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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

December 2005

No Feral Cows In Wisconsin
Two Views On Pine Island Littering
Insect ID
Cooling Nettles' Sting
Hogs And Dogs
New Neighbors
New Generation Sees Changed Outlook
Cover Photo Request
Not-so-rustic Roads
UPDATE: DNR May Limit Vehicle Access To Lower Wisconsin Riverway; Emerald Ash Borer Moves Westward

No Feral Cows in Wisconsin

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I was working at the public contact desk at Willow River State Park on a fairly busy weekend. A visitor came in and asked about hunting wild pigs. I repeated some things I had read in the magazine's August 2005 article on feral pigs (Wild hogs in the woods), and the visitor had further questions. I had others to serve so I provided the magazine for the visitor. After looking over the article, the visitor's next question was, "If I can hunt feral pigs, can I hunt feral cows?"

I explained that to my knowledge, feral cows are not an issue in Wisconsin since most herds are dairy cows and some farmers raise beef cattle, which also tend to be confined. Feral cows may exist in the western states where open range land is used by ranchers that do not need to confine the animals. That situation does not occur in Wisconsin.

Jeffrey Bolte
Willow River State Park

Cows and other livestock are considered domestic animals in Wisconsin and are thus protected from hunting. Beyond that, the dairy cow is by statute Wisconsin's official domestic animal.

Two Views on Pine Island Littering

I read the article about Pine Island that Michael Wessinger wrote in the August 2005 ( Readers Write, Disrespect for Pine Island) issue. I too am disturbed by the amount of garbage, tires, refrigerators and everything else that is thrown into the rural ditches of Wisconsin. I live in a rural area near Berlin. There is a town dump six miles from Berlin where you can take appliances, and all other waste for proper disposal. It costs a lousy $3 to dispose of an auto tire. Waste oil and appliances are FREE. Yet people dump them in the ditch.

I have worked for the Department of Corrections for 20 years. I see a lot of inmates with nothing to do, or not enough to do. Many of them want to keep busy. With proper screening and supervision, we can get these inmates out on the very roads Mr. Wessinger referred to in his article and get our beautiful state cleaned up. There are already inmate crews working in various areas of the community, and they are doing GOOD things. We need to expand on that. More importantly, let's get back on the publicity bandwagon and start preaching about keeping America's roadsides clean!

Eric Hamersma

I am responding to the August 2005 letter submitted by Mr. Wessinger regarding illegal trash dumping on the public land of Pine Island Wildlife area. This is a sad commentary on many levels. I too have had enjoyable and rewarding experiences there over the last quarter century and have commented to friends that we are lucky to have such a large contiguous area so close to urban areas to escape to, if only for a few hours or a day. The recounting of the trash heaps saddened me, but not as much as the response given to Mr. Wessinger. It may be true that the DNR has not received as much funding as it had asked for over recent years, but it cannot be scraping by as implied. As we see every day on our roads, in our cities, and fields, enforcement seems to be regarded as a concept and not something we have any realistic control over. Sit at a controlled intersection and observe drivers ignore traffic controls and safety. The scofflaw attitude exhibits "taking the easy path/me first" and if we accept the policy, "We don't have the resources to...," can we really blame those who trash our landscape and endanger others in traffic? Our attitudes need to change and the public should expect more out of the overseers of daily public living.

I think the situation described at Pine Island degrades the environment as much or more than deer poaching or manure spilling into a beloved trout stream, although bringing a litterer to justice will never make the front page or the evening news. As with most enforcement I observe, we as a society go for the big splash and not the mundane. That is as sad as the trashing of Pine Island and the...request for the public to [help] clean up for someone who probably would enjoy observing that effort.

John Lazaris

Insect ID

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These insects were on a pine tree in groups of several hundred. They appeared as fuzzy three- to eight-inch diameter patches because of their antennae. I am just curious about what type of insect they are.

Burt Zielke

Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Green Bay, replied: "They're bark lice. They aren't a true louse, that's just their name. I believe they are the Psocid Lachessilla nubilus. Every year I get reports of bark lice congregating on trees. I don't know why they do this but they often congregate for a week or so and then mysteriously disappear. The congregations will have both adults and immature bark lice so this is not a mating congregation. They eat the dead portions of the bark and also feed on decaying plant material, including bark mulch and leaf mulch. They do no harm to the tree!"

