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Outdoor Report for April 23, 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).

Signs of spring abound, despite some recent light snow, with dusting in the south and up to a couple of inches in the north. Lakes are now open statewide and only a little floating pack ice is reported in some spots on Lake Superior.

musky
DNR fishery crews have been busy surveying fish populations on many local waters and are just seeing their workload starting to ease up. Chad Leanna, DNR fisheries technician holds up a 40-musky caught and released during a survey.
WDNR Photo

Angling pressure on Northwoods waters has been generally light, with just a few sucker and panfish anglers out there trying their luck. However, expect that to pick up with the warmer weather and the end of several spawning periods. Walleye spawning started very quickly but the unsettled weather and cold water temperatures have extended it, with a few ripe male and female walleye still being found near the spawning grounds. Perch are now in the middle of their annual spawning ritual and musky spawning gets in full gear when the water temp gets in the low 50-degree range and a few fish have been observed up in the shallows. Sucker fishing has been fair with some decent catches of redhorse and white sucker coming from the deeper holes on the Flambeau and Chippewa rivers.

Walleye are done spawning on both Fox and Wolf rivers and are biting well. The sturgeon spawning on the Winnebago System was fast and furious, with spawning beginning on the April 14 and peak spawning occurring Friday and Saturday, with Monday finishing the run.

Steelhead fishing picked up on Lake Michigan tributaries, including the Manitowoc, The East and West Twin, Sheboygan, Root and Pike rivers and Sauk Creek. The Root River Steelhead Facility continued to process fish this week.

First period turkey hunters reported good success in northwestern and eastern counties, while hunters in south central area reported turkeys seemed quiet so far this year. Despite the reported lack of gobbling, some success has still been reported.

Bike trails are drying out and crews have been out getting them prepared, with the Red Cedar and Chippewa River trails in excellent condition for the coming bike/running season. Crews are also working on getting campgrounds ready and a few are starting to report modern bathroom and shower buildings are beginning to open.

Look for a state-wide "green up" coming in the next week, but forestry officials are still cautioning that conditions are dry and fire danger could rise again quickly in the coming week.

Mallards, wood ducks and bluebirds are nesting, and eagle chicks will be hatching soon. Recent bird arrivals include swallows, early warblers including yellow-rumped, palm, yellow and pine, Henslow's sparrow, and marshbirds such as sora and Virginia rails.

painted turtles
Recent warm rains lured a nest of painted turtles to hit the trails at Brule River State Forest.
WDNR Photo

In counties across the state, near area waters, chorus frogs are in full roar, with wood frogs and spring peepers out and singing as well and snakes are being seen along with painted turtles sunning themselves on logs after emerging from their winter homes on the non-rainy days.

Spring ephemerals including prairie smoke, dutchman's breeches, hepaticas and bloodroot are blooming beneath decaying leaves in the upland woods, and skunk cabbages and marsh marigolds are blooming in wet lowlands. Wild leeks or ramps are also leafing out. These next few weeks are great opportunities to break in your hiking shoes before the mosquitos return!

Wildfire Report

Fire danger has been a mixed bag this week - High to Extreme danger going into the weekend and then Low once the rain and snow moved in. In the past week, 67 wildfires burned 97 acres in DNR protection areas around the state. The leading causes were debris burning and equipment. During these fires, 23 buildings were threatened and three were lost. The largest fire burned 20 acres of lowland grass in Clark County. Much of the state is in 'abnormally dry' to 'moderate drought' conditions. Precipitation this time of year only alleviates fire danger for a short time, particularly on our sandy soils. Many people will opt to burn leaves, brush, grass, etc. when it is allowed. After your fire is out, we are asking you to check the area where you burned to make sure the fire in completely out and there are no embers smoldering under the ash - bring water with you so you can wet down the burned area. Embers can remain smoldering under ash for days or even weeks. A windy day can easily blow away the ash and send the embers flying into surrounding dry vegetation, resulting in a wildfire. Burning permits will be periodically suspended when fire weather conditions call for it. The public is urged to put off any debris burning projects during dry, windy days. When dumping ash from burn barrels or wood stoves, be sure to soak the ash with water, stir to expose any still-smoldering embers, add more water, and stir again. Check out the DNR fire web page for information on current fire danger and fire prevention: dnr.wi.gov (search fire). This week marks the 35th anniversary of the Oak Lake and Ekdall Church Fires that burned 11,418 and 4,654 acres in Washburn and Burnett counties (respectively). It also marks the 33rd anniversary of the Canoe Landing Fire in Eau Claire County when DNR firefighter Don Eisberner died in the line of duty.

