Susan Bence

Environmental Reporter

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.

Susan is now WUWM's environmental reporter, the station's first. Her work has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

Susan worked with Prevent Blindness Wisconsin for 20 years, studied foreign languages at UWM, and loves to travel.

Susan Bence

It's bird migration season in Wisconsin, and scientists are noticing unsettling changes.

Ornithologist Bill Mueller is among them. As the director of the Western Great Lake Bird and Bat Observatory north of Port Washington, he has been observing a drop in numbers over recent years. 


Canadian pipeline company Enbridge thought its underground pipeline would be pumping three times its original load of crude oil three years ago. But disputes with Dane County have slowed down the process with demands that the company carry extra insurance in case its residents are impacted by a potential spill.

Tuesday the Wisconsin Supreme Court took up the debate.

The story begins in 2014 when Enbridge applied for a permit from Dane County.

Susan Bence

What was different about Friday’s meeting than the many before it was that community members and city department leaders were equal participants at the Public Safety and Health Committee session.

Chairman Bob Donovan said he was hoping for some resolution. The city has been at odds with activists for several years over the city’s response to the risks of lead in lateral pipes that carry city water into private property.

Susan Bence

Bees play an important role in our — and nearly every — corner of the world. Eco- and food systems depend on their power to pollinate.

With bees already at risk, what sort of impact does extreme weather like the polar vortex have on honey bees in Wisconsin?

In Wauwatosa, some of honey bee hobbyist Brad DeLanty's four hives — each a series of stacked wooden boxes called Langstroth systems — didn't fare so well.

"This past weekend I came and unfortunately these three hives are gone. So, I actually knocked all the dead bees out," he explains.

Susan Bence

The practice of designating green space, especially for dogs to romp freely, have become more and more popular. But one dog park in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood has some questioning the safety of the ground where their dogs frolic.

What's under the grass at the Roverwest dog park in Riverwest? Some say it was a poisonous dumping ground. Are our dogs safe there?

Susan Bence

More than one hundred students staged a walkout Monday at the Milwaukee School of Languages on the city's west side. It was a follow-up to a global call for action on climate change on Friday orchestrated by teenagers around the globe - from Albania to Venezuela.

The rallies were inspired by a spunky Swedish student. Greta Thunberg staged weekly sit-ins outside the Swedish Parliament, criticizing her government for doing too little about climate change.

Susan Bence

For more than a decade a group of Wisconsin researchers based at UW-Madison have been gathering data through a program called SHOW (Survey of the Health of Wisconsin).

Kristen Malecki has been involved in the program since its inception, starting as a researcher just before it was about to launch in the field.

Susan Bence

There’s more to being a dog owner than loving and caring for it. Owners also have to deal with their dog’s droppings.

The village of Shorewood, just north of Milwaukee, is launching a campaign aimed at keeping dog poop out of local waterways — a daunting environmental challenge, according to an environmental consultant.

Joelle Underwood / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Loads of snow in northern Wisconsin has been great for cross-country skiers and snowmobile enthusiasts, but what about for fish? Thick ice coupled with deep snow cover can drive down oxygen levels in lakes.

Mike Vogelsang is based in the heart of the snowy winter scene. He’s North District Fisheries Supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


It’s been more than two years since Milwaukee’s lead service line replacement mandate went into effect. Yet questions persist and priorities are questioned.

READ: Milwaukee Common Council approves Lead Water Pipe Replacement Ordinance

Wednesday during the city’s Public Works Committee, Ald. Bob Bauman was looking for answers.

Screenshot/Wisconsin Public Television

During his campaign for governor, Democrat Tony Evers pledged to increase the role of science in the Department of Natural Resources. That’s something that had diminished during the tenure of his Republican predecessor Scott Walker.

Evers also promoted renewable energy projects, saying they would both protect Wisconsin resources and boost economic development.

When he was sworn into office, Evers mentioned he would take the issue of global warming seriously.

Anna Nowakowski / Urban Ecology Center

Earlier in February in the middle of a snowstorm, people showed up at a Milwaukee event to explore eco-friendly wedding ideas. The green wedding expo, held at the Urban Ecology Center on Milwaukee's East Side, was the brainchild of MaryBeth Kressin.

When she got married, Kressin instructed her guests not to buy new clothes for the occasion. She bought decorations at thrift and rummage sales. Instead of generating loads of glasses to washed or wasted, each guest was allotted a single drinking glass.

Susan Bence

Five massive murals are the centerpiece of a body of work created by New York-based artist Alexis Rockman on display at Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum of Art until May 19. Titled The Great Lakes Cycle, the oil paintings explore the lakes’ ecosystems and the impact humans have had on them.

Rockman says he gravitated to the natural world early in life.

Susan Bence

The Get The Lead Out Coalition and the Freshwater For Life Action Coalition had been looking forward to formally sharing what they consider compelling evidence to Milwaukee city leaders for weeks. They insist contamination caused lead pipes through which more than 70,000 homes receive city water is as important a threat to public health as lead in paint.

Screenshot/YouTube/Milwaukee Water Works

Clean drinking water has become a topic of conversation throughout the U.S. - from arid states worrying about sufficient quantities, to rust belt cities grappling with failing infrastructure and old lead pipes.

While the Great Lakes represent one of the world’s largest freshwater systems, its cities are not immune from concerns about drinking water.