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Outdoor Report for May 28, 2015Published by the Central Office

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View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).

Rain across the entire state in the last week has raised river systems across the state and dampened some outdoor activities at times. Memorial weekend campers were treated to a mix of beautiful weather at the beginning of the weekend to soggy steady rains in the middle, back to some nice, but windy weather to close out the holiday.

The Flambeau, Chippewa, Black and Wisconsin rivers are all running well above their long term median flow. Many of the sandbars on the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway are currently back underwater.

The constantly changing and variable weather kept anglers guessing on most waters. In the Northwoods, the musky opener was the highlight of this past weekend. Pressure was mostly moderate but anglers reported many sightings and follows, and a fair number of hook-ups. Walleye fishing success has been sporadic with reports of some good catches being made. Some warm temps in the last several days bumped water temperatures back into the low to mid-60s, spurring on a slug of bass and panfish activity. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass should be in the middle of their spawning periods and many dished out areas can be observed in the shallows, with the males often sitting tight and guarding the nests.

Musky action was also the highlight along Green Bay tributaries, with boaters fishing the lower Peshtigo River reporting excellent action, with many fish in the low to mid 40-inch class being caught and anglers on the Menominee River boasted some impressive catches with fish over 50 inches being caught. Musky was also popular target this weekend on the Fox River with multiple boats reported boating four or more fish of good size.

Smallmouth bass fishing was mixed on Green Bay with some anglers having to work at finding fish, while others reported catches of 20 or more. Walleye action was best along Larson's reef, Egg Harbor, Chadoir's dock and around University Bay.

Walleyes are still biting on the Winnebago system, and white bass were biting on the Wisconsin River near Lake Wisconsin, with smallmouth bass active upriver from Portage up through Pine Island.

The final spring turkey period ended this week and overall, the preliminary results show a there may be a very slight decrease from last year's harvest.

Most coyotes have given birth to their litters, and the young are either still in the den or starting to be active around the den sites. We're right at the peak of the deer fawning season with most fawns born between mid-May and early June. Please remember, a lone fawn is not abandoned. Fawns are scent-free this time of year and a does' defense mechanism is to keep the fawns hidden so predators don't find them. The mother will come back to feed hidden fawns every few hours. If you see a fawn in the wild, don't touch it - leave it alone and back out of the area slowly.

Great horned owlet
Great horned owlets are leaving the nest and "branching."
WDNR Photo

Great horned owlets have left the nest and are branching -- hopping from tree to tree while learning to fly and begging for food. Resident giant Canada geese are dotting the landscape with broods of goslings, some of which are already several weeks old. More "mature" adults tend to adopt goslings from younger, less experienced breeding pairs, which is why you may see two adults with up to 30 or 40 goslings. Snapping turtle hatchlings are emerging from their underground nests, trying to find their way to neighboring wetlands.

Plants in bloom include wild geranium, rue anemone, jack-in-the-pulpit, and shooting star. Monarch butterflies have now reached Wisconsin and yellow swallow tails are also being seen.


Northern Region

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Constantly changing and variable weather in the past week continued to keep fishermen guessing on most waters across the Northwoods. Several cold fronts and regular rain showers dropped water temperatures a bit and this has continued to confuse the bass and panfish species that have been trying to spawn. Some warm temps in the last several days have bumped water temperatures back into the low to mid-60s on many lakes and this has spurred on a slug of bass and panfish activity. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass should be in the middle of their spawning periods and many dished out areas can be observed in the shallows - with the males often sitting tight and guarding the nests. Crappie have been finishing up their nesting activities, while pumpkinseed and bluegill are just starting to congregate prior to their spawning rituals. With the Memorial Weekend Opener, musky fishing was the highlight of this past weekend. Pressure was mostly moderate but anglers reported many sightings and follows, and a fair number of hook-ups. The fish seemed hesitant to bite, but small jerk baits and medium bucktails seemed to produce the most activity. Walleye fishing success has been sporadic with reports of some good catches being made. The best success has been on minnows - either on a slip bobber, a lead-head jig or on a bare hook/split shot rig. The two hours before dark has been the most productive and good numbers of fish have been found along drop-offs in the 6 to 12 foot range. Anglers seem to be catching fair numbers of walleye but the fish have been running on the small side this year, with most measuring in the 11 to 14-inch range. A few nicer walleye have been caught on stick baits cast in the shallows in the hour before dark. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Flambeau River State Forest - Both the north and south forks of the Flambeau are up with the recent rains, but great for paddling. Walleye fishing is a bit slow, but folks are catching panfish. We are seeing turtles, fawns are dropping, and grouse are drumming. Tree frogs are singing, and indigo buntings are here along with all the other colorful Neotropical migrants. The monarch and yellow swallow tails are here. Trilliums, fly honeysuckle, forget-me-nots, and wood anemone are still blooming. We will be hosting our annual "Open House" on Friday, June 5. We will be serving refreshments and giving tours of the new office headquarters that we are now occupying. Stop in and see us and take part in the discussions of future plans for 2015.

