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AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

News & Information

News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!


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JR photo via Wikipedia

"The Gun Chronicles" at the JHP

In this interview, WTIP's North Shore Morning Host Bob Padzieski talks with Library Director Steve Harsin and Cook County Historical Society Director Carrie Johnson about French photographer, JR's interactive mural, "The Gun Chronicles:  A History of America."

The show opens at the Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery on Friday, April 5 at 4 p.m.

Listen to the interview below.



Superior National Forest Update - April 5, 2019

National Forest Update – April 4, 2019.

Hi, this is Steve Robertsen, Forest Service interpretation and education specialist with this week’s National Forest Update – a collection of things you may want to know before you head out.

One thing you probably already know is that it is our favorite season of the year:  mud season.  Not enough snow to ski, too much to go hiking, too much bare ground for snowmobiles, too wet for four wheelers.  And just to make it more aggravating, there’s warm weather and bright sun that really make you want to be outside – it’s just hard to figure out what to do once you are out there.  On the plus side, this means that this is the season when a lot of garages get cleaned out, cars get vacuumed, and yards get picked up because at least you can be outside doing those things!

If you do venture out into the Forest, be careful on the roads.  The spring melt has softened roadways, and shoulders in particular can be dangerously soggy.  Our engineer was describing one not uncommon situation where a culvert can be exposed and then worn through, creating a large pit in the road.  We try to repair roads as fast as we can, but in some situations repair is impossible until things become drier.  Be on the lookout for flags or cones that make bad spots in the road, and report any new ones that you find along the way. 

Roads also change considerably from morning to afternoon.  What seems to be a good solid road in the sub-freezing morning may thaw by afternoon into the consistency of chocolate pudding.  When driving in the morning, evaluate the roads along the way to make sure they will be drivable when you plan to leave.  When parking your vehicle on a roadside in the morning, beware of shoulders that may collapse under your truck when they thaw in the afternoon.  Lastly, there is often ice on roads in the morning and in shaded spots throughout the day.  In many ways, spring driving can be more treacherous than winter driving because the hazards are harder to spot.

The rewards of getting out this time of year make the effort worth it.  Chickadees are singing their ‘dee-dee’ song, calling for mates and setting up territories.  I heard my first red-wing blackbird of the year this week, and to me, that ‘konk-er-ee’ song is the real sound of spring’s arrival.  The male red-wings appear weeks before the females and are claiming territories in cattail marshes, setting up housekeeping in hopes of having one or more females move in.  The males do a lot of displaying, doing a sort of fluttering song flight where they try to fly while in a hunched over position that best shows off their bright red wing patches.  Away from the marshes, birds just migrating through still can’t help themselves from singing, even if they aren’t really trying to set up a territory there.

Other animals are moving around too.  If you’ve driven anywhere at all over the last few weeks, you’ll know that deer are everywhere.  They haunt the roadsides this time of year as the snow melts there quickly and grass and other plants start to green up.  Wolves, coyotes, and other scavengers are on the roads too as a winter’s worth of roadkill thaws out and is exposed for dinner. 

On August 9th this year, Smokey Bear will be 75 years old!  All this year, we will be celebrating our favorite fire prevention bear and telling you some bear tales.  A good bear tale right now is a reminder that it is time to start bringing bird feeders in at night, shutting your garage doors, and otherwise getting ready for bears to be waking up.  Smokey will be waking as well, getting ready for the spring fire season, and we will be keeping you up to date on that as the spring progresses.

Meanwhile, if you can avoid the mud, get out and enjoy springtime in the woods!  Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.


What's for Lunch photo by Per via Flickr.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019     Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith      April 5, 2019    
Week one of April in the Wildersmith neighborhood is nearly eclipsed, and it’s hard telling what our north woods atmosphere will be like when this report comes on the air. The last weekend of March found the advance of spring stymied along the Trail.                                                         

Folks up this way awoke Saturday morning to a surprise visit from “old man winter.”  Just when many were hoping his spring break would be extended, two inches of white had been delivered to freshen up the forest. A dose of cold kept the new blanket intact for a couple days where the sun couldn’t reach, and then more of the wet white stuff came through earlier this week.                                                                                                                                                                                       
It’s a good bet spring will regain a grip sooner rather than later. In the meantime, there is still a good foot or so of winter wonder left around this place in the woods.                                                         

