Asian Carp Head North

asian carp map 4-13“Asian carp have harmed the ecosystem, the economy, property, and boaters in the Mississippi River system. The diet of Asian carp overlaps with the diet of native fishes in the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, meaning the carp compete directly with native fish for food,” says the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee website.

That website, and other information on Asian carp, emphasize the danger to humans from the carp. The carp are large and jump as high as 10 feet out of the water when startled. Since passing boats startle the fish, they injure boaters.

The focus has been on keeping Asian carp, a term that includes both bighead carp and silver carp out of the Great Lakes, which already has enough invasive species, thank you, and where the carp are expected to do horrible things to the food chain.

This week, however, the bad news is that Asian carp have spread farther north in the Mississippi River. Their eggs have been found as far north as Lynxville, Wisc.

“This discovery means that Asian carp spawned much farther north in the Mississippi than previously recorded,” said Leon Carl, US Geological Survey Midwest Regional Director in a USGS press release. “The presence of eggs in the samples indicates that spawning occurred, but we do not know if eggs hatched and survived or whether future spawning events would result in live fish.”

Read the USGS press release with all the details, here.
Read an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, based mostly on the press release here.
Another article, in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, also leans heavily on the press release. Read it here.

Map: Asian carp distribution, as of April 2013. Map courtesy of Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee


Wiscondsin Adjusts Endangered & Threatened List

Blandings_TurtleFifteen native birds, plants and other animals have been removed from Wisconsin’s endangered and threatened species list effective Jan. 1, 2014, says a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) press release. Eight other species, including the black tern, the federally endangered Kirtland’s warbler, and the upland sandpiper, have been added to the list, the release goes on to say, as well as five invertebrates — the beach-dune tiger beetle, ottoe skipper, a leafhopper, an Issid planthopper, and fawnsfoot mussel.

The 15 species removed from the list include seven animals: the greater redhorse, a fish; the barn owl, snowy egret, and Bewick’s wren; the pygmy snaketail, a dragonfly; and two reptiles, the Blanding’s turtle and Butler’s gartersnake.

While Blanding’s turtle no longer meets the scientific criteria for listing, the release says says, the population is vulnerable to harvest and collection. To address this, the DNR has started a new administrative rule process to add the Blanding’s turtle to the Protected Wild Animals List.

Read the WDNR press release here.
A preliminary draft of the economic impact analysis and a draft of the proposed rule order are available for download at the DNR’s proposed permanent rules page or at Wisconsin’s administrative rules page.

Photo: A Blanding’s turtle in Massachusetts, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service

Windstorm Aids Rare Bird

golden-winged_warblerBill-HubickAn American Bird Conservancy press release explains how a 2011 windstorm in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area boosted efforts by the Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources to create young forest habitat for the imperiled

“Generally, most people saw the blow-down as massively destructive,” the release quotes Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Biologist Bob Hanson as saying. “However, with the correct management prescription, it actually has provided some great habitat for this potentially endangered species. The shotgun pattern the storm left created new areas of young forest, a requirement of the golden-winged warbler.”

You can read the American Bird Conservancy release here.

In 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wrote about a coalition of state and federal agencies in the Upper Great Lakes Young Forest Initiative, which aims to help the golden-winged warbler and other birds, such as grouse, that rely on young forest habitat.

Read the WDNR Weekly News article here.

Photo: golden-winged warbler, by Bill Hubick, courtesy of American Bird Conservancy.

CWD in Plants

cwd_map 9-30-13Plants, including crop plants such as alfalfa and tomatoes, may serve as a reservoir for the prions, or misfolded proteins, that cause chronic wasting disease in deer (as well as other prion diseases such as scrapie in sheep, and mad cow disease), reports WisconsinWatch after a careful reading of the The Wildlife Society conference program.

WisconsinWatch is produced by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. And they certainly investigated here.

Christopher Johnson, U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center will present a talk on his research at the conference on October 7.

Oh, and Johnson found that the prions from plants were infectious when injected into mice.

I’m going to skip right over the scary prospect of plants as a reservoir for prion diseases and go right to the next point made in the WisconsinWatch article: this finding is not going to change the fact that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has pretty much given up on managing CWD in the state.

Johnson’s findings have not yet been published in a scientific journal, and it appears that the National Wildlife Health Center has not yet released a report or a press release on the research.

Find The Wildlife Society Conference abstract here.
Read the WisconsinWatch article here.

Map: Incidents of CWD, courtesy of USGS National Wildlife Health Center

Wisconsin Nongame Program Changes Name

Wisc DNRAfter 40 years as the Wisconsin Bureau of Endangered Resources, the program charged with caring for that state’s endangered resources is now known as the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation. The change took place on July 1.

“Our name has changed but our mission is the same,” says Erin Crain, who took over in October 2012 as bureau director, in a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources press release. However, the same press release mentions changes in organization and budget with the goal of filling long-standing vacancies in field positions.

Read the entire press release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, here.

Bald Eagles Up in 3 States

Bald_EagleBald eagle numbers are up in Georgia and Massachusetts, and a Wisconsin county has seen its first bald eagle nest in over 100 years.

In Wisconsin, an article in the Kenosha News reported that Seth Fisher, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician, flew over the nest, which is on private property in the southern part of Racine County. “It’s exciting to have this be the first nest in a long time this far south” in this region of the state, the article quotes Fisher as saying.

In Georgia, bald eagle surveys in January and March found 166 occupied nesting territories, 124 successful nests and 185 young fledged, according to a Department of Natural Resources press release. That’s an increase from last year’s 163 nesting territories and 121 successful nests, the release says, while the number of eaglets fledged dropping slightly from 199.

