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Outdoor Report

Published April 7, 2016 by the Central Office

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Cold weather and snow swept through the state within the last week. While the southern portion of the state dealt with an alternation of freezing rain and light flakes, some areas in the north have had as much as half a foot of wet snow.

This has slowed everything from angling pressure to bird migrations. However, as a result of the weather, feeders are packed with sparrows, redpolls and, of course, squirrels. Trails across the region are still wet and muddy, with mountain bike trails remaining closed at most park and forest properties.

While many water bodies have opened, larger Northwoods lakes have retained a complete covering of ice, bringing angling pressure in those areas to a standstill. Redhorse suckers are running on the Flambeau River. Walleye and suckers are up to the dams on the Oconto, Peshtigo, and Menominee rivers, with heavy concentrations of anglers fishing below the dams. Walleyes are partially spawned out on Wolf and Fox rivers and angler numbers have started to drop off but were still heavy on the weekend.

Wisconsin River water level is still up with heavy current making fishing tough. Crappies had been biting, but colder and winter like weather conditions shut down the bite. Crappie anglers had also been catching limited numbers on Lake Winnebago but the colder weather slowed the bite there too.

The poor weather kept most anglers off Lake Michigan, and tributaries have been running high and muddy, although levels have been dropping and clearing. The steelhead run was in full swing on the Manitowoc River, but the inconsistent weather made fishing difficult. Steelhead were still being caught on southern Lake Michigan tributaries with suckers mixed in. Oak Creek in South Milwaukee remained productive and steelhead had been caught on the Root River when the water levels dropped, but water levels rose again due to a rainfall.

Turkeys remain in groups but are starting to split up. Gobblers have been seen strutting for hen turkeys in open fields, in perfect time for the start of turkey season. This weekend is the youth turkey hunt with the first regular season to follow on Wednesday.

River otters have given birth and the snowshoe hare and weasels have begun to change from their winter to summer coats. On warmer days chorus frogs, leopard frogs and spring peepers are being heard in wetlands.

Large numbers of red-tailed hawks moved through the north this week, with increasing numbers of sharp-shinned hawks. Early forest migrants arrived in force, including golden-crowned kinglets, phoebes, sapsuckers, winter wren, brown creeper and fox sparrows. Loons have begun to show up on open waters in the Northwoods, but many were still being seen staging in the south, with reports of up to 100 loons Park Lake in Columbia County and flocks up to a dozen or more seen on the Madison area lakes. Whooping crane and snowy owl sightings continue around the north end of Horicon Marsh.

Pussy willows are out. Pasque flowers, bloodroot, wild ginger, and hepatica are all starting to bloom. Sap is still running but it's dark and the season for maple syrup is nearly over.

And a reminder, next Monday, April 11 beginning at 7 p.m. are the annual wildlife and fisheries spring rules hearings and county Conservation Congress meetings held in each county of the state. For details, search the DNR website for "spring hearings."

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

Enjoy the spring weather and cut up buckthorn at the springs of Bluff Creek SNA on Saturday April 9. Warm up your brush cutting arms and legs and help volunteers during our monthly Southern Kettle Moraine SNA workday on the second Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this wetland and oak opening area in the process. Buckthorn can spread and shade out uncommon plants at this site. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Wildfire Report

Widespread rain and snow minimized fire activity across the state last week. As things dry out, expect fire danger to increase. Stay apprised of fire weather conditions by checking the DNR fire danger web page each day after 11 a.m: dnr.wi.gov (search 'fire danger'). If you're planning on burning leaves and brush as part of your spring clean-up routine, first check the Burning Restrictions to find out if a permit is required where you want to burn. Then be sure to check the day's fire danger and burning permit restrictions BEFORE lighting that match. People are asked to use extra caution when disposing of ash from fireplaces and wood heaters - make sure they are completely cold to the touch before dumping outdoors. Embers can remain smoldering in ash for long periods of time. Also, be extra cautious around power lines that may have come down on windy days. Always assume a downed power line is energized and dangerous.