Firewise Tip: Home ignitions can be prevented by managing the area 100-200 feet around your home in a way that minimizes the chance that fire could reach your home. Learn what you can do by printing off a Homeowner Self-assessment at dnr.wi.gov (search 'ember'). - Jolene Ackerman, wildland coordinator, Madison

Sturgeon Spawning Report

As anticipated the 2015 sturgeon spawning run on the Winnebago System passed by very quickly. The first spawning activity was observed on the upper Fox River at Eureka on the evening of April 14. Spawning continued at sites on the upper Fox River at Eureka and Princeton on April 15 with fish also starting to exhibit intense pre-spawn behavior at sites further downstream on the Wolf River. Spawning activity began on the Wolf, Little Wolf and Pigeon Rivers on April 16. Peak spawning activity occurred throughout the Winnebago System on Friday and Saturday and by Monday the run was pretty much over. In total crews handled 1,521 fish over 6 days. The weather was exceptionally nice during this year's spawning migration, which offered great opportunity for people to get out and take in the sturgeon spawning activity. - Ryan Koenigs, fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

Canada Goose Harvest Report

The 2014 Canada Goose Harvest Report [PDF] is now available - search keywords "waterfowl management" for more information. - Sawyer Briel, communications specialist, Dane

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - Temperatures dropped this past week and the ground, in some areas, got a dusting of snow that soon melted as the days progressed. The snow/rain did raise water levels on the Brule to 207 cfs. To get a current updates on water levels on the Brule and surrounding bodies of water for future fishing of canoe trip planning, please check the USGS Stream flow information. Even with the cooling in temperatures over the past week, there are still plenty of fisherman having a go at steelhead on the Brule. Spring turkey season going on and hunters are finding plenty of birds moving and being vocal. Ruffed grouse are drumming; tundra swans have been spotted flying in large flocks overhead. Song birds are being seen in an ever increasing number and variance; Phoebes, and flocks of dark-eyed juncos are just a couple species that have been spotted in the last two days. Broad-wing hawks have also been seen flying over head. Wood frogs, peepers are almost a sure sign, for the most part, that winter will not be returning anytime soon. They can be heard down in the swamps, their rhythmic chorus lulling us to sleep on these cool spring nights.- Edwin F. Koepp, visitor services associate

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Washburn County - Namekagon barrens wildlife area- sharp-tailed grouse are dancing. To view see www.fnbwa.org. Washburn County turkeys are strutting, bluebirds are nesting, eagle chicks will be hatching, other sightings include: kestrel, mergansers, wood ducks, phoebes, and many more. - Nancy Christel, wildlife biologist, Spooner