Cooling Nettles' Sting

I enjoyed reading about stinging nettle (A nettlesome question) in the June 2005 issue. One thing that was not mentioned might interest anyone who has ever brushed up against this plant. There is often another plant growing nearby that will quickly ease the burning itch. This is jewelweed or touch-me-not. The juice inside the succulent stalks works much like Aloe vera works on a burn. Look for this plant growing in moist areas. You can identify it by its orange flowers and thick stalks. Crush the stalks and squeeze the juices on the affected area for almost instant relief.

Bill Fowler

Hogs and Dogs

I read Wild hogs in the woods (August 2005) by Kyle LaFond with great interest. I no longer hunt but had my first run-in with wild hogs in 1963 when I was a high school senior in Charleston, South Carolina. A big sow with piglets had charged the children of a family friend who lived in the mostly rural area of Johns Island. I was one of three people hunting, making my way through thick underbrush. I stepped out onto a well-worn path that was completely invisible until I was on it. I had only moved a few yards when the sow appeared and charged like a runaway locomotive. I had a double-barreled shotgun loaded with deer slugs. I fired both barrels at almost pointblank range. If one of the shots had not broken its front leg, I would probably not be here to write this letter. It was finished with a .45 coup de grace. She weighed about 300 pounds.

I then began hog hunting using Airedales and had a few more close calls since wild hogs will not always turn tail and run, especially if they have a litter. I had one chase me up a tree until my dogs arrived and ran him off.

The wild hogs in Hawaii are doing a great deal of damage as well as here in the South. Some of the wild hogs in the South can be traced to the Great Depression when small farmers went under and were evicted or abandoned their farms. The livestock was left behind. The large paper companies then bought up these lands from the banks for ten cents on the dollar, and the hogs left in place are the ancestors of many of today's wild hogs. I think one solution is to go back to the old fashioned bounty coupled with an open, year-round season. It could go a long way to bring down the population, maybe even eliminate it in places.

Lawrence Wertan
Toccoa, Georgia

Regarding the article Wild hogs in the woods in the August 2005 issue, I am curious how the feral hogs manage winters in Wisconsin. Could you pass my question along to author Kyle LaFond? It would be helpful if you had contact information for the author at the bottom of each article (e.g., e-mail, phone number, address) as you do for the editor on the letters page. I enjoy your magazine and it helps me in my environmental responsibilities.

Peter C. McCarthy
Green Bay

Hogs forage in winter for leftover grain, acorns, old fruit, roots, carrion and whatever they can rut up. As you might guess, the pickings are slim, the temperatures are cold and this may limit their success in Wisconsin. Author Kyle LaFond has left our agency, but you might send a note to wildlife manager Dave Matheys who has been dealing with feral hogs in Vernon County.

Your point about designating a contact person in our stories is well taken. We try to do that when we can. Some authors are DNR staff people but others are freelancers. Feel free to write to us, by letter or e-mail and we'll be happy to connect you to the right person.

New Neighbors

Upon moving into our new home and starting to get the landscaping in place, some of our first visitors came up our driveway one early evening in June. They approached from the middle of the driveway and were the subject of numerous shots with the camera. Needless to say they ended up on my front step perched on the carved owl and took a snooze. Thought you might like to share this with subscribers!

Shirley Williams
New Richmond

New Generation Sees Changed Outlook

I recently read the article A generation of shared rights and shared responsibilities by Lisa Gaumnitz and David L. Sperling in the August issue. This article brought back many memories of discussions my father-in-law and I had over this topic in the early 80s. My father-in-law, Mr. Clyde S. Poulter of Birchwood, was an avid fisherman and a lifelong resident of northern Wisconsin. He would tell me about how angry he and his fellow fishermen would get over seeing local tribesmen taking large female walleyes by spearfishing and other means. This was truly a serious topic during this time and it was often the cause for many a heated discussion at the boat launches on the lakes at which my father-in-law fished.

