Friday, October 30, 2009

SB 123 Signed by Governor

The battle against the spread of aquatic invasive species officially has a new tool! SB 123 was signed by the Governor yesterday, October 28. This bill addresses a number of invasive species-related topics. Most importantly, it contains the “illegal to transport” language and authorizes non-DNR law enforcement (in addition to DNR law enforcement) to enforce it. Senate Bill 123.

Summary of the bill:

1. Expands upon the current law to prohibit objects (vehicles, sea planes, and watercrafts) from being placed into water with any aquatic plants or animals attached. Previously only boats were addressed.

2. Makes it illegal to transport or operate any vehicle, sea plane, or watercraft on a highway with any aquatic plants or animals attached. NR 40 already contains this language and now having it in code will make it easier for non-DNR law enforcement to enforce. This is a huge step forward to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species!

FYI: A recently conducted study determined that visually inspecting and removing aquatic plants and animals was just as effective as pressure washing.

3. NR 40 lists species that are prohibited to possess. This authorizes the DNR to conduct compliance investigations.

4. Authorizes the DNR to promulgate an emergency rule in order to rapidly respond to an invasive species by quickly identifying, classifying, or controlling them. A good example of how this could be implemented is the recent removal of Hydrilla from a Marinette County pond.

5. Authorizes the DNR to designate a noxious weed by rule. This should make plants listed in noxious weed laws more consistent with those listed in NR 40.

6. Allows a person to dispose of plants in a solid waste facility if the plants are classified as invasive species with the DNR. Previously it was illegal to put yard waste in the trash.

SB 123 compliments and expands upon NR 40, Wisconsin's Invasive Species Identification, Classification and Control Rule. NR 40 became effective September 1, 2009.

Plant species listed in NR 40.

Animals, fish, algae, and other species listed in NR 40.

More information.

View NR 40.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Boy Scout Eagle Project for the Eagles

To fulfill the requirements to achieve the highest rank in Boy Scouts, Eagle, I chose to lead my fellow Troop 2 scouts in a lead fishing tackle exchange event. We convened on a Saturday afternoon at a busy boat landing on Madison’s Lake Monona, just as rain starting clearing off, making for a good fishing afternoon. Using Loonwatch’s trifold display and handouts on the risks of lead fishing tackle to birds and free non-lead tackle samples provided by the Minnesota Department of Environmental Protection, we helped the fishermen and women learn a little more about the hazards of lead and get to experience fishing with non-lead tackle. Overall, I believe that my Eagle Project was a success in spreading awareness about why non-lead tackle performs just as well as lead tackle without the risk of causing damage to the local aquatic ecosystems. While some of the fishermen seemed bored with the information we presented them with, all of them greatly appreciated the free non-lead tackle. There was one high school student with his father who was incredibly interested in the effects of lead on birds, fish, and other aquatic species as well as the watershed. From there, we started discussing how the same problems exist with lead shot, which I didn’t know as much about, so I learned too. I really enjoyed answering the student’s questions because he took a genuine interest in something I am very passionate about. I am happy to hear that future generations of fisherman are so interested in protecting our environment. In addition to the extremely curious student, my project also caught the attention of a nearby wedding couple and even a group of Tibetan monks, both looking for a good photo location on the Madison lake. The bride and groom and a monk stopped briefly to talk, and were supportive of our work on the issue – and the groom went away with a packet of non-lead fishing tackle in his tux pocket! It was difficult to get the fishermen to look through their tackle boxes for lead gear to exchange (and for me to safely discard), but I know that that day a park ranger, a groom, a monk, and at least one guy who will be fishing for many years to come, all spent a little time thinking about the risks of lead and what they might be able to do to keep it out of our environment.

By: Robin Dein

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let the Registering Begin!

Mark your calendars and complete your on-line registration for the 6th annual Conservation Lobby Day. It will be held on Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at Monona Terrace, Madison. Check-in begins at 9:00 am and meetings will go through 4:30 pm. Wild Game Feed and Social begins at 5:00 pm. Click here to learn more and register.

This is the one day each year where conservation voters from all over Wisconsin come to Madison to ask legislators to support the issues that protect our air and water, decrease our reliance on dirty energy sources and increase opportunities to hunt, fish, and play in this beautiful state.

You will be able to meet with your state legislators and tell them the issues important to you. Hundreds of other conservation-minded people will be in Madison to network, strategize, and to make new friends. You will receive practical training on conservation issues and learn more about the over 80 organizations that sponsor the event.

There will be a Mini-Lobby Day this Wednesday (October 28th) at the State Capitol. It will be held in Room 415 Northwest in the State Capitol Building from 1:00-3:00 pm. Click here to register. The day will start with a brief program and training. Then, hundreds of citizen postcards will be delivered to each Senate office and the Senators will be asked to schedule the Independent DNR Secretary for a vote before the fall floor period ends on November 5, 2009. This will be a fun and highly effective day. There's no need to prepare anything ahead of time. Everything will be covered at 1:00.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mercury Science and Awareness

For over ten years, BioDiversity Research Institute (BRI) has
led the charge to understand the fate and impact of mercury in our
environment and in the wildlife that we cherish. Where we live in Maine, mercury pollution is widespread and responsible for many freshwater and coastal fish consumption advisories. We want to know how this mercury is entering the food chain. Beyond our widely published scientific findings, we present results to the public and to policymakers in a variety of forms including printed materials, news articles, our website, and at speaking engagements to students and community groups. Below is a synopsis of our efforts to research mercury in our environment and educate the public and policymakers about our results. Science BRI's assessment of mercury exposure in wildlife spans our research programs. Ongoing work includes assessing mercury exposure in yellow-billed loons, common loons, bald eagles, ospreys, salt-marsh sharp-tailed sparrows, and several bat species.

Learn more at BRI's Mercury and Toxins Information Center

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Keep an Eye Out

Watch your loons closely. If any seem to be not acting normally, we could have a serious problem. Lead tackle is a major source of fatalities among loons. It weakens the birds which makes them more vulnerable to predators. They can have trouble flying, balancing, eating, nesting, or caring for young. A loon will die within 2-3 weeks of ingesting a piece of lead. It only takes one piece to kill a loon. Studies in the U.S. indicate that an average of one sinker is lost every six hours fishing. That means that there are nearly 3 million pounds (1500 tons) of lead sinkers and jigs accidentally deposited in our waters every year! That's just under 200 elephants.

If you see a loon that looks like it's in trouble, you should act immediately. You can capture the loon if you feel you can do so safely and correctly. Make sure that within an hour after capturing the loon you notify the DNR that you are in possession of the bird. Just leaving a message is fine. You can take it to a rehabilitation center if there is one nearby or you can call the local Ranger or even contact the Police Department. If you don't feel able to capture the loon on your own, you can contact any of the previously mentioned to help.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Heads Up

Photo by Ginger Gumm

Brrrr..It's getting chilly and that means it's time for the Loons to head South. Keep a look out for the changes in the number of Loons. It's going to be hard to tell the adults from the fledglings. It is likely that you will see lots of other birds who are also getting ready to head for warmer weather.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter. The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea, and sky and their amazing life.
-- Rachel Carson

For more information on migration, check out these sites: Loons winter off the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.