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Friendly skies? City may turn to hawk
Gophers, ground squirrels remain prevalent in Business Park
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While this badger may have moved on from the Fennimore Business Park, gophers and ground squirrels remain. - photo by Greg Schopf photo

The City of Fennimore may turn to the skies in an effort to curb the number of gophers in the City’s Business Park, the Fennimore Common Council learned during its semi-monthly meeting on Aug. 8.

Volunteer Field, Derek Lendosky Community Field and the Grid-Iron Field were closed in early June when a mother badger and five kits made the area their home.

The City utilized the time and talents of local trapper Marcus Bresee, who with a few small bottles of bleach persuaded the badgers to seek a different residence.

Bresee has since obtained permits from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to trap the City’s badgers.

 “One of the lawyers from the DNR was not too keen on the idea of trapping and exterminating badgers on City property,” Mayor Ryan Boebel told the Council Aug. 8. “So we are trying some other routes at this point before we go in there.”

One such route is removing one of the badgers’ favorite foods from the Business Park menu.

“From day one, we have known why the badgers are here and we don’t really know how to take care of it,” Boebel said. “[Marcus] gave me several ideas over the phone one night.”

For starters, Bresee has set traps for gophers in the area of Volunteer Field, Derek Lendosky Community Field and the Grid-Iron Field.

“Once we get working on that we are going to talk to several of the business owners out there hopefully because the gophers don’t just play football and soccer and baseball,” Boebel said. “They go to EMC, they go to Suppz, they go to other places. We’ll start branching out.”

Bresee also suggested installing a perch in the Business Park, which may attract a hawk.

“What the idea is, is you dig a hole about four or five feet deep, pour some concrete and put a piece of galvanized pipe in,” Boebel explained. “Apparently hawks like to be 15 to 20 feet above the ground. So you put a piece of galvanized pipe up, put an 18’’ board on it, round it off so their feet are nice and cozy and see what happens.

“Hopefully Mother Nature takes care of itself. My thought is to maybe put one of these up on the north end of the football field out there by the flag pole. If it works, if people start seeing a hawk up there, maybe we can put another one by the well house and another one by the barn. We will see where it goes. That is an idea that is not going to cost me a whole lot of money to do.”

Boebel spoke with Carter Freymiller following the Aug. 8 meeting. Freymiller is a junior at Fennimore High School.

“We had a very interesting conversation, which lasted half an hour,” Boebel said the following day. “The knowledge Carter has of birds of prey is incredible.”

Freymiller agreed the installation of perches is a step in the right direction.

“Carter spends some of his time during the summer tagging and studying these types of birds,” Boebel said. “He is willing to meet with me some night after cross country practice to scope out the area a bit better. He is thinking to put up a few nesting boxes and perches and this should help cut down on the ground squirrel population.

“Hopefully, something like this will work as I, along with others, believe trapping or shooting the squirrels is only a temporary fix. If we could get a couple of birds interested in the area, it seems more long term.”

While the badgers may have vacated the City’s Business Park, they have not strayed far.

“I don’t know if anyone saw the hole they dug near the scoreboard at the high school,” Boebel said. “They are there. They are everywhere.

“We are working on it. We are trying to get rid of them. It is a lot slower going than just blowing up the place.”