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.
ARBOR VITAE - The Arbor Vitae Fire Department hosted its 39th Fireman's Picnic and Summerfest this weekend.
Thousands of people came out to benefit the fire department while having a good time. The fire department held the crowd favorite lawnmower races again this year.
They also had a volleyball tournament and games for kids. The fire chief says all the proceeds help the department pay for equipment.
"When we purchased our new fire truck, the fire department funded a good portion of the money, the fundraiser money, to help keep the tax dollars down so the tax payers didn't have to foot the whole bill for the truck," said Arbor Vitae Fire Department Chief Mike Van Meter. "And we also use it to buy turnout gear throughout the year, new air packs. Anything we can do to keep it off the tax roll."
WABENO - People went out to Wabeno this weekend for its first ever Art and Music Fest. Musicians performed in the band shell while local artists spread out to show their products.
There were food and drinks as well as workshops for people to learn more about art.
"This year we've had about 20 musicians performing on three stages," said Friends of Wabeno Chairperson Mary Beck. "And we've had maybe ten artists doing demonstrations, showing people what they can do and what they can buy."
The rain Sunday didn't stop people from having a good time. Volunteers hope to make this an annual event.
WISCONSIN - Anyone who loves hunting and fishing will need to apply for a license. The deadline for some hunting and fishing licenses is August 1 at 11:59 p.m.
Hunters, trappers and spearers can go on the DNR website to apply.
"This is the time of year where not a lot of people are thinking about hunting, but that August 1 date is that date for applying for a bobcat, fisher or otter tag, sharp-tail grouse, or sturgeon spearing or fall turkey," said DNR Warden Supervisor David Walz.
ST. GERMAIN - The last day of Pig in the Pines wrapped up Saturday. People were able to watch the rib eating contest in the afternoon.
Newswatch 12 got to help judge ribs from this year's four rib vendors. One of the big events happened on the main stage Saturday evening.
"We have entertainment all day long," said St. Germain Chamber President Bruce Weber. "We have the Wise Guys on our main stage. We have Laura Ernst on the aerial platform here. She also does juggling. On our major stage, we have One Ping Only, and we also have Molly Hatchet, our lead act tonight."
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