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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Weekly Digest Bulletin

Got Swifts? Survey Seeks To Identify Chimneys Providing Bird Habitat

Pilot Project Aims To Help Owners Pay For Repairs To Preserve Habitat


chimney swifts

A chimney swift and its baby nest inside a chimney. / Photo Credit: Nancy J. Nabak

MADISON, Wis. – Brick chimneys may be a key component to conserving acrobatic, fast-flying chimney swifts, so Wisconsin residential and commercial property owners are being asked to report if their chimneys are currently being used by swifts through a survey which can be found here.

Answers to the online survey conducted by the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group will help shape a pilot project aimed at helping owners pay for chimney repairs, so they are more likely to keep the structures. DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program biologists are part of the working group.

“Chimneys are crucial habitat for swifts that depend upon man-made structures for nesting and roosting before fall migration,” said Sandy Schwab, chair of the working group.

“We’d like to know if you have a chimney that is being used by swifts for nesting or resting, and if you do, if it’s in need of repairs. This information will help us develop our project to help preserve habitat for chimney swifts.”

A member of the Chimney Swift Working Group may contact respondents in the future to discuss their answers. 

Chimney swifts nest in eastern North America (east of the Rockies) in the summer and migrate to South America in the fall. Historically, the birds congregated in large standing hollow trees in old-growth forests before they began their migration. However, as old-growth forests disappeared from North America, chimney swifts discovered that brick chimneys served as an easy and abundant replacement.

The birds can cling to the rough, vertical surface like the inside of a hollow tree. Hundreds of native chimney swifts may congregate in communal roosts, gathering strength before flying to South America and creating a spectacle that looks like “smoke” pouring into brick chimneys in the fall.

 “Sadly, chimney swifts, like many other aerial insectivores including whip-poor-wills, nighthawks and swallows, are declining,” said Rich Staffen, a DNR Natural Heritage Conservation biologist and working group member.

“There are no definitive reasons identified yet for why this is, but the ongoing decline in insect populations is a major concern, and bird experts also know the removal of old chimneys or capping of them, is removing suitable nesting and roosting locations for these birds.”

The survey will help working group members understand which chimneys are being used for roosting and nesting by these birds and if those chimneys require any repair to keep them as a viable option for the birds into the future.

Chimney swifts have slender bodies, very long, narrow, curved wings and short, tapered tails. They fly rapidly, with nearly constant wing beats, often twisting from side to side and banking erratically. They often give a distinctive, high-pitched twittering call while flying. 

NEW RELEASE: Seeking Public Comment For Safe Drinking Water Loan Program Environmental Review For Village Of Cambria Project
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Contact: Kevin Olson, DNR Community Financial Assistance Program Specialist
608-266-9955 or

Seeking Public Comment For
Safe Drinking Water Loan Program Environmental Review For Village Of Cambria Project


Stock image of woman drinking water

The Department of Natural Respurces is seeking public comment for Safe Drinking Water Loan Program environmental review for Village of Cambria project. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

MADISON, Wis. – The Village of Cambria is an applicant for funding through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Safe Drinking Water Loan Program to address deficiencies in its public drinking water system. The projects primarily include the installation of a new well, well building and connecting lines.

Activities related to this project are minor actions under Chapter NR 150, Wis. Admin. Code, for which no environmental analysis is required; however, in accordance with the SDWLP federal requirement 40 C.F.R. §35.3580, an environmental review must be conducted prior to funding this project. The SDWLP has determined that the project will not result in significant adverse environmental effects, and no further environmental review or analysis is needed before proceeding with funding the project.

The department is soliciting public comments regarding this decision and the potential environmental impacts of this project. Written or verbal comments are encouraged.  Provide comments to Kevin Olson, Community Financial Assistance, Department of Natural Resources, CF/2 101 S Webster St. PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707, 608-266-9955 by July 6, 2020.

Based on the comments received, the department may prepare an environmental analysis before proceeding with the funding process. The analysis would summarize the Department of Natural Resources’ consideration of the impacts of the project and reasonable alternatives.

NEW RELEASE: 2020 Invader Crusader Award Winners Announced
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Contact: Tara Bergeson, DNR Invasive Species Team Leader
608-516-0487 or

2020 Invader Crusader Award Winners Announced

Individuals And Groups Honored For Work To Control Invasive Species


MADISON, Wis. –  The 2020 “Invader Crusaders” are Wisconsin residents – and one friendly canine – recognized for their significant contributions to prevent, control or eradicate nonnative plants and animals that can harm Wisconsin’s ecosystems, economy and in some cases, public health.

Among this years’ winners are a retired Cambridge elementary school teacher’s aide still organizing students who help keep invasive species out of the school forest, a Fox Valley resident who has “rehomed” more than 400 exotic pets so they’re not released to the wild, and a Wausau resident and his golden Labrador dog who have tirelessly educated boaters and anglers on how to avoid spreading invasive aquatic plants.

