DNR: corn and hay deadly for deer in winter following elk death in Rusk Co.Submitted: 01/13/2020
Stephen Goin
Stephen Goin

DNR: corn and hay deadly for deer in winter following elk death in Rusk Co.
RHINELANDER - Watching wildlife struggle during the winter is part of life in Northern Wisconsin. 

"It's hard to watch deer walking around, and they look kind of thin and scraggly - especially in February," said Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologists Jeremy Holtz. 

It is still illegal to feed deer in a majority of Wisconsin counties including Oneida, Marathon, Portage, Vilas, Forest, Langlade, Wood and Lincoln counties. Holtz said the bait and feed ban was put in place in 2016 to lower the risk of deer spreading chronic wasting disease (CWD).

Farmers Feed Store owner Kelly Ramker said the bait and feed ban negatively impacts her business and frustrates many of her customers.

"My business was hurt, especially that first year," said Ramker."They've got all these wild animals that can't find food and their faced with a dilemma of not being allowed to feed them."

Holtz said the recent death of an elk in Rusk Co. could show people other reasons why feeding deer is dangerous.

On Jan. 2, an elk was found dead after a landowner put out corn for the animal to eat. The DNR called the move a "misguided attempted" to help wildlife.

"If you feed them the wrong food at the wrong time, you'll actually kill them," said Holtz.

According to DNR deer and elk expert Kevin Wallenfang, the animal died from rumen acidosis. The condition affects elk and deer when their diet's change rapidly. In the winter, deer are less active and access body fat reserves to stay alive. According to the DNR, naturally found foods are less nutritious and less abundant in the winter than in the summer.

According to the DNR, the rich starch content of corn can make it harder for deer to digest food properly in the winter. Holtz says hay can also be difficult for deer to digest in the winter.

Feeding deer and elk is legal in many Wisconsin communities including Rusk, Price, Ashland and Iron counties. However, Holtz warns death is not the only unintended consequence of feeding deer; nutrient overdose is another concern. An overdose of nutrients can cause a condition called slipper foot where deer hooves grow faster than the animal can naturally grind them down.

"If it is legal, you should put out foods that are going to help the animal, not kill them," said Holtz.

Instead of corn and hay, Holtz explains that deer food mixes and oats are better feed alternatives.

Ramker says she'll continue to sell both deer food mix and oats, but she typically doesn't ask her customers where and how they plan to use it.

"I think in some way shape of form there should be a blind eye when it comes to the winter months," said Ramker. "What they do with it when they leave here isn't my business."

Find a list of additional state regulations regarding deer feeding here.

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LA CROSSE - The Diocese of La Crosse has released the names of 25 clergy men with substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse made against them.

At least 16 of the men on the list face multiple allegations of child sex abuse.

Of the 25 men on the list, 18 have died. All of the men have been taken out of public ministry.

The list did not specify when or where the alleged abuse took place.

Eight of the men on the list have worked in Eau Claire including Bruce Ball (Immaculate Conception-Regis High School), Thomas Dempsey (Sacred Heart of Jesus-Sacred Heart Hospital), James Ennis (Sacred Heart of Jesus), James Finucan (St. James the Greater), James E. Mason (Immaculate Conception-Regis High School, Newman Center-Regis High School), James Stauber (St. Patrick Jr. High School-Regis High School), Raymond J. Wagner (St. Patrick) and Daniel Budzynski (Newman Parish).

Seven of the men have worked in Chippewa Falls including Eugene Comiskey (Holy Ghost), Thomas Dempsey (Northern Colony and Training School), Richard Herrmann (St. Charles Borromeo-McDonnel High School), William Hertzenberg (Notre Dame), James E. Mason (McDonnel High School), Albert Sonnberger (Notre Dame, St. Charles Borromeo) and Francis Zimmerer (St. Joseph's Hospital).

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EAGLE RIVER - Professional snowmobilers took to the racetrack in Eagle River this weekend. However, they weren't the only ones riding on some top-of-the line sleds.

Arctic Cat was at the derby offering demo rides on their 2021 models. People got a chance to try out the different machines, and put money down on a model of their choice.

Sales director Joe Klosterman said it's important for people to try before they buy.

"We do it to give an experience to the consumer," said Klosterman. "You wouldn't buy a car without driving it. We've also got a new model this year that I think is going to bring a lot of new people into the industry." 

Demo workers took guests out on a 10-mile loop to experience some of the best trails in the Northwoods. Those trails featured curbs, some fresh powder, and lots of bumps to test the machines' suspension.

Klosterman said Arctic Cat sold lots of sleds over the weekend thanks to the promotion.

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RHINELANDER - The League of Women Voters of the Northwoods held a session on how to vote in Wisconsin at ArtStart earlier this evening.

They highlighted the voting process including what forms of ID are required.

Co-chair of the group, Debra Durchslag said she was happy after Sunday's turnout.

"I was very pleased to see a new group of interested Oneida county residents who are very much interested to register unregistered voters," said Durchslag

The League is a non-partisan organization devoted to educating the public about local and national politics.

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RHINELANDER - High school and middle school cross country skiers spent the weekend competing in Rhinelander for the annual Ascension Northwoods Nordic Hodag Challenge.

The two-day event attracted teams from more than 10 different schools across Wisconsin, and some schools from Michigan.

Head Coach for Rhinelander Nordic Charil Reis said her team spent a lot of time hitting the trails thanks to the generosity of mother nature. 

"We've been blessed with a lot of snow this year, so we haven't had to do a lot of indoor type of practice," said Reis.

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OSHKOSH, WIS. (AP) - A Wisconsin teenager who was shot and wounded when he stabbed a school resource officer has been ordered to stand trial.

Grant Fuhrman, 17, is charged as an adult with attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the Dec. 3 attack at Oshkosh West High School.

Fuhrman is accused of stabbing Mike Wissink multiple times with a barbecue fork. Court documents say the officer was unable to reach his stun gun so he shot Fuhrman twice. Neither was seriously injured.

The school was evacuated and classes were cancelled for two days.

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IRON COUNTY - One person died in a snowmobiling incident in Iron County early Sunday morning. The victim was identified as a 47-year-old female.

According to a press release by the Iron County Sheriff's Department, dispatch received a call at 1:52 a.m. reporting a snowmobile crashed on Trail 17 just outside Hurley and the operator was unresponsive.

First responders arrived at 2:04 a.m. and began taking life saving measures. The driver was then transported by rescue sled to Beacon ambulance and then to Aspirus GVH in Ironwood, MI.

After continued life-saving measures, the 47-year-old female was pronounced dead at Aspirus Hospital.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced Sunday he wants state lawmakers to pass a package of bills aimed at curbing youth vaping and educating the public about vaping's potential dangers.

The bills Evers, a Democrat, is requesting would ban vaping and vapor products on K-12 campuses and expand the definition of public health emergencies. Another bill would fund a public health campaign to address youth vaping in the state and a fourth proposal would expand the enforcement capacity of the Departments of Revenue and Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to prevent vaping products from being sold to minors.

The governor's office outlined his proposals in a press release Sunday.

"As a parent, grandparent, and lifelong educator, I am deeply concerned about the health and well-being of our kids," Evers said in a statement. "Vaping is a serious public health epidemic and it is time to take action."

The governor's office said vaping products pose serious health risks to young users because the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes can harm parts of the brain that control attention and learning.

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