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Oneida County - White-tail does are on the move with their new fawns. The mosquitoes are here too and you'll begin to see more fawns out in the open where mom has brought her young out to avoid the biting mosquitos. Please remember, a lone fawn is not necessarily an orphan. Fawns are scent-free this time of year and a deer's defense mechanism is to keep the fawn hidden so predators don't find them. Mom will only come back to feed hidden fawns every few hours to keep her scent off of her babies (or even as infrequently as twice a day if she inadvertently leaves them too close to people). Please help us to keep wildlife wild by not touching wild babies that you find in the woods or in your yard. This includes other critters as well as turtles are emerging and duck broods are hatching. Goslings hatched a few weeks ago and are getting pretty big now. Migrating and resident birds are still moving through the Northwoods, there are no shortage of fun birds to look for while birdwatching. Owlets have left the nest and are branching (hopping from tree to tree while begging for food which they will do for the rest of the summer). - Michele Woodford, wildlife biologist, Woodruff

Florence DNR at the Florence Natural Resource Center

Florence and Forest counties - Lilacs and trillium are in full bloom. This Memorial Weekend proved to be another great one for recreationalist from around the state. The 150-plus miles of ATV trails are in excellent condition making them a wonderful attraction to the area and an excellent way to experience the vast county and national forest public lands (approximately 200,000 acres in total) The Pine-Popple rivers water levels and flow are near perfect for kayaking and canoeing as well as observing the beautiful rush of the numerous waterfalls along the corridor. Paddlers can check the USGS website for real-time stream flow data on waters in the area. Open this link and focus on the Menominee-Oconto-Peshtigo River Basins: (exit DNR) Wisconsin and Michigan state staff, as well as Florence County staff conducted a 120 acre prescribed burn on the Spread Eagle Barrens State Natural Area late last week. It was a successful controlled burn that has set back succession of forest vegetation and will provide tremendous wildlife habitat. There is a scheduled second burn for the early part of June on another approximately 120 acre unit in the Spread Eagle Barrens. This will be over to the east side adjacent to the Menominee River. Yesterday marked the end of the spring turkey hunt for the state. Overall, the preliminary results show a 1.29 percent decrease from last year's harvest. Looking specifically at Zones 5 and 7, there was a preliminary decrease of 0.26 percent in zone 5 and a substantial increase of 36.05 percent in zone 7. - Jason Cotter, wildlife Biologist, Florence


Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - Anglers fishing below the dam at Peshtigo and boaters launching from the city garage boat landing both report some very nice smallmouth bass being caught using a variety of stick baits, jigs, spinners, and small spoons. Fish in the 3 to 4 pound class have been common. Boaters fishing the lower Peshtigo River have been reporting that the musky fishing has been excellent, with many fish in the low to mid 40-inch class being caught. Large spinner baits, plastics and stick baits have all been working well. Shore anglers at the mouth of the Peshtigo River are reporting good catches of catfish, mixed in with smallmouth, sheepshead, and red horse suckers. Most anglers are using crawlers fished on bottom. Musky anglers on the Menominee River boasted some impressive catches with fish over 50 inches being caught around the Interstate Bridge down past the Turn Basin. Walleye anglers are having some success trolling and jigging from Stephenson Island to the mouth of the river. Jigs tipped with minnows or crawlers fished on the breaks has been working well as has trolling stick baits using purples and fire tiger colors in the evenings. Small mouths are also being caught in good numbers fishing areas of wood or break lines. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Anglers fishing the Oconto River at the dam in Stiles are catching bluegill, crappie, smallmouth bass, and red horse suckers using mostly live bait although some fishermen are casting spoons, spinners, and plastics. The lower portion of the Oconto River is producing some fine smallmouth action close to the mouth of the river, jigging with plastics and casting spinner baits around the rocks at the breakwater has worked well. Catfish and a few northern pike were also being caught from the cause way using dead smelt or crawlers fished on bottom. The most active walleye bite seems to around the Pensaukee River mouth with anglers fishing in 17 to 20 feet of water using crawler/harness or stick baits with the color purple being the best. No reports of perch have been obtained at this time. Oconto Park II anglers report walleye fishing a bit slow with most fish being caught in deeper water. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Fishing pressure has remained high at Bayshore Park. Most boat anglers were fishing for walleye. Catch varied considerably. Crank baits continued to be favored, but more boaters seem to be using crawler harnesses. Best water depth varied from under 10 to over 20. Evenings and early mornings produced the best results. Other fish caught included catfish, freshwater drum, whitefish and northern pike. A few yellow perch boaters were out this week. They were using minnows and crawlers with poor results. Shore anglers at Bayshore were casting cranks for walleye, but did not report any catches. Musky was popular target this weekend on the Fox River with multiple boats reported boating four or more fish of good size. Spinner baits produced the most fish; however buck tails, bright top waters, and perch/walleye colored soft plastics were also popular. Shore anglers fishing near the mouth continued to catch large amounts of drum and catfish. Worms fished rigged on a three way swivel continued to drive the catches. Unfortunately, walleye and white bass fisherman did not see the same success this week. Boaters heading out of the mouth continue to report good walleye action just outside University Bay and the St. Vincent area. Blue/silver cranks trolled at 1.8-2.2mph in 12-16 feet of water are producing the greatest number of fish. Many anglers stated that the bites have been very light. The river level continues to hold steady within the river and clarity is low in most areas. Water temps continued to drop into the weekend and hovered around 62 degrees. The Suamico River area continued to see heavy usage into the weekend with walleye anglers dominating the boats in the area. Mixed reports were common with most boats managing to land at least a few fish. Cranks stood out as the dominant the bait of choice; however, a few boats using bottom bouncers were able to boat good numbers of fish. Clarity in most areas was good and water temperatures dropped slightly to average in the low 60s into the weekend. The water at Duck Creek continued to be higher than recent weeks and the clarity is very good. Temps continue to hold in the low 60s through the weekend. Many carp fishermen began to use the area for bowfishing through the week with differing results. A few perch anglers were interviewed this week but the numbers and sizes continued to be poor. - John Taylor, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Winds and poor weather have made fishing at Sturgeon Bay difficult but that hasn't stopped anglers from trying. Smallmouth anglers have had a difficult time catching fish but are finding some success fishing the flats in about 10 feet of water using plastics. From shore, those angling for smallmouth found the most success from Stone Quarry using plastics and drop shot. Those fishing for walleye fared better. The best bite was found trolling the flats and Larson's Reef. Some tried trolling the ship canal with mixed results. Those fishing for walleye from shore had the most luck at the Stone Quarry fishing at night. Shore anglers are still trying their luck for walleye on the ship canal with mixed results. Northern pike are also hitting well in the bay, mostly around the canal area from those fishing for walleye. Those targeting pike have been using suckers suspended off the bottom. Fishing pressure at Little Sturgeon Bay remained steady. Most boaters were looking for smallmouth bass. Catch numbers varied considerably. Some boats had trouble landing a fish or two while others were able to catch close to 30. Water temperatures ranged from 55-58 degrees on most of the bay. The luckiest anglers were able to find areas of warmer water. Plastics on drop shots, hair jigs on drop shots, jerk baits and live bait all caught fish. Incidental catches by this group included northern pike, gobies and yellow perch. Walleye anglers reported mixed results. The best time to go was early morning. Crank baits continue to be used at a higher rate than crawler harnesses. Water clarity was low for most of the week. Smallmouth bass catch rates ranged quite a bit this week on Sawyer Harbor. The highest number reported was 20-plus. Jerk baits, plastics and live bait were commonly used by this group. An increasing number of kayakers are venturing out. One pair managed to land 15 smallmouth bass. Pier anglers were using crawlers, under bobbers, for rock bass and yellow perch. Fishing was tough for them this week. All boats interviewed at Chaudoir's Dock were fishing for walleye. On Thursday catch rates were high, but by Saturday the numbers dropped considerably. Several Thursday boats reported catching 15 or more fish. The conditions were ideal with a cold front moving in, overcast skies and a light wind creating a bit of chop on the water. Saturday was post-cold front. Cranks were the favored method. Water depth seemed to be best at around 14 feet, although the fish seem to be spreading out quite a bit. Elsewhere on the peninsula, some success has been found fishing for smallmouth in about 10 feet of water using plastics and live bait in the area around Ephraim. There have also been reports of walleye being caught off of Egg Harbor. Northern pike also continue to be caught from Fish Creek north to Sister Bay. Fishing continued to be tough throughout the lake side of the northern peninsula. Success has been found fishing Rowley's Bay for smallmouth bass in the shallows, particularly around the Mink River. The popular bait has been plastics off the bottom. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Kewaunee County - No boats were seen launching from the Kewaunee Ramp. Anglers fishing from the pier have been doing fairly well with catches including coho, brown trout, and rainbow trout using mainly spoons. The bite seems to be best earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. Anglers have also been doing well catching smallmouth bass farther up the Kewaunee River using mainly live bait and flies. Few anglers were seen launching out of Algoma and no anglers were seen fishing from the piers.