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With ice cover gone from most of our lakes for almost two weeks now, water temperatures quickly jumped to the low 50-degree range - but have since dropped back into the mid-40s with the cold and snowy weather of the last few days. DNR fishery crews have been busy surveying fish populations on many local waters and are just seeing their workload starting to ease up. The walleye spawning season started very quickly but the unsettled weather and cold water temperatures have extended the spawning time for the species, with a few ripe male and female walleye still being found near the spawning grounds. The musky spawning period gets in full gear when the water temp gets in the low 50-degree range and a few fish have been observed up in the shallows - but it may still be a week or two until musky spawning picks up on the larger waters. Largemouth and smallmouth bass have just begun to show up near the shallows, but their spawning activities are still several weeks away yet. As the water does warm into the low 50s, panfish will also move up shallow in greater numbers, especially in the dark-bottomed bays that get a lot of sun. Perch are also in the middle of their annual spawning ritual, with crappie beginning theirs as the water warms to the low 60s and bluegill when the water hits the mid to upper 60s. Angling pressure on area waters has been generally light, with just a few sucker and panfish anglers out trying their luck. Panfish success has been low, with just a few crappie and bluegill being found in 3 to 5 feet of water in shallow, warm-water bays. Sucker fishing has been fair with some decent catches of redhorse and white sucker coming from the deeper holes on the Flambeau and Chippewa rivers. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - What happened to spring? The last couple days have been snowy and cold, and there is a thin snow cover on the ground again. There have been reports of ticks though, that stretch of warm last week got them moving. A nice looking hen turkey has given up foraging and spends a lot of time under the bird feeder at Crystal Lake. The loons were just beginning to fly in. One was heard calling on Plum Lake. Crews continue to prepare campgrounds. Please be patient as it will take a few weeks to get through all 18 of our campgrounds. Crews took advantage of the warm dry weather last week and completed blowing leaves and other forest debris off roads and campsites in Crystal Lake and Firefly Lake Campgrounds. Work is in progress on getting shower buildings ready for the season and we hope to have all four shower buildings on the forest open by May 1. Visitors were out camping in several of our campgrounds last week and weekend taking advantage of the warm dry weather. Buffalo Lake, Starrett Lake, and Upper Gresham Lake Campgrounds will open for the season on Thursday, April 30. Cunard Lake, East Star Lake, Plum Lake, Sandy Beach Lake, and South Trout Lake Campgrounds will remain closed until Monday, May 18. All other campgrounds in the state forest are currently open! Firewood permit holders are reminded that their time to harvest downed trees in the campgrounds on the forest is running out, with April 30 being the last day they are allowed to harvest wood this spring. From May 1-October 31 only registered campers are allowed to collect downed trees in the campgrounds and chainsaw use is not allowed in campgrounds during that time period. We have installed docks at the following landings: Big Bearskin, Big Carr, McGrath, Dorothy, Hasbrook, Hodstradt, North Nokomis, Carrol, Wild Rice and Jag Lake. The fishing dock at Clear Picnic was installed today and the water is almost back to normal. We will be installing docks in the northern part of the NHALSF tomorrow. For now, road weight limits will keep us from installing the large docks such as Stacks Bay, Clear Picnic, Big, Boulder, Gresham, Nebish, Clear Picnic and Starrett Lake. We will continue to install the smaller wood and aluminum roll in docks until the road weight limits are removed and will then switch to fixing concrete ramps and installing the large docks mentioned above. There will be some boat landings that will not have a boarding dock for opening day of fishing. New for 2015 is a phone line to report boat landing safety issues or repair needs at 715-385- 3355 extension 132. We currently have signs ordered for this landing needs line and will be posting those at the boat landings this spring and early summer. The line is active now so let us know if you know of ice pushed concrete ramps or down trees that will be obstacles to launching a boat. We still have volunteer campground host opportunities available at Plum Lake, Carrol Lake, Cunard Lake, and South Trout Lake Campgrounds. Please contact Joe Fieweger at 715-385-3355 ext 113 or joseph.fieweger@wi.gov for more information. - Kimberly Krawczyk, Visitor Services Associate

Florence DNR at the Florence Natural Resource Center

Florence and Forest counties - Well, the snow has arrived again! However, it isn't more than an inch or two in most places. The lakes are open and the Fisheries Team continues to set fyke nets as they look for spring runs and the over-winter survivorship of fish species. Waterfowl, sandhill cranes, wild turkeys and songbirds are becoming more and more common to see as they utilize this rather snowy spring weather. Period B for the spring turkey hunt is now open. Florence and Forest Counties are partitioned into Zones 5 and 7. There are leftover permits available ONLY for the last period of Zone 5 (May 20-26). You can keep track of the availability of these permits at the following the DNR website as well as where to buy them, the rules and regulations, season structures and registration procedures by searching for turkey. Good luck out there! - Jason Cotter, wildlife Biologist, Florence

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

This report is for the week of April 12 thru April 18 and encompasses the Menominee, Peshtigo, Oconto, and Pensaukee rivers, plus the West shore of Green Bay. Fishing pressure was heavy this past week with water temperatures in the low to mid 40s. The walleye spawn is coming to an end and being replaced with white suckers, red horse suckers, and sturgeon. Viewing sturgeon can be done on the north side of the Peshtigo River by the power house fence.

