Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

December issue

April 2009

Readers Write

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Thanks for the Memories

Roger Drayna's article The gatherer (December 2008) touched me! Drayna's poignant recollections of his youth as recounted in his former article Behind the Pattison (August 2007) also brought back memories of my youth in the late 1940s in Superior. We must both be of similar age. I played midget league baseball behind the Martin Pattison Elementary School for several years with some of the finest athletes ever to come out of Superior – Dave Tucker, Ron Schultz, Jack Evans, just to name a few. Some of us would hunt partridge and pheasants in the brushy woods behind the Pattison and then walk to the railroad bridge spanning the Nemadji River and dive into it from about 50 feet high. We would also hunt rabbits, partridge and pheasants on Barker's Island and swim off the pristine beaches when there were no inhabitants there at all! Those were the days! Roger Drayna is a fine storyteller and I thank him for bringing back to life my youth in Superior.

Roger G. Lowney
San Diego, Calif.

I really enjoyed Roger Drayna's article in the December issue. My little lakeside cabin off US Highway 2 in the Upper Peninsula will never look the same to me again, thanks to his observations.

Richard Lazarski
LaGrange, Ill.

Expand Great Lakes Timeline

I enjoyed your December feature article on restoring the Great Lakes, but I believe you neglected one aspect of the lakes. You frequently wrote about the ecosystem, but you did not adequately describe the ecosystem or its members. It might help if I add a few items to your Great Lakes timeline:

  • 1818 – Captain Abram Edwards of Detroit, while sailing along the west shore of Lake Michigan, observed that the shores were lined with Native Americans spearing fish. We can assume they had been doing this for thousands of years without depleting the resource.
  • 1829 – The Welland Canal was opened to allow oceangoing vessels to bypass Niagara Falls.
  • 1840s – Commercial fishing of whitefish, lake herring, lake trout and sturgeon began on Lake Michigan.
  • 1871 – In response to reduced catches, the U.S. Fish Commission was established. Three years later the Wisconsin Fisheries Commission came into being, which ultimately evolved into the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
  • 1887 – The first hatchery raised whitefish and lake trout were released into Lake Michigan. Catches continued to decline.
  • 1900-1910 – Regulations, size limits and seasons were imposed. After World War I, catches started to rise. For several decades the well regulated fishery thrived.
  • 1921 – The sea lamprey arrived in Lake Erie by way of the Welland Canal.
  • 1945-1950 – Populations of whitefish, lake herring, lake trout and chubs collapsed.
  • 1949 – The alewife arrived in Lake Michigan by way of the Mackinac Straits, filling the void left after the sea lamprey destroyed the other populations.
  • 1958 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a selective lampricide to kill the sea lamprey.
  • 1965 – Lake trout were reintroduced to the lake but the fish did not have the instinct to find spawning reefs.
  • 1966 – The first salmon were released into Lake Michigan to feed on the invasive alewife.

Is this an ecosystem?

Richard LeClair

WNR responds...

Our aim in this piece was to celebrate collaboration among communities to restore some of the Great Lakes finer qualities. Similarly, our timeline intended to mention a few highlights in Great Lakes protection. No one would deny that human intervention has changed Great Lakes ecosystems. Certainly people have enjoyed the benefits of creating the Welland Canal, opening the way for transcontinental shipping, lakeshore development, commercial fishing and sports fishing, and all of these have had consequences for the Great Lakes.

Pheasant Stocking

I live in St. Croix County and love to hunt pheasants. The nearest area where State Game Farm pheasants are stocked for us is the Dunnville Wildlife Area in Dunn County, more than a 50-mile drive; the next nearest place is at the Tom Lawin Wildlife Area in Chippewa County, more than a 60-mile drive. Why doesn't DNR stock Poynette pheasants in St. Croix County? It's becoming more and more attractive to hunt on game farms due to close availability and you don't have to purchase a pheasant license or stamp. I hope you look into changing stocking locations to include public lands in St. Croix County.

Jerry Larson

Area Wildlife Manager Harvey Halvorsen and Game Farm Director Bob Nack respond...

The locations where Poynette-raised birds are released sound correct and put-and-take pheasant hunting is available at two locations in St. Croix County where fine hunting cover in a controlled environment with stocked birds produces a certain hunt. A couple of nearby conservation clubs DO participate in programs with the game farm. Star Prairie's Game and Fish Club will be buying a few hundred pheasants for release this fall. And in Pierce County, south of Hudson, the Ellsworth Conservation Club takes part in the day-old chick program with the DNR and stocks 1,500 birds each fall. Lists of local clubs that participate in the program are available on the game farm website, as we mentioned in our story, Raising ringnecks and outdoor opportunities, February 2009.

