Volunteers us sonar to 'hear' and track bats for the DNR
Story By Kailey Burton
MANITOWISH WATERS - Farmers and anyone who hates mosquitos should be VERY thankful for bats. The journal ‘Science' estimates they provide US farmers with 3.7 billion dollars in pest control.
In nearby states though a fungal infection called White Nose Syndrome is killing them by the thousands. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is working on a plan for our bat population, but first they have to find them.
Bats are small, hard to see, and mostly silent to the human ear. However, with special sonar equipment we can hear them, and track them. The DNR wants to use this technology to study Wisconsin's four bat species most at risk.
"Those are the hibernating bats and those are the bats that are susceptible to White Nose Syndrome because it is a cold loving fungus that attacks and gets the bats during hibernation," said Licia Johnson with the North Lakeland Discovery Center, "Some do leave the state and go down to Illinois to hibernate where there has been White Nose Syndrome found in caves."
North Lakeland Discover Center has trained 80 volunteers so far to use sonar equipment to track bats. All the information they gather goes to the DNR's database.
"If we ever were to have an issue with our bat population, white nose syndrome infecting our bats and getting a large amount we would know baseline information of how many bats we had where they were located throughout the state, so if there ever was a reintroduction program necessary they would have that information."
For more information about the North Lakeland Discovery Center or the bat monitoring program, click the links below.
WAUSAU - Enrollment for health coverage will end soon. That's why healthcare providers participated in "Super Saturday".
Bridge Clinic in Wausau welcomed people to sign up for health insurance options Saturday.
The Open Enrollment deadline is February 15th. If you don't sign up before then, it could cost you $325 or more depending on your income.
"We recommend just make an informed choice. Don't just let it lapse and get the penalty, be surprised with a penalty later on. Come in, make an informed choice. There are health care options," said Bridge Community Health Clinic Executive Director Laura Scudiere.
PINE RIVER - Firefighters in Pine River had a tough day Saturday. They battled a house fire Friday night.
Crews didn't finish cleaning up the scene until 3:30 Saturday morning. Then they got called to a second fire in the afternoon.
The first fire happened at 9:12 p.m. The Lincoln County Dispatch Center got a call about a possible structure fire on County Highway WW in the Town of Pine River. That's east of Merrill, but when the Pine River Department got there, the house was in flames.
MADISON - A team of students from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is conducting research on foxes and coyotes in hopes of learning how the animals and humans can peacefully coexist.
Forest and wildlife associate professor David Drake and his students are humanely trapping the animals, running tests, then fitting them with tracking devices. The goal is to learn about traveling patterns, diseases the animals might have, and how they interact with other animals and humans.
Drake says foxes and coyotes are moving into areas where people are living. And if that continues, and the animals lose their fear of humans, they could become aggressive in extreme cases.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says residents should stay a safe distance from foxes or coyotes, and shouldn't feed them.
NEW YORK - More than 2 million Toyota, Chrysler and Honda vehicles are being recalled for a second fix for faulty air bags that may inadvertently inflate while the car is running.
The recall includes some Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Avalon models made from 2002 to 2004.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says all the vehicles covered in Saturday's announcement had already been under a recall for the faulty air bags, but the carmakers' original attempts to fix the defects only worked about 85 percent of the time.
MILWAUKEE - A winter storm warning will go into effect in the Milwaukee area and far southern Wisconsin on Saturday night â€" and the National Weather Service says as much as 10 inches of snow could fall in Kenosha County by early Monday.
Snow is forecast to begin falling late Saturday and continue all day Sunday. Lake-effect snow is expected to combine with a low pressure system from the south to drive up snowfall totals in far southeast Wisconsin. Milwaukee could see up to 9 inches.
Blowing and drifting snow is expected and winds could gust to over 30 mph, making travel dangerous.
Other parts of the state, including Sheboygan, Dodge, and Waukesha counties, will be under a winter weather advisory starting Saturday night. Snow accumulations could reach 4 to 7 inches.
NORTHWOODS - The U.S. Forest Service will hire thousands of temporary workers this spring. Leaders at the Chequamegon Nicolet Forest Service want to hire more than 50 temporary employees to work during summer. They're looking for people with diverse backgrounds and plenty of experience.
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