Manitowoc County - Fishing activity continues to pick up at the Two Rivers and Manitowoc Ramps. Most days saw between two and four boat trailers per ramp. The piers in Two Rivers have been busier of late, but with few fish caught. The Manitowoc Harbor temperature is 59 degrees. The piers in Manitowoc were not as popular over the holiday weekend. Some boaters were having success catching brown trout on spoons, bagging three to fire every other day or so. Some lake trout were also caught in about 20 feet of water. Despite increased fishing pressure at the Two Rivers Harbors and Piers, the fishing has been tough. Anglers are noting the sight of alewives near the north pier. The bite has been better in the morning, and brown trout are being seen. The water temperature in the harbor is 61 degrees. Anglers are starting to catch coho salmon but finding difficulty getting brown trout to bite. Some boaters were marking bait fish, but not seeing their intended targets. Water temperatures were about 44 degrees at 80 plus feet, but can reach the 50s in the shallows. - Jason Ruckel, fisheries technician, Manitowoc

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Newport State Park - Being located on the shores of Lake Michigan keeps Newport cooler than other parts of the state. Seasons are a bit delayed here, so spring is slow in coming and long lasting. Wildflowers are trying to do their best before the tree canopy appears and the birds are back in great numbers. Park visitors are also finding their way up the peninsula. Attracting anyone from casual stargazers to astronomers, one of the great outstanding features of Newport is the incredibly dark night skies. This is one place where you will find out what dark really means.

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - The area received 3-plus inches of rain in the last week and as a result trout streams are out of their banks and unfishable. Some reports of bluegills entering shallows to commence spawning. Walleyes are still biting on the Winnebago system. We're in the peak of fawning season, have yet to see one but they are there. See many yearling deer stumbling around after mom ran them off - a dangerous time for the young deer and drivers. Turkeys are still actively displaying, have not seen nor heard of anyone out hunting. Saw my first brood of mallards on Sunday. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - Water, water, everywhere in Waushara County after three days of heavy rains, but most areas of sand country have dried out. The storms also brought some heavy winds with it that knocked some birds out of their nests prematurely. One baby barred owl ended up in a backyard that was transported to REGI, a rehab facility in Antigo. If you do find a fledgling bird on the ground take time to look to the trees to find the nest. The best chance for these birds is to end up back in their nest with their parents. If you are unable to find a nest please call either your local DNR Office or a local rehab facility. Numerous fawns have been cited in the last week. The warm sun also makes for some good time to be outdoors. Make sure that you take some time to enjoy it. Ticks have been out in high prevalence throughout the county, so when you do make a trip outdoors be sure to do a thorough tick check when you get home. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma


Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee

Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan trollers have been catching chinook and lake trout, although not in great numbers. Typically boats reported one or two of each species. Most trollers were still working in shallow water, generally from 30 to 40 feet. Most fished with spoons in silver in white colors, but one boat reported catching lake trout on J-plugs in white and black. A few brown trout have been caught by shore anglers fishing off of Sheboygan's south pier, but catch rates have been low. Silver spoons have taken the majority of fish. On the north pier, anglers have been catching a few chinook with lake whitefish mixed in as well. Larger wonder bread colored spoons have produced one or two chinook, and shiners and alewives have also taken fish.

