LAONA - What should the rules be for wolf hunting in Wisconsin?
How can we deal with phosphorous runoff in state rivers?
Should we should be able to hunt in state parks?
Those are some of the big questions Wisconsin's Natural Resources Board deals with.
Now, a longtime scientist from a small Northwoods community will join the decision-makers.
Laona isn't typically a hotbed of state leaders.
But on Tuesday, Laona native Gary Zimmer joined a group with real power to shape how we interact with nature in our state.
All 33 state senators voted to confirm Zimmer to his new post on the seven-member Natural Resources Board.
His perspective should be a valuable addition to the group.
"Our Natural Resources Board is made up of a number of different individuals. I'm one of the few that has a scientific background on the board. There's folks with real estate or farming backgrounds, just a wide range of backgrounds, and that's really important to making good decisions out there," he says.
Zimmer has worked in Laona for the Ruffed Grouse Society for the last 13 years.
Before that, he spent 18 years with the U.S. Forest Service in the Northwoods.
He plans to make the interaction between forestry and wildlife management a focus of his as a new member of the board.
"The state forests, the county forests, and the state wildlife management areas are all forests that are certified. That shows the well-managed sustained-yield forests that we do have. Those forests are very, very important for wildlife management," he says.
Zimmer will sit down for his first meeting as an official board member two weeks from Tuesday.
EAGLE RIVER - These unseasonably warm temps can make it hard for snowmobilers to enjoy the trails. The Wisconsin Snow Report says snowmobile trails in Eagle River are overall in poor condition.
On many of the trails, you'll see more gravel and dirt than actual snow.
"You don't know if the season comes to an end at this point because you never know when Mother Nature will throw a twist at things and give you a 20 inch snowstorm because that can happen. You know, the big lake is still open up north and if the winds come down that way, we could see a lot of Lake Affect snow yet," said Eagle River Sno Eagles Trail Boss Brian Scheid.
STEVENS POINT - A former Portage County doctor could go to prison for sexually assaulting his patients. Wilton Calderon pled guilty to three felonies Friday.
Calderon was a caregiver at the Plover Family Practice until leaving it in 2015. He then moved to Connecticut.
At least seven women accused Calderon of sexually assaulted them during appointments. Some patients said Calderon placed his genitals in their hands and performed unwanted gynecological exams by penetrating them with his fingers.
SUGAR CAMP - Update Feb. 17, 2017 10:20 p.m. -- The woman who runs an Oneida County animal rescue could face animal mistreatment charges.
Oneida County Deputies booked Stephanie Schneider on Thursday. She is due in court on Feb. 27.
Last week, deputies removed 39 dogs from Schneider's "It Matters to One" in Sugar Camp and put them at the Oneida County Humane Society.
Police are recommending charges to the district attorney, which include failing to provide food and water, mistreating animals, and obstructing officers.
People who know Schneider say they can't believe this is happening.
"I'm just heartsick about this, and I'm sick at heart for her," said LynnAnn Thomas, a Sugar Camp resident who says she's friends with Stephanie Schneider.
"Those are her children. She would never, ever , ever mistreat them," Thomas said.
But that's exactly what police believe Schneider did. Last week they removed the dogs from the facility after a weeks-long investigation that was prompted by complaints and concerns from several people.
"People that had worked or volunteered there were concerned about the conditions that the dogs were in and the fact that they were not receiving food or water," said Oneida County Sheriff's Capt. Terri Hook.
Those accusations baffle Thomas.
"I been over there several times, it's always been meticulously clean, happy dogs," Thomas said.
Thomas believes whatever condition the dogs were in, they came to Schneider that way.
"She does get some really, really, really desperate cases, and I imagine that they take a long time to heal," Thomas said.
Thomas added she got her own dog from It Matters To One a few years ago.
"I got my little Hankey, he came in in really bad shape, and she wouldn't let me have him until he was nursed back to health," Thomas said.
Since the dogs were removed, It Matters to One posted certificates of veterinary inspections on its Facebook page for most of the 39 dogs. The Sheriff's Office has seen those and is including them in its investigation, which is ongoing and may not end soon.
"Just to ensure that all the dogs are healed and make sure they've received all the care they need," Hook said.
Newswatch 12 has reached out to It Matters to One and has been communicating with the rescue via email.
The state Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection is helping the sheriff's office with its investigation and will decide if the rescue can keep its license.
Newswatch 12 also reached out to the veterinarian who conducted the inspections for the rescue, but has not yet heard back.
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