Helpful Tips Can Help Wisconsin Homeowners Avoid Potential Conflicts with Black Bears

MADISON – Black bears have begun to emerge from their dens throughout Wisconsin and homeowners are encouraged to take precautions to avoid potential conflicts.

Black bears normally avoid contact with people, but when food sources are available bears can quickly learn to associate humans with food.

“Bear are opportunistic feeders and will take advantage of available food sources,” said Brad Koele, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife damage specialist. “Bird feeders, garbage cans, grills, and uncontained compost or pet food left outside can be targets for hungry bears – it’s important to make these attractants inaccessible to bear at all times of the year but particularly in the spring time when natural food sources are limited.”

Homeowners can follow these steps to avoid attracting black bears:

  • Do not knowingly feed a bear.
  • Completely remove bird feeders, even during daytime hours – bears are active during the day and may cause problems even if the feeders are out only during that time.
  • Clean areas where bird feeders were located so that accumulated deposits of spilled seed are removed.
  • Reduce garbage odors by rinsing food cans before putting them in covered recycling containers or garbage cans.
  • Keep meat scraps in the freezer until garbage day, and if possible, keep garbage cans in a closed building until the morning of pick-up.
  • Be sure to lock commercial dumpsters.
  • Keep pet food inside or inaccessible to bears even during daytime hours.
  • Keep barbeque grills and picnic tables clean.

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Public Meetings Set for the Draft Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Regional Master Plan

Public comment period open through June 12

STURGEON BAYWis. – The public will have an opportunity at two open house meetings and through a comment period to provide input on a draft master plan for Department of Natural Resources lands in Door and Oconto counties and parts of Marinette and Shawano counties. The draft Northern Lake Michigan Coastal regional master plan establishes the level and type of resource management and public use permitted on these department-managed properties.

State-owned lands covered by this master plan include state parks–five on the Door Peninsula–as well as State Natural Areas and numerous wildlife and fisheries areas. The state parks covered by this plan include Rock Island, Newport, Peninsula, Whitefish Dunes, Potawatomi, Grand Traverse Island and Copper Culture Mounds.

The public input sessions will provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the regional planning process, review the draft recommendations for resource and recreation management on DNR properties in the region and provide feedback.

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Free Fun Weekend June 2 & 3

Free Fun Weekend in Wisconsin is Saturday June 2 and Sunday June 3. During this weekend residents and visitors can fish, hike and bike trails, gain admission to state parks and forests, and use public ATV trails all for free! Additionally, more than 50 of the state parks will have free fishing equipment available for loan & some parks are offering extra events.

Offerings for the weekend include:

  • No fishing license is needed to fish any waters. This includes inland trout and Great Lakes trout and salmon fishing, which normally would require a trout stamp in addition to a license. Fishing rules such as limits on the size and species of fish that can be kept do apply, however.
  • All state trail pass fees on all DNR-owned state trails are waived and cooperatively-run state trails also may waive fees.
  • All state park vehicle admission sticker fees on all DNR-owned properties are waived.
  • ATV registration and trail pass fees are waived.
  • Free fishing equipment is available for loan at more than 50 state parks, DNR offices, and partner organizations, and free fishing clinics are scheduled at many state parks and popular waters
  • The Friends of the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest are holding Discovery Day on Saturday with geocaching, archery, t-shirt painting, a wildlife show, kayak demos, telescope viewing, fishing and hiking
  • The Friends of Willow River and Kinnickinnic State Parks are holding Art Along the Willow on Sunday at Willow River State Park with more than 40 art and craft vendors, kids activities and concessions

See the full details of the weekend here.

Gypsy Moth Aerial Spraying Update (DATCP)

WHAT: Gypsy moth aerial treatments by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread (STS) Program. The STS aerial program for 2018 consists of 36 treatment sites, involving approximately 90,000 acres across 14 counties in western Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Suppression Program is also treating 7 sites in Dane County totaling 485 acres.

WHEN: Tuesday, 22-May-2018, weather permitting.

WHERE: Select sites in Grant, Green, Lafayette, Dane, Vernon, Crawford, and Eau Claire counties. A progress chart and maps of treatment sites can be viewed online at

WHY: The treatments are necessary to control the spread of gypsy moth, a destructive and invasive pest that feeds on the leaves of oaks, maples, crabapple, birch, and many other species of trees and shrubs.

PLAN DETAILS: The first Btk treatments will begin in the previously mentioned counties covering 15 sites. Most sites may have more than one treatment planned and will be treated again on a later date.

TREATMENTS: Planes will apply Foray 48B, which is approved for use in certified organic production or food processing by the Organic Materials Review Institute. The insecticide contains Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki or Btk. Btk is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that is poisonous to gypsy moth caterpillars when consumed. Btk breaks down in sunlight within a few days.

OTHER DETAILS: Applications can start as early as sunrise and will continue until the day’s plan is complete and as weather conditions allow. Treatment applications require calm winds, high humidity, and no precipitation.

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Camping This Summer? Leave Firewood at Home

MADISON – As you kick off your summer camping and cabin season this Memorial Day weekend, don’t be the one who brings emerald ash borer, gypsy moth or other pests and diseases to new homes in Wisconsin.

