Category Archives: Wildlife

Bugles Continue to Spread in northern WI

For those who don’t know what a bugle is, it is something that must be heard in order to really understand the beauty of such a call.  A bugle is a sound produced by a bull elk used for asserting their dominance and locating other bulls to potentially steal their potential mates. Bugling only really occurs during their mating season, something that only occurs during the months of September and October. I myself have never heard such a coveted sound except for on YouTube, but recently according to the WI DNR the current elk herd in Wisconsin is around 400 elk.  When I first heard this my initial reactions were a reaction comprised of surprise and bewilderment, mostly because I had no idea we actually had a viable elk population in Wisconsin at all. This is mostly due to a relationship created in 1995 between the WI DNR and The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that helped to reintroduce 25 elk at the time in the Clam Lake Region in Wisconsin.  Throughout recent years more elk have been introduced into other northern regions across Wisconsin and it has proven to be a success.  Currently, in the Clam Lake region, it’s population of elk is around 185 elk. 

These methods of reintroduction have proven to be so successful that in 2018 Wisconsin held it’s first-ever elk hunt, which allowed 10 lucky hunters to harvest a mature bull. The hunt turned out to be a success and was held in 2019 and are currently applications for the upcoming 2020 hunt.  If you are interested in applying the application fee is $10 and if you lucky enough to get picked out of the raffle the license fee is currently $49.  In addition to that if you get picked you must complete a mandatory elk hunter orientation.  If you ask me if this is worth it, I would 100% of the time say yes.  I always wanted to hear a bull elk bugle or see them in the wild and Wisconsin is becoming one of those places two do both of those things.

Lake Invaders: It came from the East

By: Luke Proell, Creator of Lanky Blog

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Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake located entirely within the United States borders, but especially with the entire East coast of Wisconsin. The lake is home to many different species from the animal kingdom like fish and birds but is also home to a variety of invasive species as well including the zebra mussel and the Asian carp. Zebra mussels, originating from the Caspian Sea, are causing a wide array of damage to the ecosystem both directly and indirectly. For starters, zebra mussels are known to coat pipes that lead to drinking water treatment plants and make their home within those pipes. This can lead to more money needing to be put into these plants in order to keep them functional and operational as Lake Michigan is a great source of drinking water for the entire community. The invasive species also have a habit of killing the native mussel population just due to their reproductive nature. Native mussels may take 3-5 years to fully mature and develop while zebra mussels only take a matter of one year which allows them to spread faster and deplete natural resources from the native species.

While originally not considered viable to survive in Lake Michigan, the Asian carp, arriving from Southeast China, has proved that it can be devastating for the long-term sustainability of the lake’s ecosystem. While the zebra mussel has many damaging implications towards human culture the carp can do monumental damage towards other fish within the waters such as walleye, yellow perch, and whitefish. Since the Asian carp has such a flexible diet consisting of anything from plankton to the feces of invasive mussels such as the zebra mussel. With few natural predictors, there’s no telling how out of control these invasive populations will get without spreading awareness and allocating resources towards saving one of Earth’s greatest ecosystems.

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?