- David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay

Marinette County - The Peshtigo River, like the Oconto, is seeing an influx of white suckers and a few sturgeon, while the walleye run has decreased dramatically. Shore anglers and boaters alike have moved to the lower stretches of the river. Shore anglers are casting zip lures, and deep diving Rap's as well as fishing with jigs and plastics and jigs and minnows. Catch rates for shore anglers has been modest while some of the boaters have reported catches of 40 fish and more. Browns are being caught in good numbers from south of Little River to north of the Menominee River using stick baits in various colors and trolling in 6 to 10 feet of water. Fish as large as 28 inches and 12 pounds are being caught. Browns are also being caught off the Government Pier and the Lighthouse Pier on the Menominee River using Rap's and stick baits. Most anglers on the Menominee River are now concentrating on the lower portion of the river for walleye using jigs and minnows. Some walleye and brown trout are still being caught at the Hattie Street Dam. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - The numbers of walleye being caught by the dam in Stiles has declined as the numbers of white suckers has increased. Most shore anglers are fishing for walleye in the lower reaches of the river, City docks and Oconto breakwater Park. Stick baits are starting to work. Zip lures in various colors are also working while some anglers prefer using jig heads tipped with minnows. Boaters have been concentrating at the mouth of the Oconto River and the shallow shorelines north and south of river. These anglers are jigging and using planer boards trailing stick baits. A few pike are being caught from shore at Oconto Park II using spoons, while boaters are searching for walleye using planers boards, with spoons and stick baits. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Despite the fact that weekend water temperatures at Bayshore Park had dropped from about 47 degrees on Saturday to around 43 degrees on Sunday. Most boaters looking for walleye were able to catch their one fish limit. Crank baits seemed to outperform crawler harnesses. The average size was 21.1 inches. The largest walleye observed by creel clerks was 22.8 inches. One boat had also reported catching a large lake whitefish. While shore or pier anglers did not report catching any walleye over the weekend, it was mentioned that they have been having luck here in the evenings. One brown trout boat was interviewed. Using floaters, they had caught one, 24 inch brown. - John Taylor, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Fox River shore fishermen were still catching large catfish just about anywhere along the river, using a night crawler and sinker harness. Most anglers agree that the walleye run below the De Pere dam is at its end; however a few males can still be found along with large numbers of white suckers. A few anglers were also having limited success fishing for white bass near Porlier. A minnow, fished just off bottom, was the technique of choice. Boaters near the mouth of the river reported catching low numbers of walleye on Sunday morning but once the wind shifted to the north, the bite for the day shut down. Temperatures in the river hovered between 53 and 55 degrees. The flow and clarity continued to stay at moderate levels. Duck Creek water levels continue to hold and the clarity has returned to normal. Very little fishing was to be found within the creek. A night crawler fish on bottom was able to produce a few bites, with two catfish landed. Early Sunday brought more anglers to the Suamico area with most boats reporting two to five walleye boated early in the day; however, once the wind shifted to the north, the bite stop and the water became quite rough. Most anglers utilized orange and chartreuse jigs with twister tails while fishing in 12-15 feet of water. The majority of fish caught were in the 21-25 inch range. Other than the occasional freshwater drum, very little other action was to be found in the area. Clarity was reported to be fair to good, but the incoming weather shift and higher winds may change that overnight. - John Taylor, fisheries technicians, Green Bay

