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Outdoor ReportPublished January 7, 2016

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

For current statewide information on statewide snow conditions, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).

Ice and snow conditions continue to vary widely across the state. Some smaller northern lakes have been frozen over longer than some of the larger lakes. Trout Lake in Vilas County finally froze over this week, but some of the other larger lakes still had small areas of open water or ice thickness in the 1- to 2-inch range. Many lakes in the south remain open or have just minimal ice cover.

Ice forming below the Horton Bridge on the Amnicon River at Amnicon Falls State Park.
Ice forming below the Horton Bridge on the Amnicon River at Amnicon Falls State Park.
Photo Credit: WDNR

The entire state is snow covered, but snow depths range from just 2 to 3 inches in the south, to 8 to 10 inches in areas of the far north. Snowmobile trails are open or partially open in the northern tier of counties and in some central counties, but conditions are generally poor to fair, with a couple counties reporting fair to good conditions on the Department of Tourism Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).

Cross-country ski trails are open across much of the state, including most state parks and forests. However, conditions vary, with many properties in the south not being able to set track. Snow is in north and rain in the south is forecast for late this week, and the much colder temperatures for next week, so conditions could change.

A candlelight ski scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 9 at Lake Kegonsa State Park has been cancelled and rescheduled for Feb. 13. A decision on whether to hold a candlelight ski at Kohler-Andrae State Park on Saturday will be made after park staff can evaluate the change of conditions from any rain or snow the park receives this week. Check the "candlelight" event listing on DNR website or call the park for updates.

On lakes with ice in the north, walleye action has been sporadic. Northern pike have provided some action for the walleye anglers during slow periods. Panfish anglers haven't really been out in any numbers yet.

In the south, anglers have been fishing on Lake Wisconsin but action has been slower with some panfish, northern pike and bass caught. Colder temperatures are finally creating a layer of ice along the east shore of Lake Winnebago and ice is starting to form on southeastern Lake Michigan harbors and tributaries. Brown trout and occasional steelhead are being caught at the Port Washington harbor and an occasional brown trout was caught at the Milwaukee River and harbor.

This week wildlife biologists around the state are counting waterfowl and eagles as part of the mid-winter waterfowl survey and eagle survey. Biologists counted high numbers of Canada geese, large rafts of dabbling ducks, mostly mallards, and diving duck species including goldeneyes, buffleheads, mergansers and scaup, on larger open waters and on Lake Michigan.

Even though many winter enthusiasts would like to see more snow, wildlife biologists have noted that the mild winter has helped the deer population. Deer were still eating greens into December. Some large bucks with antlers still attached are still being seen. The weasel and snowshoe hare heaved a sigh of relief this past week as they no longer stick out like a sore thumb in the snowy landscape.

Winter birds including snow buntings, lapland longspurs, rough-legged hawks, common redpoll, pine siskin and snowy owls have been seen in the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area.


Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

Get outside and enjoy the beauty of Bluff Creek State Natural Area in Walworth County while helping volunteers remove invasive buckthorn from this special site harboring springs, wetlands and oak openings. The volunteer workday (PDF)  runs from 9 a.m. to noon and no skills are needed -- you will be trained onsite. Meet at the Lone Tree parking lot. Dress for the weather and wear clothes that are OK to get beat up, gloves, sturdy footwear, safety glasses (we will have extra). If you are planning to come please contact Ginny Coburn at or 262-441-0393. But if you don't get around to notifying, come anyway! If the workday is cancelled due to weather conditions, a message will be left at 262-441-0393 at least two hours before the event. Stay up to date with all SNA volunteer opportunities through the DNR website. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane


Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - Happy New Year! It's been a mild first week of 2016 in Brule River State Forest. We haven't seen fresh snow since last week and the temperatures have been warm for the first week of January. We are hoping for snow in the next few days which will help snowmobile and ski trail conditions. The Afterhours ski trail was groomed last week and a lot of skiers started using the trail over the holiday weekend. With a couple windy days recently, twigs and pine cones were blown onto the trail making it harder to navigate for some skiers. Another good snow fall would help immensely. Continue to use extreme caution when venturing out onto the ice! Please visit and search "Ice safety" for tips on staying safe on the lakes this winter. Check in with local bait shops to find where there is safe ice. Although we are all itching to get out and enjoy our beloved winter activities, it is not worth risking your life over. Even though many winter enthusiasts would like to see more snow, wildlife biologists have noted that the mild winter thus far has certainly helped the deer population. Deer were still eating greens into December and other sources of food have still been accessible since snow levels are still low. Also don't forget to check out some of the events we have coming up on the ski trail! These events are still planned; however, weather and ground conditions will be assessed in the final determination. January 30 - Learn to ski; February 6 - Candlelight Ski; February 27 - Riverview Loppet. Below are a couple of links for trail condition reports on the local snowmobile trails. Douglas County:; keyword "trail conditions" or call 715-378-4528 Bayfield:; Keyword "trail conditions" or call 1800-472-6338. - Edwin Koepp, visitor services associate

