Series

Nearly everything about wolves is controversial. Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states with a gray wolf population. After being hunted to the brink of extinction in most states, the state granted the species legal protections in the 1950s, followed by federal listing in the 1970s. Since then, wolf numbers have not only recovered, but they've seen a relative boom in population. These predators play a big role in their ecosystem by feeding on deer and other prey, but their hunts also cross paths with livestock, causing grievances among ranchers and farmers. A hunting season was briefly opened in the early 2010s, and there is plenty of other proposed legislation surrounding their management. Wolves also claim strong support among advocates for continued protection. Whatever policies are in place, this charismatic species drives public passion and scientific interest.More
Explore this WisContext series
Local food generates both widespread interest and economic activity around Wisconsin. Many residents purchase food at farmers' markets, receive community-supported agriculture shares and/or grow their own produce in personal and community gardens. Restaurants and grocery stores are increasingly sourcing homegrown foods as well, and marketing them to consumers seeking local flavors. Scientists and educators are likewise turning their attention to the concept of local food, exploring its benefits and challenges — and Wisconsinites' complex attitudes about it.More
Explore this WisContext series
Overt expressions of hatred along lines of race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality and gender identity surged across the United States during the campaign and following the election of President Donald Trump. While American society has long grappled with discrimination and systemic disparities, attacks on immigrants, Muslims and others have emboldened organized hate groups and bigoted individuals. Wisconsinites have experienced the reemergence of public hate in a variety of forms, in places around the state. Amid this wave of incidents, various educators, elected officials and community groups have continued to push for tolerance and communication in a state that has a long history of immigration and continues to grow more diverse.More
Explore this WisContext series
Brown marmorated stink bug
The brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive species in the United States, arriving from Asia in the late 1990s. It has damaged tens of millions of dollars of apples and other crops in eastern states, and struck Michigan in the 2015 growing season. Wisconsin might be next. The insect hasn't yet started preying on crops here, but it has established a breeding population in the state, and it's known to eat many of the things Wisconsin farmers grow — especially apples. However, entomologists are researching the bug's behavior and how to control it.More
Explore this WisContext series
A holiday dinner staple across the United States, cranberries are one of Wisconsin's signature agricultural products. The state's cranberry industry produces over half the world's supply of this tart and tiny fruit, generating nearly $1 billion in annual revenue. Wisconsin currently exports 35 percent of its cranberry yield, which has grown tenfold since the beginning of the 20th century. But an uptick in international production and abundant harvests in recent years have added financial stress on Wisconsin's producers, and falling cranberry prices have forced some growers out of the industry. At the same time, scientists are experimenting to expand the variety of cranberries available, and the industry is exploring new markets abroad.More
Explore this WisContext series