Wild Things: Spring Hearing Vote April 10-13

Citizens may submit resolutions through March 1

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected], Peninsula Pulse contributor

This year’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spring fish and wildlife rules hearings and Conservation Congress meetings will feature a new twist.

Although it will be the fourth-straight year for online-only voting – a 72-hour window from noon April 10 to noon April 13 – new this year is that an election for Conservation Congress delegates and alternates will take place during open houses to be held April 3-6 around the state. Specific dates, times and locations are still being finalized.

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress is an independent organization of citizens that advises the state Natural Resources Board and DNR on how to responsibly manage Wisconsin’s natural resources.

Citizens may introduce resolutions of a statewide impact now through March 1. The concerns must be practical, achievable and reasonable, and within the mission and vision of the Conservation Congress. An individual may submit no more than two resolutions. 

Learn more at

There was already plenty of open water and large cracks in the ice of Green Bay when this satellite image was taken Monday. It has since rained, which deteriorated the ice even more. Photo courtesy of NOAA Coastwatch Great Lakes.

A Wild Winter Season

This year’s ice-fishing season was largely a bust, at least for the deeper-water action for whitefish. In fact, some guides never even put their shacks out. Others focused closer to shore in some of the bays and harbors. Most have now called it a season due to rapidly deteriorating ice.

How wild was it this past week? Some anglers stuck near shore and set minnows through honeycombed ice. Others tried jigging the open water while standing on a sheet of ice. There were also some seen casting off piers and shorelines, or wading in open stretches of the Ahnapee River. 

A few death-run salmon have even been seen alive below the dam at Forestville, nearly two months later than usual. And last week below the De Pere dam, I witnessed one angler wading, one in a kayak (with a pelican swimming nearby), a dozen fishermen casting from a fishing pier or the shoreline, and a half-dozen still taking a chance on the rotting ice. Talk about a surreal scene!

With another prolonged thaw in the immediate forecast, a couple of cold days late this week won’t be enough to restart the 2022-23 ice-fishing season. Even though some spots still had six to 10 inches of ice earlier this week, warm air and Tuesday’s rain severely weakened any that remained.

Huge Sturgeon Speared

A 177-pound lake sturgeon – the seventh-heaviest ever on Lake Winnebago – was speared Tuesday. It was a tenth of an inch shy of 80 inches long and likely in the neighborhood of 100 years old. DNR fisheries staff that examined the prize said it was a mature female that likely had 20-30 pounds of eggs.

The upriver lakes were close to their quota, but rapidly deteriorating ice conditions mean it’s likely that fewer spearers will risk going out, even if the season remains open there. More than likely, the quota will have been reached, but the separate Winnebago season could run longer. The big question is, will it be safe to do so?

This One’s for the Bird(er)s 

Bird lovers are invited to a Bringing Birds Back conference March 24-25 at UW-Oshkosh. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership, Bird City Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, it’s designed to engage those who are concerned about birds to help reverse bird declines at individual and community levels. 

Among the presentation topics will be home landscaping with native plants, reducing bird-window collisions and important bird areas. Find the full agenda and online registration at

Outdoor Shorts

• Have some comments on the proposed draft wolf-management plan? Email them by the end of the month to [email protected], or use the link at That site will also have background information and a link to a recent public listening session. 

• The Green Bay Boat Show runs through Sunday afternoon at the Resch Expo. Then Feb. 24-26, the Resch will host both the Wisconsin State Hunting Expo and SCI Hunter Expo.

• You can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count through Monday. Learn more at

Tips for Beginners

The DNR offers a variety of free informational emails and updates. The latest is a newsletter that will report opportunities to learn how to hunt, fish, trap or participate in recreational target shooting, and how you can volunteer or support these programs. Join the email subscriber list at

New Shotshells

Winchester Ammunition has launched an environmentally friendly shotshell, E-Tech, that uses wads made from biopolymers that are certified as home compostable. Over time, these plant-based wads will degrade into natural elements. So far the shells are offered in 12-gauge No. 6 steel shot or No. 7-1/2 lead.