The warmer weather we have experienced the last few days has really gotten folks into the springtime mood. Even the wildlife has responded positively to the milder temperatures. When the thermometer gets above the freezing mark, bare ground and the end of winter cannot be far behind. When I was a kid, I remember one of my dad's favorite sayings, "Spring has sprung, the grass has riss, I wonder where the birdies is!"
The Wisconsin fisher is a large weasel-like animal with a pointed snout, small eyes and a bushy tail. It is a member of the "Mustelidae" family, which means "one who carries away mice." Its scientific name is "Martes pennanti." "Martes" means marten and "pennanti" refers to a Welch naturalist after whom it was named. The Native American name for the fisher was "bone crusher." Presently, Wisconsin has 19 species of furbearers. Sixteen are in the order "Carnivora," two others being rodents (muskrat and beaver) and a single marsupial (opossum).
Since moving out into the country, our bird feeders have had a wide variety of species taking advantage of our hospitality. Along with feeders, we also have a feeding platform on which we place meat scraps for crows that come in every morning. For the past five years, a family of three claimed the area as their territory. A dozen or more may show up later but the three are definitely our personal family. Lately, a pair of red shouldered hawks also claimed the area as their territory.
Today I received confirmation of my 2018 spring turkey harvest permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It seems that turkeys have always been on our landscape. They are a frequent visitor to in-town feeders and can be seen feeding in area farm fields almost every evening. This was not always the case, however. Forty-plus years ago, there were no wild turkeys in Wisconsin. The last wild turkey was sighted in southern Wisconsin in 1881.
Over the last four decades, animal populations have expanded and contracted depending on how well that particular animal could modify its behavior and meld into an environment that thrives on human interaction. Deer are one of the most successful animals in doing just that. Presently there are more deer in Wisconsin than at any other time in history with the potential to swell its population even farther. They have the capability to live among humans and thrive because of it.
After writing about snakes, turtles and frogs, I'd be remiss if I didn't touch on the topic of lizards and salamanders of Wisconsin. The lizards are reptiles and in the same class as snakes and turtles while the salamanders are amphibians and close relatives to the frogs.
Chronic wasting disease is an incurable, always fatal degeneration of the brain termed, "transmissible spongiform encephalopathy." It is transmitted from animal to animal through contact with urine, feces and saliva. The agent is a misfolded protein called a prion. Prions are virtually indestructible and can persist in the environment for years. The disease is related to other prion diseases such as scrapie (sheep), bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and human kuru and Creutzfelt-Jacobs disease (humans).
At the end of August, Sal, a neighborhood couple and I decided to re-explore a part of northern Wisconsin we hadn’t visited in several years. Tom and Linda Koch, who...
Coming from a family of dog lovers, I have always been in a home that had at least one dog and at times as many as four. My wife, Sally, has also had at least one dog as she was growing up and after our marriage, dogs were a focal point in our lives. Before, during and after our kids were born, grew up and left to start families of their own, dogs were an integral part of family life. Our kids have followed in our footsteps and started families of their own which have always included dogs.
The McMurtrie Preserve is a 63-acre plot of land located on the southeast corner of Cedar Lake. It contains over 1,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline on Cedar Lake. Cedar Creek,...