DNR Hires New Chief Warden

November 11th, 2013

In an email sent today on behalf of DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, it was announced that the DNR has hired a new chief warden.

Good morning, DNR Partners,

I am writing to you today to tell you of a very important hiring decision we just made at the Department of Natural Resources. It gives me great pleasure to tell you the next DNR chief warden is Todd Schaller. This decision was not easy as we had excellent candidates. However, I have great confidence in the abilities and talents Todd possesses to take over this important leadership role for the DNR.

Many of you already know firsthand of Todd’s expertise and record of outstanding service to the DNR. I would like to highlight Todd’s impressive history as a conservation warden. A native of Bangor in the La Crosse area, Todd was raised by his parents to enjoy and to appreciate Wisconsin’s natural resources. He treasured hunting and fishing outings with his family. Todd earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He was hired by the DNR in 1989 and spent his first dozen years as a field warden in Racine, Trempealeau and Fond du Lac counties. It was during these years that his people skills and managerial talents became more apparent. He then served 8 years as a team supervisor for the Oshkosh Team. Four years ago, he was promoted to the position he holds today as the chief of the Recreation Enforcement and Education Section.

In the coming weeks, Todd will be working to make his transition into the chief warden position that will become effective December 17. He will be working closely with Chief Warden Randy Stark to make this a seamless transition to the bureau’s staff, to our partners and to the public. Please join me in congratulating Todd. This is a great day for the Bureau of Law Enforcement, the DNR and the state which depends upon the wardens, who truly are the DNR ambassadors in every community.

Lastly, I want to thank representatives from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission Wardens, State Capitol Police, Wisconsin ATV Association, Clean Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bear Hunters and the Hmong American Sportsmen Club for participating in the selection process.

Wolf Management Act Update

July 26th, 2012

The Wolf Management Act of 2012 – Update

Click here to download a PDF of the Wolf Harvesting Zones

Click here to download a PDF of the Wolf Harvesting Zones

The passage of SB 411 – The Wolf Management Act from Representatives Suder and Rivard allows for a Wisconsin wolf hunting and trapping season to help keep our fast-growing wolf population in check. We’ve covered the reasons for the wolf delisting in previous Bear Tracks. Now we have hard details on what the actual hunt should look like. The act includes many details on how the DNR is to set up the season.

  1. The annual season will start October 15 and run through February 28 and be open to both residents and non-residents. License fees are set at $100 for a resident and $500 for a non-resident. The permit application fee is $10.
  2. Assuming there are more applicants than licenses, the DNR must issue 50% of the licenses at random and the remaining 50% based on a cumulative preference system.
  3. The DNR must divide the state up into wolf harvesting zones to be identified in the DNR’s wolf management plan. A wolf harvesting license will authorize hunting/trapping only in the specified zone.
  4. The DNR may close a wolf harvest zone to hunting and trapping if it decides closure is necessary to effectively manage the wolf population
  5. The DNR may close a wolf harvest zone to coyote hunting during deer season if it decides it is necessary to effectively manage the wolf population. The DNR can also reopen it when it decides it is no longer necessary.
  6. A person who kills a wolf must register the carcass with the DNR on a telephone registration system or through an electronic notification system established by the DNR. The bill also gives the DNR the right to require the showing of the entire wolf carcass.
  7. A license will authorize the hunting of wolves using a firearm, bow, or crossbow. Firearms allowed in the bill are rifles, muzzle-loaders, handguns, shotguns, and other firearm loaded with a single slug or ball. The license allows for the use of shot that is larger than size BB.
  8. Dogs to track and trail wolves will be permitted. Dogs are allowed beginning with the first Monday that follows the last day of gun deer season and ends the last day of February. No more than 6 dogs in a single pack may be used regardless of the number of hunters assisting the license holder. While hunting with dogs, the person must keep any tag required for the dog on their person.
  9. Also permitted will be the use of predator calls including electronic calls and bait that does not involve animal parts or byproduct other than liquid scents.
  10. Night hunting will allowed beginning the first Monday that follows the last day of gun deer season and ends the last day of February.
  11. The types of traps allowed by the department shall include cable restraints.
  12. If a wolf is harvested that has an attached or implanted radio telemetry device, the device must be returned to the DNR. The person who harvested the wolf can request any information that has been collected by the device or otherwise by the DNR that relates to the harvested wolf.
  13. The transferring of a wolf license will be allowed but must be requested at least 15 days before the start of the season. It can only be transferred to a person who is at least 18 and otherwise eligible to use the license.
  14. The DNR will be required to submit rules to implement the bill to the Legislative Council no later than the eighth month beginning after the effective date of the bill.

