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Outdoor ReportPublished April 13, 2017

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Wisconsin experienced another roller coaster ride for the second week in April with temperatures last weekend in the 70s, followed by cold rain in the south and up to 7 inches of snow in the far north, and now temperatures again forecast to be in the high 60s this coming weekend.

People took advantage of the warm weather last weekend with canoeists and kayakers our on the Flambeau River. The lower Wisconsin River continues to run a bit above normal with water temperatures in the high 40s.

Walleye runs are continuing on rivers and fishing pressure has been very heavy at some locations, including at the Hattie Street dam on the Menominee River and at Voyager Park on the Fox River where it was shoulder to shoulder anglers wading near shore over the weekend. On the Wolf River walleye are starting to make it up to the Shawano Dam. Anglers reported catching mostly males but with more females starting to show up with many not spawned out yet. Sturgeons have not been spotted below the Shawano Dam yet, but with the warmer weather it will not be long before they arrive to spawn.

The steelhead run on Lake Michigan tributaries continues to be a mixed bag. The Kewaunee River is still producing some steelhead and steelhead were moving up the Ahnapee River with good catches just downstream of the Forestville dam. Some small brown and a few bigger steelhead were taken from the East Twin River. Farther south, a large number of steelhead moved into the Oak Creek following last week's rain and steelhead were stacked up below the Kletzsch Park waterfall on the Milwaukee River. On the Root River, most anglers were focusing their efforts at the Horlick Dam upstream of the steelhead facility with decent number of steelhead caught but a lot of suckers were caught near the dam as well.

Smelt fishermen were out along the Milwaukee shoreline with some reports of decent catches near the Hoan bridge with a few groups of anglers reporting catches of up to 300 fish per night.

A tournament in Kewaunee on Saturday morning brought a frenzy of boats out, with a decent number of brown trout being caught, even with the wind picking up. Boats continue to target brown trout in the Milwaukee harbor, reporting with good luck trolling near the breakwall gaps and the mouth of the Milwaukee River.

Gobblers have been seen strutting for hen turkeys in open fields, in perfect timing for the youth turkey hunt this weekend, April 15-16 and for the start of turkey season on April 19. Hunters still looking for a leftover turkey permit, can check availability on the DNR website, keyword "turkey."

County Deer Advisory Committee meetings will be held throughout the state this week to finalize 2017 deer season recommendations.  Search the DNR website for CDAC for meeting locations.

With sunny warm temps last weekend many amphibians and reptiles were active including garter and red-bellied snakes, chorus and wood frogs and spring peepers. Woodpeckers of all species are drumming like mad, as their spring breeding season approaches.

Pasque flower, prairie buttercup and Dutchman's breeches are blooming in the south, and prairie smoke is beginning to bloom. In the woods, look for patches of round-lobed hepatica blooming. Mourning cloak and comma butterflies have emerged from hibernation.

South winds ushered in many new birds this past weekend, leading to frequent sightings of hermit thrushes, both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, brown creepers, eastern phoebes and the season's first blue-gray gnatcatchers, cliff swallows, and barn swallows. This year has already seen a few unsubstantiated reports of ruby-throated hummingbirds in the far south.


Wildfire Report

Last week 63 wildfires burned 96 acres in DNR Protection Areas; half of the fires were caused by debris burning. Twenty one homes and 15 other buildings were threatened by wildfires, but saved by fire suppression actions. Snow and rain will alleviate fire danger temporarily in parts of the state that receive precipitation. However, this time of year there is still a great deal of dead vegetation that dries out quickly and is available fuel for a wildfire. Low relative humidity, warm temps, and gusty winds quickly drive up the fire danger. Stay aware of fire danger and burning restrictions by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or check online at, keyword "fire". Enter keyword "ember" to watch a four-minute video with footage from the 2013 Germann Road Fire that burned 7,500 acres and 23 homes in northwest Wisconsin.