Ozaukee County - Port Washington trollers have been working the nearshore waters around the harbor. Good numbers of browns and a few rainbows, chinooks, and lake trout have been caught on spoons and crank baits in 20 to 30 feet of water. Shore fishing has been generally slow off the piers in Port, but there have been occasional chinooks and coho taken on spoons off the north pier. Alewives are in the harbor, and some anglers have been fishing with them as well. Many anglers continue to fish near the power plant, most commonly using spawn sacs for bait. Fishing there has been fairly slow, but some nice size steelhead have been caught.

Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee, trollers have been averaging one to three fish, with a mix of coho, chinook, and rainbow trout being caught. Some boats have trolled between South Shore Park and the green can reef, while others have fished straight east of the harbor in 50 feet of water. Anglers on McKinley Pier have been catching rainbows, browns, and a few coho. The majority of fish were caught closer to shore where the water was warmer. Alewives have started to show up on the lake side of the pier, and some anglers have been using them for bait. Orange and silver spoons have produced off McKinley pier as well. A few browns have also been caught along the shoreline behind the Summerfest grounds on golden shiners or fathead minnows. On the south side of Milwaukee, shore anglers fishing in Grant Park have caught a few coho and browns while bottom fishing with alewives and casting spoons. Anglers fishing off the Oak Creek Power Plant pier have been catching browns and rainbows with white tube jigs tipped with shrimp producing the most fish.

Racine County - Racine trollers have reported catching decent numbers of coho early in the morning off of the south breakwall. Bright pink and green baits have been producing well, and limits of fish have been taken. Pier fishing has been hit-or-miss over the past week. Small coho and rainbows have been hitting mostly in the early morning hours, and fish have taken both artificial and live bait.

Kenosha County - In Kenosha, when lake conditions have been good, boating pressure was quite high and anglers reported decent catches of rainbow trout and coho, with the occasional lake trout and chinook mixed in. Most rainbows and coho were taken between 6 and 8 a.m., with the chinook bite turning on slightly later in the morning. Many fish have been fairly high in the water column. Shore fishing in Kenosha has been slow overall, but some coho and rainbows have been taken near the ends of the piers. Success has been best in the morning, and most fish have been taken on spoons.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Our local DNR crew finished prescribed burning for the spring last week, with the last burns completed along Church Road on Jackson Marsh and east of County Highway W on Allenton Marsh. The late season spring burns are the most effective for setting back invasive brush, compared to early season burns. The last spring turkey hunting period ended this week. Local turkey hunters in general had good success during the season in our part of Zone 2. One newly hatched brood of turkeys was seen in the Germantown area last week. We're right at the peak of the deer fawning season with most fawns born between mid-May and early June. A doe was observed giving birth to a fawn the evening of May 21 south of Highway 60 near the Pike Lake DNR office. Most coyotes have given birth to their litters, and the young are either still in the den or starting to be active around the den sites. Dog and cat injuries or deaths from coyotes tend to pick up this time of the year especially around dens sites. A pet owner can reduce the chances of a bad coyote encounter by keeping their pet close by and on a leash. Bird viewing along Highway 28 on Theresa Marsh has been excellent, with many visible waterfowl broods (geese, mallards, wood ducks, teal), sandhill cranes, herons, egrets and other birds and some nesting black terns on the impoundments. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford


South Central Region

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels on May 27, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 9,733 cubic feet per second, above the average. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. Many sandbars are once again under water. Please remember that camping is restricted to no more than three days on State owned islands and sandbars. Camping at these locations is restricted to persons and their equipment arrived by watercraft only. A camping permit is not required. Portable toilets are in place at most DNR managed landings along the river and water is turned on at locations where available. - Matt Seguin, property manager

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board Executive Director Mark Cupp weekly video report on YouTube (exit DNR).

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Blue Mound State Park - The renovations to the swimming pool and splash pad are complete. They will be open the weekend of May 30-31 from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., then closed June 1-5; open the weekend of June 6-7 from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.; closed June 8-12; and then open for the season June 13. Normal pool hours are: Weekends 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Weekdays noon - 7 p.m.