The Quabbin Reservoir and the Connecticut River remain the strongholds of the Massachusetts bald eagle population, the Worcester News Telegram reports. There is still plenty of unoccupied bald eagle habitat on the state’s ocean coastline, the article quotes Joan Walsh, coordinator of the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas for Mass Audubon as saying.

There were 107 bald eagles in the state during the last count, in 2011 and there were 38 nests last year, the News Telegram article says. Preliminary results from the state’s first spring survey suggested the state’s bald eagle population would continue to increase.

Read the Kenosha News article, here.
Read the Georgia DNR press release here.
Read the Worcester News Telegram, here.

Photo: Bald eagle, by Dave Menke, used courtesy of the USFWS.


Why Deer Die

Wisconsin deer trap“Hunter harvest continues to be the greatest cause of death of both adult and yearling bucks, while predation was the leading cause of fawn mortality, with most predations occurring within the first four to six weeks following birth,” said Jared Duquette, research scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and lead researcher for a five-year study of causes of adult deer mortality and a three-year study of fawn mortality in an item in department’s weekly news bulletin.

According to the weekly news summary:

Capture of adults will continue through the 2012-13 and 2013-14 winters. Fawns were live-captured in May and June in 2011 and 2012 and will be captured again in 2013. A number of captured adults and fawns are fitted with radio collars. All are fitted with ear tags. Additional metrics are collected including body weight and size, blood samples, sex, presence of external parasites and age. Does are also examined for pregnancy. Deer are followed by radio signal until death, at which time researchers study the mortality to determine cause.

More details on the two studies are available in the department’s news report. Wisconsin is also conducting some other interesting deer studies. You can see the list here. I’d be interested to know the results of “An evaluation of the usefulness of deer-vehicle collision data as indices to deer population abundance.”

Read the weekly news item detailing the two deer studies here.

Photo: Closed box trap with deer feeding around it, courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Girls and Hunting

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:

Girls are the fastest growing segment of Wisconsin’s hunting population. The number of licensed women gun deer hunters in Wisconsin is projected to increase by 50 percent to 75,000 in 20 years. As of opening day, females represented 32 percent of resident first-time license buyers and 30 percent of resident first-time junior gun deer licenses.


A very unscientific survey of the photos in a local Vermont newspaper celebrating youth hunting day, showed not quite one-quarter of the young hunters pictured with a deer were girls.

Read the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources page, including videos, here.

In other deer hunting news, the season tallies are starting to come in. You can find Minnesota’s here. And you can find numbers on Missouri’s season, the biggest in years, here and here. In Alabama, hunters are self-reporting on-line. Read the story from the Alabama Media Group.

Photo: Mother and daughter hunt together in Wisconsin, courtesy of the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources.

Wyoming Won’t Cull Deer After CWD Found

deer with chronic wasting diseaseChronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease affecting deer, has been found in a new region of Wyoming, about 40 miles away from an area in Utah where CWD had recently been found.

A Wyoming Game & Fish Department press release says that the state will not try to reduce the number of deer in the area where the diseased deer was found. This technique was successfully used in New York State, which may be the only place CWD has been eradicated after it had been found in wild deer populations.

The Wyoming release cites research from Wisconsin and Colorado showing that the technique doesn’t work as its reason for not using it.

Read the press release here.

Photo: deer with chronic wasting disease. It’s teeny tiny because nobody wants to get a good look at a sick deer. Courtesy of the US Department of Agriculture

Wolf News

Generally we don’t cover wolves because the news has more to do with politics than with scientific research. However, wolves have been in the news a lot these last few months, as several states had their first wolf hunting seasons, and state wildlife departments play a starring role, so it makes sense to at least round-up some of these stories. Fittingly, the first one is:

Minnesota wolf management is based on sound science and conservation principles
In response to a petition to stop the state’s first wolf hunt, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued this press release. (Press release)

Wolves kill bear hounds in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources notices aren’t on-line, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a similar notice. Find the link to the records mentioned, here.

Wolf season closes in one of Montana’s management districts
(Flathead Beacon)

Wyoming wolf hunt began Oct. 1
(Wyoming Star Tribune)

Fish and Game Commission Vote Clears Way for Further Study of Wolf Status
The California Fish and Game Commission will perform a 12-month status review of the gray wolf before deciding if it warranted endangered species status. (Press release)

Mexican Wolf Not a Subspecies, Feds Say
WildEarth Guardians press release, here.
Federal Register, here.

Guarding Sheep to Save Wolves
A New York Times article on a Defenders of Wildlife program to use nonlethal deterrents to keep wolves away from sheep.

News from the Wyoming wolf hunt
(Jackson Hole Daily)

Classes preach caution during Montana’s first trapping season
(Missoula Independent)

Hunters ready for 1st wolf hunts in Wis., Minn.
(Associated Press/Seattle Times)
(Also, Wisc. hunt in Chippawa Herald)

Wolves play a role in Okanogan County (Washington) elections
(Wenatchee World)

Wildlife groups step up to stop [Minnesota] wolf hunts
(Minnesota Daily)

Big mamas help wolf pups thrive [in Yellowstone]
(Billings Gazette)

Oregon wolf collaring and depredation records
(Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Minnesota DNR studies wolf behavior as hunting season approaches
(Minnesota Public Radio)

Recent killing in Washington reignites wolves-livestock debate
(AP/Bellingham Herald)

Photo of gray wolf by Gary Kramer, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service