July NRB Hearing

On July 17th the DNR’s Natural Resources Board (NRB) held a public meeting to discuss the new rule implementing the Wolf Management Act. No surprise, but the anti-hunters showed up in strength. They are threatening a lawsuit to try to block the hunting/trapping season. Despite our position that there should have been a higher quota, WBHA and our Wisconsin Hunters Rights Coalition partners testified and aggressively defended the season.

The NRB voted unanimously to forward the rule. The new rule simply codifies out what was in the new law. It also designates no hunting lands on tribal land and creates zones which can be seen on the map below. The board also approved the quotas and number of tags for the season.

The total proposed harvest quota for the 2012-13 season is 201 wolves with a proposed 2,010 tags. Remember, due to the Voigt decision, tribes can claim up to half the quota in the ceded territory. The quota is broken down by zone as follows:


Wolf Harvest Unit 2012 Winter Population Proposed Quota
Total 815-880 201


So the Bear Bill passed, what’s new?

June 23rd, 2011
Governor Walker hands a pen he used to sign the 2011 Bear Bill to Senator Terry Moulton, the Author of the Bill.  Looking on are Rep. Tom Tiffany, Sen. Pam Galloway, and WBHA Board Member Al Lobner.

Governor Walker hands a pen he used to sign the 2011 Bear Bill to Senator Terry Moulton, the Author of the Bill. Looking on are Rep. Tom Tiffany, Sen. Pam Galloway, and WBHA Board Member Al Lobner.

After a long process, Governor Scott Walker signed the Bear Bill (Senate Bill 72) into law on June 16th. This bill proposes several much needed changes to how bear hunting is conducted in Wisconsin. Here is a breakdown of those changes:

  1. It creates a new “try it for free” weekend for bear dog training on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday in August.
  2. It allows a person who is under age 16 (instead of 12) to engage in Class B activities without having to purchase a license.  Bear Hunting is truly a family sport and this will ensure more kids are able to be in the woods.
  3. For safety reasons, this bill will allow someone holding a Class B license to act as a “back-up shooter” in case the first attempt has created a dangerous situation.Specifically this means that a Class B license holder may shoot and kill a bear that was shot, but not killed, by a Class A license holder in the same party if there is still a valid Class A tag and if killing the bear is necessary to protect the safety of people.  The back up shot must be taken at the point of kill (not after running around for a half hour through the woods).
  4. The bill removes the discriminatory requirement for Class B participants to wear a back tag.  The DNR will no longer be issuing the tag, you may still receive a tag due to the update status of the ALIS system, but you are not required to wear it. A Class A license holder will still need to wear a tag.
  5. Finally, the bill will allow Class B participation in dog training, tracking, chasing bear, or locating bear during the actual hunting season, as long as they do not shoot at, capture or otherwise take a bear.  Dogs are still allowed only during that part of the season authorized for Dog-Bear hunting.  This will most likely be used by parties that do not currently have a Class A license in their possession, allowing them to enjoy the sport (minus the shooting part) during the hunting season.
Gov Walker speaks about his support for bear hunting just prior to signing the bear bill.

Gov Walker speaks about his support for bear hunting just prior to signing the bear bill.

Representatives of several sportsmens groups gathered to witness the bear bill signing, including WBHA, Safari Club, and the Wisconsin Bow Hunters.

Representatives of several sportsmens groups gathered to witness the bear bill signing, including WBHA, Safari Club, and the Wisconsin Bow Hunters.

Gov. Walker signs SB 72, the 2011 Bear Bill.  This was WBHA's top legislative priority for the year.

Gov. Walker signs SB 72, the 2011 Bear Bill. This was WBHA's top legislative priority for the year.

You can view the bill in PDF format by clicking here.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

View all photos from the signing.

Heat Stress in Hunting Dogs

September 27th, 2007

by Delores E. Gockowski, DVM

What canine is more genetically motivated and chase-persistent than the hunting dog? In hot weather, this warrior mentality can end a dog’s life quickly if owners don’t recognize the subtle signs of heat stress early.

