Piebald deer visits rural Duluth home

A piebald deer walks through the snow near the home of Zach and Sara Swart of rural Duluth on Thursday. (Sara Swart photo)

A piebald deer walks through the snow near the home of Zach and Sara Swart of rural Duluth on Thursday. (Sara Swart photo)

At age 6, Parker Swart is a serious student of deer and a lot of other wildlife. He watches deer from his home in rural Duluth, and his family takes photos of them. On Thursday, Parker and his family saw the most unusual deer they had ever seen — a so-called “piebald” deer.

His grandmother, Colleen Jeronimus, was at his home and saw the deer first.

“I saw what I thought was a moving snowbank,” Jeronimus said. “I thought, ‘How could a snowbank move?’ It was just an incredible sight.”

The deer came to some feed that Parker’s family had put out. His mom, Sara Swart, was able to get several photos of it.

Nancy Hansen, Department of Natural Resources area wildlife manager at Two Harbors, confirmed that the deer is piebald.

“It’s an inherited trait and occurs (in general) in about 1 percent of the population,” Hansen said in an email. “Some local populations, especially if the deer are protected from harvest, may have higher levels of piebald occurrence. True albino deer (pure white coats and pink eyes) are rare. The same is true for melanism (very dark coloring) in deer.

“Sometimes piebald deer don’t just show coat color differences but also have physical deformities. This can include skeletal abnormalities such as dorsal bowing of the nose, short/malformed legs, curvature of the spine and malformations of internal organs. Severely deformed fawns usually don’t survive very long after birth. Outside of winter, piebald deer are usually at a disadvantage compared to other deer because they are much more visible on the landscape.”
For now, it appears, this deer is well-camouflaged.


The piebald deer pauses to check the territory on the Swarts’ back yard. (Sara Swart photo)


Who pulls who here?


Larry Marxen fishes on Saganaga Lake on Feb. 10 as his German shepherd, Ike, looks on. (Sam Cook photo)

While fishing on Saganaga Lake a couple of weeks ago, I got a kick out of seeing the way Larry Marxen, who operates Chippewa Inn on Saganaga, hauls his dogs around behind his snowmobile. Marxen built a large box with windows so he can tow his dogs, including German shepherd Ike, shown here, when he goes out to fish. “It’s a dogsled,” Marxen quipped about the unique dog hauler. “But I’ve got it backwards. I pull the dogs.”


Larry Marxen rides his snowmobile across Saganaga Lake while pulling his German shepherd, Ike, in a custom-made “dogsled” behind him. If you look closely, you’ll see Ike peering through one of the sled’s windows. (Sam Cook photo)


Anglers try for trout, salmon near Lester River


Two anglers look for a spot to fish Thursday afternoon on the smooth ice of Lake Superior off the mouth of the Lester River in Duluth. (Sam Cook photo)

A loosely scattered collection of 31 fishing shelters dotted the ice of Lake Superior on Thursday afternoon near the mouth of the Lester River. Anglers ventured out to fish for lake trout, coho salmon and perhaps a Kamloops rainbow trout. The previous week, most anglers clustered on the ice near 21st Avenue East.

Fishing on the big lake has been generally good, anglers and Department of Natural Resources conservation officers said.


Fishing shelters sit on the ice of Lake Superior on Thursday afternoon near the Lester River. (Sam Cook photo)


Nearer shore, two people ventured out on the clear ice of Lake Superior to see what they could see and take a few photos. (Sam Cook photo)



Loll Designs to give COGGS another $30,000

Duluth-based outdoor furniture designer/manufacturer Loll Designs has announced it will make a second $30,000 donation to Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) to support the cycling group’s efforts to build biking trails in Duluth. The donation will be made at COGGS’ fourth annual Duluth Traverse Gala, a fundraiser for the group that will be held March 7. COGGS is raising money to build the largest urban, single-track trail system in the nation.

Loll Designs gave the group $30,000 for its gala last year as well.


2014 fishing, hunting licenses expire Saturday

Minnesota anglers are reminded that 2014 fish, game and trapping licenses expire on Saturday. Some hunting and fishing seasons continue past Feb. 28, and new licenses are required.

Licenses for 2015 now are available from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources license agents, online and by telephone at (888) 665-4236. All 2015 fishing licenses become effective Sunday, March 1.

Customers who purchase online via smartphone won’t receive a conventional paper license. Instead, they’ll receive a text message or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. A printed copy of the text or email also can serve as proof of a valid license.

Ice shelter permits for 2014 remain effective through April 30.

Grand Marais still holding edge in ‘coolest town’ contest


The Grand Marais harbor and Sawtooth Mountains are shown on a summer day in this photo by Paul Sundberg of Grand Marais.


Grand Marais is still leading Budget Travel magazine’s contest to name the “Coolest Small Town in America,” according to Lynn Nelson, who handles public relations for Visit Cook County. The deadline for voting has been extended until March 4. Grand Marais is leading Chincoteague, Va., by just 4 percentage points in the voting. If you’d like to vote, go to visitcookcounty.com and follow the link to the magazine.




COGGS receives donation from Minnesota Power Foundation

The Minnesota Power Foundation has announced that it will donate $35,000 to COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores) to continue building the Duluth Traverse trail across the city. The Traverse, when completed, will be a 100-plus-mile network of sustainably-built single-track open to human-powered sports.
COGGS officials called the donation “an absolute game-changer for our 2015 trail building forecast.”
With the donation, the group will be able to employ four trail builders on its crew this summer, according to a COGGS news release.
In addition, the foundation has told COGGS it would like to sponsor a trail work day during the summer so employees of ALLETE; Minnesota Power; and Superior Water, Light and Power can help work on the trail.

Come say ‘hi’ at the Boat Show

If you’re in the neighborhood, swing down to the Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel and RV Show at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and say hello. I’ll be there today (Friday), Saturday and Sunday. My booth is right at the top of the escalators, where you enter the Northland Outdoors Deer Classic portion of the show. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Don Christensen benefit a success

Don Christensen, using a mouth-operated device to shoot his rifle, hunts deer from a blind on his property in this 2008 photo. (News Tribune file)

Don Christensen of Webster, Wis., using a mouth-operated device to shoot his crossbow, hunts deer from a blind on his property in this 2008 photo. (News Tribune file)

It looks as if Don Christensen of Webster, Wis., will get the chance to have a stem-cell transplant, which he hopes will control the progress of his multiple sclerosis. Supporters of Christensen, an avid hunter and angler, have raised $27,800 for him through Saturday’s benefit fundraiser at Lipsie Pines Bar and Grill in Spooner and earlier donations.

Christensen plans to use the money to get the transplant at a clinic in Panama because such a stem-cell transplant is not allowed in the United States under Food and Drug Administration rules. He has estimated that the transplant and required travel will cost about $26,000.

“The dust has settled, and Don Christensen’s benefit was an amazing success…and our friend will continue his fight against MS,”  Jeff Evans, a fishing guide from Iron River who helped organize the event, wrote to donors. “There’s no doubt that the outdoor community knows how to take care of one of its own, and your efforts are yet another example.”