Lyme disease affects dogs too. © Timothy Sweet
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Lyme disease in dogs
In your article Tiny menace (June 2012), you said "Humans are the only ones to contract the disease." As you know that really is not true at all. Our dogs can all get Lyme disease! I lost one of my dogs to it that was only 3 years old. The vet never found it in time. It spread to her kidneys, liver and brain. It was very hard to see her suffer with the disease. Just wanted to send you a note. People should also be aware for their dogs!
Thanks to you and other readers who contacted us about this issue. Our intent was to point out that Lyme disease causes little to no pathology in wild mammals which are reservoirs of the disease. You are absolutely right that dogs can become infected as well. Veterinarians commonly vaccinate against Lyme disease and frequently treat our canine companions with antibiotics due to infection. Lyme disease symptoms in dogs include lameness (oftentimes alternating limbs), swelling and pain in the joints, fever, weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite and weight loss. More rarely, kidney and cardiac problems can be fatal. Symptoms usually don't appear for two to five weeks after being bitten. As always, consult with your veterinarian on changes in behavior or noted symptoms for proper diagnosis and treatment as well as for proactive risk assessment consultations and prevention.
I read with interest the article about the Asian lady beetles (August 2011). The author noted that the beetles can be a nuisance. That is an understatement! They are a plague! They stink, they bite, and they can drive one crazy. How could USDA import them to kill aphids when they have no natural enemies here in the United States? Now we are faced with the Japanese beetle. They are defoliating our trees, shrubs, and gardens and they too have no natural enemies. It is really upsetting that we allow the importation of a species into the United States that we cannot control. Both the Asian and Japanese beetles are out of control.
Effects of high deer numbers
In regards to Respites for migratory birds (August 2011), I was pleased to see the information about having areas for our birds. It was with interest I read that the "wood thrush, once a common but now declining forest species," was mentioned. Dr. T. Rooney of the University of Wisconsin- Madison has stated that the loss of wild sarsaparilla (which the deer eats) is needed for the thrush. Could it be with Wisconsin's burgeoning deer population that the deer is impacting the survival of the thrush? Dr. Don Waller of UW-Madison has voiced his concern over the loss of the forest understory because of the deer population. He states that the blue beaded lily disappears when there are only 12 deer per square mile. Many areas of Wisconsin have many more deer than that, but historically the United States' deer herd was only eight to 10 deer per square mile. In our desire to often equate having a bigger deer herd as a healthy deer herd, are we inviting ecological disaster?
"People have heard of endangered species. They haven't thought that their local woodlot may have only half the species it had 50 years ago," remarks Dr. Waller. He and Dr. Rooney also discovered that in two state parks that did not allow deer hunting, 75 percent of the species had disappeared. Along with deer damaging or destroying plants, Dr. Kirby Stafford, III, an entomologist states, "Reducing deer densities to below 10-12 per square mile has been shown to substantially reduce tick numbers and human Lyme disease."
What the deer eats does indeed impact the health of our woodland understory and the health of many birds and insects and other creatures that need specific plants to survive. As Dr. Gary Alt, biologist, has stated, "This animal decides what will live and die in the forest."
Straight Lake - one reader found it, another didn't
Thank you for the story on Straight Lake State Park in your April 2012 issue. When friends from Amery suggested an Easter day outing, I thought the park sounded like the perfect destination. Because of the unusually warm spring, we found May flowers in profusion – at least four different kinds – and we spent a pleasant afternoon exploring a few of the trails and enjoying the peace and quiet of little Rainbow Lake. The park is indeed a "rare gem," just as your story promised. We'll be back!
Your article in the April issue about Wisconsin's newest state park – Straight Lake State Park in Polk County – inspired us to travel there for a spring hike. Unfortunately, we were not able to find the park, despite having a park symbol on the Wisconsin map and the very small print map you provided in the article as guides. We looked for a sign, any sign, to let us know we were at least close to the park but found none – not even the large wooden sign you included in a photo in your story. Where is that big sign? Almost always when we visit Wisconsin state parks, we feel welcomed and guided by the signs. We came away from this adventure feeling like this newest state park, known for its solitude, wanted to keep it that way. I guess I have to say this – it felt distinctly like local residents, familiar with the terrain, would feel fine about hiking in the park. Travelers from out-state? Not so much.
Straight Lake State Park is still under limited development, including additional signage, but the park (located in northeastern Polk County near Luck) can be accessed from STH 35 (north or south). At the intersection of STH 35 and 48 just north of Luck, turn east and travel approximately four miles. Turn north on 120th Street and go one mile to the park's entrance.
Kudos for April issue
Another great spring issue (April 2012)! Liked all the activities to go to, the information on burns and the "walleyes!" Also liked the fact that you still have stream habitat improvement on the Evergreen River in Langlade County that my White Lake conservation class started in 1956 with Mr. Ralph Jones of the Department of Natural Resources. The stream feeds cool water to the Wolf River below and helps the entire Wolf River system. Enjoyed all the great information on Wisconsin Fishing, it gets better each year!! Great magazine!
Fewer bird sightings
Jon [Kircher], saw your note in [Readers Write, October 2011]. We too have way too many Coopers hawks. However, our jays have only been cut in half and robins have disappeared. I blame the chemicals people are putting on their lawn and West Nile virus. Too much poison and pesticides. We have very few insects and so there isn't any food for our feathered friends. This is the first year I can remember that we didn't have paper wasps or yellow jackets. This year there wasn't a bird migration – a few swallows, zero night hawks where there used to be thousands, a few martins, no flocking birds like black birds, starlings and red-winged blackbirds. The big bad crow is so rare you are shocked to see one. Here in the Chicago area many birds are killed by towers, wires and tall buildings, but this year we just do not see anything. Most of my hunting days are behind me, but friends always remember to throw venison and ducks my way. I grew up loving nature and birds and I personally collect old wooden decoys. I miss the marshes and seeing the ducks and this year it is supposed to be the best in 20 years. They claim because of the extremely wet spring, predators couldn't find the nests. As for hawks here in our area, everything is protected, and between the hawks, the feral cats, towers and the poisons, our birds hardly have a chance any longer. Maybe Wisconsin Natural Resources can come up with a plan.
Credit for TINS goes to Rocky Caffarella
In your December 2011 (Readers Write) magazine there was a story about the intersection signs (TINS) in Vilas County, Wisconsin. It was a very good article and explained the TINS system. I would like to give credit where credit is due. Rocky Caffarella (vice-president of the Snowmobile Alliance and trail boss for the Cross Country Cruisers snowmobile club of Arbor Vitae) came up with the idea of doing this in our area. He initiated this system along with the Cross Country Cruiser snowmobile club and then presented it to the Vilas County Snowmobile Alliance. It took three years to get everyone on board. The Vilas County Alliance Safety Committee was formed after a fatal accident on our trails. They adopted and are promoting the TINS system. The system has worked very well for snowmobilers and others. I hope this clears up a few things and gives credit where credit is due.
Discouraged by chemtrails
Being a former Wisconsinite, I enjoy reading your bimonthly magazine. I particularly liked your picture from Mill Bluff ("Wisconsin, naturally," February 2012) because it reminded me of the days when I would fly-fish in the back parts of Wisconsin; however, even in the more remote areas of Wisconsin it seems you can't avoid the chemtrails! The light "fluffy white cloud" pattern shown at the top of the photo comes from chemicals put into the atmosphere and is not a natural cloud formation. We are deluged with chemtrails in northern Florida and it's discouraging to see that even more rural areas can't be spared.
Swarm of bees
This swarm of honey bees spent several days in our yard a couple weeks ago. It was interesting to see how the shape of the swarm changed from morning to evening. We were amazed at how close we could get to them.
What dug this hole?
We took this photo this past summer at our property in Forest County. There was a large hole going under a small storage building/outbuilding. The soda can is for size reference. We are curious as to what animal might be burrowing there. Can you help us identify what animal digs a hole like this? We enjoy your magazine!
A hole that size could have been made by a variety of wildlife, including badger, coyote, fox, skunk or woodchuck. Since at least one of these animals could be a problem in close proximity to living quarters, it's a good idea to check with a DNR Service Center, or go to Wisconsin DNR (search "wildlife damage") where you'll find ways to reduce wildlife-human conflict and avoid wildlife damage.
Black bears thriving
Last week I was up at our family's cabin in Lakewood, Wis., and recovered several great photos of a black bear and her three cubs. The image was taken from my trail camera on April 8. I had one other photo of a bear that decided it did not like the camera, resulting in several close-ups and the camera hanging from the tree. Our family members all appreciate the outdoors and our grandfather who purchased the land in 1955 was a steward of conservation. I remember asking him as a young boy if he ever sees black bear up north. He said only once did he ever see a bear in the woods. He has since passed away and would be proud to know that the black bear and turkey are thriving on the land he purchased some 54 years ago.
Attached is a photo of a partial albino robin. The photo was taken in my yard on March 19. In my research I found that albinism in the American robin occurs one in 30,000, not real rare but the first I've seen in my 70 years.
The robin is actually partially leucistic or piebald rather than albino because the eyes and legs are the normal color. While still uncommon, leucism is more common than albinism and occurs throughout the animal kingdom.