Wyalusing State Park -All trails are open and in good hiking condition. The river boat landing is open, with lots of fisherman out for the big one. Reports are that they are doing fairly good. Lots of bird watchers in the park and have reported the following sightings: cerulean warbler, wilson's warbler, bell's vireo, sandhill crane, scarlet tanager, Henslowe's sparrow and indigo bunting. Blooming plants in the wildflower garden are wild oates, false indigo (cream), shooting stares, blue eyed grass, large flower trilium, violets and fleabane daisy. Plants blooming in the park include wild geraniaceae, columbine, Virginia waterleaf, sweet cicely, jack-in-the pulpit, miterwort and pussytoes. Wisconsin Ridge and HomeStead campgrounds are open. Shower building open in Wisconsin Ridge only.

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Resident giant Canada geese are dotting the landscape with broods of goslings, some of which are already several weeks old. More "mature" adults tend to adopt goslings from younger, less experienced breeding pairs, which is why you may see two adults with up to 30 or 40 goslings. Snapping turtle babies are emerging from their underground nests, trying to find their way to neighboring wetlands. Fishing success remains scattered on area lakes. Morel hunters have had a very successful harvesting season with optimal conditions of moisture and cool weather. - Jennifer Wirth, visitor services specialist

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - White bass are biting on the Wisconsin River closer to Lake Wisconsin than Portage. Smallmouth bass are active from Portage up through Pine Island. Water levels had been at summer lows already but recent rains have raised water levels. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Fishing on Lake Wisconsin in Columbia County has slowed down some. Some walleyes and sauger were still being caught but not in the numbers they were earlier in the month. Anglers are still catching crappies in the shallows and the bluegill bite is picking up. Good numbers of crappies are being caught on Crystal Lake by both shore and boat anglers. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette

Jefferson County - With the recent rains and higher water levels, waterfowl and wading birds are abundant on wetland areas throughout Jefferson County. Canada geese, American coots, mallards, and white pelicans were observed on the Zeloski Unit of Lake Mills Wildlife Area, as well as songbirds such as yellow warblers, indigo buntings, and American goldfinches. Deer fawning season has begun, and multiple reports of fawn sightings have come in. DNR wildlife staff observed a newborn fawn being cleaned up by a doe just minutes after birth on Jefferson Marsh Wildlife Area. Canada goose goslings are abundant and range in age from newly hatched to 3-4 weeks old. The first sighting of sandhill cranes chicks was reported. Spring woodland wildflowers are in full bloom, including wild geranium, rue anemone, jack-in-the-pulpit, and shooting star. Turkey season has officially ended and breeding activity has quieted down, as many hens are now on nests. The first mosquito hatch of the year has occurred following the rain and warmer temperatures, and ticks are abundant this spring, so bring your bug spray when heading out for your favorite outdoor activities. - Mark Witecha, wildlife biologist, Lake Mills


West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Many bird watchers have been reporting strong numbers of brown thrashers in the area. Brown thrashers nest in dense shrubbery and feed mostly on the ground where they gobble up insects, larvae, and small fruits. These exuberant singers have the largest known bird song repertoire and can sing up to 2,000 different song types, a few of which imitate the songs of other birds. Brown thrashers typically repeat each song two or three times in succession, quickly moving on to the next song. For comparison, northern mockingbirds sing 100-200 different songs, while song sparrows sing eight to10 different songs, and marsh wrens sing 50-150 different songs. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Lake Wissota State Park - Species of birds seen or heard include: rose-breasted grosbeaks, loons, robins, red polls, a variety of wrens, phoebes, Canada geese, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, and belted kingfishers. The great blue herons, green herons, barred owls, ravens, osprey and bald eagles are on their nests. We have seen the first fawns and goslings of the year, the turtles are sunning and the frogs are singing. The maples have leafed out and the cherry species have begun to bloom. The ferns are in the process of unfurling. Miterwort, spring beauty, common and wood strawberry, dog violet, marsh marigolds, trillium, wild columbine, hepaticas, bellworts, and the false rue anemones are in bloom. Area open water game fish and panfish action has been fast with warm temperatures or very quiet during cooler days in the sheltered bays and lagoons. Hikers have many great opportunities within the park. Whether it's using the island's trail system, exploring the wilder areas of the park, or a brisk walk on the park road, you're sure to enjoy these beautiful woodlands. - Dave Hladilek, park manager

Last Revised: Thursday, May 28, 2015

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