Heat stress is a combination of the heat, humidity, strenuous exercise, the inability to sweat and dehydration. Risk factors include age extremes (young and geriatric dogs), thick hair coat, lack of conditioning, stress and a prior history of heat-related illness.


It is not the heat alone, but the heat and the humidity that sets the stage for heat stress. A quick method to calculate heat stress is to add the environmental temperature (in °F) to the percent of humidity. If this number is greater than 150, watch your dogs for signs of heat stress. If the number is 180 or greater, this is a RED ALERT and your dog risks heat exhaustion or heatstroke. In humans, heat stroke may follow the day after heat exhaustion and is referred to as the 1-2 punch.


Athletes train for months before competition. Likewise, hunting dogs are conditioned two to three months before the season to build endurance and prevent injury. Dog owners learn to read their individual dog’s physical and mental fitness during the training phase. Some dogs can and will run until the end. Others stop whether it is due to genetics, poor conditioning or health problems.

During the training phase, nutrition is adjusted based on body condition. The amount fed depends on the quality of the food, the dog’s energy level and body condition. The goal is to build lean muscle and decrease body fat. The over-conditioned dog is a poor endurance candidate. High fat and protein and low carbohydrates are the basis of performance diets. A high quality protein should be the first ingredient on dog food label. Fats are energy-dense and supply more than double the calories of protein and carbohydrates. Most commercial diets have adequate vitamins and minerals, but some hunting dogs may need supplemental antioxidants and vitamin E to prevent work related cell damage. Digestion requires increased blood supply to the GI tract; the same blood supply needed for muscle function during a run. Schedule feeding 2-3 hours before or after a run, decrease the amount fed, and offer water after the dog has cooled down.

When you know your job and the routine to get there, the day is less stressful. Dogs need to be acclimated to transport and the environment they will work in. Hunting in locations where the environment is different can put your dog behind the eight ball. Dogs should readily accept the ride and you should plan for minimal stops before your destination or if a long drive, plan for multiple rests especially during hot weather. Offer fluids before and after transport. Decrease mental anxiety by preventing competition and aggression by other dogs. Following a run, don’t immediately place heat-stressed dogs in transport until they have recovered. There is a misconception that wind will aid in cooling. Only after the dog has been re-hydrated, will a cool breeze be beneficial and then it should be less than 80F. At home, provided a shaded or sheltered area with a breeze or ventilated kennel. Ground surfaces should be selected to help to dissipate body heat. Keep fresh water available at all times.

Dogs can’t sweat to remove excess heat. They pant and increase breathing rates, but these are inefficient cooling processes. They may salivate leading to electrolyte loss and dehydration. Performance may decline, but they will be on a run, out of your sight and still determined to keep moving. Panting, increased breathing rate, salivation and decreased performance are the first subtle signs that heat stress is occurring. It is important to offer fluids before and after a run, but don’t over-hydrate. A rule of thumb to determine how much your dog should drink before a run is for every 10 ponds of body weight, a dog should drink 1 ½ ounces. A 50–pound dog needs about 1 cup of water. A squirt-bottle can be used to help measure or limit how much your dog drinks. Before a dog will drink voluntarily, 6% of their body weight can be lost. Compare pre-run and after-run weights to know how your dog is handling the heat. If dogs refuse water consider bringing water from home or flavoring it with a “soup cube”. Commercially prepared powdered electrolyte solutions, like Tech-Mix’s K-9 Restart™ or K-9 Bluhte™ are good choices as they can be added dry to food or mixed in water and easily transported.


As heat stress progresses to heat exhaustion, the dog’s heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature continue to increase and they may act disoriented (failure to respond to commands, staring or anxious expression). The dog may vomit or experience diarrhea if fed recently. Heat exhaustion can develop several days after exposure to high temperatures and lack of water.

