RHINELANDER – Thousands of Wisconsin hunters will take to the woods early Saturday for the first day of gun deer season. Forest officials and environmental experts want to make sure people know about certain rules regarding trees and woodland safety.
Following devastating summer storms heavily affecting Langlade and Oconoto Counties, popular hunting sites may look a little different.
“As a lot of people’s tree stands may have been knocked over by the storm, we really want hunters to be safe while they’re going out there,” said Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Public Affairs Officer Casey Jardine.
National and state forest officials are encouraging hunters to scout for damaged trees before Saturday.
“A lot of the trees still standing are unsafe and they could still have trees laying on top of them, like ‘widow makers’,” said Jardine.
While those downed trees can create hazards they can be used for firewood. Hunters are advised to follow firewood transportation regulations.
“The blanket rule is don’t move firewood,” said Wisconsin Headwaters Invasives Partnership coordinator Rosie Page.
Hunters are encouraged to burn firewood where they buy it of find it to prevent the spread of invasive species.
“They will not always be able to tell if some of these insect species or disease pathogens are hiding somewhere in this firewood pile,” said Page.
Firewood can carry tree diseases and harmful pests like gypsy moth, emerald ash borer and the fungus that causes oak wilt.
Legally, firewood can’t be carried from Wisconsin’s 50 counties quarantined for gypsy moth to those that are not.
“It can decimate tree populations,” said Jardine.
It is also against the law to bring firewood to state lands from more than 10 miles away. Firewood can’t be transported to or from the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest within 25 miles.
Hunters can bring outside firewood to hunting sites if it’s certified by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).