Firewise Tip: Remove leaves and other debris that has accumulated next to buildings, in lawns, and on and under decks. Take special care to clean out dead leaves from evergreen shrubs near buildings. Move firewood at least 30 feet away from buildings. - Joanne Ackerman, wildland urban interface coordinator, Madison

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Statewide Birding Report

In the north, snow and cold have stalled migration significantly. Feeders are very active given these conditions, including many dark-eyed juncos and common redpolls, along with some fox, song, and American tree sparrows and other regulars. The first winter wrens, eastern phoebes, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and northern flickers have been found all the way north to the Lake Superior shoreline. Large numbers of red-tailed hawks moved through the region on Tuesday, with decreasing numbers of bald and golden eagles and increasing numbers of turkey vultures and sharp-shinned hawks. Water bodies are opening but waterfowl migration remains light and will peak later in the month. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland

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Northern Region

Blaise Strom
Blaise Strom, being mentored by Paul Ashley shot this turkey at a youth hunt on Saturday.
Photo Credit: Contributed

Douglas County - The Gitchee Gumme Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation provided their 11th annual Learn to Hunt Turkey program this last weekend in Wascott. The 11 hunters and their mentors braved single digit wind chill factors and snow. Visibility and hearing was greatly reduced with winds up to 30 mph on Saturday. On Sunday morning, the weather was much nicer, and more gobbling activity took place. One bird was harvested by Blaise Strom, being mentored by Paul Ashley. The two year old gobbler was about 21 pounds, had a beard over 8 inches, and 11/16-inch spurs. - Kevin Feind, supervisor, Pattison and Amnicon Falls State Parks

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Washburn County - Wood frogs, chorus frogs and spring peepers are calling. Bluebirds were in south part of the county a few days ago. Ruffed grouse and turkeys are getting ready. Snow and cold snap are setting things back again. We may have young in eagle's nests. - Nancy Christel, wildlife biologist, Spooner

Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area - Dueholm Flowage in Fish Lake Wildlife Area has the largest concentration of ducks due to the drawdown for dike repair, mainly due to the abundance of shorebirds later this spring. A red-necked grebe was spotted along the L Dikes. Bald Eagles are on nests, some eaglets have hatched. Many nests have been found throughout Crex this spring - one on Phantom Lake Road where Hay Creek Trail intersects, one on the osprey platform on Dike 6, one on a new nest east of the rest area on North Refuge Road, and one on Upper North Fork. Kingfishers, robins, and loons have been reported. Turkey vultures and sparrows are moving through. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With the variable and generally cold weather of the last few weeks, ice-out progress has stalled on most waters across the Northwoods. A warm spell in late March did result in a few shallow lakes and flowages becoming ice free, but most of the larger lakes still have nearly a complete covering of ice yet. The ice that is present is not considered safe for any kind of travel and there haven't been any anglers out in several weeks now. Basically, fishing opportunities are at a standstill and anglers are just waiting for the rivers to warm up for the suckers to start their spring run. With the first open water of the season. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 4 photos

Fisheries crews have begun northern pike surveys on Northwoods lakes.