Manitowoc County - Fishing in Manitowoc County has still been focused near Mishicot Village Park and The Shoto dam area. The majority of anglers are seeking steelheads, or dipnetting for suckers. More steelheads have been caught this week than during the two past weeks. Many of the females are loose and drop their spawn readily when removed from the river. The water color in many rivers has become clearer in the last week, with the exception of the Manitowoc, which remains dark, and muddy. The Manitowoc River had a temperature of 57 degrees as of April 16. Fishing pressure has lessened at Manitowoc City Park, Manitou Park, and Lower Cato Falls. The Branch River has a stained color, and a temperature of 56 degrees. There is little fishing pressure near bridges in the area. The West Twin River in Shoto, and the East Twin River in Mishicot have been very popular with anglers this past weekend. In Mishicot near the dam people have had success using floated spawn sacs, and farther downstream dropping spawn sacs with a split shot. One trout was caught with some frozen shrimp, and another with green spinner. Most of the steelhead were 5-6 pounds. The consensus is that the water is very clear and making the fish finicky toward taking bait. It may take an hour or more of stalking one trout to ensure success. Manitowoc Harbor is at 54 degrees and dark brown in color. A few anglers have tried the Marina, with little success. The boat ramps have remained quiet throughout the week. The water is still dark near Two Rivers Harbor, and fishing pressure on the piers has been light. - Jason Ruckel, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Last week brought warm weather and with it came singing frogs, active ticks, and the first mosquitos. Wild leeks, wild ginger, and a few other early spring natives have now made an appearance. Walleye spawning is dying down, and suckers are moving into the area rivers. Mourning doves, geese, and a few other birds have begun to nest. More hen turkeys are moving around alone, indicating they may be nesting. The first regular turkey season is in the books and the second season began. Another week or two and we should start to see hummingbirds and orioles—so now is a good time to dig out those feeders and get them clean and ready to put out. Opening day of gamefish season is just over a week away, but panfishing is open and fish are getting more active on area lakes. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Walleyes are reportedly done spawning and biting on both Fox and Wolf rivers. Sturgeon should be done spawning shortly. Green - up has begun with the damper weather and some trees are breaking bud. Blue-winged teal are now back. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Hartman Creek State Park - The horse and bike trails are open for the season. The first loop of the campground is open for camping on a first come first serve basis. The water will not be on until closer to May, but there is a winter water supply for filling containers. Please be cautious as the area is very dry and fire is a concern.

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Outagamie County - Turkey hunting is in full swing and there seems to be birds everywhere. Don't forget that High Cliff State Park is open for the first 3 turkey seasons, however you're limited to archery equipment only. Anglers at High Cliff and on the Fox River in Appleton and Kaukauna were doing very well on crappie, but that bite has disappeared with the recent cooler weather. The walleye bite will likely pick up along the east shore once warmer weather comes back. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton

Winnebago County - Spring is here and the fishing bite on the Winnebago System really picked up with the warner temperatures last week. The crappie and walleyes were fast and furious but really slowed down with the onset of the cooler weather that lingers over the state. Anglers were having luck along western shores of Lake Winnebago near the Fox River with slip bobbers/minnows and even crank baits catching walleyes. Lake sturgeon, were extremely active on the Winnebago System Rivers and even in places like Eureka on the Fox River numerous sturgeon were observed spawning during the warm spell. - Jason Higgins, conservation warden, Oshkosh

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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 anglers fishing off the piers have been catching a few browns on spoons and spawn sacs. Sheboygan trollers have been catching a few browns on brightly colored spoons in about 20 feet of water, and some lake trout have also been taken in 30 to 40 feet of water. The Pigeon River is at fishable levels, and the water temperature is about 50 degrees. The Sheboygan River remains a little murky with a temperature of 50 degrees. Anglers have been doing very well fishing for steelhead, especially at the Kohler dam. Egg patterns and egg sucking leeches have been the most popular choices for fly fishermen, but spinners continue to work also. There are reports of a decent number of pike being caught as well. Overall, the fishing has been great most of the past week, so it's a good time to get out there.

