John Myers / Forum News Service
DULUTH -- With Minnesota wildlife officials scrambling this winter to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease among wild deer in southeastern counties, and 55 Wisconsin counties now identified as CWD sites, the impacts of the disease are hitting closer to the Northland. CWD, now confirmed in 25 states and two provinces, is always fatal to cervids — whitetail and mule deer, moose and elk. Studies show that once it infects more than one-third of the population, entire herds may be decimated.
ISLE ROYALE, Mich. — The lingering, partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government has reached out to touch another facet of Northland life — this time halting the Isle Royale wildlife study underway for 60 years on the big Lake Superior island. Researchers at Michigan Technological University have been told they can’t go to the island until the government shutdown is over. It marks the first time since 1958 the scientists won’t be on the island to conduct detailed population counts and do other studies of the wolves and moose that call Isle Royale home.
VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK -- When they aren’t identifying record large trees in the forest, Thomas Gable and Austin Homkes’ day job is wolf research, trying to untangle the complex, mostly unknown relationship between wolves and beaver in Voyageurs National Park. They live-trap wolves and place GPS collars on them in the early spring and then follow the packs around from April to October, checking out exactly what wolves eat.
DULUTH — The prospect of restoring elk to eastern Minnesota forests has strong, across-the-board public support in the region, according to a survey by University of Minnesota researchers. The survey found that 77 percent of the general public in southern St. Louis, Carlton and northern Pine counties supports the reintroduction of elk in the region. The survey also found a whopping 79 percent of landowners in the potential elk restoration area supports the idea.
Water bombing airplanes and helicopters snuffed a fire in Park Rapids, Minn., Tuesday before flames approached a Wal-Mart store as dry, windy conditions continue to fan any wildfires that start across the region.
Fire doesn’t much like cold, and it definitely doesn’t like snow, so the Minnesota and Wisconsin wildfire seasons got off to a slow start in 2016. But don’t count on that lasting much longer. A few days without rain or snow and an afternoon of sunshine are all last year’s grass and leaves need to be ready to burn. Throw in a cigarette butt or a spark from a vehicle, mix in a little wind and you have a perfect recipe for wildfire.