Flambeau River State Forest - The hiking trails are open at Lake of the Pines and Little Falls, though the water level may he high and it would make it difficult to cross over to Slough Gundy. Due to high water the waterfalls in the area are very powerful and quite a site. ATV/UTV trails are closed till May 16 to ATV/UTV use. The ice is out but the water temperature is still cold for crappie and bluegills. The musky are beginning to spawn. The redhorse are running and the river users are enjoying fishing them. The docks will be put in the area lakes very soon. Some folks have been taking advantage of the water level on the Flambeau River and paddling down river and using the scenic river sites for camping and day-use. Early mornings are filled with a cacophony of bird chirping, grouse drumming, and turkeys participating in the spring mating activities. Many of the birds are building nests, nesting, and in the case of the great horned owl, already have youngsters in their nests. Swans, geese, sandhill cranes, and ducks of various species are just a few of the new inhabitants back for the season. Tics are out too, so be on the lookout for them. Mammals in the area such as river otters have given birth and the snowshoe hare and weasel coats have begun to change in color. Elk bulls are starting to drop their antlers. Sap is running dark, and the season for maple syrup is nearly over. Temperatures for this week are cold, 30s and low 40s with a chance of precipitation each day. There is ice on the swamps and the horse water tanks have been frozen over. The extra hours of sunlight won't allow the cold temperatures to stay long so think spring. Fire season is here and you need a Fire Permit for burning, so get prepared. - Diane Stowell, visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Snow is predicted all week. There are still signs of spring though. Pussy willows are out. Fox sparrows and tree sparrows are among the brave migrants under the bird feeders. Robins will be having a hard time finding food after this latest snow storm. A turkey can be seen here and there and deer are moving about the roadsides. Waterfowl is starting to show up including mallards, wood ducks, ring billed ducks, hooded and common mergansers. A northern harrier was spotted at Powell Marsh. Ice is disappearing and on some small lakes appears to be completely gone. Lake and river water levels on the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest are at their highest level since the year 2000. There are still a few lakes that have not returned to pre drought levels. The vast majority are approaching or have exceeded levels prior to the 2000-2010 drought. - Kimberly Krawczyk, Visitor Services Associate

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

This report is for the week of March 27 through April 2. Water temperatures have dropped a few degrees since mid-week to about 42 degrees. Walleye and suckers are up to the dams on the Oconto, Peshtigo, and Menominee rivers. Fishing pressure has been heavy but catch rates moderate. Heavy rain and snow since mid-week and beyond have raised water levels and muddied the water. -