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Amnicon Falls State Park - Water levels continue to run high on the Amnicon River, providing some spectacular ice formations at Amnicon Falls. - Natalie Brown, ranger

Pattison State Park - The ski trail was groomed last week but there was not enough snow to set track. - Kevin Feind, property supervisor

Hayward DNR Service Center area

Sawyer County - Ice on area lakes varies and caution should be used on all. Some smaller lakes have been froze over longer than some of the larger lakes. Conner's Lake in the Flambeau River State Forest was 3/4 open as of New Year's Day. One bay had 2-4 inches of ice, but most of the main lake was wide open. Local residents claim they have never seen the lake open into January before. Anglers should take this into consideration on all lakes, realizing ice will vary greatly, even on the same lake. Anglers are reminded to check local landings for any special fishing regulations on the lake they want to fish, including size limits and daily possession limits. And, even though the Chippewa Flowage is open to ice fishing, Walleye fishing/possession is prohibited from December 1 - until the opening of the general inland fish season in May. Baiting of deer is prohibited now that archery season has closed in Sawyer County. Feeding of deer is still allowed in Sawyer County as long as the feeding is done w/in 50 yards of the owner occupied residence and the bait does not exceed 2 gallons. The feed also can't be place w/in 100 yards of a roadway with a posted speed limit of 45 mph or greater. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Governor Knowles State Forest - Below zero temps and snow are in the forecast for this weekend, hopefully there will be just enough snow for the winter activities to pick up. Skiers can enjoy the rolling hills and river valleys of the Brandt Pines Cross Country Ski System, which offers 9 miles of groomed trails for both traditional and skate skiing. Please note, no bikes are allowed on the ski trails during the winter months. The trails at the St. Croix Campground Parking Lot on West River Road provide an excellent place for winter hiking, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking. For snowmobilers, a 32.5 mile snowmobile trail is located in the southern half of the State Forest. This trail crosses the Wolf Creek and Trade River and winds through a remote hilly oak forest for three miles before traveling northbound along the old "Blueberry Special" railroad grade. - Brandi Larson, visitor services associate

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The colder and more seasonal weather of the last few weeks has gotten nearly all lakes to re-form their ice cover - but ice conditions remain extremely variable. Most of the small to medium size lakes (less than 600 acres) seemed to have the best ice conditions, with thickness in the 5- to 7-inch range. But some of the larger lakes still had small areas of open water and many of the large expanses of those lakes only had ice thickness in the 1- to 2-inch range. As such, anglers should check local ice conditions before venturing out and use extreme caution when doing any travel on the ice. The variable weather conditions in the last two weeks have made for some erratic fishing. Walleye have been the main species of interest and most anglers report sporadic action, with about one in three trips being successful. The best action has come on the cloudy days, when temperatures reach into the mid-20s. Large fatheads and small sucker minnows have been the preferred bait, and were being fished on the break lines in 5 to 10 feet of water. With many of the lakes in the area having stained water, after-dark fishing has been very slow. Northern pike activity has been fair and provided some action for the walleye anglers during the slow periods. For anglers targeting northerns, large shiners fished near any green weeds have produced the best success. Panfish anglers haven't really been out in any numbers yet, but a few nice crappie and perch have been found in deeper water and suspended 1 to 3 feet off the bottom. There has been a moderate amount of pressure on the managed trout lakes that are open for fishing and success has been fair, with some decent browns, rainbows and brook trout being landed. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Flambeau River State Forest - There is a thin layer of ice on the lakes in the area, but the Flambeau River is still open for the most part. Snowmobile trails on the Flambeau River State Forest are open and have been packed but in poor condition. This trail system has access to the Tuscobia Trail and the Sawyer County Trail System. We now have only about 4 inches of snow. The Flambeau Hills Ski Trail that is 14 miles long is open for skiing and has been packed and groomed but due to lack of snow track has not been set. This trail system is located in some very hilly terrain and is presently in good condition for skate skiing. Snow is in the near forecast and hopefully we will get enough to groom and set track by the end of the week. The trail meanders through a mixture of hills of hardwoods and conifers and it crosses three bridges and provides an occasional glimpse of the Flambeau River. There is a three-sided wood warming structure with picnic table and fire ring on Pinery Grade, which is a segment of this trail system. If you are a cross-country skiing enthusiast this trail system is well worth the drive. Deer and elk have been seen in the forest, rabbits, squirrels, and weasels too. It is truly amazing what you see when you go out and sit quietly in the forest and just listen and watch. The elk seem to be settled into their winter quarters. Some of the bulls have separated from the cows and calves. Wildlife in the Flambeau are doing terrific in these mild temps and low snow levels. There is not enough snow for grouse to snow roost so they may be more vulnerable to predators. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Oneida County - Anglers have begun venturing onto the ice and fishing, however ice conditions vary tremendously. Ice thickness has been reported anywhere from eight inches to 1.5 inches, so extreme caution should be used. The bite has been somewhat slow for panfish but walleyes have been doing okay. - Tim Ebert, conservation warden, Woodruff

