The Following Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Report summary for February 19, 2014
Complete DNR Outdoor Report (Reports from conservation wardens, wildlife and fisheries staff and property managers from around the state)
Frigid temperatures slow outdoor activities; sturgeon spearing season winding down
Wisconsin was experiencing some frigid temperatures this week with reports of near minus 30 degrees in the Northwoods Thursday morning. Temperatures are forecast to moderate some for the weekend, before dropping again next week.
With the exception of the far north that received several inches of snow last weekend, most of the state has not received any significant snow and snowmobile and ski conditions remain unchanged on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report(exit DNR). Snowmobile trails are open in the far northern counties with conditions from poor to very good. Ski trails are open across most of the state, but trails in the south have become hard and windblown, with a lot of debris being reported and some bare spots. Trails in the north generally remain in good condition. Candlelight events will be held this weekend at Devil’s Lake and Governor Thompson state parks.
With the colder temperatures in the last week, ice depths have been slowly increasing and most lakes across the north are now in the 15 to 18-inch range. Access conditions have remained a bit difficult, with high winds blowing snow around and creating some deeper drifts. The die-hard walleye and panfish anglers have continued to venture out and most are experiencing some variable success.
The cold temperatures and high winds also limited fishing activity on Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Whitefish continued to be the dominant catch with some limits reported along the east shore of Green Bay and some being caught off Marinette on the west shore.
Wednesday marked the final day of the 2015 sturgeon spear fishery on the Winnebago System Upriver Lakes. The season closed with a harvest of 288 fish and 59.5 percent of license holders successful. Nine fish tipped the scales at more than 100 pounds. The five-day season is on par with the average season on the Upriver Lakes. There were 152 fish harvested from Lake Winnebago Wednesday and 135 Friday bringing the season total to 1,582. Thursday’s harvest of 52 adult females didn’t quite get the season to the 90 percent closure mark and the season will continue at least through Friday. A harvest of 94 or more adult females Friday would close down the fishery. A total of five fish over 100 pounds were harvested Thursday.
The capture phase of Wisconsin’s 2015 elk reintroduction effort is now complete, with 28 elk awaiting transport to a new home in Jackson County. Captured elk are currently being held in pen in Kentucky, where they will be closely monitored and receive daily care. They will undergo a stringent 120-day quarantine and health testing period, which will include an acclimation period in Wisconsin, before being released in and around the Black River State Forest. This is a multi-year effort, with an overall goal of bringing up to 150 elk from Kentucky. As many as 75 elk will help start a new elk herd in Jackson County, while remaining elk will help bolster the current elk herd near Clam Lake.
Turkeys have been breaking out of their large flocks into male and female groups in preparation for the spring breeding season. Due to the frozen conditions ducks and other waterfowl are very concentrated in open water areas such as below dams and aerated ponds so now is still a great time to see them in their bright breeding plumage and watch their courtship rituals.
Wisconsin Governor Walker is looking at saving tax dollars concerning the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The state’s Stewardship Program is just one part of the DNR where savings can be made. Conservation groups and some wobbly republicans are not happy with this savings in the governor’s budget.
Currently, the DNR spends 70% of it’s budget on interest on the loans from land purchased through the Stewardship Program. That amounts to over a million dollars a week in interest payments.
To cut down on the DNR's debt, Governor Walker is calling for a freeze on its Stewardship Program.
Currently, nearly 70 percent of tax dollars going to the DNR are used to pay interest on loans, according to a spokesperson for the governor. To combat that, the governor's budget, which was released on Tuesday, includes a moratorium on all new land purchases for the Stewardship Program.
If approved, that would last until the DNR's debt is reduced to a specific target they expect to hit in 2028. This upsets conservation groups, who think the governor is ignoring the bigger picture.
Who in their right mind would spend over a million dollars a week on just interest on a loan? The facts are that the DNR budget is out of whack and needs to be addressed. Why does the DNR keep buying private land, takes it off the tax rolls, expect more money in the budget and are now unhappy with the proposal?
We are talking tax payers money. Seems easy for the DNR to spend other people’s money.
The Wiscosnin DNR has released information for hearings being held to support recovery of lake trout populations in Lake Superior. Hearing Date and time is set for February 16, from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm At the Ashland High School.