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NEWS STORIES

Canada geese banding an effort in patience, strategySubmitted: 07/22/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - More than one million Canada geese fly up and down what's called the Mississippi River Flyway each year.

Their route often includes northern Wisconsin.

Many of the geese live here in the Northwoods during the summer.

Scientists want to know more about this goose population and how they move.

The process is simple.

Scientists momentarily capture the geese, put an identification band on their leg, and set them free.

On Monday morning, DNR workers and volunteers helped do that on the Wisconsin Flowage just north of Rhinelander.

"You pretty much have to go out and scout right away in the morning, and find where they're at, and then slowly herd them, kind of like cattle, herd them this direction, and then surround them with the canoes and the kayaks, and slowly get them to walk up into the pens," says DNR Wildlife Technician Eric Kroening.

The geese won't fly away - they're in their flightless molting stage.

Each one gets a metal band around their leg.

If one is shot during hunting season, the hunter will call in the tracking number.

"It helps us with population trends, distribution, where they're migrating. This all helps with, we're in the Mississippi Flyway, it helps with managing the geese in the flyway," Kroening says.

DNR workers in the Northwoods band one hundred birds every year.

Four thousand will be banded across all of Wisconsin.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

FITCHBURG - Investigators will try to figure out why a house exploded in southern Wisconsin.

The blast critically injured a man and caused damage to at least two dozen other homes in the neighborhood.

The 57-year-old man has significant injuries as a result of the explosion just before 7:00 p.m. Thursday night in Fitchburg.

Fire fighters say three nearby houses have major structural damage and 23 others have moderate to minor damage.

Debris from the explosion landed about a-half mile from the scene.

While the cause has not yet been determined, witnesses say there was a strong smell of gas.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state investigators are assisting Fitchburg police.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - Within a few hours, a jury found a Fox Valley man guilty of stealing things from the house where Ashlee Martinson killed Thomas and Jennifer Ayers Thursday.

The two-day trial for Mark Spietz, 39, of Kaukauna, finished up Thursday afternoon, following a morning of the defense arguing it was all part of Spietz's job.

Spietz was a contract worker for a company called TruAssets, which secures abandoned or foreclosed homes throughout the country. The company is based in Arizona.

On Thursday, Spietz testified that in September and October, he took ATVs, bows, a John Deere tractor, a trailer and Jennifer Ayers' purse from the house to try and secure it for his employer.

"My experience with the work order is that it is our job to make sure the property is secured," Spietz said. "Obviously if I can open the doors and get into it, anybody can open the doors and get into it. So I ended up removing the ATVs with the trailer and them bringing them back to Kaukauna to lock up in my storage facility where they would be under lock and key for the future for whatever the bank decided they wanted to do with their property."

In the criminal complaint, however, Spietz told investigators he took the purse because he thought his wife would like it.

But the state argued Thursday he technically didn't have permission from the company to be at the house after the first visit. Oneida County District Attorney Mike Schiek presented Spietz with the original work order form TruAssets assigned him. The document specifically stated not to remove any personal property from the house, and that contract workers should submit a bid for the property if they do take it from the house.

Schiek then argued Spietz specifically targeted the empty house because he knew its owners were dead.

"Looking back, what did you think you saw?" Schiek asked Spietz during his cross examination.

"Couple spots on the floor, large, dark spots," Spietz responded.

"Knowing what you know now, do you know what that was?" Schiek asked.

"To the best of my knowledge that's where they were killed," Spietz replied.

Spietz's attorney Brian Bennett said since Spietz is not from the area, he wouldn't have known the homicides happened at the house. He argued there was no sign saying no trespassing, nor had he had any knowledge the house was in probate.

"He used his best judgment based on his experience," Bennett said during his closing argument. "Which makes him quite possibly, if he's a burglar, the worst burglar in the world."

Bennett added Spietz gets little supervision from TruAssets, as Spietz testified he has never met a person from the company.

"It seems like a burden to have to come up here, pick up the stuff, store it, mess around with it, hold onto the titles, make sure it doesn't get stolen," Bennett said during his closing argument. "That's not a jackpot, that's a burden." 

Spietz will be sentenced in October. 

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RHINELANDER - Workers for a Northwoods defense contractor will keep their jobs as the company goes through a sale. 

Private Equity firm J.F. Lehman and Company will buy Oldenburg Group's defense and mining divisions.

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VILAS COUNTY - Soon snow will be falling. In fact, preparation for snowmobile season starts as soon as next month.
Cross Country Cruisers Snowmobile Club President David Assmann and his crew are just about ready to hit the trails, starting in September.

"We cut all the brush and everything that's low to the ground," said Assmann.

His crew spends a lot of volunteered time making sure 93 miles of trails near Arbor Vitae are ready and safe to use in the winter.

"We have at least five guys going out, sometimes twice a day. We do trails in the morning and then trails late at night," said Assmann.

Many people who live here use the Northwoods trails, but so do a lot of tourists during the winter months.
"We are able to go out, get these trails groomed so that the tourists that come up can go on our trails, can get to the different businesses in the area, and that helps the economy up here," said Assmann.

With so many miles of trails in Vilas County, one of the best parts is that there is equipment made to maintain those trails, right in St. Germain.

Arrowhead Groomers has been in Vilas County since 1976. The company builds equipment that levels out the trails.

"We manufacture the snow groomer drags primarily for snowmobile trails. Some of them end up getting used on cross country ski trails as well," said Walker Equipment owner Dave Walker.

Another local snowmobile club, Bo-Boen, uses the Arrowhead Groomers on their trails as well.

"I have 17 drivers on my staff that maintain 100 miles of trails here in St. Germain. We're very cognizant of the fact that we have to do a good job to bring those people here so they can spend their money and keep our economy going," said the trail boss for Bo-Boen snowmobile club Jim Wendt.

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EAGLE RIVER - An old jail doesn't exactly make for great office space.  But some Vilas County departments have used those parts of the courthouse as offices for decades.  That makes construction that started this week a welcome distraction.

Work to tear down the Social Services wing of the courthouse started Wednesday.  Crews will build a two-story expansion on the east side of the courthouse.

That will allow Social Services, Veterans Services, the Commission on Aging, Tourism and Publicity, and other departments to move into the same building.  The expansion will also include new break rooms and conference rooms.

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MADISON - Five candidates for president other than Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have met qualifications to be on the ballot in Wisconsin.

The state Elections Commission is slated to approve the ballot on Tuesday.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - There's a lot of things you won't find at Aqualand Alehouse in Boulder Junction that you're probably used to seeing in the Northwoods.

You won't find a deep fryer in its kitchen, you won't find any Miller Lite on tap, and you won't find any fish fry on Friday night's.

But you might just find your new favorite pub.

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