A rectal thermometer can quickly tell if the dog’s normal temperature (102F) has been exceeded. The palm of your hand held on the chest behind the elbow can give you a heart rate. The key is to know the resting rates of your dog before the run and compare it to the rate right after the run. When a dog shows signs of heat stress it is important to cool the dog FIRST, then give oral fluids. Cooling can be done with a garden hose or submerging in cool, not ice cold water. Wet the dog, then massage the dog to remove the water and repeat applying the water until panting decreases significantly. Concentrate cool water on the hairless areas of the abdomen and hind legs to speed the cooling process. Ice paks can be used in an emergency. Monitor rectal temperature and stop cooling before body temperature reaches a normal range. Offer only small amounts of electrolyte water or water as too much volume results in vomiting, which results in more dehydration. If the dog isn’t responding, transport to a veterinarian immediately.

If heat stress is not recognized or treated promptly, heatstroke, the most serious of heat related illness results. This is a veterinary emergency. Convulsions or collapse follows severe fatigue and muscle weakness. At this point, cool water-cooling is not recommended as the dog’s peripheral blood vessels are constricted and cannot allow heat loss. Dogs cooled below normal body temperature and in comas have a lower chance of survival. In running dogs, muscle tissue is being broken down and the by-products result in kidney failure that may not be evident for 48-72 hours. Internal organ damage begins at 107.6F resulting in multi-organ failure including the brain, liver, kidney, blood and muscle.

Any dog showing signs of heat stress needs days to weeks to recover and they will always be more prone to heat stress injury.

PREVENTION is the key to prevent heat-related illness. Be aware when temperatures soar and humidity is high. Pre-condition dogs with good nutrition and exercise programs. Remember the value of water before and after the hunt. If you are having a difficult time with the heat, your dog likely will, too. Unfortunately, your dedicated hunter won’t always tell you until it is too late.

Dr. Gockowski owns North Ridge Veterinary Service, LLC, a mobile mixed animal veterinary practice based in Sturgeon Lake, MN.

Dogs and Deer Ticks – Running Into Illness

September 27th, 2007

By: Delores Gockowski, DVM

Fever, fatigue and lameness are often signs a dog is sick with a tick-borne disease, but some dogs will not show any signs of illness. Of regional importance are Lyme disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasmosis is caused by Anaplasma phagocytophila formerly called Ehrlichia equi.

Identify the Players:
Deer ticks, officially known as Ixocles scapularis, are also called the black-legged tick or bear tick and they carry this region’s tick-borne diseases. Deer ticks are smaller in size and lack the white markings on their backs found on the wood or dog tick. The adult female is reddish-brown and the adult male is brown. Both are 1/8” or less in length, which increases their ability to not be detected.

Deer ticks are very dependent on their hosts and environment to survive. Of the four stages deer ticks go through, the most important stages that transmit disease to dogs and humans are the nymph and adults, stages that begin in the second year of the two-year life cycle. A blood meal is needed to progress to the next stage.

Adult deer ticks prefer white-tailed deer, living nestled under their hair where they feed on blood and mate. The female then falls off the deer, lays thousands of eggs and dies. In the spring and summer, the eggs hatch into larvae that feed on migratory birds or small rodents, like the white-footed mouse, chipmunks, or squirrels where they may become infected. The next stage, nymphs are dormant in the fall and winter and become active in the early spring and summer. They feed on rodents, dogs, and humans. During the summer and fall, they mature into adults and feed on deer, dogs, or humans. Otherwise, they patiently wait until winter or the next spring to feed.

Research has shown that ticks can be active all year round, even with a snow cover. The main source of infection for deer ticks is small rodents, but deer may play a role in Anaplasmosis transmission.

There is no evidence that dogs can transmit either disease directly to humans; an infected tick must bite a human.

Where Do Ticks Live?:
Deer ticks are found in tall grass and wooded areas. They prefer living at ground level to a few feet about clinging with their 8-legs to tall grass or brush. By using the dog’s carbon dioxide, scent, body heat and other stimuli, ticks are able to ‘find’ a dog and attach. Unless found by the observant human, the can remain on a dog for two to six day, long enough to take a blood meal. The tick must be attached for 24-48 hours for a dog to get Lyme disease and likely a shorter time for Anaplasmosis. The longer a tick stays attached to your dog, the better the chance of infection. It only takes one infected tick bite to cause disease. A co-infection with Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis can occur.

Ticks are more active when humidity is high. Activity peaks in the spring and fall and decreases with increased summer temperatures.

