MINOCQUA - You'll notice birds chirping and eagles soaring as spring slowly comes around. But you may hear different tunes outside in the Northwoods this spring, as well, ones that "hoot".
This year's long winter has sent some north-of-the-border owls south into Wisconsin. The northern hawk owl, the great gray owl, and the boreal owl are not native to Wisconsin.
But because of food shortages in Canada the owls have flown south and they may run into a different problem here in the Northwoods, according to the Assistant Director of Education Courtney Wright at the Northwoods Wildlife Center.
"When we have a lot of freezing and thawing, or we do get a late snow pack, they can't really get through the ice crust that's on top of the snow to get down to their food. Now that's not necessarily the case for great grey owls or other owls that live around here, so it can very based on the bird too."
The three species of owl not normally seen have been spotted in Door, Ashland, Douglas, and as far south as Racine Counties.
If you happen to spot one of these non-native owls the DNR would like to know about it. Fill out a rare bird sighting form by following the link below.
RHINELANDER - The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission will get its long-awaited federal funding installment by October 4.
The timing means no Northwoods Transit Connections drivers will have to voluntarily furlough their pay, but the requirement of 24-hour advance notice for rides will stay in place.
Transit Commission Chair Erv Teichmiller learned the news over the weekend.
The commission is waiting on an expected payment of $300,000 from the federal government. In 2016, that money came in early September. As of last Friday, the commission wasn't expecting the payment until as late as November.
RHINELANDER - A large open lot on Rhinelander's east side could soon fill in with a chain restaurant.
Cory Moritz-Hoffmann and her husband hope to build a Pizza Ranch next to Kwik Trip on Eisenhower Parkway. The pair of former Pine Lake firefighters got the idea about six years ago when they first went to a Pizza Ranch in Iowa.
They considered pursing a franchise then, but it was more than they could afford at the time. About two years ago, the Hoffmanns contacted an investor and saw an opportunity to turn their dream into a reality.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander factory that makes smoke flavoring caught fire early Monday morning.
Shortly before 6:00 a.m., Rhinelander, Crescent and Newbold Fire Departments responded to a fire at Red Arrow Products on Rhinelander's west side.
An employee says there were about eight workers inside at the time.
No one was injured.
"Flames were coming out of a conveyor area as high as the roof. We made an interior attack and knocked that flame down. Came in from the other side of the partition wall, then made another interior attack and knocked that down," says Chief Terry Williams.
As of 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, firefighters were still working to make sure the flames were out.
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