Marinette County - There is a heavy concentration of fishermen below the dam at Peshtigo catching walleye using jigs and plastics and stick baits, with some very large females being caught and released. Like the Oconto River most anglers are keeping males and the females are not ready to spawn yet. Boaters at the ramp at the Peshtigo City garage are also having good success catching walleye. Shore anglers at the Peshtigo River mouth have been having less success with catch rates quite low. Brown trout and some walleye are being caught out of the Little River Boat Launch with anglers trolling in 6 to 8 feet of water using stick baits and jigs. Browns in the 6 to 10 pound class are not uncommon. The upper Menominee River from the Hattie Street Dam down to Stephenson Island is still producing a good number of walleye and the occasional brown and steelhead. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Anglers on the upper stretches of the Oconto River (Stiles Dam to County J Bridge) have been catching walleye and some suckers casting jigs tipped with plastics and stick baits, with mostly male fish being kept. Female walleye are reported to still be hard and not yet ready to spawn. Anglers fishing the Oconto River near its mouth report fewer walleye being caught and very dirty water. Boaters fishing north and south of the Oconto River mouth report catching walleye, pike, and the occasional brown trout trolling jigs and plastics and stick baits with planer boards. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Anglers fishing the west shore of Green Bay have been out in low numbers as the weather isn't cooperating for good fishing. A few anglers were seen fishing from shore on the Suamico River with no success reported. A few anglers launched out of here as well early in the week, but stayed away as the weather cooled down again this weekend. The ramps are in at the Suamico River launch but are yet to be put in on Duck Creek and Geano Beach. Geano beach is now accessible as there is no longer any ice remaining. Angler numbers on the Fox River have really dropped off this week. Low numbers of anglers are still launching from Fox Point, Metro and the fairground in search of walleye. Low numbers are being caught but not without a lot of time put in. Anglers are reporting all fish caught as males and water temperatures between 39 to 40 degrees this weekend, and still not marking a lot of fish either. Those fishing from shore or wading below the dam at Voyager Park in De Pere are still reporting a tough bite for walleyes as well with no reports of fish being caught this week. The river water has cleared up some from last week and the flow isn't as rough. The ramps are in at the fairground in De Pere and Fox Point but not in at Metro yet. Those fishing from shore at Metro reported a tough bite for crappies but were catching gizzard shad. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Walleye catch rates on the Fox River was low and fishing pressure was light this week. The majority of fish being caught were between the late evening and early morning hours. Highest catch rates were either in deeper holes or near-shore slack water. Crank baits, jigs and minnows are all being used. Around 25 percent of the female walleye are ripe. Most of the rest are hard. Some whitefish are still lingering in the river. A couple sturgeon were identified near the De Pere dam. Fox River water temperature was in the upper 30s. Due to rain, and the fact that five locks were open on the De Pere dam, water flows were high, fast and turbid. Wading anglers should be careful in these conditions. Ramps are in at the fairgrounds and Fox Point. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Kewaunee County - The poor weather over the past week has kept most anglers off the water. Those who have gone out report a tough bite. The Kewaunee River has had a consistently high level most of the week and been quite muddy, although levels have been dropping and clarity clearing over the past few days. Water temperature has fluctuated between the mid and high 30s. Anglers tented to concentrate their efforts between the foot bridge and the Highway F bridge. No routes were scheduled for Kewaunee this week so it is not known what angler success was. This past week, more than 400 trout were processed at the fishery facility and fish have continued to pile into the facility since then, so it would be safe to say that the trout run is under way. On the Ahnapee, fishing pressure has also been light. Most anglers have concentrated their efforts by the Forestville dam. Reports are that the bite has been tough even though the fish are present. Most bites have come on spawn, although some have also come on yarn. Catches have consisted mostly of rainbow trout but some browns have also been caught. The Ahnapee has been high, muddy, and fast. Temperatures have fluctuated between the mid and high 30s. On Stoney Creek, fishing pressure has been considerably higher, though the success rate has not. Most success has come on spawn and yarn, but the key is persistence. Stoney Creek has had high levels, fast flow, and good clarity. Water temperatures have been between the mid and high 30s. Out on the lake, high winds and generally poor weather has kept the fishing effort to a minimum. Anglers were trolling the shallows. In past weeks, anglers had the best success with brown trout trolling in 5 to 25 feet of water using stick baits. Most anglers caught at least a few fish. The surface temperature of Lake Michigan has been around 40 degrees. - Dan Olson, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - The steelhead run is in full swing. Inconsistent weather has made fishing difficult with frequently changing water levels and water clarity. Water temperatures have been fluctuating around the mid-40s. Despite the weather and water conditions, fish are being caught in Shoto and Mishicot with action picking up in the Manitowoc River and other area tributaries. Inclement weather has kept Two Rivers and Manitowoc Harbors quiet with only a few anglers targeting catfish. - Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Manitowoc

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - The area received 5 inches of wet snow this week. All but the most protected inland lakes are completely free of ice now, but water temps are very low. Some panfish are being caught in deep water. Walleye continue to head up rivers from the bay of Green Bay. Landscape plants like tulips, daffodils, and crocus are popping out to the ground on southern exposures and a few agricultural fields are greening up. Buds are swelling on some maple and lilacs. Mourning doves are sitting on eggs. Turkeys remain in larger groups but are starting to split up with scattered small groups starting to pop up. This weekend is the youth turkey hunt with the first regular season to follow on Wednesday. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Potawatomi State Park - All roads are open in the park, and the observation tower is open. With the recent snow-melt-snow cycles in Door County, trails remain wet. Launching piers are not in the water yet. There have been some strong cold winds this past week, slowing down fishing activity. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Fields just starting to green-up. Deer are out feeding like crazy. Turkeys have been out displaying almost daily. Bluebirds are now back and checking out nest boxes. Most geese are on nests. Trout streams high and muddy with little to no fishing pressure to date. Walleyes are partially spawned out on Wolf and Fox rivers. Just like the trout streams, water levels are high and muddy with lots of fishing pressure on weekends. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Hartman Creek State Park - The parks two campground, the family and group camps opened for the season on April 1. The shower buildings, along with the dump and fill station, will not be up and running until May 6 but water is available for drinking purposes elsewhere in the park at this time. The park's single track trails are currently closed due to muddy conditions. All other trails are now open for hiking. Horse trails are now open for the season. For further information please call the park at 715-258-2372.- Jarrod Kehring, ranger

