Ecologists Need Your Help Spotting Eagle Nests, More Schools Starting Clay Target Leagues, How Should Development Be Decided On Native Lands?

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Keep your eye out for bald eagle’s nests with occupants. We’ll find out about DNR efforts to monitor these nests and how you can help. We also talk to the coach and student of a Wisconsin school clay target league and discuss the nature of natural resources on Native American land and the Department of the Interior’s treatment of it.

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  • DNR Seeks Bald Eagle Nest Reports In Southeastern Wisconsin

    Wisconsin’s bald eagle population has been steadily growing since the 1970s.

    But until recently, the state still had three counties without any known bald eagle nests: Kenosha, Walworth and Milwaukee counties.

    Then, last year, state ecologists discovered an occupied bald eagle nest in Kenosha County. It was a promising discovery, says Sharon Fandel, a field ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources covering southeast Wisconsin.

    The DNR is now turning to the public for help. It’s asking Wisconsinites to report any bald eagle nests they see throughout the state, especially in southeastern Wisconsin.

    As America’s national bird, the adult bald eagle is fairly easy to identify, Fandel said. They’re large and dark-colored, with white heads and white tails.

    However, juvenile bald eagles don’t have white heads or white tails. So you might run into a bit of trouble identifying them.

    “Other birds you might get them confused with could be turkey vultures, which we have plenty of in the state,” she said. “And occasionally during the winter months you could get them confused with maybe a golden eagle, but that would be more rare.”

    If you think you’ve spotted a natural bald eagle nest, or seen an eagle incubating eggs or repairing a nest, you can report it to the DNR one of several ways.

    The Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, in its fourth year of a five-year effort, is documenting the distribution and abundance of birds throughout Wisconsin. You can enter your own observation data on its website.

    The DNR also collects non-game animal reports on its website. The form lets you mark your observation date and time, weather conditions and distinguishing features of the animal.

    You can also contact your local DNR bald eagle survey coordinator directly. In southeastern Wisconsin, that’s Fandel.

    No matter how you wish to report, make sure you don’t disturb the eagles. You shouldn’t venture so close as to scare it off, according to the DNR.

    Fandel says the DNR collects all reports they receive. Many are nests they already have documentation of.

    “But even in southeastern Wisconsin where I’ve been covering, we continually year after year get reports of new eagle nest sightings that only add to our data,” Fandel said. “And let us know that the population continues to expand.”

    If it’s a new report, the DNR will likely make a visit to confirm the nest, or rely on local bird surveyors to visit the site.

    Though only two Wisconsin counties remain without known bald eagle nests, biologists believe it’s only a matter of time before they move into those regions. That’s exciting to think about, Fandel said.

    “I think it marks a certain achievement in some ways,” she said. “Or it speaks to the resiliency of these birds and the population and to the efforts that have been put in place to protect these birds.”

  • DNR Seeks Public's Help Reporting Active Bald Eagle Nests

    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking for the public’s help in reporting active bald eagle nests in southeastern Wisconsin. We talk to an ecologist about these recent survey efforts.

  • Participation In High School Trap Shooting Growing In Wisconsin

    The clay target shooting team at West Salem High School is brand new, but they don’t compete like it.

    Just a few weeks ago, four team members shot a perfect score, 25 out of 25.

    “That’s tough to do,” says coach Paul Liethen, also an automotive and welding instructor at the school.

    One of those team members was Evan Rowe, a senior at West Salem. And though his team is new, Rowe has been clay target shooting — also known as trap shooting — since he was young.

    He’s one of nearly 2,000 high school students from 78 high schools competitively trap shooting this spring through the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League.

    “I’ve been holding a gun ever since I could hold it up, practically,” Rowe said. “I started hunting, and then through 4H I found trap, and my family shot a lot of trap. And I just grew to love the sport, really.”

    The round consists of 25 clay targets, or “birds,” divided among five stations on a shooting range. Students each start on a single station, shooting one at a time. Once it’s their turn, the student says “pull.” The clay target is launched from a structure called a trap house, and the student shoots at the target with a shotgun. After five shots at one station, the students rotate to the next, until all participants have shot at 25 clay targets.

    The sport is relatively under the radar, but it’s growing. Approximately 500 more students are competing this year over last. West Salem’s team, in its first year, has 30 members.

    The Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League is open to both boys and girls from sixth grade through high school. About half of West Salem’s team is in middle school.

    West Salem High School partnered with its local rod and gun club, which provides additional coaching and guidance, as well as a place to compete from.

    “They usually have five to 10, to sometimes 15 adult-experienced trap shooters that are there helping us make this thing safe, make this thing happen,” Liethen said. “And make it happen so that, especially the young students, learn the fundamentals and are able to get better each week.”

    The sport is competitive, but students don’t often physically see the people they’re competing against. Each team shoots from their local shooting range and sends in their scores to the league. They then can check the standings to see how they’re doing, both among their teammates and among the league as a whole.

    Rowe said he enjoys shooting clay targets. But doing it competitively has a different pressure, an incentive to do well for your teammates.

    As one of the two seniors on the young team, he’s trying to be a leader who can inspire the team to continue, long after he has graduated.

    “And just keep this trap thing get going, get it started,” he said. “Bringing the younger generations up and get them to shoot instead of sitting on the couch eating potato chips.”

  • A Different Sport: Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League

    Over 1,200 students in 78 Wisconsin high school’s are participating in this year’s clay target league. Students participate in their own practice space, but compete with other schools by comparing their top 5 scorers. We talk to a coach and a student in the league to learn more about the sport.

  • Should The Government Allow Energy Development On Tribal Lands?

    Developing energy resources like coal, oil, and natural gas is more difficult on tribal land than it is elsewhere, but some conservative analysts and politicians think it’s time for a change. They say that giving Native Americans more power over their own lands would be an economic boost for tribes. We talk to a supporter of the idea about what changes she thinks are needed and the concerns raised by opponents.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Karl Christenson Producer
  • Natalie Guyette Producer
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • Sharon Fandel Guest
  • Evan Rowe Guest
  • Paul Liethen Guest
  • Katie Tubb Guest

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