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Vehicle vs. deer accidents rise during November rut

A few years back I began to monitor the vehicle accident reports in the New Richmond News to get an idea of deer movement. For an entire year I tracked the number of deer related incidents and also noted the date and time of the event along with the location of the accident which was marked with a small dot in a St. Croix County plat book. I was able to identify a dozen hot spots in the county.

When all the data was put together, several other interesting determinations were made. I wrote up a short report on my findings and made a few formal presentations. The data collected was solid and the conclusions that were made were backed up statistically. My wife said I had too much time on my hands but once I set up the database and ironed out how the data was entered, it only took me a few minutes each week to collect all the information for that time period. The best part about it was that the information was in the public domain and free for the taking.

Over the course of the year I found that when all the data was collected and more than 1,000 accidents examined, more than 50 percent of the accidents in the county were deer related. I think it would be a good learning experience for some school class to set up a similar exercise and see how their results compare to mine.

This year I sampled a few time periods in October and November to see if I could again identify the rut or mating season. The deer, both male and female, throw caution to the wind during this short time period and the number of deer related vehicle accidents escalate.

From Nov. 1 through Nov. 11 there were 59 vehicular accidents reported with 53 of them deer related. This figures out to a 90 percent or nine out of 10 accidents that had deer involvement in St. Croix County in that 12-day period.

Voluntary Public Access Program

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has launched an exciting new program that could open more land to public use.

St. Croix County is presently in the West Central Focus Area. Landowners in the four focus areas of the state have an opportunity to enroll their land under a lease agreement which would provide public access. Below is information contained in the DNR handout explaining this program.

Interested in earning extra income by leasing your land for public hunting? The Wisconsin DNR is currently looking for properties to lease through the Voluntary Public Access (VPA) program. VPA provides incentives to private landowners who voluntarily allow public access on their property for hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife observation.

Priority will be given to parcels greater than 40 acres with a least 25 percent usable cover and located near public hunting and fishing grounds. Land enrolled in other conservation programs such as CRP, WRP and MFL may also be eligible.

Annual lease rates include agricultural land ($3 per acre), wetland/grassland ($10 per acre) and forestland ($15 per acre). Lease lengths are up to three years in duration.

For more information, contact Drew Hawley at 715-684-2914, ext. 118, or look it up on the DNR website and search under VPA.

Bass Lake Waterfowl Production Area

By Tom Kerr USF&WS

Bass Lake Waterfowl Production Area is a 255-acre Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the St. Croix Wetland Management District. The WPA is located about two miles southeast of Somerset on the north edge of Bass Lake.

The WPA was purchased with federal duck stamp funds, which duck hunters are required to buy and people interested in conservation are encouraged to purchase to support habitat conservation.

Over the last several years, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been restoring this WPA to a prairie, oak savanna and wetland complex similar to the landscape historically found in large portions of St. Croix County. Restoration of the WPA is a long process and may take 10-15 years to accomplish.

Over the last several months, we have been removing invasive trees from the WPA. These trees include Siberian elm, box elder and buckthorn. In addition, we are removing cottonwood, aspen and some of the smaller red oaks on the WPA. The burr oaks, white oaks and large red oaks will be left as part of the savanna restoration. Savannas are large grassland areas with scattered white oaks and burr oaks. Like prairies, savannas are a fire dependent community.

Some of the trees are being used for a Bass Lake fish habitat restoration project which is being coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The remaining trees that have been cut will be chipped and used as bio-energy in the St. Paul co-generation plant. The plant supplies heating and cooling to a large portion of downtown St. Paul.

Following tree removal, the stumps and tree regrowth will be chemically treated to help encourage the growth of grasses and forbs. Eventually, controlled fire will be used to maintain the grasslands and oak savanna on the WPA.

The goal in the restoration process is to bring back the native grasses and forbs once found on this WPA. Small portions of the WPA contain remnant prairie which is prairie that has never been broken by the plow. Other parts of the WPA have been farmed or planted to brome grass and will need more intensive restoration efforts, including seeding with local native prairie seed. With time and more management the WPA will begin to resemble the habitat found across much of St. Croix County.

For more information on the St. Croix Wetland Management District, check out our website at or check us out on Facebook by searching for St. Croix Wetland Management District.

Warden Paul's Corner

Snowmobile Age and Safety Certificate Requirements

Before the snowmobile trails open, plan ahead by finding out when a snowmobile safety class is being held before it is too late. Wisconsin has an age and safety requirement for operators.

Anyone who is at least 12 years old and who is born on or after Jan. 1, 1985 must possess a valid Snowmobile Safety Certificate in order to operate a snowmobile on areas open to the public including frozen waters.

Class information can be obtained at the DNR's website at or by calling the DNR Service Center in Baldwin at 715-684-2914 to ask about upcoming classes. Also, a CD-ROM Snowmobile Safety Certification class is available to persons 16 or older.

For additional information on the CD-ROM, call the DNR Service Center at the number already listed. For any questions contact Conservation Warden Paul Sickman at 715-684-2914, ext. 120. Have a safe and enjoyable snowmobiling season.