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Cover of Fall 2019 issue

Winter 2019
Volume 43, Number 4

Contact information
For information on the magazine's webpage, contact:
Kathryn Kahler
Associate editor

Readers Write

Want to comment on a story? Send letters to: Readers Write, WNR magazine, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707, or email to DNR Magazine. Limit letters to 250 words and include your name and the community from which you are writing.


Photo of many monarch caterpillars on butterfly bush

While my wife was watering her flowers, she saw that she had 12 visitors on her butterfly weed. We are hoping maybe these guys are monarchs. Hungry little fellows anyway, I guess that's why they call it butterfly weed. Love your magazine!

Doug and Karen Kurschner

DNR conservation biologist Owen Boyle provided this reply: Commonly referred to as butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa is our only native orange-flowered milkweed. Commonly planted in native plant gardens and prairie restorations for their beautiful orange flowers, monarch caterpillars clearly love them, too!


Photo of blackbirds sitting on back of deer in a field

This is a very late response to a letter in your October 2017 issue ("Symbiotic de-bugging"). I went to the park at 6 a.m. and saw a doe standing in a field with a red-winged blackbird on her back! It was slowly but steadily working its way up her back and neck to the top of her head and down her face, eating bugs intently. The doe looked so blissful.

After about 25 minutes of this, the blackbird fell off her nose. It flew back to her rear end, only to be met by another blackbird who wanted in on the action. There was a flurry of wings and the first bird won. I sadly ran out of film. This was in 1992 or 1993.

Karen Kropp


I was reading the 2018 Fall WNR and enjoyed the stories about the history of DNR ("DNR memoirs"). It reminded me of the summer job in '69 or maybe '70 working in the Youth Conservation Camp at Lake Nancy in northwestern Wisconsin. Seems like it may have been six weeks long, and we spent a week on a certain task.

I remember walking through forest land pulling weeds (currant bushes, I think) to curb pine tree blister rust one week, cleaning and fixing trails in a state park a different week. Then back at camp we also had some sessions about fire control and other outdoor/wildlife activities. Free time was for swimming, fishing and other camp activities.

I remember it was a great job for 14- to 15-year-old boys who loved hunting and fishing. I came close to attending UW-Stevens Point for a conservation major, but went another direction. Anyway I enjoyed the issue, thanks.

Jim Sainsbury

Photo of collection of vintage and more recent copies of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine on a shelf


I enjoyed reading the article about Wayne Whitemarsh and his collection of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazines and Wisconsin Conservation Bulletins ("Hunter and gatherer," Summer 2018). My father, Jim Taylor, was a past editor of this magazine. As editor, he used the name J. Wolfred Taylor. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2014 at the age of 94. He would have been thrilled to know his work continues to be appreciated by others. Thank you for sharing this story.

Julie Taylor
Lake Mills


A friend gave me a one-year subscription to your magazine; it was a wonderful surprise. Congratulations on producing such a terrific product that showcases Wisconsin resources.

I live in the Phoenix area but my heart is still with Wisconsin. Years ago, I graduated from UW-Stevens Point with a conservation major. It is a joy to see that Wisconsin still continues to be a leader in conservation and natural resource management.

I spent a week in Wisconsin this summer and got up to visit Wayne Whitemarsh at the McFarlane's True Value Hardware in Sauk City. The article in your magazine ("Hunter and gatherer," Summer 2018) prompted me to make the visit – it was great! I gave him a book about Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom's research on prairie chickens to add to his collection. I had helped briefly with the research while a student at Point. Thanks for a job well-done!

John F. Knight
Sun City West, Arizona


Green frog sitting in grass

Can you tell me what kind of frog this is?

Darrell Naze

DNR conservation biologist Rori Paloski replied: It is a bit tough to tell from the angle, but I believe it is a green frog, rather than a mink frog. Green frogs have more pronounced ridges on their sides/backs and the patterning on their legs resembles bars rather than spots. These two species are often very difficult to tell apart even when you have them in hand. One sure way to definitely tell if it is a mink frog is to smell it – mink frogs usually have a strong mink odor!


Ice Age Trail sign on post at Devils Lake State Park

The Ice Age Trail article ("1,000 miles to remember," Fall 2018) states that the ice left Wisconsin 70,000 years ago. But the ice entered Wisconsin during the Wisconsin Ice Age about 70,000 years ago and didn't leave till 10,000 or 11,000 years ago. Thought you might want to clarify that. Not sure when the glacier was at maximum extent, maybe 35,000 years ago? If the trail follows the edge of maximum extent, then those features would be 35,000 years old or less.

John Balaban

As John points out and the Ice Age Trail Alliance notes on its website, iceagetrail. org, the most recent period of the Ice Age, known as the Wisconsin Glaciation, did end about 10,000 years ago. There are "recent" deposits of gravel, boulders and soil from this period in nearly every county along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Areas of the trail in Green, Rock, Dane and Marathon counties were covered by earlier continental glaciations, the website notes, between 25,000 and 2.5 million years ago. And other geologic features along the trail date back more than a billion years!


Hi. In the Fall issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine I subscribe to was a notation from Mark Witecha, DNR upland wildlife ecologist, explaining about genetic mutations. While eating in a cafe a couple of summers ago in Reedsburg, I remarked on how many black squirrels I noticed and I was informed Reedsburg was the "Black Squirrel Capital of Wisconsin."

Any truth to this statement? Any hoot, I surely am impressed with the magazine for pictures and general info you all provide. Thank you.

Bob Honel

Thanks for the letter, Bob. There doesn't seem to be any official designation regarding Reedsburg's black squirrel status, but reports like yours indicate they are widely seen in the area.


Autumn photo of an island in a lake with reflection

Two water snakes sitting nose to nose on a log

My family has a lake house on Ballard Lake in Star Lake, Vilas County (we are from Cincinnati) and are always collecting photos while enjoying the lake. These are a couple of our favorites.

The first was taken by my mother, Theresa Nurre, when she was kayaking on Ballard Lake in July 2017. She saw two northern water snakes sunning together on a log near our house. I took the second looking out at the island on Ballard Lake from our lake house early one morning in fall 2017 when the leaves were just starting to change.

We are subscribers and love the magazine! Thanks for your work!

Amanda Nurre


Bee on a purple flower

In the Fall 2018 issue of the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, there is a picture of a bee on joe-pye weed on page 23. The bee is identified as Bombus borealis. Am I wrong in thinking it's more likely to be Bombus impatiens?

Ann Pedder Reilly

This is yet another great example of an eagle-eyed reader being right on the money with species identification. In this case, a late switch was made with bumble bee photos in the magazine and the caption was not updated. The originally planned northern amber bumble bee photo (Bombus borealis), from DNR conservation biologist Jay Watson, is shown above. It turns out Ann is a member of the Wisconsin Bumble Bee Brigade, a new monitoring project that relies on volunteers to conduct small area surveys in which they look for, count and photograph bumble bees at a given location and submit a record of their observations. Volunteers are welcome for this important project; find out more at Wisconsin Bumble Bee Brigade.

Bee sitting among white flowers

Can you verify if this is the endangered rusty patched bumble bee? Many in my flower garden recently. Thank you.

Phyllis Lorenzo

This is not the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis), which is listed as federally endangered and of special concern in Wisconsin, where it is rarely seen. Rather, DNR biologist Jay Watson responds, it is a male tricolored bumble bee (Bombus ternarius).

Last revised: Wednesday December 12 2018