving fish and how many were planned for stocking is now available online.
- More than 1,000 students participate in archery in the schools tournament
The 2013 Wisconsin state tournament for the National Archery in the Schools Program held earlier this month at Wisconsin Rapids has been so successful - the number of schools in the competition has grown by 261 percent in just three years - it has outgrown its current venue in Wisconsin Rapids and will move to Wausau West High School for the 2014 tournament, to be held April 5-6.
- More than 140,000 pounds of donated venison goes to food pantries statewide
An increasing number of hunters and meat processors from all around the state donated their deer and volunteered their time to provide venison to people in need in 2012. More than 3,000 deer were donated through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources deer donation program, which were then processed and distributed to food pantries statewide.
- Sturgeon spawning underway; major waters mark restoration milestones
While the lake sturgeon spawning spectacle on the Winnebago System is unfolding now and grabbing the biggest headlines, sturgeon populations on several major state rivers are quietly recording some significant milestones, state fisheries officials say.
- DNR's Lawhern inducted into International Hunter Education Association Hall of Fame
Tim Lawhern, who since 2011 has served as administrator of the Department of Natural Resources Division of Enforcement and Science, was inducted into the International Hunter Education Association Professional Hall of Fame at an awards ceremony last month.
- Massive wildfire reported in Douglas County-- Germann Road Fire as of 10:30 p.m. on May 14, 2013
A wildfire that started southwest of the Township of Barnes in Douglas County hs now consumed approximately 6,800 acres. Several structures are destroyed and the fire is not contained. The cause of the wildfire is still under investigation. No injuries have been reported. Evacuations are underway near Loon Lake, Sand Lake and Murray Lake and Potowatomi Village. Several seasonal homeowners reside in the area and more structures are threatened.
- No signs of white-nose syndrome in bats here but neighboring states infected
For the third year in a row, a statewide survey of bat wintering sites has found no clinical signs of a deadly bat disease -- white-nose syndrome -- that has killed upwards of 6.7 million bats in the Eastern United States and Canada.
- State Natural Resources Board meetings to be streamlined live
Beginning with the May 21-22 Wisconsin Natural Resources Board meeting, the public will be able to follow board meetings live over the Internet as well as see meeting archives through the Department of Natural Resources website.
- Online tools helps people located wetlands on their property
As Wisconsin's housing industry recovers, people looking to buy land for a new home or to build on property they already own can turn to some online tools to help them understand if the property has wetlands that may affect what they can do on the land.
- Successful Germann Road fire response due to years of training and multi-agency coordination
Thanks to the rapid, effective response of a multi-agency team, the 8,000-acre wildfire that ignited on May 14 in very windy, dry conditions was fully contained in about 30 hours.
- Record number of bald eagle nests found
State biologists take to the skies again this month to count how many young bald eagles hatched this spring, buoyed by April aerial survey results suggesting a record number of occupied nests in a record number of counties.
- Anglers, fresh from another top 10 harvest on Lake Michigan, set for more
Warmer water and winds willing, Lake Michigan anglers are poised to enjoy another fantastic fishing year on the big pond, following on the heels of a top 10 season in 2012 for trout and salmon, according to state angler surveys and state fish biologists.
- DNR fisheries boat rescues migratory warblers lost in a fog
For a few short hours, a state fish research boat became a port in the storm for a flock of exhausted migratory warblers.
- Gogebic Taconite submits bulk sampling plan and pre-application notification
Gogebic Taconite, LLC, has submitted to the Department of Natural Resources a plan that outlines five sites where the company is proposing to excavate and sample rock to assess the quality and quantity of the mineral deposit.
- First returning Kirtland's warbler fledgling documented in Wisconsin
A Kirtland's warbler that hatched in Wisconsin last year and was banded before its first migration has returned to its birthplace in Adams County, providing a significant milestone in efforts to help boost populations of this federally endangered songbird, state and federal bird experts say.
- Shooting Range Grant Program announced
More and higher-quality shooting opportunities for the public are expected thanks to a state cost-share grant program for public and private shooting ranges announced this week by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
- 2013 wolf season quota set at 275 by Wisconsin Natural Resources Board
The Natural Resources Board today approved the 2013 Wisconsin wolf season quota of 275 as proposed by the Department of Natural Resources Wolf Advisory Committee. The quota was set with the intention of continuing to reduce the state's wolf population toward management goals.
- Drinking water monitoring and reporting violations cut by one-third
Wisconsin public water supply system operators reduced by one-third their violations of monitoring or reporting requirements for drinking water and continued their stellar record of serving water that met all health-based standards in 2012, a recently released report shows.