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The weasel and snowshoe hare heaved a sigh of relief this past week as they no longer stick out like a sore thumb in the snowy landscape, but are just "eyes" peering as they forage and travel about. If the northern forest snow level stays the same, one can hike just about anywhere without snowshoes. It is a great time of the year to get out and observe the wild without having to be on a trail. There is probably enough snow to ski whether groomed or not. You can snowshoe or use hiking boots anywhere as well (except on groomed ski trails of course). The lakes are still freezing for ice blading. Small Lakes have a little too much snow for blading, but skiing, hiking or snowshoeing on them is great. Ice fisher people are out there too. The larger lakes are really fun for blading as there is some really smooth ice to be found. Good idea to ask someone who knows the area. Colder weather and lack of snow has resulted in the ground starting to freeze and lake ice forming. The larger lakes just froze over last week and Trout Lake several days ago. Lakes being frozen the complete distance across, does not mean they are safe. Predicted single digit highs next weeks should improve ice conditions significantly. There is currently 3-4 inches of snow in the woods around Trout Lake with higher amounts as you venture north. The rivers and streams on the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest are running higher than normal but should return to average levels in a few weeks as the ground freezes and precipitation occurs as snow instead of rain. - Kimberly Krawczyk, Visitor Services Associate


Northeast Region

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Governor Thompson State Park - It's winter in the northland! Our ski trails are open and groomed for both classic and skate skiing. The Otter Trail is groomed flat for hikers, snowshoers, skiers and dog walkers. Pets are not permitted on the groomed ski trail, but are welcome on the Otter Trial and the snowshoe trails. The 2.5 mile snowshoe trail as open. There are 6 miles of ungroomed trail for anyone wishing to blaze their own trail. The South Bay of Caldron Falls and Woods Lake are now iced in. We are seeing ice fishing activity on Caldron Falls, but not on Woods Lake. Woods Lake has many springs feeding the lake and random open water holes have been occurring. Please visit and search "Ice safety" for tips on staying safe on the lakes this winter. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Peninsula State Park - The Purple, Yellow, Green, Blue and Red ski trails have been groomed and are in poor to fair condition. Portions of the Orange and White trails are under water. Sections of the Blue, Green, and Orange trails are closed. A map will be on display at Park Headquarters and parking Lot 5 indicating the closed areas. The sledding hill is closed at this time due to bare areas. Snowmobile trails are also closed.- Jane Barnowsky, visitor services associate

