Illinois Outdoors at
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Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Wisconsin snowmobilers kill deer

January 12, 2009 at 05:36 PM

Here’s a frustrating story out of Wiscosin about a group of snowmobilers who herded and killed deer.

Snowmobilers herd, kill four deer

Associated Press Writer

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) - A group of snowmobilers in central Wisconsin herded and killed four deer and severely injured a fifth in what a warden called a senseless act of cruelty on Monday.

No arrests have been made in the Saturday morning incident about five miles south of Waupaca, said Ted Dremel, a state Department of Natural Resources warden.

There’s talk of closing all snowmobile trails in Waupaca County until the “rogue snowmobilers” are caught, he said.

“It is senseless. I don’t know how else to describe it,” Dremel said. “It is probably something they thought was fun or humorous at the time. They did purposely run over these deer. The tracks in the snow were in a circular manner, almost looking like they were chasing the deer back to other snowmobile partners.”

Randy Yorkson, who farms the land, said people cannot believe what happened.

“I am going to guess it is somebody who left a bar. They probably had been using that trail before, knowing the deer were out there,” he said. “This is just some yahoos who don’t have any common sense.”

Landowner Virginia Niemuth, 80, immediately shut off access to her property, closing five miles of the main snowmobile trail across Waupaca County.

“There’s sick people out there,” Niemuth said. “I used to love to snowmobile, but this is too much.”

Dremel believes three or four snowmobiles were involved in a roundup of deer in a moonlit alfalfa field where 30 to 40 animals were known to feed. Witnesses reported hearing snowmobiles in the area about 3:30 a.m., he said.

Three deer were found dead in the field. A snowmobile stopped atop one and ripped open its stomach, Dremel said. A fourth deer with broken legs was euthanized.

The fifth deer was dragged from the field and tied to a tree about 25 feet from a road. Investigators think someone may have planned to return for that deer, Dremel said.

“It looked like the deer wrapped itsel f around the tree and choked itself to death,” he said.

Dremel said he has never heard of this kind of “cowboy-style” attack on deer with snowmobiles.

“Usually, it is an accident - a deer standing in a trail and a snowmobiler can’t avoid it,” he said.

The dead deer included two bucks and three does. One was a fawn.

Investigators have no suspects. Six snowmobile clubs have offered a combined $7,500 for information leading to arrests, Dremel said. The Waupaca County Crime Stoppers and Fox Valley Humane Association in Appleton also have offered rewards totaling $1,500.

Investigators have received some leads but none from a witness or someone who talked to anyone involved, Dremel said.

Information can be phoned into the DNR’s tip line at 1-800-TIP-WDNR.

“This is not characteristic of the snowmobile community in Wisconsin,” DNR Chief Warden Randy Stark said in Madison. “Obviously, we are looking to get any public assistance we can in iden tifying who is responsible for this.”

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Readers angry about bear column

January 12, 2009 at 05:01 PM

Several readers expressed anger at me for writing about the Bureau County bear in Sunday’s paper and on this Web site. Specifically, they were upset that I mentioned hunters could shoot bears in Illinois so long as they had permission.

My opinion is that the law should be changed so that bears and mountain lions receive state protection. But until it is changed, the facts are the facts. Part of what we do is inform the public. In this case, it made people very mad, as you shall see.

FROM Mike Gasparovich:

“Just wanted to thank you for letting somebody/everyone know now that it is OK to shoot that black bear without having to worry about getting in trouble. Really big of you, Jeff. If someone wants to bear hunt, go to Canada. I am a hunter but would like to see this black bear left alone. I would love to take pictures of him alive instead of seeing him in some idiot’s truck bed. This was not one of your brighter moments. Enjoyed the article until I read that.”

FROM Barb Craig:

“Would you please explain why in the sam hill your people write articles like the o ne on the bears and make it really public. In your article you said you hoped no one would shoot it. Excuse me, to the nuts who hunt that is an open invitation to hunt something different. When the report comes in that it’s dead we will know who to blame. Why don’t you stick with politics we have lots of them to clean house on. That poor bear didn’t ask you to write it up.Too much goes on today because newspaper people can’t keep their mouths shut.”

FROM Benjamin Jackson:

I have to express some frustration with the way you wrote that article. I think it is utterly irresponsible to tell people that it is legal to kill bears with permission of the landowner, especially if there is only one confirmed bear in the state. This isn’t the first time I’ve read one of your articles and seen this type of brash comment. This is the kind of “go ahead on do it” statement that will send hunters looking for a farmer in need of some quick cash, so they can be the one person in Illinois to bag the infamous bear.

In an article you did about turtle meat you went to great lengths to explain where it is turtles like to hide, only briefly mentioning that it is illegal to hunt them but then also pointing out that people do it anyway. Poaching is a serious issue, and I don’t think those kind of irresponsible statements are appropriate in a newspaper article. I come from a long line of hunters, who have always followed the rules ... but I also know my fair share of wackos, who given the chance, would love to kill a bear in their own backyard, so to speak. Try to think of the consequences of a statement like that before you put something so negligent and ill-considered into an article.”

Finally, there was one less angry response from another reader regarding hibernation vs. denning. Here is the text of that e-mail.

Congratulations on your very well-written article entitled Prairie Bear. I found it entertaining and very informative. The sidebar quotes Dr. Rogers of the North American Bear Center concerning black bear hibernating. My concern is that the ordinary reader may not differentiate bear hibernation, known as denning, from ordinary ibernating. If they miss the difference they may not realize the different physiological proccesses bears undergo during denning.  To me that are amazing, mysterious and nearly magical.

Below is an edited excerpt from an article entitled “Denning and Hibernation behavior” published by the National Park Service. (Click here to see) the full article, together with cited literature.  My major edit is to use the term “denning” for “hibernation” when it is obvious that the author(s) are referring to the “super” hybernation of bear, which, of course, is known as denning.  Happy reading

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