While all this happens, Trail businesses for the most part, are taking a well-deserved break. It’s the “shoulder season” where catching their breath with a brief vacation helps them re-up for the onslaught of summer visitors.                                                                                                                                                              

The Smith’s confirmed another rite of the Vernal season a few days ago when we spotted a momma fox. It’s a little early for her kits to be out with her, but her sagging under side gave her away as being in a motherly state. On a related note, this foxy critter was not the one who has been visiting the Smith yard during the past fall and winter.                                           

While, the ground we navigate at this time of year is trying to rid itself of those frozen crystals, our blacktop moguls along the Trail are not showing much change. Maybe it’s a little early to expect them to level up, but folks traveling the By-way on a daily basis must be tiring of those jaw-jarring jolts. All have to be thankful the County Highway Dept. has flagged them as a warning. Nevertheless, even taking these dips at slow speed can bounce you pretty good, but this ritual will pass as does other ordeals of melting season.                                                         

Another passage of animal lore from forty-nine degrees north is shared from our deck side feeding trough. To give you a little background, over the years I’ve been saving grease drippings from the kitchen. They are drained into empty 14-ounce food cans until the unit is filled, then frozen for use during the winter.                                                                                                                        

I developed a method of attaching the can to the deck rail where it is available to any hungry visitor on a first come first serve basis. Every wild being from chickadees to fishers have enjoyed a little fat at one time or another, often when some “lardy” is needed during our sub-zero nights.                                                                                                                                                                                   
While this has gone on for some time now, in their wild exuberance, during the pecking, licking and pawing at the can they have warn the connecting rig. This happening allows the can to work loose occasionally resulting in pilfering of the whole can as it nears an empty level.              

In an effort to quell this larceny, I found wedging shims of wood around the can base works fairly well in securing things, most of the time. However, when the snow is finally gone, I sometimes find a few empties between the deck and the lake.                                                                                                                                                               
With all this background lead up, I put my last can of fatty delectable out about twilight time one day last week. Of course in a matter of moments, there were a few takers before sundown.  One of these visitors was a large crow. After watching this ebony beauty gulp a beak full and depart, the chapter ended, at least for the evening.                                                                             

Next morning, my first gaze out the window found the can gone from its mounting, nowhere to be seen. A trip outside later found no sign of the tin on the ground either. Obviously, some visitor figured out the shimming scheme, left shims on the deck, and absconded with the goodies container to parts unknown.                                                                                                                                                                              

My suspects point to the crow or perhaps one of the neighborhood pine martens. I’m guessing it would be quite a task for the crow to fly off with that can in its beak, or in the clutches of its’ feet, but who knows, they are pretty crafty. Seeing such take place would have been an entertaining observation.                                                                                                                               

Then again, I’ve observed martens a time or two with their heads down in one of those cans, often even struggling to get it back off over its ears, so maybe one of these is the guilty party.                                                                                                                                                                                      
Now, for a lack of evidence, investigation of this vittles disappearance is shelved, but I’m still scratching my head in amazement. Whatever the case whoever got the oily treat was likely blessed with happiness at least momentarily and/or even a belly ache, if it consumed the whole of the contents.                                                                                                                                                                         

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as the “tug of war” between winter and spring lingers on!


Deane Morrison - photo via LinkedIn

Northern Sky: March 30 - April 12, 2019

Northern Sky by Deane Morrison
March 30 - April 12, 2019

Deane Morrison is a Science and Research Editor at the University of Minnesota.


Photo credit JGraham NPLSF

Wolf Transfer a Success

WTIP North Shore Morning host, Mark Abrahamson spoke with Robert Schultz, Executive Director of the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN about the weekends successful transfer of wolves from Michipicoten Island to Isle Royale.

Listen to the interview below...



An urgent effort to relocate seven gray wolves from Michipicoten Island and Canada’s mainland to Isle Royale has ended with success. The effort, which ran from Friday through Sunday, successfully and efficiently moved seven gray wolves at risk of death because of a shortage of prey.

The operation was funded with $45,000 from the International Wolf Center and $30,000 from the Lake Superior National Parks Foundation. Through a GoFundMe account online, another $11,500 was raised.

“We are honored to have played a role in this important operation,” said Rob Schultz, the executive director of the International Wolf Center. “We have been relaying updates of the capture and transfer progress to media and the public throughout the weekend.”

