Estimate suggests higher bear population

First-year results of a two-year bear study in Wisconsin suggest the state's bear population may be at least twice as large as current estimates, according to a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources news release.

First-year results of a two-year bear study in Wisconsin suggest the state's bear population may be at least twice as large as current estimates, according to a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources news release.

Biologists stress that the new estimate comes from a half-finished study and may change when data from the second year of the study are analyzed.

Wisconsin's bear population, according to previous estimates, is about 13,000, according to the DNR.

"This is good news," Keith Warnke, DNR deer and bear ecologist, said in a prepared statement. "It means we have a healthy bear population, and we may be able to expand bear hunting opportunity."

The two-year, DNR-funded study was conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison Wildlife Ecology graduate student Dave MacFarland under the guidance of Timothy Van Deelen. Preliminary results of the study show bear densities on par with those in Minnesota and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the release said.


Jaws Derby produces nice fish

Bob Bauers caught the largest lake trout, and Ken Schultz took the top salmon in the Jaws Fishing Derby, held June 6-8 on Lake Superior and the St. Louis River. Here are the top three anglers in each category, with weights of their fish in pounds and ounces:

* Lake trout: 1. Bob Bauers, 13-0; 2. Matt Verdoljak, 12-14; 3. LeRoy Veness, 11-14.

* Salmon: 1. Ken Schultz, 10-9; 2. Lance Jussila, 9-3; 3. Mark Haynes, 7-6.

* Northern pike: 1. Jake Tollas, 9-2; 2. Dave Tollas, 8-6; 3. Bob Ronchi, 6-8.

* Walleye: 1. Paul Plucinak, 8-3; 2. Aaron Ballantine, 7-0; 3. Larry Emons, 6-12.

Rain moves bridges

Members of the Superior Hiking Trail Association had a busy week repositioning bridges where the 205-mile trail crosses many North Shore streams, said Gayle Coyer, executive director of the association.


The wooden foot bridges were washed downstream or moved off their pilings by recent rains. The largest to go was a 28-foot bridge over Cascade Creek in Cascade State Park, Coyer said. The trail has been re-routed for .9 of a mile to bypass the creek crossing. The bridge will have to be replaced with a 32-foot bridge, she said.

Another 12 to 15 bridges have been put back on their cribbing, Coyer said. Most of those were 8- to 12-foot-long bridges. Many bridges along the trail are anchored with cables so they can be retrieved in the event of high water, she said.

Meanwhile, the trail itself is muddy and, in some low spots, under 6 inches of water, Coyer said.

"It's a real tough time to be hiking on the trail," she said.

Bowhunting proposed at Whittlesey

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday opened a 30-day public comment period on a proposal to increase hunting opportunities at three national wildlife refuges, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release.

Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge near Ashland would be opened to bowhunting for deer, and Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Minnesota would allow migratory bird and upland game hunting. Also, Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes, Minn., would be opened to migratory bird and big-game hunting.

Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge consists of 282 acres interspersed with private lands, said Katie Goodwin, visitor services manager at the refuge. Only parcels greater than 20 acres would be open to hunting, and only bowhunting for white-tailed deer would be allowed, she said.


The proposal to open some Whittlesey refuge parcels to bowhunting has not been controversial locally, Goodwin said.

"We have such a high population of deer, it would do the area a lot of good," Goodwin said.

But because the parcels of land are so small, she doesn't expect a lot of hunting pressure.

The entire proposed rule, along with instructions on how to submit comments, can be found at: .

For information, contact Tom Kerr, Whittlesey National Wildlife Refuge manager, at (715) 246-7784.

Stevenson, Kunzetop bass contest

The Duluth Area Bass League held its third summer tournament June 5 on Lake Minnewawa in high winds and rain.

Brian Stevenson and James Kunze took first place with five bass weighing 13.9 pounds. Second went to Michael Lebsack and his son, Jeremiah, with five fish and 12.4 pounds. Mark Jukich took third with five fish weighing 10.8 pounds.

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