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Outdoor Report

Published February 27, 2014 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).

Even though it feels nowhere close to spring, please remember that the closing of inland game fish season is March 2. As the game fish prepare for spawning we mustn't interrupt reproduction so we can enjoy the resource for years to come.

Save the dates for Free Fun Weekend, June 7-8, when Wisconsin residents and visitors alike can fish for free, hike or bike state trails for free, ride public ATV trails for free, and, new this year, enjoy free admission to state parks and forests on both days as well. For more information please visit /news/Weekly/Article_Lookup.asp?id=2842.

Also take note that ice fishing shelters are to be removed from inland waters south of Highway 64 by March 2. Anglers who have difficulty getting their shelters off the ice by the deadline due to deep snow, or shanties frozen to the ice still need to work actively to free their shelters from the ice and arrange to have the shelters removed from the ice. The DNR encourages ice anglers to call the department's Hotline, 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367, to describe their situation if they are having difficulty meeting the removal deadline. The angler's information will be passed on to the local conservation warden who will use discretion in the enforcement of the deadline.

The significant snowfall last week in the northern half of the state led to minor damage on some state properties. The snow was very heavy in spots and caused many limbs to snap off. Reports from properties across the state indicate that DNR staff and volunteers have cleared the debris from trails and visitors should have no problems accessing trails. Many of the snowmobile trails in the south remain closed while northern trails are still the best they have been in years.

Reports of snowy owls keep coming in across the state. Great horned owls are still performing their mating calls (as are barred owls), and may even be nesting now. Eagles have been seen pairing up and sitting on nests. Coyotes, red foxes, and raccoons are in their breeding season.

Opossum activity levels are starting to increase even though temperatures remain cold. Food and love-hungry opossums are often active during cold, sunny days. These interesting marsupial mammals mate in mid to late winter, and most young are born in March and early April after a rapid 13 day gestation period. New-born opossums are partially developed, lacking fully formed hearts, lungs, and kidneys. They climb into their mother's protective pouch, known as a marsupium, and remain there for 60-70 days, suckling continuously, undergoing further growth and development. Commonly believed to possess minimal intelligence, opossums rank above dogs in intelligence when subjected to learning tests. Adult opossums possess 50 teeth, more than any other mammal in Wisconsin, and are immune to rattlesnake venom. They serve an important function in food webs as they consume many harmful insects and clean up lots of carrion.

Deadlines for enrolling in local Learn to Hunt Turkey programs are very soon. Novice turkey hunters and turkey hunting mentors interested in participating in a local workshop can find contact information for a workshop in their area on the "Learn to Hunt" page of the DNR website.

Statewide Birding Report

Winter re-asserted her firm grip across the state this week, forcing many birders to wait at least a bit longer for significant signs of spring. In an average year, sandhill cranes, blackbirds, and various geese and ducks would now be making their first flights into southern counties. Alas, extensive ice and snow cover have put spring migration on hold for now. Diving ducks stranded in upland areas continue to be reported in high numbers, especially in Lake Michigan counties, while birders found excellent viewing conditions there for scaup, goldeneye, red-breasted mergansers, white-winged scoters, and long-tailed ducks. The Milwaukee River mouth has been especially good, even hosting several red-throated loons relatively close to shore. Elsewhere, the harsh winter is taking a toll on wild turkey populations across the north woods. Ruffed grouse, on the other hand, seem to be faring well as deep, soft, and uncrusted snow has facilitated their unique "snow roosting" behavior. Backyard birders are also reporting more barred and northern saw-whet owls hunting mice by day. Snowy owls are showing no signs of departure and continue statewide as previously reported. Likewise, stellar views of bald eagles can still be had at concentration points along the Wisconsin River and other winter hotspots with open water. American goldfinches remain dominant at many backyard feeders across the state, with only a smattering of purple finches and pine siskins being reported. Last but not least, Wisconsinites should take pride in a recent U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report that identified the Badger State as hosting the second highest proportion of birdwatchers nationwide /news/Weekly/Article_Lookup.asp?id=2843. As always, help us track bird populations by reporting your sightings to - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland


Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - The Brule Ranger station measured 14 inches of new snow from the last snow storm and some areas nearby received more. People are still snow blowing their driveway and many are having to do it all over again as the snow is drifting back onto the driveways. The roads where the German Road Fire burned through are seeing quite a bit of drifting as many of the burnt trees were harvested, creating an expanse of space for the wind to build up and blow more snow. Roads near farm fields north of Highway 2 are also seeing very large snow banks due to the drifting snow. Some people are commenting that even though we have the cold February weather, the persistent winds are more of what we usually see in March. With the weather as it is now, it seems difficult to think that the steelhead opener on the Bois Brule River (from Highway 2 and north to Lake Superior) will be opening in just a month. The opener date for 2014 is going to be on Saturday, March 29. Due to the forecast for cold temperatures on Saturday, we decided last night (2/26) to start the River View Loppet ONE HOUR later to allow some warming to occur before the race begins. Registration now starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 10 a.m. and all aspects of the event will start one hour later at the Brule Town Hall and the race itself will start at 11 a.m. The race officials are also planning for ways to start everything a little quicker, so the various waves get off the line as soon as possible for the race starts. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Copper Falls State Park - The park has received over a foot of wet heavy snowfall along with blowing and drifting on February 20 through February 21. This has caused the smaller trees and shrubs along our ski/snowshoe trails to bend because of the weight of the snow. We worked on clearing and rolling the trails on Friday, February 21. With the blowing and drifting of the snow at this time along with the added time it is taking too clear the trails of debris, we will only be able to roll the trails for this coming weekend. We will continue with the finished grooming of all the trails between Monday and Tuesday February 24 & 25. The trails will be in excellent condition after the final grooming. Ski trails, both classic and skate, were roll pressed on Friday, February 21, 2014. The Multi-use Red Granite Falls trail was pressed on Friday, February 21, 2014. Visitors are reminded that snowshoes are not allowed on groomed ski trails. We have dedicated the Red Granite Falls Trail and Waterfalls Trail for this activity. - Gregory P Behling, ranger

Hayward DNR Service Center area

Sawyer County - Those planning on fishing the final weeks of game fishing season in Sawyer County should plan on dealing with heavy snow and slush on the lakes. Foot or snowmobile travel is about the only option. If snowmobiling on the lakes, try to stay on traveled areas. Also travel with a partner as getting stuck in the slush with a snowmobile requires extreme effort to get out and another person or two will greatly increase the odds of getting out quicker and easier. Some areas have over a foot of slush and a foot or two of snow on top of that. Travel is very poor and very few are traveling off main traveled areas to fish. Fishing pressure has dropped off considerably to only a hardy few willing to brave the cold, wet and hard to travel conditions. If exploring for new spots to fish, use caution in non-traveled areas on lakes and rivers as even with severe cold, the snow has insulated many areas with current or springs, leaving virtually only snow cover, with little or no ice. It is best to check a new area on foot with an ice pick. Fishing in general is slow. Those down-sizing bait and lures are getting more action from a variety of species. Concentrate on structure and move around as often as you are willing to deal with the travel conditions. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - A pair of trumpeter swans have been sighted along Main Dike Road on the south end of the refuge. Horned larks, the first of the spring migrants have been congregating in winter flocks. Bald eagles, snow buntings, black- capped chickadees, red breasted nuthatch, and American goldfinches are still around. Check the feeders at the Town Hall on County Road F and at the Purple House at the intersection of North Fork Dike Rd and Lundquist Rd for bird sightings. Email your bird and other wildlife sightings to: - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator

Washburn County - Fishing is slow on lakes in northern Washburn County. Heavy snow has created very bad slush conditions severely hampering travel on lakes. Anglers with shelters on the ice are encouraged to remove them as soon as possible because it may be very difficult and time consuming. Snowmobile trail conditions are excellent with traffic volumes on trails moderate due to good snow cover much of the state. - Dave Swanson, conservation warden, Minong

