Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Photo of fawn. © Photo Submitted by Colton Whitaker

The fawn's mother was probably close by.
© Photo Submitted by Colton Whitaker

August 2011

Readers Write

Want to comment on a story? Email Readers Write and include the name of the community from which you are writing.

Nature's Camo

I'm 13 years old and found this baby fawn under the pine in my back yard on May 10, 2011. My dad was cutting the grass and noticed it and called me and my three brothers out to see it. I thought it would be a cool picture for your magazine. I took this picture in my yard in West Bend with my iPod™touch.

Colton Whitaker
West Bend

Editor's note: After sharing this photo, Colton reported back to us that the fawn stayed in their yard for a day and the next morning it was gone. Colton and his family followed a good rule – leave wildlife alone. The fawn's mother was probably close by and waited until after dark to come back for her fawn.

Could Climate Change Force Deer Disease Northward?

My cousin, who lives in a subdivision near Crete, Ill., sent me a news account about epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) and how it has killed many deer near his home. The subdivision is next to a county (or state) forest. Until recently, there were lots of deer there. His wife had a gathering of women on their patio and counted almost 90 times that deer crossed their backyard. Of course there weren't 90 different deer, but it certainly was quite a few. My cousin says that the number of deer lost to the disease was greater than indicated in the newspaper (over 30 deer).He said there wasn't a deer track to be seen in the subdivision last month. Is EHD apt to be a problem in Wisconsin? Might global warming be moving the midges that carry the disease farther north?

Cliff Bukkom

Melissa Clark, wildlife biologist in DNR's Wildlife Health Section, replies:

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is an acute, infectious, often fatal, viral disease that affects white-tailed deer (and to a lesser degree, other hoofed animals, including livestock). EHD is caused by the epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (which is in the same family as the bluetongue virus). It is transmitted by biting flies or midges, often referred to as no-see-ums (Culicoides sp.). Signs of EHD in deer can include mouth and tongue ulcers, facial swelling under the jaw, loss of appetite and activity, and abnormal hoof growth. However, deer often die quickly, and therefore clinical signs of infection are often not seen. On internal examination, hemorrhage of internal organs is common, ranging from pinpoint bleeds to large areas of hemorrhage. The virus that causes hemorrhagic disease does not infect humans; therefore, humans are not at risk of contracting the disease.

The range of Culicoides that spread the disease is largely dependent upon temperature and water availability. While common in the southern United States, Wisconsin is on the northern edge of the Culicoides range and EHD is not commonly seen here. However, as climate change occurs, the midge is capable of translocation and adaptation to new geographic areas. More frequent outbreaks of EHD may occur in Wisconsin as a consequence of climate changes that favor the northward spread of the biting flies that spread the disease. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff routinely evaluates dead deer for signs of EHD and investigates any reports of groups of dead deer in order to monitor for increased occurrence of this disease in Wisconsin. Much is still unknown about EHD in Wisconsin, so please report any unusual observations of dead deer to your local DNR office.

Another Winter Fun Spot

[Regarding the February 2011 story Hot picks for cold weather fun] Lapham Peak (one-half mile south of I-94 at County Highway C in Waukesha County) cross-country ski trails are groomed and tracked daily on a good base of snow made with snowmaking equipment. If it's cold, they make snow. A heated building has tables, restrooms and even a microwave oven.

Norbert Hodkiewicz

Girls and Snakes

Photo of girl and snake. © Photo Submitted by Amy StudtFollowing on your cover photo for April 2011, I thought you might enjoy this picture of my 15-year-old daughter Alaina Studt who caught this 52-inch snake on the back porch of our Door County cabin last July. We knew he was there, snacking on a clutch of merganser eggs, but she had to wait three days until he came out early in the morning to warm up. The snake was relocated via pillow case to another patch of ground where we hoped he would be happy. Notice that while she had a glove, she used that hand to grab his tail!

Amy Studt
Door County

In Defense of Wolves

I felt compelled to write in response to a reader's letter in the April 2011 issue regarding wolves and the Clam Lake elk herd. Mr. Piontek invited us to "sit back in our chairs and picture an elk calf being torn apart while still alive by a pack of wolves." I guess that image is supposed to somehow sicken me to the point that I will rise up and demand that the wolves be dealt with. But as I sit back and close my eyes I see the hawk which regularly rips birds apart in my yard, or a mink tearing apart a nest of baby rabbits. Predators doing what predators do – kill and eat. Somehow, what the wolf does is different to many and the reason for that goes way beyond predator-prey relationships. If I close my eyes long enough I see myself shoot a deer, a clean kill often, but often the deer dies a very brutal, agonizing death. The deer then has its insides ripped out and is ceremoniously dragged away to be hung in a tree or on a pole. After a time, its hide is torn off and it is slowly cut up piece by piece and put into neat little packages. The bones and scraps are then often discarded on the landscape for the scavengers to have. I guess to those who have lost much of their connection to the land, that is the way an animal is to be killed and eaten. Let's make no mistake about it, killing and eating another animal is always unpleasant for the one eaten no matter whether it's a hawk eating a bird, a wolf eating a fawn or a human eating a deer. I hope the day comes when the wolf can be managed like most other animals. A greater and maybe silly hope is that the wolf comes to be viewed not as a fierce competitor but as a fellow hunter on the trail. It will be the culmination of a great story, the return of the wolf to the Wisconsin landscape.

Ron Weber

In Defense of DNR

In response to "Elk Story Draws Comment" (Readers Write, April 2011), the Department of Natural Resources is not at fault in not addressing the management of our wolf population. As long as wolves in Wisconsin are listed as federally endangered, management of their population cannot pass to the state. Wolves have been delisted in Wisconsin several times since 2004; however, each time this has happened lawsuits from several organizations (e.g. The Humane Society of the United States) have got them relisted as endangered. The Department of Natural Resources wants to manage the wolf population but their hands are tied at present. A provision in the Endangered Species Act however does allow them to remove a wolf or wolves that are a threat to humans. I am tired of the Department of Natural Resources being blamed by those that don't check out the facts for themselves and do nothing but complain. Also, let me add that no predator eliminates its food source. If it did it would go extinct. The problem lies with humans. We want it all. We want to be the only ones to kill "our game." To those who feel "no predators equals more game" I suggest they research what happened in the Kaibab when predators were eliminated. Yes, wolves do kill and eat "baby animals." So do humans; we call it veal and lamb.

Richard A. Stoelb

Update: Feds Propose Delisting of Great Lakes Wolves

On April 15, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to remove gray wolves from the federal endangered species list in the western Great Lakes region, citing their recovery to more than 4,000 animals in the three core recovery states – Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. There are an estimated 690 wolves in Wisconsin. A public hearing on the proposal was held May 18 in Ashland and the public comment period ended in early July. A final decision is expected by year's end.


Archive photo of Barney Devine. © DNR File PhotoI enjoyed the Changing of the guard story in the April 2011 issue. I submit a correction to a photo caption. On page 20 there is a black and white photo of the Barney Devine with the caption "The Barney Devine was initially used for law enforcement cases like this deer case investigation." I'm familiar with the photo as I have a hard copy in my file for Chambers Island (located in the waters of Green Bay, northwest of Fish Creek). This photo was taken during a deer removal effort by the Conservation Department in October of 1945 when 250 deer were removed to address severe browsing damage to vegetation and deer starvation on the island.