Potawatomi State Park - After receiving over a foot of wet snow at the end of December, the weather has turned mild as of January 7 and rain is predicted over the next day or so. Ski trails were last groomed on January 6 and were in good condition at that time. Snowmobile trails are now open, but that may change with the mild weather prediction. Call the park office at 920-746-2890 for the latest trail conditions. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Visitors reported seeing a couple of eagles along the park's shoreline. Ice fishermen are still waiting for ice. Sawyer Harbor's waters have not iced over yet. The launch piers have been pulled from the water and will be available again by late April 2016. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Red, Yellow, and Green trails are groomed for classic skiing only. Trails were tracked and groomed January 1st and are in good condition with a few thin spots and a little debris from the recent winds. Reminder that there is no snowshoeing, hiking, biking, dogs, and sledding along the ski trails. No access to Old Baldy unless skiing. The Black Trail and the beach are open for hiking, snowshoeing and dogs. The beach has little snow on it and is wide enough to walk in winter boots. Hiking is not permitted on the ski trails. Bikes are allowed on the roadway and the half mile portion of the Black trail. All other trails are groomed for cross country skiing and aren't designated bike trails. Lots of bird activity at the bird feeder such as the downy, hairy, red-bellied woodpeckers, nuthatches, cardinals and chickadees. Candlelight Ski and Hike Special Event Saturday Jan. 30 5-8 p.m. A mile and a half path will be lit with luminaries for the ski portion along the red trail. A mile and a half path will be lit with luminaries to hike and snowshoe a portion of the black trail. Pets, sleds, and hiking, and snowshoeing are not allowed on the ski trail portion of this event. Refreshments will be available at the warming shelter building as well as Friends merchandise at the nature center. A park sticker is required and can be purchased upon arrival. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - There is 2-4 inches of ice on area lakes with some people out fishing, no report on success/failure. There is 5-11 inches of snow in central Wisconsin. Good cross-country ski conditions, not quite enough snow to make snowshoes necessary. Grouse season still open with decent bird numbers in some spots and better yet - no competition! - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - Waushara County is still on the edge of having good conditions for winter activities. The snowmobiling conditions are poor at best with only the one snowfall. Trails are closing by the day so be sure to check the Waushara County Snowmobile Hotline at 920-787-0411. The cross country ski trails on the other hand are in good condition and were groomed and a nice track set recently. Ice conditions are starting to improve, but after talking with one local angler it seems the ice that is there is still not very good ice. Some reports on small lakes are that there was between 4-5 inches of mediocre ice. Folks were walking out, but as always check with a local bait shop and know before you go! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Calumet County - Colder temperatures in the area are finally creating a layer of ice along the east shore of Lake Winnebago in Calumet County. Ice fisherman and snowmobilers are reminded to use extreme caution as several open water areas have been observed in recent days. The snowmobile trails remain closed despite a good accumulation of snow as lowland areas and swamps remain unfrozen in spots. Coyote hunters and rabbit hunters have been out taking advantage of the snow which finally arrived following the Christmas holiday. Trappers have been targeting weasels in and around marshy areas. - Michael Disher, conservation warden - Stockbridge


Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Milwaukee County - During the week of January 4, wildlife biologists across the state are counting waterfowl on any small patches of open water. These surveys are conducted during the same week across the United States, to provide data for waterfowl population indices to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Large rafts of mallards and geese can be seen on some inland spots that are still open, but these will likely close over with cold temperatures continuing over the week and through the weekend. You can also see large rafts of waterfowl such as goldeneye, merganser, and scaup on Lake Michigan along the breakwall, as well as some seasonal oddities such as gadwall, canvasbacks, and ruddy ducks. Snow is expected this weekend, after which winter tracking opportunities should be a good winter option. If you spot coyote sign or are lucky enough to see a coyote, submit these observations to the Milwaukee County Coyote Watch program by logging on to their iNaturalist page. This information will help us learn more about coyotes in Milwaukee County and monitor behavior. The urban archery season is still open within Milwaukee County, providing hunters additional opportunities within the County until January 31. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Waukesha

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - As of Jan. 5, all trails at Lapham Peak were groomed. Skate lanes were in good to great condition. There is a classic track on the entire system that is in good to great condition but it is worn. A new classical track will be reset once we get more snow. Caution - One area of ice just up from where Magic Carpet Ride and Tailend meet but it can be skied around. There is also a washed-out section of trail just up from the Evergreen can be skied around as well just use caution near the entrance to SummerStage. Reminder that the lights are on Monday through Saturday until 9 p.m. No trail lights Sundays. Lapham Peak closes at 9 p.m. daily. Snowmaking was finally a success last night with about 1/3 of the outer loop complete. - Brett Johanen, ranger

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Pike Lake Unit - Cross-country ski trails: skate lanes were groomed on Jan. 5. The classic track was set Dec. 31. The trails are in good to very good condition. Hikers are only allowed on the trails west of Powder Hill Road because the cross country ski trails are currently groomed. Winter hiking/snowshoe conditions include 6 inches of snow with patches of ice. Bald eagles have been spotted flying above both Pike Lake and Loew Lake.

