What’s the Buzz

If you haven’t figured it out by the title, we will be talking about native bees and how they are being affected by pollutants of all sorts. As many of you have already heard, bees are having a particularly hard time as of late when it comes to surviving and reproducing.  This is a problem that can be seen throughout the United States, but today we will be talking about native bee populations pertaining to Wisconsin.  Native bees play an essential role in Wisconsin’s agricultural community and without them could really hurt the crop output with certain crops that require fertilization by the transferring of pollen from one plant to another. As a matter of fact, 70% of angiosperm plants rely on insect pollination. The word angiosperm refers to plants that produce a flower; which includes, all fruit’s, rice, wheat, acorns, beans, and corn.  Some of those plants like corn, wheat, and soybeans can either be self-pollinated or be helped by the wind in fertilization.  When it comes to Wisconsin’s Orchardist’s and their crops of apples, cranberries, and cherries etc. many of them should be worried.  When it comes to ecosystems, many of them rely on the native bee populations because their larvae and the plants they pollinate provide food for a variety of wildlife.

Common Native Bees

Native bee populations have been plummeting for a multitude of reasons.  For instance, invasive species tend to battle with the native bee population for certain food sources and in most cases native bee population are not enough to fight off these invaders ultimately leading them to getting kicked out of an area. In addition to that, pesticides have always been a problem for native bee populations. Many bee populations tend to live near crops because they are a steady source of food which make them vulnerable to these very pesticides. Last of all, climate change has caused for a lot of habitat loss that many native bee populations tend to rely on for survival, for reproductive purposes, and in some cases food.  Without these specific habitats many native bee populations have vanished.  If we do not do something about our actions when it comes to climate change and our pesticide use, we will be forced to self-pollinate some of our crops and some of our current ecosystems may collapse.  We need to change our ways.

Bald Eagles Are Back

We have all had that moment in our lives when we see something like a large dark bird circling its prey in the distance and can’t help but think in our minds that maybe it could be a bald eagle.  Eventually, that bird comes closer and we realize that it nowhere near resembles anything like a bald eagle.  The bald eagle represents the national bird of the United States and when you get your eyes on one you can’t help but feel nostalgic.   As a child, I knew that the only time I could set my eyes on such a majestic creature was when I traveled up to my Grandparent’s house in Rhinelander WI. For many years that was the case, but that is starting to change.  This year I started seeing eagles as close as Madison flying around and supposedly this is something we can expect to see more of.

Bald Eagles in Wisconsin 45 years ago were primarily only active near Lake Superior and their total numbers only equaled 107 occupied nests.  Recently in 2019, bald eagles occupy over 1,600 nests throughout Wisconsin and in 71 out of 72 counties.   This is not by coincidence either according to the WI DNR, because there have been multiple efforts to have a healthy bald eagle population in WI since 1974.  This is due mostly because of the national ban put on a pesticide known as DDT, which would end up poisoning the birds ultimately killing them. In addition to that, they credit the comeback to added protection under the federal and state protection of endangered species.  Finally, river clean-ups under the clean water act and public support of nest monitoring and protection efforts.  All of these efforts have combined to create a flourishing bald eagle population and it will only continue to grow.

Gray Wolves in Wisconsin

If you didn’t know, Wisconsin is currently 1 of about 12 states that have a gray wolf population. To be exact Wisconsin is currently home to about 914 gray wolves; most of them congregating in the northern region of the state. These large numbers recently sparked up a conversation between the public and the government. Specifically, on what to do with the current wolf population found in Wisconsin. This is where the United States Fish and Wildlife Service comes into play. They recently proposed in August of 2019 that the gray wolf populations across the states has stabilized and that they should be taken off the endangered species act list. This would no longer give the federal government the authority to protect them, and instead would allow the states to regulate the grey wolf population themselves.

This newly proposed plan to let states regulate their current wolf populations has sparked a lot different opinions on the matter.  Many environmental activists suggest that the population of gray wolves in Wisconsin is only starting to comeback and shouldn’t be considered for delisting. This is because back in the 1830s, before Wisconsin was settled in, they estimated that there where 3,000 to 5,000 gray wolves in Wisconsin at the time.  Gray Wolves would eventually become extinct in Wisconsin by the year 1960. This is a common fear that this situation could happen again if the current population of gray wolves becomes unprotected.  In addition to that gray wolves play a vital role in an ecosystem by keeping ungulate populations steady allowing for native floral to grow, which in turn benefits many different parts of an ecosystem.

Hunters and Farmers on the other hand welcome the idea of delisting the gray wolf in Wisconsin.  Farmers see gray wolves as a nuisance animal, because they occasionally target their livestock as easy prey.  Hunters see gray wolves as a nuisance as well, due to the possibility that they might consume the animal before the hunter gets the potential opportunity to harvest the animal instead.  Therefore, hunters and farmers would love to be given the opportunity to reduce the current gray wolf population in Wisconsin.

So, should gray wolves stay under federal protection or should they be regulated by the states?