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Wisconsin roundup: State deer kill down 12 percent from last year’s opening weekend; more state news stories

MADISON — Wisconsin hunters shot 12 percent fewer deer in the opening weekend of the nine day gun season, continuing a downward spiral that lasted for the entire hunt in 2016.

The state DNR said Tuesday that a preliminary total of 102,903 deer were taken last Saturday and Sunday, when most of the hunting takes place. There were fewer hunters in the woods as well, as almost 583,000 licenses were sold through the opening weekend — almost 5,000 fewer than in 2016. Hunters took 15 percent fewer antlerless deer than a year ago, while the buck harvest was down 9 percent. The Northwoods was the only region where the deer totals were up — evidence that the northern herd is recovering after three mild winters and a regional ban on antlerless deer hunting that's no longer in place.

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Man accused of leaving daughter behind in drunken driving crash

BARABOO — A 25-year-old West Baraboo man is accused of leaving his 4-year-old daughter behind after she got thrown out of a window in a drunken driving crash.

Alex Shultis appeared in Sauk County Circuit Court Tuesday on 11 criminal charges for a crash last Friday night in which his twin 1-year-old daughters were reportedly secured in car seats with nothing but diapers — and were covered with glass and other debris. Officials said Shultis' pickup truck veered into a ditch after it lost control while making a turn on Sauk County Road T in the town of Fairfield.

Prosecutors say Shultis left the scene and drove to his apartment as the four-year-old was left in a ditch screaming for her dad, and she had minor injuries. A judge set bond at $1,000 for Shultis, who's due back in court Dec. 15 on criminal charges that include child neglect, reckless endangerment, driving drunk with children in a vehicle, and obstructing police — plus several traffic violations.

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Report: Obamacare hasn’t reduced free charity care from hospitals

MADISON — Obamacare has not reduced the amount of free care that Wisconsin hospitals give to those in need.

The state's Hospital Association says it gave $190 million of free care last year, $10 million more than in 2015. The group's CEO, Eric Borgerding, says the Affordable Care Act has expanded coverage for thousands of Wisconsinites — but people still fall through the cracks when they lose their jobs, get seriously ill, or require emergency care they cannot afford. Medicaid only pays hospitals two thirds of the cost of caring for its clients — while Medicare covers 78 percent of treatment costs for seniors. As a result, critics say those with private insurance help pay for those patients — and the Hospital Association said the total shortfalls for government payments were more than two-point-seven billion dollars last year.

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Critics say state bill could put hidden chemicals in air

MADISON — An environmental lobbyist says a Wisconsin bill to reduce air pollution enforcement would mean more hidden chemicals in the air that nobody knows about.

Sara Barry spoke for Clean Wisconsin at a state Assembly hearing Tuesday on a GOP bill to limit the state's air pollution enforcement only to chemicals that the federal EPA regulates. A new legislative report says Wisconsin now regulates 358 pollutants that Washington doesn't — and the bill's sponsors, Assembly Republican Jesse Kremer and Sen. Duey Strobel, say it puts an undue burden on state businesses.

They say about one quarter of those pollutants are not emitted in the Badger State. Also, lawmakers heard testimony on a GOP bill to shut down the state's air pollution monitor at Kohler-Andre State Park in Sheboygan County — where a business group says it picks up ozone from Chicago, thus putting unfair limits on local air emissions.

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Advocacy group warns holiday shoppers about online-related toys

MADISON — A Wisconsin advocacy group has announced its 32nd annual list of children's toys that holiday shoppers should avoid.

And for the first time, an online related toy gets a warning from the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group. The group known as WISPIRG mentions privacy concerns with toys like "My Friend Cayla," a doll connected to Bluetooth. The group says the Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Cayla violates the Children's Online Protection Act. Emma Fisher of WISPIRG's foundation says parents need to make sure that their kids' toys don't have insecure connections that strangers can invade with their smartphones.

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Another young hunter bags buck thanks to new state law

MOUNT HOREB — Media reports have highlighted two young Wisconsinites who've shot bucks this deer season thanks to a new state law.

Seven-year-old Dylan Copus of Mount Horeb bagged an eight pointer, joining 6-year-old Lexie Harris of Taylor County who got a six pointer during the opening weekend. Both could not take guns into the woods until Gov. Scott Walker signed a Republican bill last week to let kids younger than 10 hunt for the first time — and they have to go out with mentors, even though they can have their own weapons.

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Contractor injured in house explosion, fire

LODI — A heating contractor is hospitalized with burns following an explosion and fire at a house that was under construction near Lodi.

Officials say two people were working on drywall when they smelled gas at the 4,000 square foot home about 8 a.m.Tuesday — and a heating contractor from Sauk City was checking on the gas when the explosion occurred and portions of the debris started on fire. The contractor was taken to UW Hospital in Madison with burns. The furnace was connected, and Lodi fire officials say there was probably some type of leak. The cause is still being investigated, and officials say it appears to be an accident.

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Nebraska’s OK of Keystone route could affect Wisconsin’s future

LINCOLN, Neb. — Although Nebraska officials have approved a new route for the Keystone XL pipeline, opponents could either file a lawsuit or seek another federal review of the project.

Meanwhile, another pipeline owner, Enbridge Energy, has done initial surveying for a possible future crude oil pipeline across Wisconsin, even though there are no official plans for such a line right now. Enbridge owns an easement 80 feet wide from its terminal in Superior to oil traffic lines in the Chicago area. Reports say the company may need a larger easement to add a future pipeline. TransCanada owns the Keystone line, and it expects to review its own needs before announcing whether to proceed with the long-delayed north/south pipeline.

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La Crosse female students say they’ve been sexually assaulted

LA CROSSE — In the 2017 youth risk behavior survey, one in eight female La Crosse-area students say they've been sexually assaulted.

The increase is nearly 1 percent over the results of the last survey in 2015. Over 1,500 females participated in the survey which is developed by the Centers for Disease Control, which is given to males and females every two years.

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