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - As of Jan. 5, cross-country ski trail have been groomed and were in good to very good condition. McMiller: all trails groomed and track set Tuesday. All loops are in good to very good condition and have a base of 1-1.5 inches. Scuppernong: entire system groomed and track set on all trails except the tail end of the Red on Tuesday. Conditions are good. There is a base of 1-1.5 inches throughout the system. Nordic: groomed Jan. 4. Conditions were good to very good on all trails. Trails are icy underneath, so keep that in mind. There is a base of one to 1-1/2 inches. Rain is expected Thursday night into Friday which may adversely affect conditions. - Anne Korman, superintendent

Kohler-Andrae State Park - A decision on whether or not to hold the candlelight event scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 9 will be made by that Saturday morning. Please check the candlelight event listing on the DNR website or call the park to confirm event will be held.

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

Cold weather has finally set in throughout southeast Wisconsin, and ice is starting to form in area harbors and tributaries. DNR does not verify or guarantee the reported ice conditions, and anglers should proceed at their own risk. Please use extreme caution as conditions can change rapidly.

Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan, the Sheboygan River has ice cover below the Kohler dam, but faster moving stretches of water are still open near I-43 and Esslingen Park. There is ice right along the river bank in some areas, which could restrict fishing access in those locations. The river is partially open below the 8th Street bridge, but there are ice floes moving through that lower section of river as well. The harbor is iced over in portions of Harbor Centre Marina, and anglers have been seen fishing off of the docks.

Ozaukee County - The Port Washington harbor is open near the power plant discharge and in the north slip. Brown trout and occasional steelhead are being caught, and anglers have been using a variety of baits such as spawn, shiners, crank baits, and plastics.

Milwaukee County - The lower Milwaukee River and Milwaukee harbor remain open and free of ice. Anglers fishing under the Hoan bridge and behind the Summerfest grounds have been catching occasional brown trout. The mouth of the Menomonee River stays open during the winter, and the MMSD office building provides good access for anglers looking to catch browns.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - This week DNR staff from the Pike Lake office and other DNR staff around the state were counting waterfowl and eagles as part of the annual "Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey" and eagle survey. Wisconsin and 13 other states in the "Mississippi Flyway" count waterfowl during the same week each January to get a flyway-wide estimate. About 40 percent of all North American migrating waterfowl and shorebirds use the Mississippi Flyway. This year most smaller water bodies in our area were frozen or partially frozen over and the open fields were snow-covered, but we still counted high numbers of Canada geese (plus one snow goose near Port Washington), hundreds of dabbling ducks (mostly mallards) and a few stray ducks that hadn't migrated including one shoveler and one wood duck. Diving duck species (goldeneyes, buffleheads, mergansers, etc.). were counted in the larger open water areas, Port Washington harbor area, etc. In the inland areas we count ducks and geese here they feed or congregate in open fields, on open water below dams, spring-fed creeks, and aerated or other open ponds such as near warm water discharge areas near factories and along the lake Michigan shoreline. Other DNR staff fly the entire Lake Michigan shoreline and larger water bodies with a small plane to do the count. Now is a great time to watch or photograph ducks because many species have molted into their brightly colored breeding plumage. You can also observe their courtship behaviors (such as head bobbing and tail shaking for mallards) that last through the winter. Waterfowl, turkey, pheasant and gun deer seasons are now closed. Rabbit, squirrel, coyote, fox and misc. other hunting and trapping seasons remain open. Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area, Cedarburg Bog and other properties in eastern Washington and most of Ozaukee County are part of the Milwaukee Metro Subunit where the archery deer season runs through January 31st. A few ice fishers had been venturing out around the edges of Smith Lake, Yahr Park, Loew Lake and other lakes. The current rain and warm weather may make ice conditions less safe the next few days. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford


South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Lafayette County - Fur bearing animals from raccoon to otters have been moving sporadically. Ice on the area waters in all but nonexistent and none of it is safe. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Winter birds including Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, Rough-legged Hawks, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin and Snowy Owls have been seen in the area. The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center will be hosting some great winter events. No registration is required and programs are free. Contact Liz Herzmann at 920-387-7893 for more information. The education center is located at N7725 Hwy. 28, Horicon, WI 53032. January 7: Stories at the Marsh 10-11am. "Wondering about Winter?" Two stories and a take home craft! Recommended ages of 1-7. January 9: Walk it Off with Winter Wildlife 1-2:30 p.m. Join wildlife educators as we shed a few holiday pounds while searching for the winter wildlife around the marsh! Snowshoes available if conditions permit! - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - Fishermen and women are venturing out on some area lakes while other lakes are just forming skim ice. Please use caution when venturing on the ice as there is rain predicted for this weekend. The mid-winter waterfowl and eagle survey was conducted by wildlife staff this week and what a weird winter it is! There are very few ducks - and then only mallards- that are on open water in the county this winter. Normally there are many ducks, mostly mallards and mergansers but also a smattering of other diving species as well. It seems the ducks are still hanging out north of here, or maybe are using open Lake Michigan instead. There also weren't as many eagles seen either - again, likely due to other sources of open water available. There were plenty of Canada geese seen. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