- "Endangered Resources" bureau name changes but mission stays the same
The state program charged with caring for Wisconsin's endangered resources, nongame animals and State Natural Areas is taking on a new name and organizational structure to better reflect and carry out its broad mission. As of July 1, the Bureau of Endangered Resources officially became the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation within the Department of Natural Resources.
- Petroleum cleanup program gets new home at DNR
Wisconsin's petroleum tank clean-up program is getting a new home with the signing of the state's biennial budget bill. Effective July 2, the petroleum environmental cleanup fund award program, known as PECFA, moved to the Department of Natural Resources Remediation and Redevelopment Program.
- DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to throw out first pitch at inaugural DNR Days at Miller Park
There are few traditions Wisconsin residents hold more dear than hunting, fishing, and baseball. This Friday, July 19, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Milwaukee Brewers team up for the first DNR Days at Miller Park.
- Public hearings set on changes to statewide shoreland zoning standards
Proposed changes to minimum statewide shoreland zoning standards aimed at providing more flexibility for property owners and making the standards easier for counties to implement are the topic of public hearings in August. People also may file comments electronically or by U.S. mail through Sept. 5.
- Successful calving year good for state's growing elk herd
Despite a very late spring and hordes of biting insects, more than 250 hardy volunteers joined Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists to search the forests near Clam Lake for elk calves during May and June. This effort revealed that the year has started out exceptionally well for Wisconsin's growing elk herd.
- Lake Michigan anglers asked to aid chinook and lake trout research
Anglers fishing Lake Michigan's open waters and tributaries for chinook and lake trout are being asked to donate the heads of the fish they harvest to aid research critical to keeping fishing strong.
- Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin finalized
Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin are now available to help people meet state and federal requirements for wetland mitigation and provide information for anyone interested in developing a new mitigation bank. The guidelines are also the subject of a year-long public comment period ending August 1, 2014.
- Seven more Wisconsin communities earn recognition as "Bird Cities"
Seven more Wisconsin communities statewide are being recognized as "Bird Cities" for their long-term commitment to working with residents to make their neighborhoods a better place for people, birds and other wildlife.
- Bumper crop of small walleyes stocked; 400,000 bigger ones on target for fall stocking
Good news for walleye anglers: state fish hatcheries have finished stocking the first of two waves of walleye to go out this year and the number of fish stocked far surpassed original estimates, state fisheries officials say.
- Office of Business Support welcomes new printing sector development specialist
Printers now have a sector specialist to turn to at the Department of Natural Resources for help in navigating and complying with state environmental laws affecting their businesses.
- DNR plans to increase pheasant stocking in 2013
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources plans to release 75,000 pheasants on 92 public properties across the state in 2013. These stocking levels are up from 54,000 pheasants released on 70 public properties in 2012.
- Reel in mobile-friendly fishing regulation guide for inland lakes
Anglers on the go will find it easier to know how many fish they can keep on a particular inland lake by using a new mobile-friendly inland lake regulation website. The searchable guide to fishing regulations on the Department of Natural Resources website can now detect if the angler is on a mobile device and serves up the information in a mobile-friendly format, according to Joanna Griffin, DNR fisheries biologist.
- 2014 National Archery in the Schools world tournament to be held in Madison
The 2014 National Archery in the Schools Program World Tournament will be held July 11-13, 2014 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis., the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Madison Area Sports Commission have announced.
- State stocking trucks rolling with walleye funded by state budget initiative
The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative is on a roll! State stocking trucks head out on the highways this week with the first loads of larger walleye to be delivered to lakes under the initiative, a funding package aimed at increasing populations of walleye, anglers' favorite catch.
- New program rewards hunters who recruit new people to hunting
Hunters who are able to recruit three new people into hunting would be eligible for a half price license the following year, under a new Department of Natural Resources program that seeks to encourage active hunters to introduce new people to hunting.
- New land owner incentives program for spring turkey hunting
For hunters looking to take part in next spring's turkey season, finding available land can be difficult. A new Department of Natural Resources program known as the Turkey Hunting Access Program, "THAP," is aimed at making that easier.
- Rifles OK'd for hunting statewide, unless local -ordinances say otherwise
Three years after the idea was first proposed in a citizen resolution during voting at Wisconsin Conservation Congress spring meetings, rifles will be allowed statewide for firearm deer hunting as of Nov. 1, 2013 - unless a local municipality has enacted a more restrictive ordinance.
- Wolf hunting and trapping season begins Oct. 15
Wisconsin's second wolf hunting and trapping season begins Oct. 15 in all six harvest zones across the state.
- New DNR air quality maps viewable on smart phones and tablets
Wisconsin's air quality has not only improved in the last 30 years, it's now also easy to see from your smart phone and tablet, thanks to the Department of Natural Resources.