The Invader Crusader award winners are selected by the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council as part of Invasive Species Action Month, which is underway this June. The council is advisory to the DNR, Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Legislature on invasive species issues.

Nominations come from residents and organizations and Invader Crusader awards are given in several categories. Award winners’ names, hometowns, and a brief description of their work follows; longer descriptions are available on the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council Invader Crusader web page.  

Emerald ash borer, quagga mussel, common buckthorn, giant knotweed, sudden oak death pathogen, gypsy moth, garlic mustard and purple loosestrife are all examples of invasive species.


Professional Individuals Category Winners

Bob WakemanWauwatosa, leader of DNR’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) program for the past 10 years, has transformed Wisconsin’s AIS program into one of the best in the country and strengthened local, state, regional and national partnerships working to control invasive species.

Natalie Dutack, Milwaukee, and part of the Wisconsin River Alliance team, helped to improve AIS programming, especially Snapshot Day during which volunteers help identify new populations of restricted and prohibited species.

Cisco the dog and Chris HamerlaWausau, of Golden Sands Resource Conservation & Development Council have worked together on AIS education, outreach, monitoring, mapping and control focused on Marathon, Portage, Taylor and Wood counties. The two have been ambassadors spreading the prevention message to anglers, boaters and waterfowl hunters, including starring in outreach videos. Read more about Chris Hamerla and Cisco, and other stories about people working to control invasive species in the Summer 2020 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.  

Marian Farrior, Sauk City, restoration work party manager at the UW-Madison Arboretum since 2002, has trained, supervised and scheduled volunteer restoration leaders who lead other volunteers in conducting restoration work focused on invasive species management.

Michele Jasik, Madison, has worked and volunteered for organizations including the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Prescribed Fire Council, The Nature Conservancy and DNR in various roles to educate and empower volunteers and to map and conduct landowner contacts to allow for control of invasive porcelain berry in Madison.


Professional Group Category Winners

Golden Sands Resource Conservation & Development Council, Stevens Point, is a nonprofit organization that works with lake districts, lake associations, friends groups, citizens, private landowners, local government, business, and schools to educate them about AIS and motivate them to take action.


Volunteer Individuals Category Winners

John Eron, Stevens Point, initiated a public education effort about wild parsnip, an invasive plant that can take over prairies, oak savannas, and fens and cause severe rashes and blisters on people who get the sap on their skin. He was appointed weed commissioner of Portage and Wood counties and leads extensive education efforts that have reached county officials and staff, state legislators, schoolchildren and more.

Margaret Smith, River Falls, has worked tirelessly in Pierce and St. Croix counties to control wild parsnip, instituting a mapping project using volunteers to report the plant on roadsides for targeted control instead of having the town use broad herbicide application that could harm pollinators and wildflowers.

Georgia Gomez-Ibanez, Cambridge, retired from working with students as a teacher’s aide at Cambridge Elementary School but still helps mobilize students to reduce the impacts of invasive garlic mustard and buckthorn in the school woods. Her innovative ideas to control invasives and her passion inspire the teachers and students.

John Moyles, Menasha, has worked hard in the Fox Valley and Green Bay areas to provide alternatives to release for exotic pet owners who are no longer able to care for their pets. Through his efforts, over 450 pets have been re-homed instead of released into the wild.

NEWS RELEASE: Bear Hunting Application Period For 2021 Season Opens July 1
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Contact: Matt Gross, DNR assistant big game ecologist or 608-515-6671

Bear Hunting Application Period For 2021 Season Opens July 1


bear application 2021

MADISON, Wis. – The application period for the 2021 bear hunting season will open July 1 after the successful completion of legislative review. The application deadline remains Dec. 10, 2020.

Applicants are reminded to be aware of the new bear management zone boundaries as their usual hunting grounds may change to a new unit beginning in 2021. State wildlife officials do not know precisely how these changes will specifically affect harvest permit wait times, but they expect there will likely be no significant changes across zones A, B, C and D. There will be no zone changes for the upcoming 2020 bear season.

Wisconsin bear hunting is prevalent, and more people apply each year than the number of licenses available. For 2020, more than 119,000 hunters applied for a permit or a preference point for 11,535 available permits.

The new zones are part of the Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan, 2019-2029 [PDF] developed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bear Advisory Committee and approved by the Natural Resources Board in May 2019. The new bear management zones are designed to address bear conflicts and manage desired population levels effectively.

People who would like to hunt black bear in Wisconsin must possess a Class A bear license. Hunters may obtain a Class A bear license by:

Applications are required for a Class A license or to receive a preference point. Hunters must apply at least once during a period of three consecutive years, otherwise, all previously accumulated preference points will be lost. Sign up to receive an email when the 2021 bear permit application opens.