Firewise Tip: As turkey hunting season approaches, hunters are reminded to be extra cautious with anything that can start a wildfire when you're outdoors. Be especially mindful of the weather. A warming or cooking fire on a windy day can quickly become an out of control wildfire. - Jolene Ackerman, wildland urban interface coordinator, Madison


Statewide Birding Report

Waterfowl migration is past peak in southern Wisconsin, while ramping up in the north now that waterbodies are free of ice. A few snow, Ross's, and greater white-fronted geese continue at southern wetlands but numbers are waning. Birders there found more horned grebes this week, in addition to other water birds like great egrets, American white pelicans, and the first Forster's and Caspian terns. Common loons are back on many northern lakes now, with small numbers lingering on larger lakes in the south as their migration nears its peak statewide. A few black-necked stilts, a showy shorebird species, have returned to Horicon marsh, though shorebird numbers generally remain low at this early point in the season. South winds ushered in many new birds this past weekend, leading to frequent sightings of hermit thrushes, both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, brown creepers, eastern phoebes and the season's first blue-gray gnatcatchers, cliff swallows, and barn swallows. Pine warblers were reported as far north as Dunn, while intriguing reports of Nashville and Cape May warbler came from Ozaukee, both quite early. The grand spectacle of warbler migration is certainly not far off now, however, typically escalating by late April and peaking later in May. We are often asked about when to put out feeders for hummingbirds and orioles. Both typically reach southern Wisconsin in the last week of April so April 20-25 is probably a good time there, though earlier certainly won't hurt if you don't mind some inactivity for a while. Orioles usually reach the north quickly thereafter, often in the first few days of May, while hummingbirds lag just a handful of days longer. This year has already seen a few unsubstantiated reports of ruby-throated hummingbirds in the far south. We highly encourage observers to get a photo to document the birds at such an early date. Northern birders are amidst the peak of dark-eyed junco and fox sparrow migration. Farther south, swamp, chipping, savannah, field and white-throated sparrows have arrived and are only days away from the north. Right on schedule, the first broad-winged hawks were seen in the southern tier this week as well. Greater prairie-chickens are dancing, ruffed grouse drumming, and wild turkeys gobbling within their respective ranges. Some young great horned owls are already leaving their nests, i.e. fledging, while the first Canada goose goslings were found in Milwaukee on April 12. Rare birds spotted this week included a hybrid cinnamon teal in Dane, Eurasian wigeon in Outagamie, Western grebe in Kewaunee, and continuing brant in Columbia. Help us track the spring migration by reporting your finds to Good birding!- Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland


Upcoming events at state recreational properties

Insights into spring morel mushroom hunting, lawn chair bird watching or taking a guided hike to Eagle Peak the highest point in Interstate State Park are among the upcoming events at Wisconsin recreational properties.  Jerry Davis photo
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit - Wild Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms: An Evening with Nature Program, 7-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Richard Bong State Recreation Area - Early Bird Bird Hike, 7-9 a.m.
Peninsula State Park - Nanabozho Campfire, noon to 3 p.m.
Interstate State Park - Eagle Peak Discoveries, 4-5 p.m.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Devil's Lake State Park - Lawn Chair Bird Watching, 8-10 a.m.
Interstate State Park - Glacial Adventures, 1-2 p.m.
Peninsula State Park - Like to Hike: Hidden Bluff to Lone Pine to Shore, 2-3:15 p.m.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Kohler Andrae State Park - Discovery Bird Hike, 8-10 a.m.
Richard Bong State Recreation Area - Make your own Seed Paper, 9-11 a.m.

All events
Find a property


Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - Last weekend was exceptionally warm with temperatures getting into the low 70s. This was followed by cold days and nights early this week. Although snow threatened, we did not see any of the white stuff here in the Brule River State Forest, and only a minimal amount of rain. It is still quite dry. Spring is getting a firm grasp now. The pussy willows are in full bloom and maple flower buds are getting ready to burst. The forest floor is still mostly brown. But if you look closely, the early spring vegetation is starting to emerge. The number of anglers fishing on the Brule River (north of Highway 2) has eased off since steelhead fishing opening weekend. Anglers are reporting that they are still catching some fish. The lack of any significant rain has the river flow lower than historical average for this time of year. Even if you don't catch fish, it's always a good day when you can spend time on the river. Personnel from the Fish Hatchery attended UW-Superior's Science Night on April 8. Kids (of all ages) got to see the beautiful coloration and markings of brown trout and tiger trout up-close. The braver kids even mustered the courage to touch the fish. Science Night welcomed hundreds of people to the event this year. The free event offers children and their parents a chance to explore science together through demonstrations and hands-on activities. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - Some folks have been taking advantage of the bugless weather and good water level on the Flambeau River and paddling down river and using the scenic river sites for camping and picnicking. April in the phenology calendar is Maple Sugar Moon, however, this year quality sap flow has ended. It's near time to plant tree seedlings. The wood frogs and spring peepers are calling; walleyes are spawning; wild leeks and fiddleheads are coming out; early wildflowers are blooming; tree buds bursting and trees beginning to flower. The snowshoe hare coats are turning brown, the male red-winged blackbirds have returned, the grouse are drumming and the turkeys are strutting and gobbling and are gathering hens. Geese and ducks are back. Tree swallows are back, though seems to be a week early. Robins, mourning doves, yellow finches, phoebes, owls, wood cock, sandhill cranes, and some swans and kingfishers have been seen. The deer and elk have been busy grazing on new green shoots. Elk cows and deer does have entered their third trimester of pregnancy and the early spring will ensure large and feisty youngsters. Deer shed hunters are on the hunt and if you are in the elk areas, soon they will be shedding their antlers. Some road bans have been lifted so logging operations on parts of the Forest can collect the remainder of this winter's cut logs. The weather forecast indicates a 40 percent chance of rain Friday with a high of 59 low of 50 with rain and thunderstorms Saturday with a high of 65 and low of 42, Sunday mostly sunny high of 45 and low of 31. Roads to and in the forest are soft in some areas due to frost coming out but are drivable for light cars or pickups. Lake of the Pines Campground opens April 15 and Connors Lake Campground opens the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, May 25. The docks will be put in Connors and Lake of the Pines soon. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - It has been a roller coaster ride for the second week in April for the state forest. Warm dry winds, then rain, then hail, then more wind, then a bunch of snow! The newly arrived hermit thrushes, fox sparrows and robins are scouring for food next to the buildings wondering what in the world just happened? There are many branches and trees down in certain areas, so hikers and hunters are just urged to use caution when out and about enjoying this Easter weekend. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate


Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

This report is for the week of April 2-8. Fishing pressure has been high although catch rates remain a bit low. Anglers report temperatures on the Bay of 44 degrees and river temperatures at 45 to 46 degrees. White suckers are present in all the rivers in increasing numbers.

Marinette County - Anglers below the Dam on the Peshtigo River report the walleye bite to be the same as on the Oconto, mostly males but more females are starting to show up. Stick baits and jig are working the best. Boaters at the Peshtigo Harbor are doing their best when they find a pod of fish and then jig for them. Trolling in 10 feet of water out of the mouth of the Peshtigo River is producing some very nice brown trout, pike and the occasional walleye using spoons and stick baits. Boaters out of Little River continue to catch browns and pike trolling. Anglers on the Menominee River have been concentrating the efforts in the Turn basin basically jigging with plastics live baits and rip-in-raps, or zip lures. Browns are being caught north and south of the mouth of the Menominee River trolling with spoons and stick baits. Fishing pressure has been extremely heavy below the Hattie Street Dam with catch rates being a little lower than expected. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Anglers below the Dam at Stiles on the Oconto River are catching walleye but at a rate slower than expected. Most of the fish being recorded are males in the 17 to 21-inch range. Stick baits and jigs and plastics are catching most of the fish. Large numbers of suckers are also appearing at the Dam. Anglers down river all the way to mouth report fishing slow. Pike are now being caught at the mouth of the Oconto River using live bait and dead smelt fishing the cause way. Boaters report pods of walleye in 8 to 10 feet of water out in the Bay. Jigging and rip-in-raps have worked well when you find the fish. Anglers report female walleyes are not spawned out yet and the eggs are still hard. These fish should be making their run up river in the next few days. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Anglers at Bay Beach took advantage of the warm weather over the past weekend with many boats and shore fisherman out. No interviews taken. Slow fishing pressure at the Fox Point Launch during the week with an increase over the weekend. Primarily targeting walleye with moderate success and the occasional freshwater drum. No anglers were recorded during the week at the Fairgrounds, with an increased pressure observed during the weekend. No interviews taken. In Voyager Park, there was increasing fishing pressure throughout the week with most anglers targeting walleye. Over the weekend it was shoulder to shoulder anglers wading near shore with varying success. Minimal angling pressure was observed throughout the week at Duck Creek. No interviews taken. On the Suamico, both shore and boat fisherman were out over the weekend targeting multiple species. Most were out to catch walleye with an occasional northern pike fisherman. Success for walleye was low while Northern pike fisherman saw moderate success. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Although the warm temperatures were enough free the last of the ice from the landings throughout Door County, the wind made fishing difficult over the weekend. Boat anglers had some luck trolling crank baits in the canal, catching good numbers of pike and the occasional brown. Some walleye have been spotted by shore fishermen but none have been caught yet. Lucky shore anglers have been able to catch a few browns in the Sturgeon Bay Canal, Murphy Park, Egg Harbor and Fish Creek Harbor but in general action has been very hit and miss. First light has been the most productive. Door County streams have finally warmed up to the mid 40-degree range and steelhead action seems to be picking up. The recent thunderstorm caused water levels to rise and should help get the fish moving. - Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Kewaunee County - The past weekend brought about a mix of fishing reports in Kewaunee County. A tournament in Kewaunee on Saturday morning brought a frenzy of boats out, with a decent number of brown trout being caught, even with the wind picking up. Fish have come on a pretty random array of baits, but stick baits in general have been the best consistent producer. Rough waters on Sunday brought a few boats to the ramps, but none launched. The Kewaunee River is still producing some steelhead and now northern pike, but the Ahnapee River in Algoma had the most action. Steelhead were moving up the river just downstream of the Forestville dam in good numbers, and catches coinciding with those numbers. Stony Creek had less pressure, but maintained consistent catches for those anglers putting in time there. Also, for those wondering, the docks have been in, in both Kewaunee and Algoma, for the past week, and the cleaning station in Kewaunee is unlocked. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - The beginning of the week brought successful fishing for many anglers. Several trout (brown, rainbow, and lake) were caught within the East Twin River and off of the Two Rivers Piers. Success was found using spinners and spawn sacs under a bobber. Throughout the week, water levels in the rivers began to drop and the weather became more favorable. Many anglers were in the rivers throughout the weekend, but very few were catching fish. Some small brown and a few bigger rainbow were taken from the East Twin River. Lower levels of water are assumed to be a big influence on the decline in fish within the river systems. - Mallary Schenian, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Shawano County - Walleye are starting to make it up to the Shawano Dam. In Shawano Lake, crappies are also biting on minnows in the mud flat shallows. Sturgeons have not been spotted below the Shawano Dam yet, but with the warmer weather it will not be long before they arrive to spawn. Turkey season is quickly approaching, and the toms are out strutting around right on queue. Most toms are still grouped together with their hens and have not yet broken up. These turkeys are out everywhere picking through gravel and open fields, taking advantage of the spring growth that is starting to come up. - Clark Delzer, conservation warden, Shawano