- Warden Gomez is nation's top boating officer
Conservation Warden Juan Gomez of Walworth County is this year's national boating officer of the year, marking the third time a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation warden has netted top honors from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
- Flock takes flight! Whooping crane migration underway
Nine whooping crane chicks will soon take to the skies and migrate to southeastern states at the end of October as efforts continue to restore the endangered species to the eastern United States.
- DNR expands social media outreach to include Pinterest
In an ongoing effort to increase customer service opportunities, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has launched its presence on Pinterest. The social media site focuses on sharing photos and helping users plan everything from dinner to trips to projects around the home.
- New Zealand mud snails discovered in Black Earth Creek
The invasive New Zealand mud snail that has been a problem in western U.S. streams has been detected in Black Earth Creek, a renowned trout stream in Dane County.
- Sharing your hunting tradition is about to get more fun
It's that time of year again when the blaze orange is airing out, sighting-in is underway and talk turns to plans for the upcoming gun deer season opener. This year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is giving people even more ways to share their hunting traditions.
- DNR offers five ways to find a place to hunt,
If you are still looking for a place to hunt this fall, or if you have questions about public land you frequent, check out the following links for information on public lands and private lands open to public hunting.
- Hunting and trapping to open on state park properties November 15
Visitors to Wisconsin State Parks are being reminded they may encounter hunters or trappers on park properties beginning Nov. 15 through Dec. 15, under a new state law that went into effect in 2013.
- DNR hires 18 wildlife biologists to serve citizens statewide
Wisconsin has 18 new wildlife biologists working around state on habitat management, wildlife population monitoring, and including answering questions from the public on wildlife, hunting, trapping and public recreation on wildlife areas.
- Walleye stocking records shattered as first year of initiative ends
Stocking records for large fingerling walleye were shattered Tuesday as the last load of walleye produced in 2013 under the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative was delivered to Smith Lake in Sawyer County.
- Old traditions meet new technology with launch of free DNR hunting and fishing mobile app!
Just in time for the nine-day deer season, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp is announcing the agency's first ever free mobile app, available now for iPhone and Nov. 22 for Android users.
- Cold and wind make for challenging Wisconsin gun deer season opener
Temperatures dipping down to 5 degrees at sunrise and winds gusting to more than 30 miles per hour made for challenging conditions for the opening of the 2013 Wisconsin nine-day gun deer season.
- Preliminary opening weekend results show enthusiasm is high, though temperatures as well as harvest numbers came in low
Though opening weekend temperatures were cold, more than 615,000 people bought deer licenses to go out hunting, nearly 27,000 of them buying licenses to go out hunting for the first time. Many hunters went out with hopes of getting a deer, knowing that despite extremely cold temperatures, they would likely all be guaranteed the making of warm memories.
- Ice fishing season comes early
Ice fishing opportunities are going to come early and often this season, good news for the growing number of ice anglersdrilling down into this favorite winter sport, state fisheries officials say.
- No Asian Carp DNA found in Sturgeon Bay water samples
Water samples collected from Sturgeon Bay last month and analyzed for evidence of Asian carp DNA have come back negative, state officials announced today.
- Wisconsin chinook stocking strategy set for 2014 and beyond
The state's strategy for stocking chinook salmon in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan waters in 2014 and beyond is set and seeks to maintain existing great fishing opportunities in spring and summer all along the coast while tweaking the state's original proposal based on public input to improve fall fishing.
- New DNR staff to focus on environmental compliance for industrial sand mining
As part of Gov. Scott Walker's biennial budget, the State Legislature approved the hiring of two new engineers to focus on environmental compliance for industrial sand mines in Wisconsin.
- New Atlas of Public Access Lands of Wisconsin available online or in print
A new Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Public Access Lands Atlas is now available online and in a printable format. The atlas highlights the significant increase in public access to Wisconsin lands made possible through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, as well as other lands open to the public for outdoor recreation.
- Capitol ceremony marks chief warden transfer
More than 100 wardens and other law enforcement agency representatives were among those at last week's symbolic ceremony at the State Capitol Assembly Chambers as the Department of Natural Resources and its Bureau of Law Enforcement saluted its 17th Chief Conservation Warden Randy Stark as he ended his more than 31-year career, paving the way for the state's 18th Chief Warden, Todd Schaller.
- Electronics recycling opportunities continue to grow under E-Cycle Wisconsin
Wisconsin residents now have access to nearly 450 permanent electronics collection sites, and continue to recycle their old TVs, computers and other consumer electronics at an impressive rate, according to new data compiled by the Department of Natural Resources.