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Unusual owl, eh? Canadian raptors push south in search of food; farmers urged to watch wallets with crop insurers; more state news

A small owl of boreal and montane forests, the Boreal Owl is found throughout Alaska and Canada, and across northern Eurasia, as well. It is found in the lower 48 states only in the mountains of the West, in extreme northern Minnesota, and as an occasional winter visitor to the northern states. Photo courtesy

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports three species of owls have been pushed south from Canada into this state this winter.

A crash in rodent populations may be the cause.

The northern hawk, the great gray and the boreal owls are normally rare sights in Wisconsin. The drop in rodent numbers in Canadian forests has forced them to move. Some of the observations have been made in southern Wisconsin, including a great gray seen in Middleton, in Dane County.

There have been some problems. Northern hawk owls have been hit by cars.

Experts say the drop in rodent populations in Canada is cyclical.

Farmers urged to evaluate markets before buying crop insurance

MADISON -- Wisconsin farmers are being advised to protect themselves from damaging weather by purchasing crop insurance and to evaluate markets before they lock in prices.

The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says farmers should plan early to minimize their risks, even before the spring planting. Those farmers are being told to get seed, fertilizer, fuel and other supplies before they begin planting.

The state agency says those who rent land should make sure the rates and contract terms are set in writing. The department's farm center can help those farmers make their financial plans and it can mediate conflicts which arise in any form of negotiations.

No elk hunt for Wisconsin this year

MADISON -- It will be at least another year before Wisconsin hunters can try to bag an elk in the state.

State wildlife officials say the herd is still too small and fragile to implement a statewide elk hunt. Wisconsin law prohibits elk hunting until that herd includes more than 200 elk.

That could have come this year, but DNR biologists say lack of food, vehicle kills and predators have limited the herd's growth. Plans for a hunt date back about 10 years.

The Natural Resources Board has adopted a new elk management approach calling for 275 wild elk to be imported from other states over the next three- to five years.

The cost of more than $500,000 would be covered by groups like the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The importation process could start in two years.

Walkers says book would share 'lessons', not pave presidential run

MADISON -- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says the book he is working on should serve as a way for him to pass on the lessons he's learned as governor.

Walker is a darling of the national conservative movement, but the Republican is distancing himself from talk of a run for president.

Walker's said to be writing the memoir with President George W. Bush's former chief speechwriter. It should be released later this year.

Walker has said in the past he isn't actively pursuing a campaign for the White House. He faces reelection next year, saying he loves his job and he doesn't see any changes in the foreseeable future.

Deputy credited with saving baby's life

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee County Sheriff's office reports a deputy revived a baby on the hood of his cruiser Tuesday evening on an entrance ramp to Interstate 43.

The incident unfolded about 5:30 p.m. after a mother called 9-1-1 and reported she was attempting CPR on her seven-month-old child.

Deputy Jeffrey Mike took over CPR when he arrived and the baby responded by making a closed fist and opening her eyes. The mother said she heard the baby choking, so she pulled over to check.

When she couldn't get the milk and phlegm out of the baby's mouth, she started CPR and called for help. The baby was said to be doing well Thursday.

Kaukauna school officials defend bullying response

KAUKAUNA -- Kaukauna School District officials are denying claims that they ignore or protect bullies.

A bullying incident at River View Middle School prompted a Facebook which has gone viral. Matthew Bent wrote that school officials ignored his son's pleas for protection from the bully. Bent wrote that his son was body-slammed three times lat Monday by a bully who had been picking on his since the first of the school year.

The superintendent sympathized with the frustrations the family is feeling, but said 11 students and one teacher have already been interviewed in connection with the bullying incident.

School officials call it a deeply important issue which touches everyone.

Ladysmith man ruled incompetent to help with defense

LADYSMITH -- A judge in Rusk County has ruled 67-year-old Donald Lazar isn't competent to help with his defense. Lazar is accused of killing his wife last December at their home near Hawkins.

He will be held at a treatment facility until mental health doctors believe he is able to stand trial.

Court records indicate Lazar admitted shooting his wife to death after they argued about her washing her hands and about paying property taxes. He reportedly said he didn't know the rifle was loaded, but he shot Darlene Lazar a second time because he knew he was already in trouble.

Schaffhausen plea never happened

HUDSON -- The anticipated guilty plea from a man accused of killing his three daughters never happened. Aaron Schaffhausen had a pretrial hearing in Hudson Thursday.

That St. Croix County hearing was delayed for several hours while attorneys for both sides discussed a possible plea deal.

Schaffhausen has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in last summer's murders of his daughters in River Falls. Another pretrial hearing was set for today.

The trial is scheduled to start next Monday. It will include two phases - the first on whether the North Dakota man killed his daughters and the second on whether his insanity plea is legitimate.

Semi-load of recovered Muenster bound for foodshelves

New Jersey authorities report they have arrested a man who was found with 21 tons of stolen Wisconsin cheese in his possession.

The 34-year-old from Plainfield, Illinois, was picked up last Tuesday afternoon, driving a refrigerated truck with 42,000 pounds of Muenster cheese inside. Producer K&K Cheese of Cashton valued the cargo at an estimated $200,000.

Authorities say the suspect submitted false paperwork to take the cheese and since K&K can't guarantee the truckload wasn't tampered with, it's not asking to have the cheese returned.

If the product passes inspections by health officials, it will be donated to a New Jersey charity.

Oshkosh police make biggest drug bust ever

OSHKOSH -- Oshkosh police report a four-month investigation has resulted in the biggest drug bust in that city's history.

Members of two drug task forces say they arrested three people and confiscated $128,000 worth of drugs, including 57 pounds of marijuana.

Police say they also found six grams of heroin, 27.5 ounces of cocaine and the pot. They also found 43 Ecstasy pills, 32 Oxycodone pills and nearly $38,000 in case.

Six vehicles were seized at the three locations raided. Ubaldo Adame, Fernando Sandoval and Rodolfo Reyes-Olivas all face drug charges.

How would you have liked to live on a farm - in the 19th Century?

The Wisconsin Historical Society is accepted entries for a drawing in the Life on the Farm EXTREME contest through April 4th. Top prize is one-day working on an Old World Wisconsin farm.

The winner and his or her family will clothes from the period, prepare a meal cooked on a wood-fired stove and help with indoor and outdoor chores, including feeding the farm's animals.

Members of the Historical Society can enter and you can join to be eligible online. The family will spend May 18th at the state historical site just outside Eagle. The website is -