Sandhill crane numbers on the rise in the areaThe sandhill crane, once considered a rarity in our area, has now become a very common migrant being seen and heard routinely.
By: By Mike Reiter, New Richmond News
The sandhill crane, once considered a rarity in our area, has now become a very common migrant being seen and heard routinely.
They arrive in early spring and spend most of the summer and part of fall locally before setting off to their winter destination, spending the snowy months as far south as Florida. Their guttural callings can be heard over long distances while their stork-like forms can frequently be seen caring for their young, feeding or simply resting in open farm fields and wetlands. They can stand 4 feet tall and maintain a wingspread of six feet but weigh less than 10 pounds bring comprised mostly of legs, neck and feathers. They are a very unique creature.
North America has two of the 15 crane species world-wide. The sandhill crane and whooping crane both spend time in Wisconsin. The whooping crane has recently been re-introduced into Wisconsin and has been making a lot of headlines. The sandhill crane is much more common. Wisconsin is home to one of the six subspecies of sandhills and our bird is considered the “greater” sandhill while the cranes out in the Dakotas are the “lesser” subspecies variety. The cranes usually mate for life and can live to the ripe old age of 30.
Several western states have hunting seasons on the “lesser” sandhills and they are extremely good table fare. I have had the opportunity to sample them during our annual hunting excursions to North Dakota and they are excellent.
Because of the increasing numbers of sandhill cranes in Wisconsin there is an ongoing effort to potentially have a crane hunting season here. Because of the increasing numbers, there can be crop damage complaints and here again, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
The fact that we have the “greater” subspecies would need to be addressed if a hunting season was considered. Being a “huntable” species is for the most part, a positive for any animal species because the population is then managed and monitored to assure a healthy population into the future.
These classes are required for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1973 who wishes to hunt in Wisconsin. It is also needed to apply for many out of state hunting licenses.
The fall 2011 New Richmond area hunter education class begins on Monday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. Students should be at least 12 years of age before Dec. 31, 2011. Pre-registration is required. Students will be enrolled in the order of registration and the class will be limited to 60 students.
Classes will be held Monday and Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. with the last class on Oct. 20. There will be no classes held on Sept. 15, 19 and 22. A field day class will be held on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 8 a.m. – noon at the Willow River Rod & Gun Club.
All students must have a DNR Customer ID number before the start of class. Call 1-888-936-7463 for information on receiving this number.
The classes will be held at the New Richmond National Guard Amory, 1245 Wall St. in New Richmond. Cost of the class is $10.
For more information, contact lead instructor Ron Roettger at 715-248-3883. Students in need of special accommodations are asked to call at least two weeks in advance of the first class.
By Tom Kerr (USF&WS)
Recently, I spent some time up at the Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge which is located west of Ashland, Wisc. on Lake Superior.
The Whittlesey Creek NWR is managed by the St. Croix Wetland Management District. Both St. Croix WMD and Whittlesey Creek NWR are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife and plants.
Since President Roosevelt designated Florida’s Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903, the System has grown to more than 150 million acres, 550 national wildlife refuges and other units of the Refuge System, plus 37 wetland management districts.
Established in 1999, the refuge protects, restores and enhances the lower portion of Whittlesey Creek and coastal wetlands along the lakeshore of Chequamegon Bay in Lake Superior. As part of the restoration of Whittlesey Creek, the service recently completed a riparian restoration project in cooperation with a private landowner. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is a Fish and Wildlife Service program which is used to restore habitat on private land. The program recognizes the important role that private landowners have in protecting and conserving our nation’s wildlife.
The riparian restoration project consisted of installing logs in the bank of Whittlesey Creek. The logs are attached to each other with thick woven wire and eventually sediments and natural vegetation will cover and stabilize the shoreline. Not only does the shoreline stabilization prevent additional erosion but the logs also redirect the water in the creek, creating pools and gravel beds that are useful for spawning brook trout.
This habitat is key to the service’s restoration of the Coaster brook trout. Coaster brook trout is an anadromous fish, native to Lake Superior that was completely eliminated from Whittlesey Creek in the early 1900s.
The goal is to re-establish a sustaining population of Coasters that spawn in the creek and spend most of their adult life in Lake Superior. Working with private landowners is a key part of achieving the restoration goal.
To learn more about the Refuge and Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, please check out our websites at www.fws.gov/midwest/whit tleseycreek/ and www.north erngreatlakescenter.org/. We hope to see you soon at your National Wildlife Refuge.
Warden Paul’s Corner
Early Goose Season
With fall in the not too distant future, many people are ready to go a field in pursuit of game. The Early Canada Goose Season starts Sept. 1 and goes through Sept. 15. The daily bag limit is five geese with a possession limit of 10 geese. Only approved non-toxic shot may be used. All shotguns must have a plug so the shotgun cannot hold more than three shells (including the chamber). Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
When a goose is harvested and before it is carried by hand or transported in any manner, the hunter shall validate the permit by slitting or punching holes in the permit accordingly.
To participate in the Early Goose Season, all hunters must possess with them in the field a valid Small Game, Sports or Conservation Patron license. All hunters must possess a current Early September Canada Goose Hunting Permit. All hunters must be HIP registered each year (no charge and acquired when purchasing a license).
Persons 16 years old and older must also purchase a state and federal waterfowl stamp to hunt geese during the early season. First time Wisconsin Hunter Education Course graduates may use their hunter safety card in place of a small game license and state waterfowl stamp (if 16 or older the hunter would still need to purchase a federal waterfowl stamp).
Persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, must have a hunter education certification to purchase any hunting license. Persons 12 and 13 years old must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian while hunting. Persons younger than 12 cannot hunt nor purchase a hunting license. All hunters must possess these requirements when hunting and the federal waterfowl stamp must be signed in ink across the face of the stamp by the license holder.
For additional regulations, read the Wisconsin Early September Canada Goose Hunting regulations.
For any questions or to report a violation, call Conservation Warden Paul Sickman at 715-684-2914, ext. 120.