Ozaukee County - In Port Washington shore anglers fishing near the power plant and off the rocks at Rotary Park have reported increasing numbers of fish this past week, with mostly browns and a few rainbows taken. Spawn floated off the bottom was the most popular bait, but others have had success using crank baits. Some lake whitefish have been reported caught on spoons off of the pier. Sauk Creek is fairly clear with a temperature of 50 degrees. Good numbers of steelhead are in the creek, and anglers have had success near the bridge behind the high school and further upstream near the Nature Conservancy. Egg patterns and spawn have both produced fish. Very few boats have been fishing out of Port Washington recently.

Milwaukee County - Flows on the Milwaukee River are dropping back down, but the water remains somewhat murky. Menomonee River flows are about average for this time of year. Steelheaders fishing near Miller Park are advised to check the Brewers schedule, as the roads around Miller Park are closed off about 4 to 5 hours prior to the start of home games. The Menomonee River canals have been producing panfish and a few nice northerns near 11th and Bruce Streets, as well as smallmouth bass at Reed Street Yards Park. The water temperature in both the Milwaukee and Menomonee Rivers is in the low 50s. In Oak Creek the water is fairly clear with a temperature of 51 degrees. Most anglers have been fishing near the dam, and a few rainbows and browns have been caught on white tube jigs and spawn sacs. Large numbers of suckers have also been reported in the creek. A few brown trout have been caught along the Milwaukee lakefront behind the Summerfest grounds, but the perch fishing has tapered off over the past couple of weeks. McKinley pier has produced a few coho, browns, and rainbows, and spoons and crank baits have taken the most fish. The Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier has produced a few coho, browns, and rainbows on white tube jigs or twister tails tipped with wax worms. Strong winds and high waves have limited boating activity around Milwaukee over the past week. When trollers have been able to get on the water, they have been catching fair numbers of browns off of the Oak Creek Power Plant as well as inside the South Shore Park break walls.

Racine County - At the Racine lakefront trollers have reported catching good numbers of coho and browns, especially in the early morning hours, with many boats back in by 9 AM. Fishing has been productive in the olive green water just outside the breakwall, and fish have been hitting on bright or reflective colors. Pier anglers have had success off of both the north and south piers, although the majority of fish have been small. Soaking bait with a strong scent has been most productive, as the water clarity remains poor. Flows on the Root River are dropping but are good for fishing. Steelhead have been caught on bright orange or green flies, but the bite drops off after 10 AM. Anglers have reported increasing numbers of suckers in the river. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, April 20. An additional 140 steelhead were released upriver, for a total of 627 so far this spring. Over 326,000 Chambers Creek strain eggs and 328,000 Ganaraska strain eggs have been collected. We will process fish at the facility one more time and shut it down on Monday, April 27.

Kenosha County - In Kenosha trolling has been less productive than in Racine, but a few coho have been picked up just outside the muddy water close to shore. Water clarity in the harbor remains poor, and shore fishing has been slow overall. The mouth of the Pike River has narrowed, but a good amount of water is still flowing into Lake Michigan. Anglers have had varied success catching steelhead and suckers throughout the river.

Waukesha DNR Service Center area

Waukesha County - Chorus frogs are in full roar, with wood frogs and spring peepers out and singing as well. We are also starting to see snakes and turtles sunning themselves on the non-rainy days. A walk through the woods will also show you blooming spring beauty, hepatica, skunk cabbage, and Virginia bluebells, and the growth of mayapple, trout lily, wild onion, and Virginia waterleaf. And don't forget the many migratory songbirds passing through the Milwaukee area, such as hermit thrush, yellow-rumped warblers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, savannah sparrows, and swamp sparrows, with some of them starting to select nesting sites. Spring turkey season has started, and hunters are doing well during the early season. To enjoy the spring arrivals, join a DNR Wildlife Biologist on a Birding Hike through the grasslands and wetlands of Theresa Marsh on Sunday, May 10 from 9 - 11 AM. Contact Dianne Robinson at Dianne.Robinson@wisconsin.gov or at 262-424-9827 for more information. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Waukesha