Isle Royale National Park superintendent Phyllis Green said the project on Michipicoten this weekend to save those hungry wolves would not have happened if countless donors didn’t step forward.

“I just want to thank everyone who donated,” she said. “On Saturday, we were watching the money aspects of this. It really helped to have all the donations that came in. We were pretty much right on the mark for what the estimate was and what came in from donors. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Three wolves were captured and moved Friday by teams of professionals. On Saturday, another four were moved. Of the seven, three were female. Six came from Michipicoten Island and one came from Canada’s mainland.

“They were long days, but we had a really wonderful result,” Green said. “We were coordinating five aircraft and seven wolves, arriving independently. It was very intense.”

It is believed that a 2-year-old female that was moved from Michipicoten to Isle Royale may be pregnant. If she were to give birth on Isle Royale this spring, those would be the first pups born on the island since 2014, according to Rolf Peterson, the lead researcher studying wolves and moose on the island.

“Any reproduction on the island this year would be pretty remarkable,” Peterson said. Peterson followed the weekend’s events closely.

“I was just glad it was successfully concluded,” he said. “There are so many ways it can go wrong. You’re nervous until it’s over.”

Peterson and the researchers now will wait to see how the island’s new inhabitants form their packs

“We just have to wait now until the wolves organize their personal lives and get on with things,” he said. “It’s been seven years out there since wolf predation had any impact on moose out there. It will be good to see that going again.”

The males captured on Michipicoten were close to healthy weights, but the females weighed between 50 and 60 pounds, far below what is considered healthy. The low female weights are due to the fact that the wolves on Michipicoten had run out of prey. Meanwhile, Isle Royale is populated by more than 1,600 moose, which is far above what biologists think is viable for the island to sustain. Too many moose on Isle Royale will lead to the overconsumption of vegetation, eventually causing severe damage to the the island’s ecosystem and raising concerns that the moose population may collapse.

By reintroducing wolves to the island, the moose will again have a natural predator to keep their population at sustainable levels. Scientists expect the two populations to again manage themselves as they had done on the island for decades. These seven new wolves join eight that were already on the island, including six that have been reintroduced since September through other efforts.

“Now our focus will turn to following the researchers as they study the impact of these new wolves on Isle Royale,” Schultz said. “As we move into the summer months, we look forward to working closely with the National Park Service and the Lake Superior National Parks Foundation to begin planning the next phase of wolf reintroduction efforts that are expected to occur this fall.”

About 20 to 30 new gray wolves are expected to be introduced to Isle Royale National Park over the next three to five years.

The International Wolf Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the premier source for wolf information and education. The mission of the Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. The Center educates through its website, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, educational outreach programs, International Wolf magazine, and a beautiful interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.


Least sandpiper.  Photo by Bill Thompson/USFWS via USFWS on Flickr.

North Woods Naturalist: A surprise early migrant

Naturalist Chel Anderson tells CJ Heithoff about one early spring migrant she recently spotted in this edition of North Woods Naturalist.


Photo via NPLSF

Rescuing Wolves from Michipicoten Island to Isle Royale

WTIP's volunteer North Shore Morning host, Shawna Willis talks with Carol Brady about the effort by National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation and International Wolf Center efforts to fund the transfer of Wolves from Michipicoten Island where they are starving, to Isle Royale.

You can find the interview below.

WTIP contacted Carol after receiving the following press release:

The National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation announced today that, with the support of the International Wolf Center, an urgent final effort is underway to move four to six wolves to Isle Royale National Park over the next four days.

Earlier this year, two wolves from Michipicoten Island (located in northern Lake Superior) were moved to Isle Royale. Four to six wolves still remain on the island and are at risk since their only available winter prey on the island, caribou, are gone. Officials had hoped to move all of the wolves off Michipicoten earlier, but poor weather, government shutdowns and a lack of funding delayed that effort.

The Foundation and the International Wolf Center agree that this wolf relocation project needs a strong start to have a more immediate impact on the current burgeoning moose population on Isle Royale, where an estimate of more than 1,600 moose are threatening the ecosystem.

