WISCONSIN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT RELEASE: Northwestern Wisconsin Flooding

Absentee landowners may want to make time to head to their properties and check for any potential damage caused by these storms.

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Incident Report #3 – 06/19/18 4:00 pm

Recovery and assessment efforts are underway in northwestern Wisconsin, after historic flooding caused widespread damage to roads and properties across the region in recent days.

Governor Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency for Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, and Iron Counties. The governor has directed all state agencies to assist with the response to the flooding. He has also called members of the Wisconsin National Guard to active duty as Major General Don Dunbar, the state’s adjutant general, deems necessary. The governor viewed flood damage in the region on Monday evening and met with local officials who are leading the response.

Property owners in the northwest region who experienced flood damage should contact 2-1-1 to file a report. Information gathered will be passed on to county officials, as they work to assess damage done in their areas. [Read more…]

Marshfield Clinic Research Institute Lyme Disease Scientists Looking for Research Participants

Marshfield Clinic Research Institute (MCRI) is looking for patients suspected to be in the early stages of Lyme disease to aid in the research of the disease. The research is in participation with the Lyme Disease Biobank, a program that collects blood and urine samples of people with early Lyme disease in multiple regions across the country, including the East Coast, Wisconsin, and California. One of the ultimate goals is to help researchers develop a better diagnostic test for confirming the presence of Lyme disease and in turn improve patient care. Participants will be compensated for participating. See more information in this press release.

DHS Encourages Residents to Take Action to Prevent Tick and Mosquito Bites

While many Wisconsin residents are more than ready to take advantage of the warmer weather and enjoy all the resources the state has to offer, the Department of Health Services (DHS) strongly encourages everyone to take care to avoid tick and mosquito bites.

Both ticks and mosquitoes can transmit various illnesses. Lyme disease, which is spread by ticks, and West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, account for most of the disease spread by ticks and mosquitoes in Wisconsin.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows Wisconsin among the top 20% of states reporting cases of tick-borne disease in the country. Wisconsin reported 4,299 cases of Lyme disease in 2017, the highest number reported in our state to date.

In addition, there were 51 human cases of West Nile virus reported in 2017, the highest number in Wisconsin since 2012. Certain dead birds can be an indication of West Nile virus in an area. DHS encourages anyone who finds a sick or dead bird to call the dead bird reporting hotline at 800-433-1610.

[Read more…]

The Tick App

Researchers from Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin – Madison along with members of the CDC Regional Centers for Excellence in Vector-Borne diseases are conducting a tick exposure behavioral study. As part of the study they have recently released the Tick App. The website also contains information on tick ID and tick safety. 

From the Tick App website:

What is the study about?

In two words, Lyme disease. Lyme disease can be transmitted to humans after a tick bite. This study is designed to help researchers understand more about how  people’s practices and activities impact their exposure to ticks. This research is being done because Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease (infections transmitted by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies, etc) in the United States. The information provided will help researchers design integrated control strategies to prevent diseases transmitted by ticks.

Why is my participation important and how is the app useful to me?

If you live in a high-risk area, sharing your experience and perspective with researchers will help them learn about the risk factors for tick borne disease and design better methods that prevent tick bites and tick-borne disease. 

Also included is information that will help you identify the different tick species, ways to prevent tick exposure and other information that will help you understand more about ticks and the diseases they transmit.

[Read more…]

Recalled Electric Chainsaws Can Accidentally Re-start

Hardware retailer Harbor Freight is recalling one million chainsaws after reports that the machines can re-start even when they’re in the “off” position.

The company announced that it was recalling chainsaws manufactured in China and sold in its stores in the U.S. The Consumer Products Safety Commission says Harbor Freight received 15 complaints where a chainsaw user’s switch malfunctioned and their 14-inch chainsaws restarted unexpectedly.

There are two models of the electric chainsaw being recalled and they are labeled with three different brand names — “The Portland,” “One Stop Gardens” and “Chicago Electric.” It’s important to check if you think you might have one of these saws in your tool shed, because Harbor Freight actually began selling these as far back as 2009.

If you have one, you are being urged to bring it back to the store for a replacement.

Details about the recall can be found here

Mink Frogs Surveys Coming Soon to Northern Wisconsin Wetlands

Mink frogs are a “Species of Special Concern” in Wisconsin, meaning their populations are low or declining. DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation staff are actively tracking them, but we need your help to close information gaps.