I am glad to hear that the May 9, 1990 ruling that Judge Crabb made has helped both sides realize the importance of the walleye harvest, both culturally as well as recreationally. If my father-in-law were alive today, I know that he would truly be appreciative of all the work that has been done to help manage the walleye harvest as well as the tempers of those intimately involved.

Thank you for a very informative article on a topic that has touched the hearts and souls of many who were a part of this issue while living in the woods of northern Wisconsin.

Ronald E. Weberg
Chandler, Arizona

Cover Photo Request

In your August 2005 issue, you have a beautiful picture of one of the most beloved birds that we don't see any more. When I was a child we used to see a lot of red-headed woodpeckers on the farm lands. I'm wondering if I could get a reprint of the photo for framing. Please let me know if I can get a reprint and the price of such print.

Clement J. Schahezenski
Menominee, Mich.

Most of the photos used in our magazine are taken by freelance photographers who grant us one-time rights to their work. Some photographers are happy to sell prints for framing, but readers need to contact them directly. Write us at the Readers Write address and we'll put you in touch with them.

Not-So-Rustic Roads

I empathized with the article by Lynn Kuhns on the mowing of roadsides (Let the cup be unbroken, August 2005). We live on a side road in Grant County. The township crews mow first, then spray a toxic chemical that kills all vegetation except the grass, causing even low-hanging branches to turn black and die. Then they mow again, as far back as possible. One cutting went back about 30 feet to decimate a small grove of sumac that apparently was deemed hazardous. The irony? Our side road was designated a "Rustic Road" several years ago. All we lack is pavement and chain link and we would have a mini-Interstate!

Sandra Waldman

Besides Ms. Kuhns' aesthetic and naturalist's arguments in opposition to cutting the plants along Wisconsin's highways, it seems to me that there are at least two more significant reasons to leave ditches in their natural states. It doesn't take much imagination to believe that a vehicle, skidding off highway pavement would come to a much slower, gentler, safer stop when cushioned by tall grasses, small shrubs and other similar plants than when careening over more closely-cropped lawn-type vegetation. (The same function is provided by snow, once a vehicle has penetrated a plowed-up snow bank; evidence of this is readily seen from time to time in winter.)

Secondly, given the crises in annual governmental budgets, think of the savings in operator-hours and equipment purchases and upkeep if cutting were to be reduced or eliminated.

Richard C. Schneider Stevens Point


DNR May Limit Vehicle Access to Lower Wisconsin Riverway

Department of Natural Resources officials are considering limiting vehicle access to some Lower Wisconsin State Riverway properties because of continued littering, vandalism and damage to plant and wildlife habitat.

Steve Colden, property supervisor for the 92-mile riverway, stressed that DNR is not thinking about closing the properties to public access. The vehicle restriction would address persistent problems property staff has encountered, especially with ATVs operating in unauthorized areas.

Last spring, property managers filled two 20-yard dumpsters with trash dumped on riverway properties, including items such as couches, tires, refrigerators, televisions and drywall. A vehicle restriction would stem such illegal dumping, as well as alleviate safety concerns during the fall hunting seasons.

"I hope that riverway area residents will take pride and ownership in the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, a precious resource that is just out their back door," said Colden. "Local residents need to influence other riverway users to stop illegal activities on all public property and provide information to law enforcement officials when appropriate."

Emerald Ash Borer Moves Westward

An infestation of emerald ash borer (EAB), an exotic, aggressive beetle native to Asia, was recently confirmed in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, in Brimley State Park along Lake Superior. Since its discovery in southeast Michigan in 2002, the pest is responsible for the death or damage of 15 million ash trees in Michigan.

The infestation is the first report of EAB in the Upper Peninsula and the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources are working quickly to eradicate EAB in this isolated infestation. Eradication measures include removal of all ash trees larger than one inch within a half mile of the site.

The discovery is alarming because the infestation was established prior to last May when the Michigan Department of Agriculture instituted a hardwood checkpoint at the Mackinac Bridge to prevent the spread into the Upper Peninsula. Since the checkpoint was established, officials have inspected 63,000 cords of logs and pulpwood, and confiscated 245 cubic yards of firewood.

Watch for our story next April about steps people can take to slow the spread of this invader and other forest pests by being careful with their firewood.