Fishers are making appearances in Wisconsin
Like the turkey's reintroduction, the reintroduction of the fisher is a real Wisconsin success story.
The fisher (Martes pennanti) is a member of the weasel family with relatives that include otter, mink, badger and wolverines. They are considered one of the few true carnivores and are highly prized for their fur.
The three-foot males range in size from 10-14 pounds, while the females are a bit smaller, hitting the scales at 5-8 pounds. These animals spend lots of their time in trees and will eat just about anything from mice to an occasional raccoon or other appropriately-sized animal. They are one of the few predators that can successfully take on a porcupine and have a special knack of being able to work around their protective quills.
Domesticated and feral cats have also been known to be table fare for these unique creatures.
Back in the early 1900's they were eliminated from the Wisconsin landscape mainly through over hunting, trapping and habitat destruction but were reintroduced back into eastern Oneida County during 1956 from wild stock relocated from Minnesota and New York. Trapping in the fisher release sites was prohibited to maximize the reintroduction effort.
From 1976 through 1991 the reestablished fisher population was studied extensively to determine the best management strategies and practices.
In 1985, a conservative trapping season allowed the harvest of 300 animals which has since been expanded under a permit system which now effectively manages the fisher population. Harvested fisher carcasses are, at times, required to be turned in to the DNR so that the biologists can monitor the age structure, reproductive history and physical health of the population.
Canine teeth from the lower jaw are sectioned to reveal rings similar to a tree which provide precise aging data while the reproductive tract of the females are examined to determine previous litter numbers. Presently the state's population is being managed at a bit over 10,000 fishers statewide. Some of the Wisconsin fishers have now been relocated to other states including Tennessee.
Since the original stocking in northern Wisconsin, the population of fishers has expanded across the northern counties. Reports of fishers moving further south have also been coming in.
Fishers have been sighted in the Cylon Wildlife area near Deer Park over the last few years. I have personally seen a lone fisher crossing the road just northwest of Star Prairie on Highway M a week ago and a Squaw Lake area resident has routinely been seeing them with one in hot pursuit of a fleeing rabbit.
As you are out and about in the woods this fall keep and open eye for this interesting animal. Observing them in the wild is a very exciting experience.
This is now the opportune time of the year to do your annual buckthorn eradication project. Buckthorn is an invasive ornamental tree/shrub that has gained a foothold in our area and will eventually out-compete many of our native species. Its berries are readily eaten by birds but are quickly eliminated as they act a cathartic and the seeds are deposited along fence lines and other roosting places where they sprout and quickly take over the area.
In the fall, the buckthorn's foliage is bright green long after the majority of the native trees have shed theirs leaf cover. The extent of the infestation is readily apparent because of this color contrast. The best course of action is to cut the buckthorn at its base and then treat the stump with herbicide that will be drawn into the root system and prevent re-sprouting of the plant. Starter samples of herbicide are available through the St Croix County Alliance of Sportsman's Clubs. For more information you can contact Alliance member Jack Rasmussen at 715-684-3984. This compilation (including design, introductory text, organization, and descriptive material) is copyrighted by University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.
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Warden Paul's Corner
Shining Wild Animals
Often during hunter's safety course the question is asked, "What is shining?" Shining is using a light to locate or "shine" wild animals, typically deer. The light used could be headlights, a flashlight or a high powered portable light. In addition, laser sights on guns, bows or crossbows are lights by definition and are illegal.
Many individuals like to shine animals at night just to watch the animals because many of the animals are nocturnal and not able to be seen during daylight hours. Some hunters like to shine wild animals and deer to see where they are so they can hunt them. The following restrictions apply to shining.
It is illegal to use or possess with intent to use, whether or not a firearm, bow or crossbow is in possession, a light for shining wild animals (including vehicle headlights) between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. from Sept. 15 through Dec. 31. While shining, it is illegal to use or possess with intent to use a firearm, bow or crossbow. Lastly, it is illegal to shine at any time on federal refuges and Waterfowl Production Areas. Some areas may prohibit shining by a local ordinance. Check with your local Sheriff's Department to find out if that restriction occurs in your county.
Pheasant Stocking Program
This fall, DNR wildlife biologists plan to release approximately 50,000 game farm pheasants on 71 public hunting grounds. This is a very slight decrease from 2010 when 51,000 game farm pheasants were stocked in those same areas.
In addition, pheasants raised by conservation clubs through the day-old chick program will also be released this fall on both designated public hunting grounds and private lands open to public pheasant hunting. Hunters are reminded to be polite and notify the landowner before hunting on private property open to public hunting as part of this program.
Hunters can check the Pheasant Stocking on State Properties map or check the 2011 Pheasant Stocking Information Sheet, identifying public hunting grounds slated for pheasant stocking. Stocked public hunting grounds are primarily located in the southern part of the state, in the core of the pheasant range. Hunters should carefully verify which public hunting grounds have a 2 p.m. closure time and/or allow hen pheasant hunting.
More information on the 2011 pheasant population outlook is available.
For any questions, call Warden Paul Sickman at 715-684-2914, ext. 120.