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I want to commend you for both another great edition and the outstanding Wisconsin Fishing Report (April 2010 insert). It seems that fishing in Wisconsin gets better each year with new and exciting places to fish: Lake Michigan and the great fishery it provides, no end of better walleye fishing in the Green Bay area, musky fishing all over the place, the sturgeon success and the rebuilding of the Wild Rose Hatchery to increase the number of fish to be stocked in areas where natural reproduction is nonexistent.
During the 1950s, I was fortunate to have been a summertime employee of the Wisconsin Conservation Department in habitat improvement on the Evergreen River, a project that is still in progress. Wow! I was a student of the late Fred Schmeeckle in the late 1950s, a great ecology mentor! I later taught at White Lake, and from 1965 to 1990, I taught biology at South Milwaukee High School.
It was a miracle to see the success of the salmon and trout introduction into the Great Lakes. I was in Oregon when the DNR in Michigan introduced the coho to Lake Michigan and remember my friend in Oregon saying, "It won't work, the salmon need the salt water!" Surprise, it rescued a struggling DNR in Michigan. Research isn't always successful, but when it is, many people gain. We have provided thousands of hours of fishing for the average fisherman-woman, with pretty good success!
I truly enjoyed your antlion story (A tiny terror in a sandy pit, June 2010). While in Idaho I oftentimes would be thrilled by the goings-on in the cone trap of an antlion. Now I know they are in Wisconsin, so I'll definitely keep my eyes open. For those of the age that were around when the first Star Wars movie came out, you might recall the huge monster that was trying to capture Han Solo and crew in the pit. This was based on an antlion and his pit was as big as a large house. Very scary! I doubt if anyone realized that this monster was based on something real!
I have just two comments on the article on largemouth bass replacing walleye in many northern Wisconsin lakes (Sustaining a fishery or fighting natural change?) in the June 2010 issue. First, the main reason anglers are only keeping 5½ percent of the largemouth bass they catch is the relatively poor table quality of largemouth bass, especially out of warm water. It will be hard to convince an angler to remove a limit of bass from a lake when they really have no desire to clean and consume them. And second, will the 21 study lakes in northwest Wisconsin be closed to tribal spearfishing during walleye spawning? If not, how do you plan to enforce the 18-inch size limit on walleye during the early spring spearfishing season?
Fisheries Director Mike Staggs replies...
We are aware that some anglers do not like to eat bass as you mention, but over the years we have seen that many anglers do harvest bass for table fare. High angler harvest of bass was one of the reasons the statewide minimum size limit was established back in the early 90s. Given that, we do agree it is uncertain whether anglers will harvest enough bass (for whatever reason) to positively affect the walleye populations. That's why we will also be restricting angling harvest of walleyes to help rebuild their spawning stocks.
DNR does not have authority to restrict tribal spearfishing beyond what is established in the federal court decisions. However, we do not think this will be a barrier to rebuilding walleye stocks. Tribal spearfishing harvest is generally only a modest fraction of the total harvest in any given lake that is speared (generally 25 percent or less) and is controlled by quotas that are set each year; as the walleye populations decline, so do the quotas. The tribes are aware of this entire issue and have just as much of an interest in restoring and maintaining walleye stocks as the State, so I would expect to see them voluntarily lower their quotas on these lakes in the coming years to assist with rebuilding efforts. They have done this in the past on several lakes where we had mutual concerns about rebuilding walleye stocks (for example on Kentuck Lake in Vilas Co. and on Sand Lake in Sawyer Co.). They may also assist by voluntarily removing more bass through targeted spearing efforts if angling reductions are not successful.
On page 28 of your June 2009 magazine I came across a "Readers Write" question about Manchurian pheasants. We imported the Manchurian pheasants from China in 1989 and have been propagating them ever since then.
I then went and looked at the February 2009 article about pheasants (which I had not read before). I am not entirely surprised to read comments that releasing pheasants to restore pheasant populations just doesn't work. I would like to remind Mr. Hull that pheasants are not indigenous to our country and that all pheasants in North America derive from released birds. The release concept must have worked at some point!
The Creature Comforts section in June (Keep the 'wild' in wildlife) compelled me to write. By coincidence, my family shared a situation that relates to this "Not suited for captivity" column.
While vacationing on Big Pine Lake in the Perham area of northwestern Minnesota we decided to make a quick drive into town to pick up a few items. On the way, we came upon a doe and her very young fawn crossing the road. As we drew nearer, the doe took off and strode quickly up the hill into the woods, leaving her little one behind.
We pulled off to the side of the road, determined to guide the fawn to safety. We patiently waited for her to attempt climbing the hill. Her mother stood at the top, staring at us with a watchful eye. After a few moments, we decided it best to leave and allow the doe to come back and rescue her fawn. We carefully coaxed the fawn down into the ditch and part way up the hill toward her mother. The tiny fawn clumsily made her way up the hill where her mother stood waiting, and we drove off to town, thankful for such a wonderful chance connection. It truly was the highlight of our Memorial holiday weekend.
Referring to the February 2010 Creature Comforts, do you really advocate traveling with a mobile lethal missile in the vehicle with the driver? Just what we need – more distractions. I leave my canaries, tropical fish, cats, lizards and other pets at home where they remain safe and well cared for! Apparently the same cannot be said for many dogs. We had a recent accident on my country corner where one driver was distracted by a small dog loose in the vehicle. An SUV and a pickup were destroyed in seconds. Nobody was seriously injured. The motoring public must not be distracted while driving. If your pets cannot be entertained at home, maybe you are in over your head.
WNR magazine replies...
Thanks for your note and we're sorry you witnessed what appears to have been a nasty accident. We're grateful that no one was seriously injured. We certainly do not advocate letting pets roam in a car. They should be in safe carriers that are secured. It's a fact that more people are traveling, particularly with dogs, to exercise them at dog parks, take them along while hiking, getting veterinary care, training them for hunting field work or attending special dog events. That said, safety for the pet and driver are critical and you are absolutely right that drivers do not need more distractions. Loud music, cell phone use and texting while driving are all making the road a more hazardous place with more inattentive drivers.
White-tailed deer in south-central Wisconsin's chronic wasting disease management zone (CWD-MZ) are, for the most part, a sedentary species, according to a field study conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.
During the course of the project, which ran from 2002-2009, researchers captured and radio-collared 165 deer from the CWD 'Core Area' of western Dane and eastern Iowa counties, a part of the CWDMZ with the highest disease prevalence or infection rate.
"Except for young males, deer actually don't travel very far in our landscape and females tend to remain in the same area throughout their lives," said Nancy Mathews, project director and wildlife ecologist at the UW-Madison Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Mathews' data also show that adult bucks have predictable home ranges, even during the rut.
"Adult males aren't bouncing around the landscape like billiard balls during the rut," she added.
The small home ranges of deer in the Core Area range from about ¼ square mile to about ½ square mile for females and from about ½ square mile to nearly one square mile for males, year-round.
The project, the largest of its kind in North America to focus on white-tailed deer behavior and CWD transmission in the wild, involved capturing and radio-collaring both male and female white-tailed deer. Researchers relocated deer over 120,000 times and used a total of 33,340 telemetry locations to calculate home ranges.
Researchers also found that deer don't change their movement behavior in response to hunting pressure. "This has very important disease management implications because it means that even if we increase our levels of hunting to control populations where CWD is present, deer don't respond by leaving the area permanently," said Mathews.