We understand Mr. Larson's concern about stocking pheasants on public lands. Recall that one of the austerity measures instituted in 2006 was that legislators redirected 60 percent of the pheasant stamp funds that had been largely used for habitat work and bird management, to support operation costs at the game farm in Poynette. That said, we're happy to report that in 2008 the pheasant hunting season in St. Croix County was one of the best in the last 20 years on both private and public lands and that was accomplished with NO stocking of birds. We have emphasized habitat improvements in our pheasant management program in the county and it is paying off. We've found great opportunities to hunt wild pheasants in the county and encourage all pheasant hunters to seek wild birds and support the habitat they need.

Baiting Debate

Jason Fleener hit the nail on the head in his recent article on baiting and feeding of deer, "The great de-bait," February 2009. It is my hope that the right people who make the important decisions on rules and regulations for deer hunting read it. I have behind me 57 seasons and I can agree with him 100 percent that baiting deer has brought nothing but problems. We see our neighbors pouring out corn in piles that won't fit in a 55-gallon drum. This makes for hard feelings as the deer, as Jason states, go into a pattern, stay close to the food source and don't browse as is normal. I have hunted my own property all my life and have never baited. We always figured the hay, soybeans, and corn fields were bait enough. If CWD is found in a county that never has had it, the DNR will immediately stop the baiting and feeding in that county. Let's get a jump on that and stop baiting and feeding of deer in all counties, then we might prevent the CWD from starting there.

We have gone from seeing four to six deer per day during the season to my record last fall of only seeing two the entire season. I could go on about my dislike of Earn-A-Buck, but that's another story. As for now, Jason Fleener has done an excellent job showing exactly what baiting has done and I take my hat off to him.

Phil Lunde

In response to the article The great de-bait, I definitely agree that some hunters abuse the baiting policies. But there are some benefits, such as:

  • Hunting over bait is a safe and effective means of harvesting a deer. The hunter is not taking jump shots in all directions, not really knowing what's behind the deer he or she may be shooting at. It is a very controlled hunt especially on private land. It is also very effective when the only spot available to the hunter is not the most desirable for deer to occupy. People say go out and scout, but unlike the olden days, many areas are saturated with hunters, and you then do the best you can with that spot. Baiting also makes hunting easier for the handicapped and the elderly, as it is a means of bringing the deer to them instead of the harder task of traveling to the deer.
  • If populations rise faster due to baiting and feeding and the size of the deer herd was overestimated in 2008, then the practice of feeding and baiting should be promoted, in my mind.
  • As to the idea that baiting puts the economy at risk, where do we start? Deer vehicle collisions and insurance companies are the main drivers for reducing the deer herd. Lots of farmers and feed mill operators count on feed sales as part of making a living. If times get tough they can't raise license fees to compensate, and these are hard times!
  • I don't see the difference from deer contacts in a food plot where several deer chew off of the same plant. And several times, I've seen one deer chew on a juicy apple and another deer licks the juice running off of its chin. Two gallons of bait or feed spread in a 10-foot diameter circle seems no different to me.
  • There is no guarantee that eliminating baiting and feeding will put an end to CWD. There is not enough known about CWD. It's been out West over 30 years and they still have deer and elk. The issue of baiting and feeding does raise concerns where it is abused, I agree. We need to coexist with other hunters, landowners, and special interest groups upfront, in an honorable manner, to maintain and share our wildlife and resources.

Bernard Gauthier, Jr.

Built a Roost Box

We read your February piece Give me shelter and my son built a roost box from the Cornell site instructions. It looks nice. If we cut the opening a bit bigger, it would allow a flock of geese to roost, it is so big! It doesn't seem right to me as it could hold hundreds of chickadees.

Dave Lang
South Milwaukee

WNR responds...

Thanks for taking on this project. Roost boxes can be sized to fit the available space and though it's nice to leave some room for birds to maneuver inside, they don't have to be too big as the photo we showed indicated. Let us know if your box gets tenants.

Update: Raptor Champions Honored

Wildlife rehabilitator Dianne Moller and others who were the subject of a recent article (Burned while getting dinner, February 2009) were honored by DNR's Bureau of Endangered Resources. Moller, Doug Fendry (DNR wildlife biologist), Len Polczinski, James Zellmer and Dave Hildreth from DNR's waste management program in Green Bay were recognized for working with landfill operators to rehabilitate and prevent further instances of hawk injuries from methane burners at landfills. Waste Management is taking steps with landfills statewide to retrofit methane burners and engineer new remedies to protect raptors that perch on the burners while hunting.