"On Michipicoten, nature's lessons can be cruel and starvation is one of them,” said Sona Mehring, the chair of the foundation. “For the remaining wolves on Michipicoten, that will be their fate unless we help move them to Isle Royale National Park, where their hunting skills and genetics can add value to establishing a new population of wolves on Isle Royale.”

“We’re especially proud of the fact that the International Wolf Center is helping to save the lives of a small pack of wolves on Michipicoten Island,” said the Wolf Center’s Executive Director Rob Schultz. “Since all of the caribou have been removed from Michipicoten, there’s nothing left for the wolves there to eat this winter and there is a real threat of starvation.”

It is estimated that the four-day effort, which will begin either Friday (March 22) or Saturday (March 23), will cost $100,000.

The foundation raised $30,000. The International Wolf Center raised an additional $45,000. The organizations have started a GoFundMe page to raise the final $25,000. That page can be found here.  

"As we discussed this project, we found many people who supported seeing the forests of Isle Royale remaining healthy,” Mehring said. “We are close to realizing the goal of providing another capture opportunity to move these iconic wolves to an island that needs them in its ecosystem.”

Science has long showed that wolves play an important role in nature. This translocation shows how wolves can be used to naturally manage ungulate populations.

“Since the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park, we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact wolves have on ecosystems,” Schultz said. “A thriving wolf population in Isle Royale’s ecosystem will make a similar impact. If left unchecked, moose would over-consume the island’s vegetation. Apex predators, like wolves, are important components of any healthy, natural ecosystems.

“This shows just one more way we put our donor’s support to hard work to advance wolf populations around the world. We’re honored to team up with National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation to make a difference together.”

National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preservation of the natural resources and unique cultural heritage of Lake Superior’s five U.S. National Parks. National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation funds research, restoration, education, and resource protection projects for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Grand Portage National Monument, Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation has a proven record of funding projects both large and small providing more that $1.5 million in funding across all five parks.
The International Wolf Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the premier source for wolf information and education. The mission of the Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. The Center educates through its website, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, educational outreach programs, International Wolf magazine, and a beautiful interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.




Superior National Forest Update - March 22, 2019

Superior National Forest Update – March 20, 2019.

Hi, this is Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist with the Superior National Forest, and this is the National Forest Update, information for you if you’re headed out the road and into the woods. 

Snow is melting, and it is now officially spring!  The spring equinox was this past Wednesday, so according the stars, it is now springtime despite the feet of snow still on the ground.  It is spring according to the animals as well.  There have been lots of eagles moving northward through Hawk Ridge in Duluth, and we’ve been seeing more gulls up the shore as well.  Chipmunks have reappeared above the snow, and you may see red squirrels in love chasing each other through the trees.  It’s actually the only time red squirrels tolerate each other at all – they are generally loners, and only get together to mate in March.  Red squirrels are pretty much absent caretakers – the male will return to his territory, and the female will be left to do all the child rearing.  By midsummer, young squirrels will be kicked out by mom as well, and have to carve out their own individual territories.

It is a great time of year for ice fishing for trout.  Most lakes still have plenty of ice on them, and the slush has melted and refrozen making travel easier.  Your ice house should be off the lake now, but it is nice and warm out for sitting on a bucket waiting for fish to come.  Our snowy winter means that despite the warm temperatures, it is still pretty good for snowmobiling and skiing too.  Visit our website for links to trail conditions, things can change rapidly in the spring.  Also, when you are out, watch for bare patches on south facing slopes.  People are injured skiing every year when they come to an abrupt halt at the bottom of a hill when the snow turns to dirt.

Driving out in the woods is starting to get trickier.  Spring weight restrictions are now in force in both Lake and Cook Counties, which means that the roads are getting soft.  It means there won’t be big logging trucks out and about during the day, though in some places, they could be active at night when the roads freeze again.  The soft roads will affect your vehicle too, even if it isn’t a big truck.  Be on the lookout for wash outs and frost boils where melt water erodes the road from the bottom creating almost a quicksand area.  Be equally on the lookout for icy patches on north slopes and shady spots that can send your car spinning.  And lastly, always be on the lookout for deer and other wildlife.  If you are lucky, you’ll even have a moose licking salt off your car.  They are very active this time of year, and often favor roads as travel routes.  All this makes for a season when it is easy to find yourself stuck somewhere out in the Forest.  Plan for it, and bring emergency supplies.  While it may be warm, it still gets cold at night, so make sure you always bring winter gear along, even if you may not need it.