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Pike Lake Unit - Spring is in full bloom at Pike Lake as we see motherwort, hepatica and marsh marigolds flowering! The recent control burned area on the North end of the property has already bounced back with lush green color as well. We are currently hearing spring peepers, chorus frogs, leopard frogs and wood frog calls. Last week during the salamander egg study, there were lots of tiger salamander eggs, wood frog and chorus frog eggs found on the property in the ephemeral and pond areas. Bluebirds have returned and we are excited for the orioles returning this week as well. Song bird species having begun their mating rituals. We expect that the local barred and great-horned owl juveniles are beginning to "branch" and are learning how to use their wings in preparation for fledging. Trail conditions are good seasonal condition, with some wet / muddy stretches.

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South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Green County - Starting on March 1 until the first Saturday in May, the Albany Dam, Decatur Dam, and the Old Brodhead power house are fish refuges from the dam downstream for a distance of 500 feet. No fishing is allowed in these areas during this time. The ATV trails are currently open for use. Turkey season is upon us. Numerous turkeys have been seen all around the county and it looks like it is shaping up to be a good season. Make sure to follow the four rules of firearm safety while out hunting to ensure a safe hunt. As always, please report any violations you observe and stay safe! - Ryan Caputo, conservation warden, New Glarus

Iowa County - Wildlife activity had really ramped up with the very warm weather last week. However, cooler weather this week has slowed things down, especially for amphibians and reptiles. Wild turkeys are still actively displaying in fields despite the cold weather, however their activity level varies across the county. Current wildlife activity: wild turkeys, woodcock, geese, phoebes, meadowlarks are beginning to nest. Other bird species are beginning nesting as well, and there are reports of owlets beginning to fledge from nests. Tree swallows have returned, as have whip-poor-wills. Frogs species heard calling within the last week include spring peepers, chorus frog, wood frog, and leopard frogs. This cold weather may effectively shut down wood frog calling for the year. Spring ephemerals: dutchman's breeches, hepatica's, pasque flower, and prairie-smoke are blooming, and skunk cabbage and marsh marigold are popping up in wetlands. Red maples and elms are flowering, and many trees are beginning to bud out, especially willows. - Travis Anderson, wildlife biologist, Dodgeville

Richland County - Warden Nice reports Turkey hunters are having good success. Trout Fisherman are dealing with large amounts of run off as spring rains have dampened trout fishing activity. - Michael Nice, conservation warden, Richland Center

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Dodge County - Staff are seeing nice catches of crappie and perch on Beaver Dam Lake. - Paul Nell, conservation warden, Horicon

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Migration seems to have stood still with the latest cold front that moved into the area. We are anxiously awaiting warmer weather and southerly winds to lure in more species for the upcoming 18th annual Horicon Marsh Bird Festival. Spring prescribed burning was temporarily halted due to dry conditions and will hopefully start up again soon with our latest precipitation. Prescribed burns during the spring are essential for combating invasive species that encroach into our marsh and prairie areas. Chorus frogs had been very vocal prior to the cold snap. Painted turtles have been seen sunning themselves on logs after emerging from their winter homes. Spring turkey hunters are back in the woods. Hunting should be good as many toms can be seen in full strut in your travels along the countryside. - Jennifer Wirth, visitor services specialist

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - Spring turkey hunting is progressing - many hunters are commenting on how "quiet" the turkeys seem to be this year. Many spring flowers are starting to bloom including prairie buttercup, wood violet, pasque flower, rock cress and pussy-toes. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

Fishing this past weekend was slow on the WI River. However, fishing has picked up on Park Lake with some folks picking up a few nice sized panfish. Turkey hunters were out this past week with good success from reports given. Still having problems with people attempting to burn debris outdoors. Fire control had a very busy week due to weather conditions. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Dane County - Anecdotal (early reports) from the first time period of turkey hunting suggests good success rates and lots of birds on private and public lands. Fox kits are getting bigger and starting to be seen outside of dens. Landowners/residents are reminded that foxes seen during the day now are likely feeding young or caring for young and are generally not aggressive. DNR has updated guidance on foxes and other urban wildlife on the DNR website at: urban wildlife. Recent bird arrivals include swallows, early warblers (yellow-rumped, palm, yellow and pine), Henslow's sparrow, and marshbirds such as sora and Virginia rails. Mallards and wood ducks are nesting. We've been getting many reports of urban mallards nesting in gardens, trees and plantings. Folks are reminded not to disturb or "rescue" these ducks and to let nature take its course. For more on this see: keep wildlife wild. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg

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West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Hepaticas and bloodroot are blooming beneath decaying leaves in the upland woods and skunk cabbages and marsh marigolds are blooming in wet lowlands in Vernon County. Do not be put off by the pungent odor given off by skunk cabbage, should you break or tear a leaf. The plant's odor attracts carrion-feeding insect pollinators, mainly stoneflies, bees, and flies. The odor also serves to protect the plant from being eaten by hungry animals, even though it is not poisonous. Skunk cabbage is one a few plants that can actually generate heat through cellular respiration and melt through snow. Wild leeks or ramps are also leafing out. The bulbs and foliage of this member of the lily family are gathered by many people for use in soups and salads. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Eau Claire County -Anglers have been lining the shorelines at popular Chippewa River fishing locations from the Dells Hydro Dam to the vicinity of the Interstate 94 Bridge. Much of the walleye action has been small males under the 15 inch minimum size limit, but some anglers at Phoenix Park and Jopke Road have caught walleye approaching 26 inches long. The boat docks have been placed on the water at Riverview Park and Lake Altoona Park. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire

Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area - Parks staff have been very busy catching up with the early spring weather last week. Park and wildlife staff have also joined forces to work on prescribed burns in the Dunn county area, with a few being completed and one expected to occur at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area. This prescribed burn is planned as part of an oak savanna restoration project, which will include planting 100 oak trees by local volunteers May 1 from 9:30 a.m. to finish. Everyone will meet at the overflow parking lot. The spring weather has also brought in a variety of migrating birds including most recently, sightings of white throated sparrows at Hoffman Hills. Spring turkey season is well on its way with some hunters taking advantage of the new park hunting opportunities along the trails. Many people are also enjoying this time period to fish for walleye along the Chippewa and Red Cedars Rivers with great access points off the trails. Lots to do and lots to see, so get out and enjoy it! - Calvin Kunkel, ranger

Red Cedar State Trail - Staff have graded and packed the Red Cedar State Trail and finished an emergency shoreline erosion project near mile marker 10.

- Calvin Kunkel, ranger

Chippewa Moraine Ice Age State Recreation Area - - Staff have done a spring cleaning on the Chippewa River State Trail and the trails are in excellent condition for the coming bike season. - Calvin Kunkle, ranger

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Adams County - The catfish have been biting very well on the Wisconsin River. - Wade Romberg, conservation warden, Friendship

Buckhorn State Park - Osprey have returned to their nests, eagles seen daily, great blue herons, ducks, migrating loons, and more! A whooping crane has been visiting the park this week. The park is open for the first 3 periods of spring turkey hunting and is in zone 1. Check out the hunting map online or at the park office. For weeks 4-6, turkey hunting is only allowed in the Yellow River Wildlife Area. The new campground is open and nonreservable at this time. Drinking water is available at the park office next to the restroom and throughout the park and campground. Showers and flush toilets open in campground, dump station open for dumping but water not turned on yet for filling. The park is open for the first 3 periods of spring turkey hunting and is in zone 1. Check out the hunting map online or at the park office. For weeks 4-6, turkey hunting is only allowed in the Yellow River Wildlife Area. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate will open Saturday, May 2 for our annual park clean up day. Parking is in the winter lot on Czech Ave. Park stickers are still required; please use the self-registration. Please do not park in front of the main gate. No food, pets or drinks are allowed on the stairway. Users are restricted to the stairway and it is open from 6 am to sunset but not maintained for winter use. The park is open for the first 3 periods of spring turkey hunting and is in zone 3. Check out the hunting map online or on a bulletin board. - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, April 23, 2015

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