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Calumet County - Crappie anglers have been catching limited numbers of fish at Stockbridge Harbor on Lake Winnebago in recent days. The return of colder weather has slowed the bite somewhat. Turkeys have been seen strutting and fanning in farm fields throughout the area. Several nice toms were recently harvested by first time turkey hunters as part of a Learn-to-Hunt program based out of the Brillion area. Migrating swans have been seen in large numbers on the Killsnake State Wildlife area. Many different species of ducks are also passing through Calumet County. - Michael Disher, conservation warden - Stockbridge

Winnebago County - The 2016 Winnebago system walleye run is on and DNR fisheries staff and volunteers have been busy tagging walleye during the adult spawning stock assessment. Nearly 4,700 fish have been tagged on the Wolf River alone in less than two weeks. Every year, DNR staff try to tag between 3,000 and 5,000 walleye on the Wolf River system. With the target being reached, tagging efforts will now focus on tagging immature female walleye on Lake Winnebago. Anglers who catch a walleye or yellow perch on the Lake Winnebago system with a tag, are asked to mail the tags to the Oshkosh DNR office (625 E. County Road Y, Oshkosh WI 54901), email the information on them to dnrwinnebagosystemtagreturns@wisconsin.gov, or call 920-303-5429. - Adam Nickel, fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Milwaukee County - Gobblers have been seen strutting for hen turkeys in open fields, in perfect time for the start of turkey season. Although a bit colder than we normally expect this time of year, this weekend will still provide decent weather for the turkey youth hunt. If you are still looking for a leftover turkey permit, you can check availability on the DNR website, keyword "turkey". With the chilly weather, we've seen our spring songbird migration slow down. We have had reports of tree swallows, golden- and ruby-crowned kinglets, fox and song sparrows, red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and expect to see more spring migrants soon. Join us for a Spring Songbird Hike at Havenwoods State Forest at 9 a.m. on April 30. Contact Dianne Robinson (Dianne.Robinson@wisconsin.gov; 262-424-9827) to RSVP. There has also been an increase in the number of young animal sightings, including fox, raccoon, and squirrel kits. If you see any young wildlife, take pictures but please don't touch. If you think the young animals are injured or in danger, visit the DNR website, keword "Keep Wildlife Wild" or contact the DNR Customer Service Hotline for more information (1-888-936-7463). - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Milwaukee

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

Sheboygan County - Water levels are dropping on the Sheboygan and Pigeon rivers, but both are still high and murky. The Sheboygan River is about 35 degrees and the Pigeon River is about 38 degrees. Snowy weather and big waves made for very little fishing pressure over the weekend on the Lake Michigan piers and shoreline.

Ozaukee County - Sauk Creek is still high and muddy, and the water temperature is around 35 degrees. A few steelhead were being caught over the weekend with many suckers in between. Some brown trout and occasional steelhead have been caught near the power plant discharge and in Rotary Park with both crank baits and spawn sacs producing.

Milwaukee County - The gates to the McKinley Marina docks remain open, and anglers have been catching a few browns and rainbows on spawn sacs. Shore anglers have landed nice catches of browns and a couple of rainbows while fishing behind the Summerfest grounds and under the Hoan Bridge near Jones Island. Both artificial and natural baits have produced, with success coming on crank baits, spawn, and night crawlers. Boats fishing the Milwaukee harbor area continue to catch brown trout as well. Oak Creek in South Milwaukee remains productive for steelhead, with most anglers concentrating near the dam. Spawn sacs, tube jigs tipped with wax worms, yarn flies, and trout beads have all taken fish. Brown trout up to 15 pounds, rainbows, and a few coho have been landed at the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier, with fathead minnows or white tube jigs tipped with wax worms producing the most fish. Boats fishing out of Bender Park have been landing a mix of coho salmon and brown trout while trolling crank baits and spoons in front of the Oak Creek Power Plant. Some of the boaters reported good luck casting cranks and spoons near the warm water discharge. On the Milwaukee River, flows are high and the river is muddy after significant rainfall Tuesday night and Wednesday. DNR crews conducting electrofishing surveys below the former North Avenue dam have seen northern pike, walleye, and a few steelhead in the area. Construction is taking place along the Milwaukee River Parkway in Kletzsch Park, but all fishing areas in Kletzsch will remain open during the construction project. The Menomonee River is also high and muddy. Prior to the rain, anglers reported mostly suckers and a few northern pike in the river around Miller Park, but a few steelhead could be seen downstream in Three Bridges Park.