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Even with the milder weather in the past week, the difficult access conditions have continued to keep ice fishing pressure at a minimum. Ice depths have been holding in the 18 to 20 inch range, but deep snow and slush have severely limited most travel on the lakes. A few anglers have been accessing their fishing spots via plowed trails, but the wind and blowing snow seem to change conditions daily. Many regular ice anglers have all but given up and removed their ice shacks, especially with more heavy snow predicted in the next few days. The major draw for getting people out on the ice in the last few weeks has been some weekend ice fishing contests. This has bumped up pressure on a few targeted lakes, but overall fishing action continues to be on the slow side. Walleye action continues to be spotty and some of the best success has come during the mid-day hours. The majority of action has been from smaller fish in the 10 to 13 inch size, but a few nicer walleye have also been landed. Medium suckers and XL fatheads have been the most productive, and fished just off the bottom in 8 to 14 feet of water. Panfish success has also been very erratic, with crappie being especially hard to find. Perch have provided the most action, and some fair catches have been made on small minnows fished in the 6 to 12 feet depths. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Flambeau River State Forest - Both snowmobile & ski trails are in excellent condition. The ski trails are being groomed today and likely tomorrow 2/28/14 and snowmobile trails are planned to be groomed tomorrow 2/28/14. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Conditions on NH-AL State Forest ski trails are very good at this time. Escanaba trail was last groomed on Sunday. Escanaba, McNaughton and Madeline were groomed on Saturday. Some of those trails were also groomed last Friday but high winds caused drifting and debris on trial. - Dan Jacoby, water trails coordinator


Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay

Marinette County - Northern pike anglers tried their luck in the Peshtigo Harbor due to the Gator Fest Tournament. Anglers reported catching some good numbers of whitefish on the Trout Bar off the Little River Boat Landing. Some walleye were caught by the dam at Hattie Street by anglers fishing from the Wisconsin side of the river to the dam. Rapalas, jigs and spoons tipped with live baits were used. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - At Geano's Beach anglers stayed close to shore and fished for northern pike. Truck travel on the ice was difficult. Pike anglers participating in the Gator Fest Tournament were numerous this past Saturday from Breakwater Park to Oconto Park II and reported fishing slow and difficult. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Voyageur Park was busy as walleye, perch and whitefish anglers fished their favorite spots. Jigging spoons and Rapalas fished in 9 to 12 feet of water produced fish. Perch anglers at Long Tail reported a few nice fish using minnows and jigs in 8 to 10 feet of water. Some perch were caught at Duck Creek upstream from the highway bridge and perch fishing was slow at Sunset Beach. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Door County - Lots of wind and bad weather kept fishing pressure low even though temperatures reached into the 30's. Anglers still reported the ice to be 2 to 3 feet thick. At Dykesville anglers had good luck catching perch and whitefish as the fishing pressure picked up by the weekend. Sugar Creek anglers using grubs and jigs in 34 feet of water caught whitefish and a few perch and accessed the ice with ATVs and snowmobiles. Rite's Cove again was the hot spot for perch with anglers fishing in 56 to 60 feet of water using minnows. Some anglers drove onto the ice while others used snowmobiles to fish anywhere from a few yards off shore to out about a mile. Volk's Landing produced some whitefish on wax worms as anglers drove, used ATVs and snowmobiles to access their favorite spots. At Sherwood Point anglers were few and far between and shanties were scattered off High Cliff State Park, Bullhead Point and Potawatomi Park. Little Sturgeon Bay anglers reported the ice to be about 3 feet thick and found some success catching perch and whitefish. Most anglers accessed the ice using snowmobiles due to the slippery landings but some drove out from Carmody Park launch. Big Rock Place anglers walked about 250 yards off shore onto the ice and used Rapalas and jigs to catch whitefish. At Lime Kiln Road anglers caught limits of whitefish using wax worms and beetles in about 20 feet of water. - Bobbi Kolstad, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Oconto County - Fishing remains slow in the area other than Green Bay. There are also reports of whitefish and walleyes being caught off the west shore. If we ever get some thawing northern pike fishing should also pick up near mouths of the tributary streams. Most activity on inland waters south of highway 64 remains slow but anglers are also reminded of the ice fishing shanty removal by this Sunday. Snowmobilers continue to have great conditions on the Oconto County Trails. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls

Shawano County - The weather still seems to be the main obstacle for outdoor enthusiasts. Deep snow and drifts have made travelling out on area waters a bit more challenging. Ice shack removal has been very problematic for anglers. But fishing has not been that great anyway. Snowmobile trails are good to great and no one should complain about snowmobiling this year. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano

Governor Thompson State Park - The 6-mile cross-country ski trail system is groomed for both classic and skate skiing. Updated trail conditions are found at [exit DNR] or by calling the park office at 715-757-3979. The 3-mile snow shoe system has been packed. Remember there is no hiking on the ski trail system, but the Otter Trail is groomed flat for anyone wishing to ski or hike with a pet. Both inland lakes and the south bay of Caldron Falls are now iced over and the boat ramp is closed for the season. Ice fishermen have been seen out on Woods Lake and Caldron Falls. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Brown County - Due to a mid-February thaw with a few days above freezing and rain, ice and trail conditions remain icy. Current temperatures are below freezing but due to high winds and the previous warm weather, ice conditions can be unpredictable in areas. Winds cause open cracks and holes in the ice to remain open or only be frozen on the surface and open underneath the thin layer of ice. People going on the ice are reminded that even just a few days of warm weather can cause good ice to dangerous ice in a short amount of time. Despite some of the high winds and icy conditions anglers have been out in good numbers along the east and west shore of Green Bay. Anglers continue to have good success with whitefish along the east shore of Green Bay on small jigs and wax worms and small spoons. Some nice walleyes are being caught on small spoons amongst schools of whitefish and in select spots. With the late ice season approaching, ice anglers are reminded that ice shacks must be brought off the ice by the following dates: Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Lake Superior, and inland waters north of Highway 64 by the first Sunday following March 12. Inland waters south of Highway 64 by the first Sunday following March 1. Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters by March 15. Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters by March 1. Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters by February 20. Ice shacks may continue to be used, but they must be brought off the ice daily when not in use or occupied. A reminder to area trappers that coyote, red and gray fox and raccoon trapping season closed on February 15 2014. Coyote remains open for hunting only. Mink and muskrat season closes in the northern and southern zone on February 28, 2014. Cottontail rabbit hunting season closes February 28, 2014. Otter and beaver trapping remains open, see the trapping regulations for current zones and season dates. Have a safe and productive remaining winter season! - Darren Kuhn, marine unit conservation warden, John Schreiber, recruit warden, Green Bay

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Six inches of new snow was rolled, packed and new track set on February 18. Because the snow has such low moisture content, it results in a very soft trail. The track is full depth and very clean but high winds are causing considerable drifting in open areas. In the winter Red, Green, Yellow trails are for classic cross-country skiing. Snowshoe trails and winter hiking trails are open. The Black, Brachiopod Trails, and along the beach are used for snowshoeing, hiking, foot traffic. Hiking, snowshoeing, biking, and pets are prohibited on ski trails. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - All snowmobile trails in Waupaca County continue to remain open. However, riders are encouraged to check on the status of trails when operating a snowmobile. Bird watchers have reported seeing bald eagles actively bringing in nesting material to their nests. At least the eagles are thinking about spring! Ice fishing has been very slow the past three weeks. Snow/ice conditions on most lakes make access difficult for vehicle traffic. We are still waiting to get the first reports of bluebirds or sandhill crane arriving in the Waupaca area. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma

Nothing new to report and it's absolutely bitter cold again. Wildlife is hunkered down again with very little movement. A few diving ducks including goldeneyes and scaup are hanging around in the scarce open water of some rivers. They are very pretty in their spring breeding colors. There is little to no fishing pressure right now with the tough access due to snow and bitter temperatures. Plenty of snow on trails, but a little icy due to the rain last Thursday. Let it get warm! - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Winnebago County - Crappie are being caught on Little Lake Butte des Morts near Strobe Island. Access is gained using the walking path provided by the Wild Ones nature center located at the south end of the parking lot. The nature center does not permit ATV or snowmobile access. - Thomas Sturdivant, conservation warden, Neenah


Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - All the skating lanes were groomed Sunday night. There are still some icy areas and it's very hard under the inch or so staff was able to loosen up on the surface. We'll keep trying this week to break up the hard pack. Lights are on until 10pm Monday through Saturday. - Jay Abts, ranger

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Pike Lake Unit - Warm temperatures and rain have reduced the snow depth, and created some icy ski conditions. The trails were last groomed and tracked Saturday, February 22. The trails are in fair to good condition due to the icy conditions and branches that are falling on the trail from the winds. - Lisa McCabe, assistant naturalist guide

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - Staff groomed the skating lanes on all loops this (Thursday) morning. The brown is very good, the red/green is good and the yellow is fair to good. Debris is a factor, especially under evergreen tree areas. There may be some iciness in places. The existing tracks on the red/green and the brown are fair, expect some iciness. The yellow currently does not have a track. Staff plans on grooming everything on Thursday afternoon/evening. - Reagan Arndt, ranger

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Today it was cold and many parts of the trail were rock-solid hard as ice and full of debris. Recently thawed and refrozen areas are glazed with ice. Until there is new snow, venturing forth is brutal on ski bases, and risky on downhill. Debris was like skiing on sandpaper in areas. - Bob Monty, facilities repair worker

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

Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan a few anglers have been ice fishing off the docks in the marina, as well as near the boat launch ramps. A few browns have been reported in the harbor, and golden shiners have taken the most fish.

Ozaukee County - In Port Washington a few browns and rainbows have been caught on crankbaits and spawn sacs near the power plant. The discharge area will provide an open water fishing opportunity throughout the winter months, and decent numbers of browns should remain in the harbor.

Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee the river mouth and harbor have some chunks of ice, but the Riverfront Ramp could potentially be used as of Monday, February 24. Ice conditions near the river mouth can change quickly based on air temperatures, the winds, and freighter traffic. Brown trout will remain in the Milwaukee harbor throughout the winter months, and at times can be accessible from shore and by boat. The Lower Menomonee River near the MMSD offices stays open this time of year and provides a good spot for brown trout fishing. At the lakefront, ice anglers in McKinley Marina report ice depths up to 15 or more inches, and some brown trout have been taken through the ice. Minnows and jigging spoons have been more productive than spawn sacs recently.

Racine County - In Racine, the ice depth in Reefpoint Marina is variable, but anglers report 10 or more inches in many locations. Brown trout in the 4 to 5 pound range and a few rainbows have been caught on tube jigs, minnows, and jigging spoons. Other anglers have had success fishing for browns through the ice in the lower sections of the Root River.

Kenosha County - Ice anglers in Kenosha have been working the area around the boat docks in Simmons Island Marina. Browns and rainbows should be in the area, but fishing has been slow overall.

Waukesha DNR Service Center area

Waukesha County - The recent snow melt has caused deer and turkeys to come out in full force to find food previously covered by deep snow and ice. Reduced snow levels also mean that wildlife management crews can return to brushing and mowing work. A general reminder to clean your bird feeders and baths on a regular basis to help keep our birds healthy during a time of high feeder use. - Kelly VanBeek, wildlife biologist, Waukesha

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Reports of bald eagles from around the area continue to come in, including Theresa Marsh and the Waste Management facility in Germantown/Menomonee Falls. We're not aware of any turkey, deer or other wildlife population die offs in our area caused by the extreme weather conditions, but if someone notices such a die off we encourage them to contact our office so that we can investigate the cause. The Tier II Master Planning process for Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Marsh continues. We expect the next public input process to occur within the next few months. Deadlines for enrolling in local Learn to Hunt Turkey programs are very soon. Novice turkey hunters and turkey hunting mentors interested in participating in a local workshop can find contact information for a workshop in their area on the "Learn to Hunt" page of the DNR website. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford


South Central Region

Iowa County - Ice anglers are reporting bluegills and crappies have been biting on area lakes. Snowy owls are still being reported in the county, especially in an area around Cobb and Montfort. There are also reports of snowy's near Waldwick. Other winter birds include: rough-legged hawks and northern shrikes along field edges, larkspurs and snow buntings (mixed with horned larks) along roads and ditches, and tree sparrows at backyard feeders (with juncos and house finches). Great horned owls are still performing their mating calls (as are barred owls), and may even be nesting now. Eagles have been seen pairing up and sitting on nests. Coyotes, red foxes, and raccoons are in their breeding season. For snowmobile trail conditions and closures, follow this link: - Travis Anderson, wildlife biologist, Dodgeville

Winter is not giving up in Iowa County as another arctic blast has settled in for the week bringing most outdoor recreation to a standstill. With snowmobile trails closed, hopes are high for a chance of snow moving in for the weekend. Fishing activity has also slowed with the extremely cold conditions. Coyote hunters are still enjoying the snow cover for getting out and keeping the cabin fever from setting in while waiting for the spring warm up. - Alan D. Erickson, conservation warden, Dodgeville

Wyalusing State Park -Hiking trails are snow and ice covered. Wyalusing State Park received rain last Thursday and a thunder boom was also heard. Temperatures in the upper 30's and low 40's much of this week along with the rain yesterday and overnight temperatures in the teens have left the trails hard and icy. Due to the icy trail conditions, cross country ski trails will not be groomed until temperatures warm up. Frozen waterfalls can be found in Big Sand Cave and Little Sand Cave on Sand Cave Trail as well as in Pictured Rock Cave on Sugar Maple Nature Trail. Access for Sugar Maple Nature Trail is best from the boat landing. Parking for all cross country ski trails at Wyalusing State Park is available at the Astronomy Center, which is located just past the park office on the right side of the road. This year, skiers will be able to access the roadway to Henneger Point by crossing the road near the Astronomy Center parking lot and skiing Prairie Trail to Homestead Campground. The south loop of Homestead Campground (sites 245-255) will connect the skier to the roadway to Henneger Point. This is an excellent trail for beginning and novice skiers. Turkey Hollow Trail is the most challenging of the trails at Wyalusing. Whitetail Meadows is an excellent trail for the novice skier, but as mentioned above it will not be groomed until further notice. Please do not walk or take pets on the groomed ski trails. Bird feeders at the Wyalusing State Park Office continue to provide food for the birds and enjoyment for park staff and visitors. Chickadees, juncos, nuthatches, cardinals, blue jays, and woodpeckers are enjoying the sunflower seeds and suet. The birds have finally found the log peanut butter feeder. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Learn about songbirds and raptors that use nest boxes, and how to build and place nest boxes to enhance bird habitat at an upcoming nesting box seminar at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. The seminar will be held March 1, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and no registration is required. Jeff Bahls, representing the Wood Duck Society, will give a program on, How to Make your Wood Duck Box "Pro-duck-tive". Wildlife educator Herzmann will share stories about Nest Box Treasures. Jack Bartholmai with the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin will share information on bluebird boxes and there will be a presentation by the Central Wisconsin Kestrel Research folks on kestrel nest boxes. People of all ages may purchase and build their own birdhouses - a great activity for children - assisted by carpenters of the Beaver Dam Senior Center's woodshop, kids also can make an owl greeting card with event-provided materials and bird puzzles will also be available for families. Various nest boxes and kits can be purchased. Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located at N7725 Highway 28 between Horicon and Mayville. For further information and a detailed schedule please visit or or contact Jeff Bahls at 920-210-4832 or or Liz Herzmann, wildlife educator, at 920-387-7893. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - The snowmobile trails are closed but may open back up if we get some more snow in Columbia County. Fishing has been best right at sun up and then again right at sun down. Most lakes still have 30+ inches of ice. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Sauk County - Ice fishing has been pretty good in Sauk County in the past couple of weeks. Panfish have been biting on all area lakes. The eagles along the Wisconsin River have started to break up and head to the spring nesting areas. There are a few eagles around for viewing. A bluebird was observed the other day and bird enthusiasts are reminded to clean out bluebird nest boxes. - John Buss, conservation warden, Prairie du Sac


