Peninsula News – March 3rd 2012

Legal Wolf Hunting by License, Idaho
The Hunting Heritage Act (Assembly Bill 311) that was sponsored by Wisconsin State Representative Jim Steineke (R-5) passed with unanimous vote. The bill encourages the recruitment and retention of hunters and trappers in a series of creative initiatives written in the bill. On Tuesday, March 6th, the bill will be presented to the state senate for vote. The bill includes: sporting programs to recruit hunters and trappers, restrictions on expenditures under the Warren Knowles-Gaylor NelsonStewardship Program, reduced fees for certain first-time hunting and trapping approvals, high school credit under and administration of the hunter and trapper education programs, waiving fishing license requirements for weekend ice fishing events, and sturgeon spearing license age requirements.
In addition, the Senate State Natural Resources Committee also voted to support Senate Bill 411 by a 5 to 2 vote. The bill is sponsored by state Senator Terry Moulton (R-23) and authorizes the Department of Natural Resources to establish a season for the hunting of wolves in response to the long-overdue federal de-listing of the species from the Endangered Species List. The de-listing recognizes successful recovery of the gray wolf population in the Western Great Lakes Region where hunters have served as a form of management of wildlife throughout the United States and this legislation creates a framework for managing Wisconsin’s wolf population. A scientifically regulated hunting season will help to ensure balance between predator and prey populations. SB 411 goes to the Senate floor for vote along with AB 311 mentioned above. This legislation alert is posted at the State Legislation website

Bayshore Drive, Birmingham Country Store, KAL photo
Last night Door County Peninsula received 5.8 inches of heavy snow – the most during the winter season because of a record mild winter. This should make snowmobile owners happy, but the ice fishing has been not good because of the thinness of the ice on Lake Michigan. Despite warnings to ice fisherman about venturing out on the ice on all-terrain vehicles – people with no common sense have been venturing out onto the ice and last Saturday, seven Illinois resident fishermen decided to go out on the ice to fish at Little Sturgeon. The ice they were on broke free and the ended up stranded all Saturday night and then rescued by Door Peninsula rescue team made up of fire department and US Coast Guard personnel, called locally “BUG”. The ice fishermen were uninjured and while they were being rescued, a US Coast Guard helicopter made a sweep to ensure there were no more fools out on the ice. Ice fishing is a popular winter event here on the Peninsula and in other Great Lake states; but the mild winter has prohibited safe ice fishing. Two of the seven rescued actually wanted to stay with their all-terrain vehicles on trailers that was taken out on the ice with a vehicle were hoping to save their equipment. The rescue team was able to remove most of the equipment out on the ice except for one four-wheeler. The ice floe was seen drifting away by US Coast Guard personnel. Door County authorities have billed the seven morons for cost of firefighters and rescue efforts for the amount of $840. It is the second occurrence this winter when authorities have warned that ice fishing is not safe this winter. Some have ventured out on the ice pulling a sled with equipment and fishing in the open instead of an ice shanty or tent with no incidents. The person owning the vehicle stranded on the ice was also charged an undisclosed amount, billed to their insurance company. You can bet that person’s insurance rates will go up.
Local Maple Orchard, KAL photo
The groundhog has predicted we will have six more weeks of winter, but except for the snow this week, winter has not been as bad as usual. The Peninsula has received 27.8 inches by December of 2011 compared to last year getting 47.2 inches of snow – this year the snow didn’t linger long with above-normal temperatures melting it off. The average winter snowfall for Door Peninsula is 40.9 inches. However, farmers and gardeners are worried about the lack of ground cover of snow that protects plants like winter wheat and raspberries. If a snap freeze comes with little snow cover, those and other plants could be damaged. With last night’s 5+ inches of snowfall and drifting snow from winds, those worries have vanished if a cold snap arrives as sometimes does after a winter storm. Warmer temps could cause raspberries to come out of dormancy prematurely, and if a cold snap hits could damage the Peninsula raspberry crop. 
Country View Farm, KAL photo
The unusual weather, according to the Door County Advocate also has the potential to change the flavor of the local maple syrup – a big thing here and one of the attractions of tourists who purchase fresh maple syrup from places like Jorns’ Sugar Bush in Egg Harbor. Trees are tapped for syrup around the first week of March. If the weather conditions at nighttime are not at or near freezing and the days are warmer than 35 degrees the maple syrup taste won’t be at its best. However, Jorns tapped a tree in his yard (they also have an orchard full) to test the sap, cooked it down and found the flavor to be good. So all looks well for those wanting to stock up in maple syrup for next year.