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Grant boosts investigations into why bass are booming, walleye waning in some lakes

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Largemouth bass are booming in northwestern Wisconsin. DNR’s Travis Holte shows off a nice fish captured during a spring survey on Polk County’s Apple River Flowage.

photo courtesy WNDR ©2012

MADISON – Work to help understand and respond to why bass are booming and walleye waning in many northwestern Wisconsin lakes just got a big boost.

A consortium of researchers and fisheries biologists from the University of Wisconsin’s Madison and Stevens Point campuses and the Department of Natural Resources have received a $760,000 federal grant over five years to help investigate the shifting fish populations and tease out the most likely reasons behind the shift.

Apple River Flowage largemouth

“We’re excited to have a large-scale, collaborative research project underway to tackle our key questions and help inform our management decisions,” says Jon Hansen, one of the DNR fish biologists involved in the study and leader of DNR’s bass committee.

“The issue is very complicated, and identifying the causes of these changes requires various approaches and the expertise that the different partners bring to the table.”

Says Steve Carpenter, a UW-Madison limnologist and a principal investigator in the study, “At this point, we have nothing but hypotheses. Now we can get to work on gathering real information and figuring out which of the many hypotheses might be right.”

The grant is funded by the U.S. Geological Survey and will be led at UW-Madison by Carpenter, at Stevens Point by Dan Isermann, and at the DNR by a team of DNR Bureau of Science Services researchers and Fisheries Management biologists.

The work will build on, and draw data from, ongoing state efforts to adjust bass and walleye fishing regulations and attempt to determine how much anglers affect these populations. Bass are the fish Wisconsin anglers reported releasing most often in a 2006-07 statewide mail survey, with only 5.4 percent of bass harvested, while 30 percent of all walleye were harvested.

“These traditional approaches (changing regulations and collecting data) are important to do, but if that is all we did, we’ve never be able to figure out what this is happening,” says John Lyons, the DNR fisheries researcher who assembled the collaborative research team. “We’d still be speculating. What this study will do is not necessarily provide the solution, but it will narrow down the explanations from 10 plausible reasons to two or three that are highly plausible, and which of our management tools could work.”

Read more here:

For more information:

  • Steve Hewett – DNR – (608) 267-7501
  • Mike Staggs – DNR – (608) 267-0796
  • Steve Carpenter – UW-Madison – (608) 262-3014
  • Dan Isermann – UWSP – (715) 295-8878

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Baiting and feeding banned in Polk, Burnett, Washburn and Barron counties

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Baiting and feeding white-tailed deer in Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn counties is BANNED, effective May 10.

photo WDNR ©2012

MADISON – A ban on baiting and feeding white-tailed deer in Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn counties went into effect on May 10.

The Department of Natural Resources took the action, in accordance with existing state law, due to the discovery on private land in Washburn County of a wild white-tailed deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease. Both state and federal veterinary laboratories confirmed the finding. Later DNA testing confirmed that the deer is from the area.

Barron, Burnett and Polk counties are within a 10-mile radius of the location of the Washburn County property on which this CWD-positive deer was found. State law requires that counties or portions of counties within a 10-mile radius of a game farm or free-ranging CWD-positive are included in the baiting and feeding prohibition. With the addition of these four counties, baiting and feeding of deer is banned in 32 Wisconsin counties.

“While we lament this news, we welcome the positive response we’ve heard from area deer hunters,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We held an informational meeting with local citizens and nearly 200 showed up and stayed for hours asking good questions of our wildlife, law enforcement and wildlife health staff. In the end, my executive assistant Scott Gunderson asked the crowd how they felt about an immediate baiting and feeding ban and it was overwhelmingly supported.”

No changes are planned for the 2012 deer hunting season rules in the affected counties other than the ban on baiting and feeding, said Tom Hauge, director of the DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management. Hunters will be asked to provide tissue samples from deer killed within a 10-mile radius of the CWD positive doe for further surveillance testing. Samples will also be collected from road kills and possibly taxidermists and meat processors. Details of the sampling and testing program will be shared widely in subsequent news releases and on the DNR websitekeyword CWD – as the details are finalized.

“Baiting and feeding of deer unnecessarily increases the risk of spreading CWD and other diseases,” Hauge said. “Animal health is important to preserving our great hunting tradition and is a foundation of tourism and vital to local businesses.”

Baiting and feeding increase risks of spreading communicable diseases, like CWD, by concentrating deer in one spot. Deer using one spot are more at risk for spreading a disease.

Individuals can still feed birds and small mammals provided the feeding devices are at a sufficient height or design to prevent access by deer and the feeding device is within 50 yards of a human dwelling. This ban does not affect the use of bait for hunting bear or training bear dogs.

Learn more about CWD or go to the DNR website and search “CWD.”

Read more here:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

  • Mike Zeckmeister, DNR northern region wildlife supervisor – 715-635-4090
  • Dave Zebro, DNR northern region law enforcement leader– 715-635-4093
  • Bob Manwell, DNR Office of Communications – 608-264-9248

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New videos show steps anglers, boaters take to avoid spreading aquatic invasive species

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Take steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and VHS fish disease.photo WDNR ©2012

MADISON – Two new public service announcements show boaters, anglers and other water users the four easy steps to take to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and the fish disease VHS.

The animated 30-second spot “Sneaky Critters” and “Talking Sign” are now available on DNR’s YouTube channel “invasive species” (exit DNR) playlist and ready to be shared, says Deborah Seiler, outreach coordinator for Department of Natural Resources and UW-Extension aquatic invasive species efforts.

“We hope these new PSAs do get spread around,” Seiler says. “We encourage anyone or any group that’s interested in AIS prevention to share the videos and embed them on your blog or website.”

The video public service announcements remind water users to:

  • INSPECT boats, trailers and equipment.
  • REMOVE all attached aquatic plants and animals.
  • DRAIN all water from boats, vehicles and equipment.
  • NEVER MOVE plants or live fish away from a waterbody, with the exception of bait minnows. Minnows can be used again on the same water the next day or can be used elsewhere if the minnow container did not have lake or river water or fish added to it.

Seiler says that the more people can remind fellow boaters and anglers to take steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and VHS fish disease, the healthier Wisconsin lakes, fish and local economies will be.

Read more here:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

  • Deborah Seiler – (608) 267-3531

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