Racine County - At the lakefront in Racine, fishing pressure has been low with less than ideal fishing conditions. Boats have begun to dock in Reefpoint Marina, and the docks are now closed to shore anglers. On the Root River, steelhead have been caught when the water levels dropped and clarity improved midweek, but water levels rose again due to a large rainfall on Thursday. Angler effort was low over the weekend, with few fish caught. More rain is expected again Tuesday night and Wednesday this week, which will most likely raise water levels and lower clarity once again. Baits of choice have been spawn sacs, egg pattern flies, spinners, and orange streamers. The water temperature was 42F on Sunday. DNR crews processed fish at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, April 4. Over 870,000 Chambers Creek strain eggs and one million Ganaraska strain eggs have been collected so far. A total of 1,110 steelhead have been passed upriver this spring. The next processing day will be Monday, April 11.

Kenosha County - Fishing pressure remains low in the Kenosha harbor. Those fishing were having no success fishing with spoons or crankbaits. On the Pike River, a few anglers have had success catching steelhead. Anglers reported that most fish were done spawning and seemed to be heading back to the lake already. The rain last week had the water fairly high through Saturday, but conditions were improving on Sunday. The baits of choice were spawn sacs, egg pattern flies, and wooly buggers. Anglers also report seeing quite a few suckers in the creek now as well. The water temperature was up to 48F midweek, but dropped to 44F by the weekend.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Water levels on local ponds, rivers and Theresa Marsh are very high. A lot of the floodplain along the Rock River upstream and downstream from Theresa Marsh is flooded so use care when canoeing or fishing. A large number of migrant and locally nesting waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds are using the and the seasonally flooded areas, including Canada geese, sandhill cranes, coots, teal, woodies, hundreds of northern shovelers and other waterfowl, and some unusual migrants (a Wilson's phalarope reported). Several dozen swans were seen at both Theresa and Allenton Marsh Wildlife Areas. Bird viewing opportunities are excellent right now along Highway 28 just west of Highway 41. The turkey mating season is picking up with a lot of gobblers seen strutting. Last weekend, two local "Learn to Hunt" turkey hunts were held under less than ideal hunting conditions with precipitation and high winds. This weekend is the youth turkey hunt, and next Monday "Spring Hearings" are held in each county so please consider attending. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford

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South Central Region

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Glacial Habitat Restoration Areas - Though it was unseasonably cool, staff were able to take advantage of some drier weather earlier this week and completed a 63 acre burn in the town of Waupun, and a 20 acre burn along Horicon Marsh, as well as several small burns around the Horicon Education Center. Whooping crane and snowy owl sightings continue around the north end of the Marsh. Chorus frogs can be heard calling and more dabbling ducks have arrived. Turkey surveys are also being conducted in Dodge County. - James Christopoulos, wildlife biologist, Horicon

