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GRAND PORTAGE — On a day when most schools closed and public health officials warned Minnesotans not to venture outside, eight hardy souls lead teams of sled dogs across the forests of Cook County, braving subzero temperatures and a 40 below windchill. Blake Freking was the fastest among them. Freking, of Finland, won in the final 36-mile leg despite leaving the Mineral Center checkpoint more than 90 minutes behind Ryan Redington of Skagway, Alaska who appeared to have the race won.
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.
Wisconsin's first confirmed cases of West Nile virus in ruffed grouse were reported Tuesday by the state Department of Natural Resources. The DNR said that West Nile was confirmed in three of 16 grouse tested so far. The DNR said the results are still preliminary because another 238 grouse samples remain to be tested. The agency is testing both sickly grouse that were turned in to wildlife officials and grouse blood samples submitted by hunter volunteers in the field.
Wisconsin residents are being asked to burn or bag some Christmas decorations after an infestation of highly invasive tree-eating insects were found on wreaths, swags and other holiday items made with real evergreen boughs. State tree inspectors on Wednesday said they found the tiny insects, called elongate hemlock scale, or EHS, on wreaths, swags and boughs as well as evergreen boughs used in hanging baskets, porch pots, mugs and sleighs sold at several big box retail stores statewide. It's unclear how many infested items were sold.
VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK -- In another stunning revelation of wolf behavior from Voyageurs National Park, researchers Thursday, Dec. 13, announced they have confirmed park wolves are hunting for and eating fish out of streams as a regular part of their diet. The researchers released the first-ever video of wolves eating freshwater fish, and said GPS data shows one pack spent about half their time during several weeks in April and May “hunting” in creeks for spawning suckers and northern pike.
The call came over their patrol truck radio just before 4 p.m. There was a deer in a house. In a basement, to be exact, and the owners were panicking over what to do. “We sort of laughed at first. Then we started getting other officers coming on the radio offering advice, while laughing of course, telling us to make sure to get video,’’ said Minnesota Conservation Officer Kipp Duncan.
Northeastern Minnesota's firearms deer season turned out to be less successful than anticipated, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday, with the 16-day harvest down 14.1 percent. The preliminary total harvest for the 100-numbered deer management areas, which includes all of Northeastern Minnesota, hit 49,303 this year compared to 57,363 last year. Statewide preliminary numbers show the harvest down from 160,962 last year to 148,019 at this year, an 8 percent drop. The statewide buck harvest was down 8 percent as well.
GORDON, Wis. — There are close to 60 sets of deer antlers in the Finstad family deer camp south of town, more than one for every year there’s been a camp on the shores of Harriet Lake. A few sets are loose on the coffee table. Most are screwed to plaques. A dozen are full head or shoulder mounts. There isn’t much open wall space remaining, what with a couple bear heads and stuffed bass to boot. But, somehow, they will make room for more antlers, you can be sure of that.
It won't be the good old days of northwestern Wisconsin deer hunting, like way back in the early 2000s when hunters harvested more than 15,000 deer in Douglas County in one year alone, an all-time record that may never be broken. But overall, the 2018 Wisconsin firearms deer season that begins Saturday, Nov. 17, should be pretty good, even better than 2017, which ended up the 16th-highest buck harvest in Douglas County in 58 years of modern records.
CHIPPEWA NATIONAL FOREST, Minn. — Jens Heig first checked the tail and rump feathers of the smallish grouse, then checked the edges of the wing feathers. It was a juvenile bird, he concluded, a female. Then he dug into the crop, just to see what the bird had been feeding on (wild strawberry leaves) before digging into his backpack for a field test kit that looks a bit like something from CSI Northwoods.