“Buy it where you burn it,” says Brian Kuhn, director of the Plant Industry Bureau in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “State parks require that firewood be brought from no more than 10 miles away. National forests require it to be purchased within 25 miles. Many private campgrounds prohibit bringing in firewood at all. And if you live in a county that’s under quarantine for gypsy moth, it’s actually illegal to take firewood to a non-quarantine county. The only exception to these regulations is when you buy firewood marked with the DATCP certification.”

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White-Nose Syndrome Continues to Ravage Cave Bat Populations

Wisconsin bats continue to be hit hard by white-nose syndrome (WNS).  All 60 survey sites visited by conservation biologists in winter 2018 showed signs of infection.  A 99 percent decrease from historic averages at the first documented infection site; a 92 percent drop at sites in their fourth year of infection, and an 85 percent drop at sites in their third year of infection were documented. Twenty-five of the 28 counties with known bat hibernacula now have WNS or the fungus that causes it. The steep loss of these beneficial insect-eaters is likely to be reflected this summer in the nighttime skies.

On the brighter side of things, progress is being made in treatments and vaccines of WNS. Some of that good news includes:

  • Three of the nine bats found in the Grant County site where white-nose syndrome was first detected in 2014 were juveniles, indicating some natural reproduction is still taking place.
  • A technique to administer vaccines to bats to prevent white-nose syndrome infections is showing promise and DNR bat biologists will continue assisting the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Wisconsin researchers in refining the method this summer.
  • A treatment using ultra-violet light is showing promise in killing the fungus causing white-nose syndrome in bats. DNR bat biologists have continued to work with scientists at the U.S. Forest Service in Madison and Bucknell University in Pennsylvania on the study.

To read more about the white-nose syndrome updates click here.

Keep An Eye Out for Palmer Amaranth, DATCP Cautions

MADISON – Farmers and land managers planting conservation seed mixes should be on the lookout for an aggressively

Seedling of Palmer amaranth (Minnesota Department of Agriculture)

invasive weed called Palmer amaranth, state plant protection officials say. In addition, anyone packing and labeling such seeds must take steps to avoid contaminating the mixes with Palmer amaranth.

Under a new emergency rule in Wisconsin, Palmer amaranth is a prohibited noxious weed seed, and including it in a seed mix would be a civil or criminal violation for the seed labeler.

“Once established, Palmer amaranth can out-compete other native plants in conservation plantings, and if it gets into corn and soybeans, can cause yield losses as high as 90 percent,” said Brian Kuhn, director of the Plant Industry Bureau in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “This is an incredibly invasive, incredibly expensive-to-control weed. It’s been highly destructive in some of our neighboring states, and we don’t want to see that in Wisconsin.”

Palmer amaranth is a broadleaf weed that grows 2-3 inches a day. It commonly grows 6-8 feet tall, but may reach 10 feet. It has separate male and female plants, and the females may produce as many as 500,000 seeds. It is related to water hemp and other “pigweeds”, common in Wisconsin, and a casual observer might confuse the two.

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2018 Omnibus Bill Nixes DUNS and SAM Requirements for Farmers

Madison, Wis. ‒ April 23, 2018 ‒ Effectively immediately, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) financial assistance program participants will no longer need a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Number System (DUNS) number, or to register in the System for Award Management (SAM). The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (2018 Omnibus Bill), signed by President Donald Trump on March 23, eliminated these requirements.

According to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, DUNS and SAM were designed for billion-dollar government contractors, not everyday farmers trying to support their families. These changes help streamline the customer experience of farmers, which is a top priority at USDA, he said.

“This change greatly simplifies the contracting process for our customers and staff,” said Angela Biggs, Wisconsin State Conservationist. “Conservation program participants will soon receive letters from their local NRCS office with more details.”

The exemption does not apply to any current or future agreements or federal contracts with eligible entities, project sponsors, vendors, partners, or other non-exempt landowners or producers.

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Help Promote Your Local Chapter

The poster features a place for each of the chapters to add their own contact information.

Help us get the word out about the sustainable forestry community! We have a new poster available to help promote WWOA and the local chapters.

Do you know a local business or hangout with a pubic bulletin board? Consider hanging up a poster in your community to let others know about WWOA. Some suggested locations include libraries, municipal buildings, grocery stores, implement dealers, and restaurants.

The posters are printed in color on sturdy cardstock. Know a place to hang a poster you already visit regularly? If interested, contact the office at or 715-346-4798. Let us know the number of posters you would like, and we will mail them to you.

Click on the photo to see the poster in more detail.

Results of 2018 Spring Fish & Wildlife Rules Hearings

On Monday, April 9 there were 72 public hearings held simultaneously across the state in each county. The hearings, held annually on the second Monday in April, are combined with the county meetings during which attendees can introduce and vote on citizen resolutions to address natural resources related issues. The spring hearings covered three major areas: elections for county Conservation Congress delegates; DNR wildlife and fisheries ideas for potential rule changes; and Conservation Congress proposals for future rule development. The spring 2018 questionnaire, which explains the questions in more detail, can be found here.

  • To view the 2018 Spring Hearing Statewide Results click here
  • To view the 2018 Spring Hearing Results by County click here
  • To view the 2018 Spring Citizen Resolution Results click here