Signs of Infection:
Tick-borne infections can be difficult to diagnose on symptoms alone as they often act like other diseases or there are no signs. It may take as long as 2-5 months after exposure before a dog shows signs of Lyme disease infection. Younger dogs or those with immune system compromise may show symptoms earlier or have more severe symptoms than older or healthier dogs.

Dogs usually have a fever as high as 105F (normal temperature 102.5F), refuse to eat, and act depressed. Sudden lameness, reluctance to move or moving stiffly due to joint and muscle pain, and finding the dog unable to rise is also seen. Lyme disease tends to affect one joint or leg and it appears the leg that becomes lame is likely the leg closest to the tick bite. Some dogs have swollen lymph nodes. Anaplasmosis infected dogs may also experience vomiting and diarrhea, and have small pinpoint hemorrhages in their mouths.

Some dogs may experience recurring arthritis and complications including hear and central nervous system disease, and a small group of Lyme-infected dogs may develop a fatal kidney disease.

Testing Your Dog:
Diagnosing tick-borne disease on symptoms alone is not easy, but with a simple blood test, your veterinarian can quickly determine if your dog has been infected with one or both of these diseases. Testing can be done annually at the time of heartworm testing to screen for either disease.

To Treat or Not To Treat?:
For both tick-borne diseases, prescribed antibiotics have a rapid response noticeable within 1-2 days of starting treatment for acute infections. Doxycycline is usually the antibiotic of choice as it has the benefit of anti-inflammatory properties, but some dogs may require other antibiotics due to pregnancy, intolerance, or lack of response. Duration of treatment is 28 days.

For Lyme disease, to treat or not to treat is based on whether the dog is showing clinical signs, usually lameness and if the titer, a rise in proteins, is elevated. The titer requires and additional test that your veterinarian may suggest. If the titer is more than 30 and the dog is showing signs of disease, treatment is recommended. If less than 30 and without illness, treatment may not be necessary. Following ‘successful’ treatment, the titer number should be one-half its original value in 6 months.

The use of antibiotics to treat tick-borne diseases needs to be weighed because humans can also contact the same diseases and the same antibiotics are prescribed. To prevent antibiotic resistance (the antibiotics will no longer work), owners need to follow the strict schedule of giving their dogs the antibiotic as prescribed and for as long as prescribed.

For hunting dogs, sitting on the sideline is not an option to avoid tick exposure. The best prevention is frequent checks of your dog when in high risk areas and early removal of ticks. Remove the tick by grasping it close to the skin, and then clean the area with an antiseptic.

Use topical products to repel or kill ticks. A recent study showed K-9 Advantix (permethrin) repels ticks better than Frontline Plus (fipronil). Frontline requires a tick to take a blood meal to die, allowing time for Anaplasmosis to be transmitted. Spot-on topicals should be applied every 30 days to the skin, not the hair and applied two days after or before the dog gets wet (bathing, swimming) to be most effective. Depending on your area, some products may be superior to others, but nothing works better than removing the animal from tick exposure.

Amitraz tick collars (Preventic) are considered the gold standard tick control for dogs. They should be removed before your dog swims or is bathed. To ensure proper placement, allow enough room between the collar and the dog’s neck so 2 fingers can be inserted and extra length removed. Remove after 3 months of use and dispose of properly. They should not be used on pregnant or lactating bitches. Do not allow dogs to chew on the collar. In high tick exposure areas, they are often used in addition to topical products.

Locate kennels in open areas away from the edges of woods and tall grass. Keep leaf litter, brush and wood piles a distance from your dogs and keep the lawn mowed. After checking with local regulations, apply environmental insecticide sprays (permethrin or carbaryl) to reduce ticks in the environment. Manage the tick’s host: Guinea hens eat ticks, cats hunt mice, and deer hunting season is a legal harvest.

A vaccine is available for dogs for Lyme disease, although some controversy exists regarding its use. Owners should consult with the local veterinarian to determine if it would be beneficial. In general, the vaccine should be administered to puppies according to the vaccine manufacturer’s recommendation with boosters prior to periods of highest exposure.

Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis are two regional tick-borne diseases that have had a serious impact on dog health. In addition to preventing tick exposure, early recognition of changes in your dog’s behavior and annual testing can result in early treatment.

An excellent site for more information on Lyme disease in humans is the CDC (Center for Disease Control) webpage http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme