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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

April 1999

Readers Write

Goose Trackers

Thank you for using a photo of Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary on the December cover and including the sanctuary in your story on urban geese. As the director of the sanctuary for the past 29 years, I know every inch of the grounds and the instant I saw the cover, I knew it was a photo of one of our ponds.

One of our programs that coincides with your story is our yearly goose banding program. It began in 1965, making it one of the lengthiest geese tracking programs in the country. It provides valuable knowledge regarding the health and overall condition of the geese, allows a long-term population study and tracks their migratory patterns.

Ty Baumann
Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
Green Bay

City Geese

Making peace with geese, (December 1998) seemed to view the Canada goose as overly protected like the "sacred cow" in far eastern countries. All cities have laws against raising livestock within the city limits. Protecting geese has given them free-ranging livestock status.

The birds live clean and can avoid their own contamination under normal conditions. Humans and other creatures might pick up diseases from their wastes.

Minnesota has gathered excess urban geese and processed them for food shelters. This meat is as pure or more so than any standard processed domestic animal.

The article didn't take into account the great wealth of information about urban geese from Minnesota and other areas. The problem is not unique to Wisconsin and should not be treated as such.

Alan Burchell
Ray, Minn.

Canada geese in the wild or the city are still viewed as wild waterfowl and are protected nationwide. You are absolutely right that the issue is not unique to Wisconsin, it's prevalent in many urban areas in the United States and Canada. We stated that hazing techniques, addling eggs, repellents, fencing and other control techniques had been effective in many other communities.

Processing geese for food shelters is plausible, but not uniformly accepted, and those animals must be tested as safe food sources. Social acceptance is more difficult. In the Midwest, where waterfowl hunting is more common, geese may be welcome at food shelters. In large Eastern cities, where urban dwellers are less accustomed to eating wild game, clients at food shelters have refused to eat this excellent source of lean, tasty protein. Clearly a mixture of techniques and approaches is warranted as each community decides how to manage its urban wildlife populations.

Sustaining Forests

Katherine Esposito's story on Wisconsin woodlot owners who have been duped by unscrupulous loggers (Stumped by a sale, October 1998) does a great service in educating the public on poor forest management practices by some timber harvesters and the destruction they can cause.

In my view, the same factors that drove timber companies to completely destroy the white pinery in northern Wisconsin during the 1800s, greed and ignorance, continue to operate today. National forests have been reduced to fragmented patches of monocultures interspersed by wide open spaces due to clearcutting.

A new forestry philosophy is taking root, sustainable forestry, where forests are managed for species diversity, watersheds, soils and wildlife, as well as timber. The forest is viewed more like an organism that is interrelated to water, wildlife, soils and climate. Wisconsin Natural Resources can take the next step by publishing future articles on this new forestry.

Jeff Haas
Reno, Nev.

Sustainable forestry techniques are actively incorporated in Wisconsin management projects, forestry projects, master planning and our educational programs. We produced a poster/insert to discuss these concepts in October 1995 and a subsequent discussion of integrated ecosystem management techniques in December 1996.

Avoiding Timber Rip-Offs

I read with great interest Stumped by a sale (October 1998). My wife and I hired a logging company in the spring of 1997 to harvest timber on land we own. The company was referred to us by neighbors who had been pleased with the harvest on their land. We were overjoyed to receive a verbal estimate of $20,000-$25,000 for the timber they were going to harvest.

Problems began the first day when they dropped a tree over some power lines knocking out power to many area residents. Their work was sporadic and we were never really notified when they finished sometime in the fall. I had asked to be present each time they scaled logs prior to hauling them, but was never contacted. Now there is a dispute over how much timber was harvested. This is difficult to establish with the trees gone and I wasn't present during the scaling.

To date we have received a check for $4,000 and they claim they owe us $6,000 more. Fortunately, we have a written contract, but it hasn't helped in receiving payments. We have since discovered that this same company owes many other landowners money too. We are in the process of taking them to court.

What is extremely surprising is the number of other people in the area who also had timber stolen by the same company. The company is still in business and is continuing to mislead other landowners. From your October article I realize this is a larger scale problem in our state. Surely the DNR or the State Legislature can do something to prevent other landowners from suffering through an ordeal like this. Wisconsin licenses taverns, teachers, barbers and others. Has the state considered a logging license which could be revoked when a logging company uses poor business ethics? I know this might hurt honest logging operations who are doing a fair job, but those people are being hurt now by companies that care little about the resource or the people involved.

Dave Stutzman

DNR Private Forestry Specialist Paul Pingrey responds:

Yours is an unfortunate, regrettable experience of a logger who mistreated you and your land. Here are some steps that can prevent most timber sale problems:

  1. Write a forestry plan explaining why a harvest is needed, methods you want used to select which trees will be removed, and follow-up actions. DNR foresters, private consulting foresters and industrial foresters can help you. A good plan considers how the harvest will affect wildlife, soil, erosion and other factors.
  2. Let a forester mark the trees to be harvested. Sometimes they mark individual trees, other times they mark the borders of discrete harvest areas. In either case, the forester can give you an accurate estimate of the volume of timber to be removed before ANY trees are cut. You can adjust the proposal. Those volume estimates and a map should become part of a timber sale prospectus describing what is for sale, how it should be cut and other terms to protect your interests. We recommend that landowners write their own contracts as they protect you better than the contracts written by loggers. Guess who's rights those contracts protect! DNR can provide sample contracts for your review.
  3. Ask loggers to bid on your harvest based on your prospectus. Don't sell to the first person who comes to the door with cash. You may not know the value of your timber, but loggers competing fairly for your contract will know it. Loggers who must compete for your bid will offer the most they can for the quality and quantity of timber you are selling.
  4. One term of the contract will cover method of payment. Some landowners choose a lump sum 100 percent payment before the work starts. "Scaled" sales, where logs are measured in each load offer payments as loads are shipped or delivered to mills. The risks are greater with such sales and should only be used with reputable loggers. The risks are also reduced if a scaled sale is supervised by a private forester.
To keep control of all parts of your sale, DNR recommends landowners get professional assistance. DNR foresters only prepare plans and set up small sales as their workloads allow. To help you find quality assistance from private and industrial foresters, we offer a Directory of Cooperating Foresters. These foresters agree to abide by sound forestry standards set by the DNR. They offer services the DNR foresters can't legally provide. Your consultant can direct you to trustworthy buyers, prepare contracts and supervise the cutting. They charge a small fee for their services that usually pay their way.

Both state and private groups support sound forestry practices in other ways. A fact sheet, "Cutting Standing Timber" is available from the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. You can also check with DATCP at 1-800-422-7128 to see if complaints have been filed about a logger.

The DNR is working with state legislators on a proposal to strengthen timber theft and timber trespass laws. The timber industry is also trying to weed poor quality loggers on its own. The Sustainable Forest Initiative is an industry-sponsored certification program designed to protect woodlands through logger training. Many paper mills will only buy from SFI certified loggers.

Landowners have a personal responsibility to protect themselves in any business dealings, and selling timber is no exception. Licensing loggers may be a complementary idea, but can't take the place of proper precautions.

Around, Not Across

About your December back cover, visitors to Squirrel River Pines State Natural Area will be disappointed if they are looking for red pines "up to seven feet in diameter." It is a peaceful spot, but those trees are seven feet in circumference, not diameter. Fortunately the area wasn't hit by strong storms and blowdowns that have passed through the area.

Michael Vogt
Elm Grove

Bullhead Memories

Your October article No Bull brought back memories of fishing in my favorite state. I've fished Lone Lake in Washburn County since 1930!

Back in the thirties we would obtain beef and chicken parts, the smellier the better, tie them on to a stout line without a hook and throw it to the bottom of a lake or river. We'd land the bullhead, pull the bait from its gullet and we were ready to go for the next one.

Thanks for the good time in that story.

Joseph P. Byrne
Carlsbad, Calif.

Buck Tales

I thoroughly enjoyed The Butternut buck (December 1998). It refreshed a vivid memory of a similar experience I had 35-40 years ago. I was hunting with buddies in Langlade County between Lily and Pickerel. I didn't get hooked on deer hunting until my early 20's and this was my second season. My first year I had gotten a nice eight-pointer on opening day and I was surprised the second year to shoot a nice forkhorn buck.

Like "Gramps", my shot wasn't very long and the buck went down in a heap. I poked it a couple of times and rolled it over onto its back. The deer's eyes were closed and I figured it was dead. My buddy showed up, offered to do the gutting and started to poke the deer with his knife. The deer tried to get up, I had the hind legs and Jerry was somehow draped over its front shoulders. Neither of us dared to let go and grab a rifle as one of us could never have held that animal down. The deer continued to thrash around, but we finally won out.

When we examined the animal more closely, we found my shot had just grazed the antler at the base and caused a slight wound.

I ended up with a torn zipper in my jacket, some sore ribs, a few bruises and a nice buck ... plus a lot more hunting knowledge.

Rodney J. Schmidt, Sr.

Raise your glass!

Drinking Water Week is celebrated the first full week each May and this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

From May 2-8 schools, libraries and community organizations will be encouraged to recognize drinking water as one of our most precious resources. Educational materials distributed worldwide as "The Blue Thumb Project" will recount the value of drinking water, recall our history to rid our water supplies of infectious diseases, and share simple tips to conserve water at home, in communities, and in businesses.

To learn more about how Drinking Water Week can be celebrated in Wisconsin schools and communities, call (608) 266-8172 or e-mail