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Cover of Spring 2020 issue

Spring 2020
Volume 44, Number 1

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.

Young boy fishing in waist-deep water at sunset


I took a picture of my oldest son fishing at Franklin Lake and thought it would be very neat to be in the magazine. Thanks for your time.

David Sackett

Beavers interacting on shoreline of stream at base of tree


This photo was shot along Black Earth Creek, 2 miles west of Cross Plains, during a high water event. It shows an adult beaver and four little ones. Enjoy!

Dan Buckland
Cross Plains

Photo of vintage magazine cover with man fishing for smelt


It took me a while to find this picture (smelt was featured in Spring 2019 "Back in the day"). It was taken by Earl Johnson, my godfather, who was chief photographer for the Duluth Herald and News Tribune. He and others had been trying to get a picture of the smelt in the water for some time.

He was finally able to get this picture in the spring of 1959, I believe, but it could have been a year either way. It was taken on the Lester River on the east end of Duluth. That's me in the picture. I think this was published in a Minnesota outdoor periodical.

Jim Morris

Photo of several vintage photos of men at CCC camp in Wisconsin


I found the write-up on Perrot State Park (Summer 2018) while searching for info on the Civilian Conservation Corps' Camp Perrot. My father, Orvis E. Fry, was there in late 1930s and he saved a picture, which I'm attaching for your use.

He was training as an orderly/medic with the doctor. He was from Salem, Illinois, and was born in 1918. Camp Perrot must have made a lasting impression on Dad, as he stayed in the medical field for the rest of his life. He ended up as a surgical X-ray technician and finally retired in 1988 from Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach.

Kenneth D. Fry
DeLand, Florida

Cover of Summer 2019 issue of WNR magazine with trumpeter swans


I was pleased to see several articles with a personal connection in the Summer issue. Mary Kohler ("A comeback for the ages") is a sister to a longtime bird hunting and fishing friend, the late David Stewart, whose family built summer homes on Pine Lake east of Chetek over 100 years ago. They also had a home on the Brule ("Life's better on the Brule"). I was lucky enough to go on some adventures with Terry Kohler and Dave.

When I turned to "Back in the day," I was reminded of my favorite outdoor author, Wisconsin native Gordon MacQuarrie. He mentions the Pierce Estate in several stories. At 80, my legs do not allow me to go into places like the Van Vliet Hemlocks ("Outside in Wisconsin"), but we made trips in there several times in the past.

Bill LaVelle
Belvidere, Illinois


The cover on your Summer 2019 issue caught my eye when retrieved from our mailbox. Trumpeter swans are something I get to see mostly in the fall, as our bush cabin on Quartz Lake, Alaska, is a big staging area for these birds on their return trip south.

I will never forget a trip on Oct. 5 in the '90s to check the cabin before lake freeze-up. When I arrived, the lake was fogged-in, but I quickly realized I was assuredly not alone. These big birds were everywhere and their calls and "talking" drowned out my outboard. By the time I was ready to return, I was able to see fairly well. I could not believe my eyes – not hundreds but thousands of swans! Every year since I try to make that late run to the cabin.

And then the big surprise when I had a chance to read the article ("A comeback for the ages"). I had left the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to venture "north to the Last Frontier" and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Over the years, I had my most incredible waterfowl hunt in Minto Flats. So I really appreciated the timely article going back 30 years.

But I do want to point out: Knowing of pilot Rod "Sky" King and also having been involved in a world-class fishing lodge using Cessna 185s and 206s, the reference to a "Cessna 187 float plane" should be a 185. I believe there was only one 187 made and the probabilities it somehow was converted to floats, well, make it a 185.

E. Thomas Robinson
Fairbanks, Alaska

Cover of Fall 2019 issue of WNR magazine with lighthouse


Many thanks for the wonderful Fall issue. It is full of interesting articles on a wide variety of subjects, as well as important information about the resources and how to become involved in specific efforts or places. Under the leadership of Secretary-designee Preston Cole, whose essays I greatly appreciate, there is obviously a renewed commitment to the mission of the Department of Natural Resources. Carry on, please.

Sharon Gaskill
Black Earth

Photo of peice of art depicting woman's profile with hair sweeping above head


My name is Halley, and I recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in conservation biology and environmental studies. In my free time, I have always enjoyed drawing and painting, and have recently completed this piece representing "Mother Earth" and the intersection of water (blue waves that make up the hair) and land (animals, leaves, branches).

This piece is not like others I have done. Rather, it is esoteric. It explores the relationship between ecology and human nature.

Our environment is just as much a part of us as ourselves. My family and I love your magazine. I grew up in Appleton, preferring to play in the grass rather than on the carpet. I am very passionate about the environment and working to present the natural world as something the public will take interest in, advocate for, and appreciate. I hope to use my passion for the environment to preserve biodiversity in parks and ecosystems around Wisconsin.

Halley Feil

After sending in this submission, Halley ended up coming to work at the DNR as a natural resource program specialist in the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Welcome, Halley!

