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Kevin Naze column: 'Killer' winter finally on way out

Mar. 14, 2014
 
What could be the last seriously cold weekend of a long, brutal winter is here, with spring and warmer air set to arrive Thursday. With fat reserves depleted, it's a crucial time for deer, wild turkeys and many other wildlife species. When some die — like this road-killed deer last weekend along Door County S south of Sturgeon Bay — predators and scavengers take advantage. A bald eagle roosted above this whitetail, dropping down for a bite whenever the traffic allowed.
What could be the last seriously cold weekend of a long, brutal winter is here, with spring and warmer air set to arrive Thursday. With fat reserves depleted, it's a crucial time for deer, wild turkeys and many other wildlife species. When some die — like this road-killed deer last weekend along Door County S south of Sturgeon Bay — predators and scavengers take advantage. A bald eagle roosted above this whitetail, dropping down for a bite whenever the traffic allowed. / Photos by Kevin Naze

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What could be the deadliest winter for wildlife in decades is finally nearing the end, with spring set to arrive Thursday.

Cold, windy weather will soon be a thing of the past, although you might not believe it this weekend with lows still in the single digits.

Thousands of Wisconsin deer, diver ducks and wild turkeys are among the critters that fell victim to cold, snow and ice — or a combination thereof.

There’s still 20 to 40 inches of ice covering much of Green Bay, but with ice-breaking underway and thawing weather coming up, it won’t be long and there will be plenty of areas that’ll be walk-on only.

That said, the cautious angler will still very likely be able to find enough ice to walk on come April.

This is the last weekend to remove shelters from the bay ice. Sunday night is the deadline. After that, portable shelters can still be used, but they must be removed daily.

If perch are your thing, get out today — the last before the two-month spring spawning closure on Green Bay begins.

For the latest fishing updates, stop by a local bait and tackle shop. You can also call the DNR fishing hotline for recorded updates at (920) 746-2873.

New ice record

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Research Laboratory estimated that Lake Michigan set an ice-cover record last Saturday at 93.29 percent, surpassing the previous recorded high of 93.1 percent in 1979.

Strong winds and thawing air broke up more ice on Lake Michigan this week, but the Great Lakes as a whole — led by Superior, Erie and Huron — were still about 91 percent ice-covered on Wednesday. NOAA says that’s the second-most ice since records were kept, surpassing 90.7 percent in 1994 but shy of just under 95 percent set in 1979.

Learn to Hunt

A Learn to Hunt Turkey program sponsored by the DNR, Door County Fish, Farm & Game Club and Gardner Rifle Club will again be held this spring.

The mandatory classroom session for beginners age 10 and older is March 29 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gardner Rifle Club. It includes indoor education, outdoor shooting practice and lunch.

Those who attend can qualify to hunt with an authorized mentor sometime between April 5-13.

If interested, contact Dick Baudhuin at (920) 743-2581 or (920) 493-2749; email rbaudhuin@dcwis.com.

A separate program geared toward beginning adults and youths in the Algoma to Brussels, Forestville and Clay Banks areas will be held in early April as well, with four hours of instruction prior to the hunt. If interested, call (920) 883-9792 or email wildtimes@wizunwired.net.

Turkey permits

More than 11,000 leftover spring wild turkey permits will be available beginning Tuesday for Zone 2. The limit is one permit per person per day.

There are tags available for both the fifth and sixth periods. If they don’t sell out Tuesday, they’ll go on sale again next weekend.

In response to the harsh winter, the DNR has reduced permit numbers in zones 4 and 5 and eliminated leftovers in zones 6 and 7.

For a zone-by-zone and period-by-period look at what’s available, visit dnr.wi.gov/permits/springturkey.html.

Bird City

Birding experts and representatives of dozens of communities will be attending the 2014 annual meeting of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative March 21-22 in Oshkosh.

The gathering will be held as a “best practices” conference for those involved in the state’s 76 Bird City Wisconsin communities, and others interested in the initiative.

Carl Schwartz, state coordinator for Bird City, said with so many exciting conservation initiatives taking place the group wanted to bring them together to share stories, learn from each other and from the a long list of panelists and speakers scheduled to attend.

For more, visit wisconsinbirds.org or birdcitywisconsin.org.

— Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Call him at (920) 883-9792 or email wildtimes@wizunwired.net

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