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Hook and bullet club - Eagles and "ghost" moose mysteries solved

Okay, it appears the eagle mystery is solved. Our Hardy Boys are the DNR’s Tom Rusch and Joe Geis along with Ron Guck.The bald eagles sitting on the ice on Robinson Lake for no apparent reason had a good reason to be there: dead fish.Robinson is a shallow lake that experienced a winter kill this year. A winter kill is when the oxygen levels in the water drop so low that fish cannot survive.The holes in the ice provide some additional oxygen for the fish to congregate to and also a spot for the dead ones to float to the surface. Easy pickings for the eagles.“More fish die every day so the eagles keep coming back to enjoy the McFish restaurant buffet!” said Rusch.Well I’m sure everyone can sleep better at night knowing why those eagles were out there. And this should put that alien theory to rest once and for all. Other news out of the DNR last week was a big shake up in St. Paul involving the upper management of the fish and wildlife departments. The change will combine some of the top spots so they watch over both fish and wildlife. Of course for Rusch and Geis, all they have to do is meet in the hallway. It’s a lot simpler up here than it is in St. Paul.Also, the Winter Severity Index numbers are out for the year and the Tower area finished at 150, a fairly high number, although Rusch discounted it some. “This was the highest WSI in the state of Minnesota but when you look at that 150 you have to recognize the snow we did have was mainly powder so it was easier for the deer to get around in,” said Rusch.The WSI is a measurement used to forecast deer mortality due to deep snow and cold temperatures.A better way is to walk around the woods. VCC student Brandon Pertile spend 80 hours this spring shed antler hunting and said he saw around 20 dead deer in the woods.The deceased were mainly fawns, the smallest and weakest of the herd and often the first to fall. There are still plenty of deer around and they are really out on the roadsides. Driving from Ely to Orr on Highway 77 was like a continuous deer yard with whitetails feeding along the roadside. There is also a report of a deer walking around the Fall Lake area that looks as if it was attacked by a cougar. I haven’t seen it but reports indicate the back of the deer has been raked by claws.I also talked to an avid outdoorsman who found fresh cougar tracks up the Fernberg, right along the ridges where the deer migrate every year. There’s a good picture of a moose that is likely suffering from the mild springs we have had the past couple of years.This photo was taken at the Highway 169/53 junction recently and shows what happens when moose are infested with ticks. The itching drives them to rub their fur off. On long cold winters this can lead to the moose dying from not having enough fur. When moose were prevalent in northwestern Minnesota, a tick outbreak would cause some moose to look for any cover they could find to get out of the wind. Without a lot of tree cover, some moose travelled into town and used garages. That’ll wake you up in the morning. A moose in the garage will likely lead to coffee down the front of your shirt. Not a pretty sight, even for the moose.

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