Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Green Bay yellow perch hearings set for October

Burnett County vet warns of timber wolf
problems

By Tim Eisele Correspondent

Spooner, Wis. — The Natural Resources Board (NRB)
approved public hearings, to be held in October, that could lead to
an increase in the sportfish daily bag limit of perch in Green Bay
from 10 to 25 while also increasing the commercial harvest from
20,000 pounds to 60,000 pounds.

The board approved those hearings when it met Aug. 17 in
Spooner. Since then, the DNR has scheduled two hearings – both for
Oct. 12. One meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Peshtigo City
Hall; the other will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the UW-Green Bay Cofrin
Building.

Mike Staggs, DNR director of Fisheries Management and
Habitat Protection, described a series of perch reproduction
failures, with perch abundance in Green Bay declining 90 percent
between 1988 and 2000. Accordingly, the sport bag limit and
commercial fishing quota both were lowered in 2001.

There is a June 30, 2006 sunset on the reduced bag limit
and commercial quota. The limits would then return to the statewide
bag of 25 and commercial quota of 200,000 pounds, unless changes
are made in the meantime.

There’s a good 2003 perch year-class and commercial
fishermen have asked that the DNR begin the process to allow
increased bags and quotas, so those changes can go into effect as
soon as the sunset occurs, or before, if data warrants
change.

“We do not yet have the information for our fall sampling
but expect to get that in the next month,” Staggs said. “We want to
get the process going, and we are asking for public hearings on
what is our best guess for the quota as of today.”

The pattern of Green Bay perch abundance has fluctuated,
with strong year-classes in the 1980s, but a long period of poor
reproduction in the 1990s.

The 2003 year-class appears to be a slow-growing group,
which could indicate poor survival.

“There are some ‘red flags’ that we’ve seen. This
year-class may not produce the numbers of adults that we saw from
such a year-class during the 1980s,” Staggs said. “There aren’t a
lot of fish out there other than the 2003 year-class.”

Staggs wants to be conservative, but not overly
restrictive in recommendations for a reasonable harvest, hoping to
eventually have a 50/50 split in the harvest between sport and
commercial fishermen. The information should be updated by the time
the DNR holds public hearings in October, and if the DNR finds the
2003 year-class is not as abundant as was thought in August, it
could revise its proposal and recommend continuing with the current
reduced harvest limits.

Timber wolf update

NRB members heard a report from Dr. Greg Palmquist, a
veterinarian in Danbury, who has been the vet for T&T Ranch in
Burnett County for 17 years. As wolf problems became worse on that
farm, he was asked to come up with solutions.

Wolf depredation started with a few calves and progressed
to calves and cows, he said. As depredations became worse, the
owners, brothers Tim and Tony Fornengo, asked Palmquist for
recommendations on what could be done to reduce their
losses.

“I was very familiar with the natural behavior of the
cows. During the course of this investigation I noted the cows were
very agitated and clustered close together,” Palmquist said. “They
were not spread out grazing, drinking, or resting like they
normally would be during the day. Many cows were wandering around
bellowing, likely searching around for a missing calf.”

The dead calves that he’s examined had various causes of
death. Some had signs of heart problems, some had pneumonia, and
some had been choked to death from bites to the neck. Almost all
calves were in good body condition, but he thought it was unusual
that some had pneumonia even though they had been vaccinated
against it the previous month. Some cows did not appear to have
much milk in the udders.

“Somehow this depredation must be stopped for humane
reasons and for the economic viability of this ranch,” Palmquist
said. “It is interesting to note that the increase in losses is
happening at the same time that the wolf population is
increasing.”

Palmquist noted the effects the depredation problem has
had on the farm family. He said members of the family spent
sleepless nights trying to do something to aid their animals;
family members also say they’ve been awakened by the cattle
“roaring around” in the pasture while being chased by
wolves.

Palmquist said from what he has researched, non-lethal
methods of controlling animals causing depredation have not worked
long because wolves adapt quickly. He said the public must realize
that these methods are not a long-term solution.

“When most of us think about losses from predation, we
think of dead or missing animals,” he said. “From my observations,
I feel there are more costs to the rancher than just the loss of
animals. First on my list is the added cost in time and money
necessary to deal with the problem.”

He referred to higher neonatal mortality, as cattle spend
less time foraging and can be undernourished and stressed. Another
concern is disease transmission from wild canines to
cattle.

“I am not here to tell you that wolves are the major
problem for livestock producers in northern Wisconsin,” he said.
“The industry cannot blame all losses on a predator. But I do feel
that when a wolf pack targets a herd, the losses to that herd can
be significant. If we are to expect more cases of wolf depredation
each year, this is a problem that needs to be
controlled.”

In response to questions from board members, Palmquist
said he thought trapping seemed to work, but it is more important
to be proactive where cattle are concerned, than to react after a
problem already has occurred.

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