Although the snow is melting, you still need a permit to plow unplowed Forest Service roads.  Please stop by the office and tell us of your plowing plans before your truck hits the road. 

Spring can be a great combination of winter activities with warm weather, so be sure to take advantage of these few spring days before all the snow is gone for good. 

Until next time, this is Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.


BlackBearandMotherSM by beingmyself via Flickr.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - March 22, 2019

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith     
March 22, 2019    
Gosh, the universe is at the fourth Friday in the month, how time flies! Whiffs of spring are on the upswing along the Gunflint following the collapse of “old man winter” last week.         

Although current conditions could regress, it seems unlikely since the warmth of the continent extends from Fairbanks, Alaska to border country and beyond. It just looks like spring has the upper hand as winter whimpers away.                                                                                                     

This part of the world still looks wintery with plenty of snow and ice left to melt. Nevertheless, the abrupt seasonal changeover gulped up about a foot of the north woods landscape in a short time, before falling back to more seasonable character by last weekend.                        

As one would expect slushy conditions, fog and substantial rain caught many out this way by surprise as this is usually an April/May occurrence. Wildersmith recorded well over an inch of liquid during the cold dampening ordeal with temps not moving far from the mid-to upper thirties for the better part of three days.                                                                                                                             

Folks were slogging around in deep white gush as backcountry roads and driveways turned into quagmires of slippery ruts. Some actually gave up attempting to navigate and just holed up until a welcome freeze slowed things and solidified surfaces.                                                                                    

The result is that numbers of wilderness folk are now dealing with icy drive and walk ways. At the Smith place, our vehicle has taken its transition season place at top of the driveway until further notice. It’s not a matter of getting up our serpentine of slipperiness to the Mile O Pine, but stopping on the way down. This is a minor inconvenience however, compared with potential to slide through the trees and onto the Gunflint Lake Ice.                                                                                                                                

Beyond vehicular difficulties, getting around on foot is dictating the use of studded footwear. So far I’ve remained in the upright position, and hope others in Gunflint Territory are doing the same.                                                                                                                                       

Speaking of lake ice, my neighbor was up for a last shot at a trout or two, and found the conditions for drilling less that favorable. By the time he waded through knee deep slushy water to a drilling site, his interest waned. He did drill through the cold goop, and found the ice in this neighborhood to be only twenty-one inches (plenty safe if one finds a place to stay on top of the semi-melt), but far from the usual depth.                                                                                                                                                            

These messy lake conditions have slowed snowmobile activities too. There’s not been too many anglers passing by lately. Getting off the packed sledding paths is likely to find one stuck in the muck. There have been many reports of riders struggling to get machines dug out of some precarious situations.                                                                                                                                                    

Recently, I had the occasion to look through a Sierra Club magazine. This March-April edition has an interesting article on black bears. The writing by Brandon Keim, titled, “Does A Bear Think in the Woods?” offers some interesting research studies/observations of the Bruno’s, confirming what many of us residing in multi-bear habitat already suspected.                                                                                      

Bears are pretty smart, displaying several attributes which are thought to be unique to human capacity. They are social, “with a society of sorts, using a rich communication system, and govern themselves by long-term relationships and rules of conduct.  Being highly self- aware; they judge, they punish, have gratitude and friendships.” Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?  I think it would be suggested reading for all who will soon be encountering the “Bruno” winter wake-up and subsequent visits along the Gunflint.                                                                                                                       

Sadness is hanging over the territory once again with the passing of a long-time friend and neighbor. Word has been received on the passing of Mark Patten last weekend.                      

Mark is at peace after struggling with several health issues. He died in Duluth Hospice care.                                                                                                                                                 

Mark will long be remembered for his gracious Christian hospitality at Okontoe on Bow Lake where he and his family are perhaps best known for their wilderness lifetime of reaching out to troubled youth, and their enchanting sleigh ride adventures.                                                                                                                     

The Gunflint Community wishes strength and condolences to his wife, Nancy, his children, extended family and countless friends.                                                                                                                         

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, even at the thought of mud season, and bitin’ bugs, itching to get at us.



Birch Grove Elementary - School News - March 20, 2019

Birch Grove Elementary - School News with Roland, Whitney and Dayne.
March 20, 2019