December 22, 2014

Defense has a big day in Packers in playoff clinching victory

Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews

The Green Bay Packers defense dominated Tampa Bay on Sunday, holding the Buccaneers in check in a 20-3 victory at Raymond James Stadium.  The victory clinched a playoff spot for the Packers for the sixth straight season.

The Bucs entered the game with just two victories and one of the worst offenses in the NFL and it showed.

The Packers held Tampa Bay to 109 total yards of offense, including 16 rushing yards on 14 carries.  And they pressured quarterback Josh McCown, tallying seven quarterback sacks and twelve quarterback hits.

Julius Peppers had a two sack day and Clay Matthews got credit for 2 1/2, giving him ten sacks for the season.  Matthews has 7.5 sacks in the last seven games, since he started playing on the inside. [Read more…]

Federal judge orders Great Lakes gray wolf population back on endangered species list

Wisconsin gray wolf. (PHOTO: Wisconsin DNR/Gary Kramer)

Wisconsin gray wolf. (PHOTO: Wisconsin DNR/Gary Kramer)

A federal judge has ordered gray wolves in Wisconsin and two other Great Lakes states back on the federal endangered species list.

The ruling Friday by US District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington D.C. overturns the Obama administration’s 2012 decision to de-list the gray wolf in the Great Lakes region. In the decision, Howell found federal officials violated the federal Endangered Species Act in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner.

The decision will affect wolf populations in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, halting further hunting and trapping seasons in those states.

The lawsuit was brought by the Humane Society of the United States. In a statement, attorney Jonathan Lovvorn noted that more than 1,500 wolves have been killed since the animal was de-listed. He praised the court for recognizing that the basis for the delisting decision was “flawed and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks.”

The ruling will have a dramatic impact on how Wisconsin manages its wolf population.

State Department of Natural Resources spokesman Bill Cosh says people that already hold permits to shoot wolves that are in conflict with domesticated animals cannot use them now.  “What people who have the removal permits need to know is that the permits which allow lethal removal of wolves issued to landowners experiencing wolf conflicts are no longer valid. In fact, the Department of Natural Resources is in the process this evening of contacting the permit holders to alert them of that.”

This means Wisconsin’s law allowing landowners or occupants of the land to shoot wolves that are in the act of depredating domestic animals on private property is no longer in force. Landowners may not kill wolves in the act of attacking domestic animals. Under Federal Law, you also cannot use dogs to track and train on wolves. The judge’s ruling also prohibits Wisconsin from implementing a wolf harvest season.

Cosh added that legal staff from the DNR and Department of Justice are reviewing the decision and will have further information available at a later date.

Wisconsin’s third wolf season ended earlier this month, after hunters and trappers harvested 154 animals.

Affiliate WSAU contributed to this report

UPDATE: This story was update to reflect a statement from the Wisconsin DNR.

CDC links listeria outbreak to pre-packaged caramel apples

Federal health officials say five people have died, and almost two dozen others got sick, after eating pre-packaged caramel apples in Wisconsin and nine other states.

The US Centers for Disease Control has identified 28 cases in which people suffered from illnesses caused by identical strains of bacterial listeria, with three cases in Wisconsin. Of those, 26 were hospitalized and five died. Listeriosis was linked to four of those deaths.

The CDC says two deaths were in Minnesota and one was in Texas. The locations of the other two deaths have not been released.

The agency says the reported illnesses occurred between October 17th and Thanksgiving Day. Health officials are still trying to determine which brands of caramel apples is linked to the outbreak.

UPDATE: Wisconsin agriculture officials now say there are three Wisconsin-based cases tied to the outbreak. An earlier report from the CDC indicated there were two cases in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin DMV touts reduced wait times

Your wait times are down at the DMV. Christina Boardman, deputy administrator at the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles, said wait times are good at service centers around the state. “DMV is always looking to make best use of peoples’ time,” she said. “If you need to come into a service center, the wait times are really good, with eighty four percent of our people being served in 20 minutes or less.” averaging twenty minutes or less.

Much of the enhanced efficiency can be attributed to the many services now available on-line, including getting vehicle titles, changing addresses, and renewing plates. “We’re really been trying the last few years to modernize the DMV, and to respond to custormers’ interests in how they want to receive their service,” Boardman said.

A big demand on DMV is scheduling road tests for first-time drivers, and Boardman said they responded to customer feedback, and developed a way to predict future demand and allocate resources to provide road tests at the most desirable time.

Attorney general says Wisconsin law allows some foreign land ownership

Wisconsin’s attorney general says state law allows non-US interests to own large amounts of land in some cases.

In a formal opinion issued Friday, Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the law only bans foreign ownership of more than 640 acres of agricultural and forest lands. Van Hollen said the law was changed over 30 years ago to allow foreign land ownership for “almost every conceivable business activity.”

Governor Scott Walker’s proposed state budget from 2013 would have ended the current ban on foreign land ownership, but lawmakers rejected the item. Groups representing Wisconsin farmers and Realtors opposed the measure.