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - Wisconsin River water level is still up with heavy current making fishing tough. Crappies had been biting at the beginning of the week, but colder and winter like weather conditions shut down the bite. Turkeys are strutting and displaying. Photographers have had some great opportunities on Park Lake with the loon migration coming through the area. Reports of up to 100 loons currently using Park Lake. Youth turkey hunt coming up this weekend, hopefully with better weather. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Dane County - Loons are now common on inland lakes as they work their way north to breeding grounds. Migratory waterfowl are still abundant with good numbers of diving ducks on shallow lakes. Puddle ducks are using the numerous sheet water ponds in farm fields. Some of the early shorebird migrants are returning including Wilson's snipe, greater yellowlegs and pectoral sandpipers. The early forest migrants are here in force including golden-crowned kinglets, phoebes, sapsuckers, winter wren, brown creeper and fox sparrows. The next warm southerly winds should bring in more sparrows including chipping, field, and vesper sparrows. Turkeys are commonly seen displaying in flocks and smaller groups throughout the day. Staff suspect that a few hens have initiated nests but with the cold snap we're still seeing larger flocks in fields. On warmer days staff were hearing chorus frogs, leopard frogs and spring peepers in wetlands. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg

Lake Kegonsa State Park -The boat landing is open and the landing piers have been installed. The fishing piers will be installed in May. - Sarah Bolser, park manager

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West Central Region

Baldwin DNR Service Center area

Kinnickinnic State Park - All park trails are open for hiking and leashed pets. Trails can be muddy in areas that have not gotten a chance to dry out. The Kinnickinnic River is free of ice and flowing at normal levels. Spring rains will raise the water levels and effect clarity for a short time, but the river returns to normal fairly quickly. Information on the level the Kinnickinnic River can be monitored at: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=05342000. Early catch and release trout season is now open. The St. Croix River is also free of ice. It is currently above normal levels, but under flood stage. Its level can be monitored at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?gage=stlm5&wfo=mpx. Wild turkeys are beginning to break up in small groups and can frequently be seen around the park. Waterfowl are making their way north to breeding grounds and commonly rest on park waters. South wintering robins arrived last week and a few early bluebirds have come home for the summer. - Eric Klumb, ranger

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Perrot State Park - All hiking trails are open and in good condition. Water levels have been fluctuating along the Mississippi River and in Trempealeau Bay but you will be able to access the main channel under the railroad bridge. The dock will be put in once levels stabilize. The spring ephemerals are now dotting the park with color. Pasque flowers, bloodroot, wild ginger, and hepatica are all in full bloom with many more to follow. Great blue herons have returned to the bay. Pelicans are also circling Trempealeau Mountain on their migration north. Songbirds are coming back. The phoebes and bluebirds are setting up their nests. The trees are just beginning to leaf out so it is easier to find the bright colored birds as they sing their spring songs. The Great River State Trail is open but has not yet been graded. The water levels along the trail are higher than normal which gives a unique opportunity to see a floodplain forest with ducks floating right next to the trail. Many songbirds are returning so the woods and prairies are coming alive. The Buffalo River State Trail is open but has not yet been graded. Connecting county ATV trails may not yet be open so call ahead. - Lois Larson, park manager

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Eau Claire County -Lakes and rivers are struggling to reach ideal fish spawning temperatures. Anglers are catching some suckers at Big Falls County Park, but few panfish are being caught. The game fish season is closed upriver of the Lake Altoona Dam. Repairs have been completed on the Lake Altoona Dam, and water levels on the lake have returned to normal. After being closed to fishing all winter, Lake Altoona will open to fishing on April 9. Spring turkey hunters will be taking to the woods and fields for the youth hunt this weekend, and during the turkey hunting seasons through May 24. Hunters are reminded to be sure of your target and what is in front of and behind it. Hunt safe! - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire

Chippewa River State Trail - The trail is open but has not been blown off to date. - Penny Thiede-Klish, visitor services associate

Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area - The trails are muddy but there are many variety of Spring birds to spot. The trees are budding out quickly. - Penny L. Thiede-Klish, visitor service associate

Red Cedar State Trail - The maintenance crew will be out soon to start grating the Trail. Many spring birds are coming through the area and the trees are budding out nicely. The Skunk Cabbage is up and with a little sunshine the other spring varieties will be popping out. - Penny L. Thiede-Klish, visitor service associate



Last Revised: Thursday, April 07, 2016

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