NEWS RELEASE: DNR Hunter Safety Classes Resume July 13
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Lt. Jon King, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement Hunter Education Administrator
608-575-2294 or
Lt. Martin Stone, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement OHV Education Administrator
608-778-2035 or
Penny Kanable, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement Boating Administrator
608-228-9352 or


DNR Hunter Safety Classes Resume July 13

Social Distancing, In-Class Limits And Room Setup
Among New Safety Protocols


MADISON, Wis. – In-person hunter and recreational vehicle education classes will resume July 13 under a set of guidelines and safety protocols released Friday by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills Section under Phase II of the Wisconsin State Government Bounce Back Plan.

The in-person hunter and recreational vehicle education classes resuming July 13 are for courses with 50 people or less. Based on a review of enrollment data for DNR hunter safety courses over the past three years, less than 2% of the more than 2,200 courses provided exceeded 50 attendees.

In March, the DNR temporarily suspended all in-person hunter education and recreational safety classes due to public health advisories relating to COVID-19. At the same time, the DNR also canceled, adjusted and postponed an array of other in-person public events, meetings, trainings and agency operations to protect public health.

The suspension reflected the dedication to safety by the DNR and the program; and, provided the time to establish classroom guidelines to keep students and instructors as safe as possible from COVID-19 exposures.

The COVID-19 public health steps go beyond providing the educational safety courses for hunting, boating and off-highway vehicles, and will remain part of the safety class environment as classes start in July. The safety protocols are for the protection of students and instructors, and the communities where they live. The DNR will continue to prioritize the safety of the public, volunteer instructors, and department staff when determining protocols for resuming in-person recreational safety classes.

“We wish we had a one-size-fits-all plan. That is not possible because each safety class – whether it is hunter education or about recreational vehicle use – is different by location and the instructor,” said Lt. Warden Jon King, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement administrator of the hunter education program. “However, the safety and the well-being of our students and our instructors remains priority Number One regardless of where the class takes place.”


The DNR’s Recreational Safety and Outdoor Section will work collaboratively with our volunteer instructors and partners to reopen our safety classes. The timeline is as follows:

  • Instructors may start to enroll classes into GoWild on Sunday, June 28.
  • Classes may start Monday, July 13.


  • Social distancing of 6 feet between participants
  • Maximum of 50 participants in any one class
  • Attendees strongly recommended to wear face covering  
  • Sanitizing of class equipment
  • Availability and use of hand sanitizer
  • Outdoor class instruction where possible

Wisconsin hunter education started in 1967 with a grassroots effort to reduce hunting incidents and to educate hunters to make them safe, responsible and ethical. Since then, multiple generations of families have attended hunter education. There have been over 20,000 volunteers who have helped educate the hunters of Wisconsin and approximately 1.2 million hunters have been certified. Incident rates for gun deer accidents continue to decrease with 9 years of gun deer seasons with no fatalities.

“Our intent is to go back to normal only when safe,” King said, adding that protocols may change as conditions do. “These safety rules and guidelines are essential until the ongoing pandemic threat is gone.”

The DNR remains strongly committed to the health and safety of recreational safety course instructors and students. The department continues to receive the most up-to-date information and will adjust operations as conditions change. Learn more about the DNR Safety Education Program here.

For specific information regarding COVID-19 we encourage the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

NEWS RELEASE: Wisconsin State Park Group Camping For 50 People Or Less Starts July 13
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Wisconsin State Park Group Camping
For 50 People Or Less Starts July 13


Happy child girl in car going on summer vacation trip

The DNR will begin to allow group camping for groups of 50 or less with reservations on Monday, July 13. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will begin to allow group camping for groups of 50 or less with reservations on Monday, July 13. The DNR will also begin placing camp hosts at state park campgrounds, and firewood is now available at select state parks. Special park operation conditions remain in place to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.

Some changes campers and park visitors will experience beginning July 13 include:

  • Group camping allowed at outdoor sites with a capacity of 50 people or less, with reservations.
  • Limited special events permitted with up to 50 people.
  • Unreserved use of open-air shelters with capacity limits and provisions for social distancing.


  • Shelter, amphitheater and group camping reservations, as well as special events through July 12 will be canceled and refunded.
  • Reservations for a longer stay at outdoor group camp sites with a capacity of 50 people or less that begin before July 13 and extend beyond July 13 will automatically be adjusted to begin July 13.
  • Camping reservations are required before setting up camp and are accepted by phone (1-888-947-2757) and online only.
  • Same-day camping reservations are available by phone (1-888-947-2757) and the online reservation system.
  • Check-in is not necessary at the office or visitor station when coming to a property with an existing camping reservation. Please proceed directly to your campsite and begin setup.


  • Capacity limits remain in effect. Due to high demand, many properties will likely reach their pre-determined capacity limits. When this happens, properties will close until existing visitors leave.
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