Mink frogs often call during the day, outside the window when our Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey volunteers listen for frog calls. So we’re launching special surveys this summer for mink frogs from June 6 – July 15. The surveys will include two daytime surveys and two evening surveys. For information on  routes and how to be part of the survey can be found here.

Contact project coordinator Rori Paloski for more information.

CONTACT

Rori Paloski | Rori.Paloski@wi.gov

Homes Can Survive a Wildfire

With fire season still lingering in the north, the DNR has reported 53 structures destroyed by wildfires so far this year. The good news is, 439 were also threatened yet saved with firefighter assistance.

To find out if your home or cabin is a high wildfire risk area, ask yourself these questions: Is your place surrounded by oak or pine trees? Are your rain gutters full of pine needles? Is your lawn covered with leaves? Is there a Smokey Bear fire danger sign in your community?

If you answered “yes,” you might have some work to do! As we head into the long weekend, grab a rake and gloves, and take a peek at ways you can prepare your property for wildfire. Avoid burning by hauling the debris to a brush & leaf drop-off site or compost the material. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/preparing.html

Helpful Tips Can Help Wisconsin Homeowners Avoid Potential Conflicts with Black Bears

MADISON – Black bears have begun to emerge from their dens throughout Wisconsin and homeowners are encouraged to take precautions to avoid potential conflicts.

Black bears normally avoid contact with people, but when food sources are available bears can quickly learn to associate humans with food.

“Bear are opportunistic feeders and will take advantage of available food sources,” said Brad Koele, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife damage specialist. “Bird feeders, garbage cans, grills, and uncontained compost or pet food left outside can be targets for hungry bears – it’s important to make these attractants inaccessible to bear at all times of the year but particularly in the spring time when natural food sources are limited.”

Homeowners can follow these steps to avoid attracting black bears:

  • Do not knowingly feed a bear.
  • Completely remove bird feeders, even during daytime hours – bears are active during the day and may cause problems even if the feeders are out only during that time.
  • Clean areas where bird feeders were located so that accumulated deposits of spilled seed are removed.
  • Reduce garbage odors by rinsing food cans before putting them in covered recycling containers or garbage cans.
  • Keep meat scraps in the freezer until garbage day, and if possible, keep garbage cans in a closed building until the morning of pick-up.
  • Be sure to lock commercial dumpsters.
  • Keep pet food inside or inaccessible to bears even during daytime hours.
  • Keep barbeque grills and picnic tables clean.

[Read more…]

Camping This Summer? Leave Firewood at Home

MADISON – As you kick off your summer camping and cabin season this Memorial Day weekend, don’t be the one who brings emerald ash borer, gypsy moth or other pests and diseases to new homes in Wisconsin.

“Buy it where you burn it,” says Brian Kuhn, director of the Plant Industry Bureau in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “State parks require that firewood be brought from no more than 10 miles away. National forests require it to be purchased within 25 miles. Many private campgrounds prohibit bringing in firewood at all. And if you live in a county that’s under quarantine for gypsy moth, it’s actually illegal to take firewood to a non-quarantine county. The only exception to these regulations is when you buy firewood marked with the DATCP certification.”

[Read more…]

White-Nose Syndrome Continues to Ravage Cave Bat Populations

Wisconsin bats continue to be hit hard by white-nose syndrome (WNS).  All 60 survey sites visited by conservation biologists in winter 2018 showed signs of infection.  A 99 percent decrease from historic averages at the first documented infection site; a 92 percent drop at sites in their fourth year of infection, and an 85 percent drop at sites in their third year of infection were documented. Twenty-five of the 28 counties with known bat hibernacula now have WNS or the fungus that causes it. The steep loss of these beneficial insect-eaters is likely to be reflected this summer in the nighttime skies.

On the brighter side of things, progress is being made in treatments and vaccines of WNS. Some of that good news includes:

  • Three of the nine bats found in the Grant County site where white-nose syndrome was first detected in 2014 were juveniles, indicating some natural reproduction is still taking place.
  • A technique to administer vaccines to bats to prevent white-nose syndrome infections is showing promise and DNR bat biologists will continue assisting the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Wisconsin researchers in refining the method this summer.
  • A treatment using ultra-violet light is showing promise in killing the fungus causing white-nose syndrome in bats. DNR bat biologists have continued to work with scientists at the U.S. Forest Service in Madison and Bucknell University in Pennsylvania on the study.

To read more about the white-nose syndrome updates click here.