WISCONSIN - Deer hunters care a lot about late fall weather, but there's also reason to care about spring weather. It's harder for deer to find food with snow on the ground. That puts deer under added stress. The DNR wants to know just how stressed they are. That's why they measure the severity of the winter with an index. Temperatures and snow cover add points to the total.
"When you get to the end of the winter, if you have a score of less than 50, it's considered mild. If it's more than 80 it's considered severe or 100 is very severe. At the present time in Rhinelander, it's only 44 which would say it's a mild winter," says Keith McCaffery, DNR Retired Deer Biologist.
But this spring is one for the record books. The DNR has been keeping records since 1960. Only one other year has had this much snow cover this late. In the southern part of the state, that's led to deer deaths.
"That high density of deer is likely to cause some stress. There is that indication that we have very severe browsing going on in some of the wood lots, in the area where these moralities are taking place. Aspen branches are chewed off to the diameter of a person's thumb," says Keith McCaffery.
Here in the Northwoods, the deer are still doing well despite the snow cover. This means there are not concerns for the upcoming hunting season yet. Still the DNR reminds people not to feed or bait deer.
VILAS COUNTY - Twelve jurors will consider a he said, she said case involving accusations of a sexual assault at knife point.
The trial for 36-year-old Rodney Teets began in Vilas County Court Monday morning.
Teets is accused of sexually assualting a 19 year old woman at knife point in July 2015.
He faces three counts of first degree sexual assault, which he will try to fight in trial.
After several hours of jury selection, attorneys began their opening statements Monday afternoon.
According to the July 2015 criminal complaint, Teets and the woman involved were driving back to his house after watching fireworks with a group of people.
That's when the woman said Teets pulled out a knife and told her to drive down a dead end road. Assistant Attorney General Devra Ayala, who is prosecuting the case, said that Teets admits to always carrying a pocket knife.
Next, according to the complaint, the woman said Teets, knife in hand, sexually assaulted her.
According to the complaint, the woman said Teets told her, "If you tell anyone I'll [expletive] kill you."
According to the complaint, the woman said the group they had been with called both of their cell phones asking where they were. The woman claims Teets said he forgot his keys and told her to say the same.
Later that night, the woman called the police.
When police interviewed Teets, he said the encounter was consensual.
That's what Teets's defense attorney will try to argue. In his opening statement, defense attorney Steven Lucareli said Teets and the woman were friends and often joked with each other.
"He said from day one, 'I cheated on my wife,'" said Lucareli.
Lucareli also said the woman in this case had no injuries from the encounter.
The trial is scheduled on the calendar for the whole week.
Tuesday, the state will start calling its witnesses.
MERRILL - County lands exist for the public to enjoy.
But when people mistreat the land it can cost thousands of dollars to fix.
After a group of trucks damaged county land in Tomahawk over the weekend, Lincoln County wants to send a warning to other drivers.
Lieutenant Tim Fischer from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says places with county forest and logging roads tend to be easy targets for people who want to tear through the woods on their vehicles.
"[It causes] damage to the property that isn't easily repaired.
[It] prohibits county workers from accessing areas in the forest that they have to get to," said Fischer.
People find mud holes and drive their cars through them.
RHINELANDER - You can get almost anywhere around Pine Lake on an ATV or UTV. But there are two key Oneida County highways that don't currently allow those vehicles. Now, a Rhinelander-area ATV club is pushing the county to change that.
The Pine Lake ATV/UTV Club hopes the county will allow access on highways W and C. The club formed about a year ago and got town approval to open access to all Pine Lake roads except for North and West Birchwood drives.
WOODRUFF - Sixty-three Wildfires burned all across the state in the last week.
The DNR suspended burning permits in 44 counties Monday, including all counties in the Northwoods.
The fire danger level ranged from "High" to "Very High" in most counties.
DNR fire crews have been on stand-by all day Monday.
"On days like today we are fully staffed and on high alert. All our stations are pre-positioning equipment. We're taking equipment from one part of the state and moving it to more critical areas. We are definitely on high alert," said Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - The case of a woman found hanged in her car will go down as an "undetermined death."
Michelle Rosinski was found in a car outside a Lac du Flambeau home on Longs Point Lane last September. Emergency responders tried CPR on Rosinski, but they couldn't revive her. The 45-year-old woman had a choker-style dog collar wrapped around her neck.
The Vilas County Sheriff's Office initially investigated her death as suspicious. But Monday, Lt. Carl Gauger told Newswatch 12 it appears Rosinski probably committed suicide.
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