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Fall webworms spin nests across the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 08/31/2015
NORTHWOODS - Around this time, people start noticing webbed nests on tree branches in their yards and woods. Fall webworm activity peaks in August. The insects are native to northern Wisconsin and live on hardwoods. Caterpillars form nests and feed on the leaves inside the nest.

"They do make a very messy web nest and people would be seeing that at this time of year," DNR forest health specialist Linda Williams. "The web nests that we see in trees in the fall will be out at the ends of branches."


Fall webworms are active every year, but come out in greater numbers during some years. Last year, the webworms were especially active.

"With these caterpillars coming along and eating the leaves off now, it's not a major health threat to the tree. The tree is already starting to think about shutting down for the winter," Williams said.

DNR forest health specialists also found oak wilt in a new place in the Northwoods. Oak trees in Conover have now been infected.

The DNR also reports northern Vilas County was hit hardest by defoliation from spruce budworm this year.

Story By: Ben Meyer

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MINOCQUA - Almost one in three American girls in 12th grade use tanning beds, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control.

But tanning could become illegal in Wisconsin for many of those teenagers under a proposed state law. Bill author Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) wants to ban everyone under age 18 from using tanning beds in the state.

It's currently illegal for Wisconsin studios to serve anyone younger than 16. But in the Northwoods, plenty of 16- and 17-year-olds come to places like the Tone Zone clubs in Minocqua and Eagle River to tan before winter and spring events. The manager of Tone Zone, Stephanie Van Holdt, said they're almost all girls.

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RHINELANDER - Three racers from the Hodag BMX Club took first place in their Division at the State Championships in Oshkosh this weekend.

No one in the club placed lower the fourth.

Coach Robbie Deede said the Hodag BMX program continues to grow better and stronger each year.
He was proud of everyone who competed this year.

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MERRILL - Merrill should get a new grandstand by next summer.

The Merrill Committee of the Whole voted on the project last week.

The project will cost $1,149,000.

The city will get insurance money from Lincoln County to pay for it.

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WISCONSIN - Hunters like to predict how the deer season will go this time of year. But the DNR is focused on working with land owners to create better habitat for deer. That could mean a more successful hunt in a few years.

It's working with public and private land owners through the Deer Management Assistance Program. The 2012 Deer Trustees report led to the creation of the program.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - The Oneida County Humane Society needs a lot of money to take care of all the animals in its care.

The shelter relies on fundraisers to help raise that money.

One of the shelter's biggest fundraiser is its Jog for the Dogs event. The run is scheduled for Saturday September 12th this year.

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EAGLE RIVER - The first-ever ATV & UTV Side by Side World Championship Derby finished up Sunday afternoon. 

Races started on Saturday and continued through the weekend. 

Spectators, racers and event staff all say they were pleased with how the event turned out.

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EAGLE RIVER - Wisconsin native Zac Zakowski won the UTV championship derby on Sunday at the AMSOIL Eagle River Derbytrack.

"Once you start doing this you can't stop," said professional UTV and ATV driver Zac Zakowski. "It's like a drug."

Zakowski started racing seriously when he was about 17 years old. The fun hobby quickly turned into a pro sport, a career and a lifestyle. He has been traveling to many different races since then, competing at the professional level.

"You kinda miss out on that stuff and you miss it but at the same time when you're doing this stuff, you don't," Zakowski said.

The sport is hard on the body and the wallet. Two years ago, Zakowski said while driving his ATV he hit a tree and tore his ACL in his knee. He was out for two seasons.

One thing almost all ATV drivers, pro or amateur, can agree on is the sport is truly a family affiar.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my family," Zakowski said. "I mean you can walk the pits and probably almost everybody would say they do it because their family supports it and they do it as a family."

"The lifestyle is tiring because you load up the rig and the trailer to travel thousands of miles to race for an hour or two hours depending on the race," said Zakowski's mother, Linda. "Then you load back up to go home. But once you get to that site on the track you're excited and you just can't wait for things to get going."

Zakowski stopped racing for a while when his mom got diagnosed with breast cancer. Now his mother is in remission and Zakowski participates in races that raise awareness for the disease.

"He paints his whole quad pink and has stickers on it," Linda Zakowski said. 

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