West Central Region

Baldwin DNR Service Center area

St. Croix County - Recent heavy snows have made travel on area lakes difficult without a snowmobile so recent fishing activity has been minimal. Ice depths are about 3 feet and some lakes require auger extensions to get through the ice. Snowmobile trails are in good to great shape, but open areas are rough due to drifting snow. Cold weather continues to limit outdoor activities, but ski trails are in great shape. Anglers with permanent ice shacks on area waters are reminded of removal deadlines and to start working early on removal. Those dates are March 2 south of Highway 64 and March 15 north of 64. - David A. Hausman, warden supervisor, Baldwin

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Opossum activity levels are starting to increase even though temperatures remain cold. Food and love-hungry opossums are often active during cold, sunny days. These interesting marsupial mammals mate in mid to late winter, and most young are born in March and early April after a rapid 13 day gestation period. New-born opossums are partially developed, lacking fully formed hearts, lungs, and kidneys. They climb into their mother's protective pouch, known as a marsupium, and remain there for 60-70 days, suckling continuously, undergoing further growth and development. Commonly believed to possess minimal intelligence, opossums rank above dogs in intelligence when subjected to learning tests. Adult opossums possess 50 teeth, more than any other mammal in Wisconsin, and are immune to rattlesnake venom. They serve an important function in food webs as they consume many harmful insects and clean up lots of carrion. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - Temperatures in the 40's and rain have had some impact on winter recreation conditions but we still have plenty of snow. Temperatures are expected to be on the colder side for the weekend with teens to the low 20's for highs. Enjoy winter while you can. The two day warm-up and rain softened the base a bit but we were able to groom on Friday February 21 and would rate the conditions as good but a little fast. If the long term forecast holds we should have good skiing through the rest of February and into early March. Conditions can change quickly though so enjoy the trails while you can.

- Peter Bakken, superintendent

Trempealeau County - Overall, fishing activity at the Trempealeau Lakes has been picking up to where ice anglers are keeping fish at approximately two fish per hour. On the Mississippi River groups are catching limits of saugers. Anglers should be aware that ice is never safe and to proceed with caution. - Christopher Shea, conservation warden, Nate Hoftender, recruit warden, Trempealeau

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Eau Claire County -Snowmobile trails are groomed and in good condition but ice and snow are slippery so please slow down to survive the ride. A lot of cross-country skiers are taking advantage of excellent groomed trails at the Tower Ridge Recreation Area of Eau Claire County Parks. A reminder to remove ice fishing shacks from inland waters south of Highway 64. Game fish season closes on March 2nd on many inland waters. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire

Red Cedar State Trail - DNR crews have cleared all the storm damage along the cross country ski trail. Volunteer groomers plan to be out later this week to pack and groom the trail. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger

Lake Wissota State Park - The cross country ski trails are in poor condition due to a major winter storm going through the area which caused many trees and tree limbs to break off and fall on the trail surface, freezing into the trail. We have been able to clear downed trees enough so that we can get through with the groomer with one narrow pass but many branches remain frozen into the trail. Our volunteer trail groomers post conditions on the (exit DNR) website, or you may call the park office at 715-382-4574 for the most current trail conditions. - Scott Erickson, park supervisor

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Adams County - Many eagles can be seen below the Petenwell Dam at this time. - Wade Romberg, conservation warden, Friendship

Buckhorn State Park - Ski trails are groomed and in fair to good condition with very icy patches. Trails are half packed for snowshoeing and half tracked for skiing. Snowshoes are available to check out and use in the park when we have at least 6 inches of snow. Pets are not allowed on groomed ski trails, but you can park at the boat launch and hike up 19th towards the new campground. Some parts of roads are icy in the park, drive with caution. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Last Revised: Thursday, February 27, 2014

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James Dick
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