With cold weather finally arriving in southern Wisconsin, the water is starting to harden up. Anglers have been fishing on Lake Wisconsin in Columbia County at Whalen's Grade and the fingers in Harmony Grove. However, fishing has been slower with some panfish, northern pike, and bass being caught. Ice is averaging 3-6" in these locations. With some snow hanging around, small game (coyote and rabbit) hunters are hitting the woods with moderate success. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette

Columbia County reports that snowmobile trails are still closed in County with a few reports of illegal operation on the closed trails. Ice fishing has not been popular due to very thin or nonexistent ice conditions. If anglers venture out it would be a good idea to wear a life jacket while out on the ice until it thickens up more. Some large bucks with antlers still attached have been seen after dark crossing roads. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Jefferson County - Ice conditions are highly variable throughout the county. Some lakes and stretches of river are completely covered with 3+ inches of ice, while others remain almost entirely open. People are urged to use caution when going out on the ice, especially given the forecast for above freezing temperatures and rain towards the end of this week. Snowmobile trails are not currently open, as we lack adequate snow depth. DNR wildlife staff have been conducting waterfowl surveys in Jefferson County this week, and found many geese, mallards, coot, and goldeneye still present due to the relatively high amount of open water for this time of year. There have also been abundance eagle sightings in areas that still have open water. - Mark Witecha, wildlife biologist, Lake Mills

Devil's Lake State Park - Finally - - SNOW! The park got about 9 inches of snow on December 28. Ski trails are skiable, but not yet groomed or tracked. The lake is almost frozen over, but of course that is new thin ice only, so far. Skiers and snowshoers have been out, but the ice fishermen are still waiting and anxious.

Lake Kegonsa State Park - The candlelight ski scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 9 has been cancelled and rescheduled for Feb. 13. Rain is in the forecast and ski trail conditions are expected to deteriorate. - Sarah Bolser, park manager


West Central Region

Baldwin DNR Service Center area

Willow River State Park - Ski trails have been groomed by the Friends Group and are in very good condition. Deer are being observed on a daily basis. - Aaron Mason, property supervisor

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Rabbit and squirrel hunters have been taking advantage of the snow cover and chilly temperatures in pursuit of their quarry. Current snow depths of 6-10 inches is ideal for rabbit hunters, and hunters are encountering plenty of rabbits in the fields and brushy areas of Crawford and Vernon counties. Generally speaking, permission to access private land for hunting rabbits and squirrels is readily obtained. Squirrel season runs through January 31; rabbit season through February 29, 2016. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Eau Claire County -Cooler temperatures will help with the formation of ice, but anyone considering a walk on water should remember that ice is never 100 percent safe. Snowmobile trails remain closed in many areas. The Buffalo River State Trail from Fairchild to Mondovi is open to snowmobile riding - the trail was groomed recently. Reduced water volume resulting from emergency dam repairs has resulted in Lake Altoona being closed to all fishing until further notice. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire

Lake Wissota State Park - Species of birds we have been seeing or hearing include: ravens, black capped chickadees, phoebes, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers and barred owls. We also have a snowy owl visiting the park. The cross-country ski trails have been groomed and are in fair condition but we don't have adequate snowfall to set a track. Ground debris/leaf litter/grass is showing through in windswept areas. You may contact the park office at (715) 382-4574 for current trail conditions.- Dave Hladilek, park manager

Wausau DNR Service Center area

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - The lake is starting to freeze. Remember, staff do not monitor ice conditions. There are 4 miles of trails packed for cross country skiing and half packed for snowshoeing. Pets are not allowed on the groomed trails. A path is packed for walking and snowshoeing into the new campground. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - Stairway is not maintained for winter use. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Last Revised: Thursday, January 07, 2016

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