Photo of snake swallowing a frog

Photo of snake after swallowing a frog


I relocated to the beautiful Northwoods last August. I was in Colorado for 27 years and thought that was a beautiful state, but Wisconsin is beyond amazing! I came across your publication at the Marshfield Clinic and immediately subscribed. There is so much great information.

I wanted to share a cool picture I caught. I only wish I'd had a chance to grab my camera – thank goodness for cell phones! The timing was amazing. I included an after shot as well. Thank you for such a great magazine. It's a wonderful resource for newbies!

Marlowe Hodge
Land O' Lakes

Photo of snake stretched out on bare ground


This bullsnake was at our front door this morning! We just moved to the Town of Sevastopol and built a new house. It is a fun time experiencing new flora and other life forms in our new home.

Merry Demske
Door County

Rori Paloski, DNR conservation biologist who specializes in herpetology, replies: "The snake in the photo looks similar to a bullsnake (also called a gophersnake) but is actually an eastern foxsnake. The eastern foxsnake is found throughout Wisconsin, while the bullsnake is restricted to the west-central portion. The two species are differentiated by their patterning – the bullsnake has patterning on its head, whereas an adult foxsnake has a solid colored head. The spot pattern on the body also differs slightly between the two. Both species are non-venomous but are considered rattlesnake mimics; when threatened, they will 'rattle' their tail, hoping to scare off any potential predators. Not only do they look like a rattlesnake when they do this, but the vibration of their tail against dry leaves, gravel or vegetation often produces a rattling noise that can sound very much like a rattlesnake – just what they are hoping for!" To report sightings of snakes and other species, visit Share your observations.

Photo of an opened wooden nesting box lying in grass with several nails inside


I thought you might be interested in this picture. I started cleaning out a wren house from our back yard to get it ready for next spring. When I opened the bottom to clean out the sticks and fluff, I also found aluminum nails. There turned out to be 35 of them. Our neighbors were putting on new siding, and I assume the wren "borrowed" a few to glitz up the nest.

Gary Rhines

DNR conservation biologist Ryan Brady replies: "It is typical of house wrens to fill cavities with small sticks. Often, one male will do this in several cavities or boxes within his territory, even though the female will ultimately only nest in one of them. In some cases, nails, tacks, hairpins, paper clips and other metal items that mimic the size and structure of small twigs will be used. So while it's not common to find a nest box full of nails, it's not entirely rare or unexpected either."

Photo of hole in ground with several snake heads popping out


My flower gardens are filled with many common garter snakes. They slither away quickly when I'm weeding the garden and they ignore the dogs or vehicles as long as they stay a few feet away. They seem to know they are safe. But when my husband, Jeff, comes out to the garden in the morning, the snakes come out to greet him. Some even follow him to the compost pile and wait to be given a worm. They seem to recognize him.

Snakes are great! They eat garden pests and some unfortunate toads and frogs. Feeding snakes is less messy than feeding birds and it does not attract bears. Here's a picture of the snakes that live for the summer in our yard.

Diane O'Krongly

Summer tanager perched on tree branch


I was just reading about the summer tanager on your website. This guy was at my feeders in Jacksonport.

Kathy Navis

Photo of light-colored raccoon lying dead on concrete


Is this an albino raccoon? I saw it on the east side of Highway 38 south of Four Mile Road (in Caledonia). The Root River meanders a short distance from that side of the road and there are natural areas around the river.

Steven Sandberg

Curtis Twellmann, DNR furbearer ecologist, replies: "This aberrant pelage pattern is commonly referred to as a 'blonde' raccoon and is an example of leucism – or the reduction of, but not complete elimination of, melanin/pigment. While not as rare as albinism, this is still pretty rare. Leucistic animals can generally live normal lives, as they usually lack the other related genetic deficiencies like poor eyesight that hamper true albino critters. Neat find!"

Photo of ground nest with 10 cream-colored turkey eggs


I am attaching a photo of turkey eggs I spotted along our road. The hen didn't want to be in the picture.

Margie Novak

Photo of two whooping cranes in marshy area


On May 25, we spotted a pair of whooping cranes at the Horicon Marsh Wildlife Refuge. We have attached a photo. We also spotted a black crowned night heron on Ledge Road, which is just south of Highway 49. Later, we spotted an eagle and a couple of juveniles just south of 49.

Jim and Bonnie Halper

Photo of white-tailed deer fawn curled up in grass


When getting back to our cabin to pull my spring turkey hunting blind, I found this little one still using it. Just wondering, are the Wisconsin deer getting wiser and using "deer blinds," too?

Doug Kurschner

Thanks for the photo, Doug. And it serves as a good way to remind everyone to help Keep Wildlife Wild. Early on, fawns move very little and rely on their camouflage coat and lack of scent to hide them while the mother largely stays away to keep possible predators at a distance. If a fawn is found lying alone, unless obviously sick or injured, Keep Wildlife Wild and simply leave it be. Learn more at Keep Wildlife Wild.

Last revised: Tuesday December 03 2019