Governor Thompson State Park - Spring is in the air! We are hearing spring peepers and chorus frogs throughout the park. It is a great time for hiking, not too hot, no bugs, and the leaves are off the trees showing all of the landscape. There are 16 miles of hiking trail waiting for your next adventure. The park has two inland lakes, Woods and Huber, and several miles of frontage on Caldron Falls Flowage. The South Bay Landing (#13) on Caldron Falls has two concrete launches, a boarding dock, fishing pier, picnic area and vault toilet. All facilities at South Bay are accessible. The campground has 100 sites that are all sized for a tent, camper or RV. Sixteen sites have electricity. There are vault toilets and water fountains throughout the campground and a centrally located shower/flush toilet building. The sanitary dump and fill station is located on the road into the campground. The boat access campsites on Caldron Falls Flowage are open year-round. Each site has a place to tie up your boat, canoe/kayak rack, tent pad, fire ring, picnic table, bench, primitive latrine and a bear-proof box to store your food. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Potawatomi State Park - The launching piers are now in the water at Sawyer Harbor. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - There have been several sightings of eagles soaring along the beach. The bird feeder has been busy with downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers, along with goldfinches and juncos. Standing on the overlook you can see buffleheads diving in the lake. There have been several sightings of turkeys as they are active this time of year. All trails are open to hiking. The best trails at this time for hikers are the Red Trail and the beach shoreline (no pets). Water levels are typically at the lowest levels right now and the beach is a great place to hike. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Turkeys actively displaying all day. Tree swallows and bluebirds seeking out nesting cavities. Walleyes are spawning as we speak. Green-up has begun, maples really breaking bud. Time to start planting some cool season vegetables. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma


Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Milwaukee County - Gobblers have been seen strutting for hen turkeys in open fields, in perfect timing for the start of turkey season on April 19. If you are still looking for a leftover turkey permit, you can check availability on the DNR website, keyword "turkey". Spring songbird migration has started, and you can see migrant songbirds as well as ephemeral wildflowers if you visit the woods over Easter weekend. Tree swallows, golden- and ruby-crowned kinglets, fox sparrows, red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and the odd yellow-rumped warbler are all out for you to see. You can see bloodroot, marsh marigold, and Virginia cowslip blooming, and see trout lily starting to pop up. Join us for a Spring Wildflower Hike at New Munster Wildlife Area at 9 a.m. on April 22. Contact Dianne Robinson (; 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

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - In the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, the dry prairies are showing signs of life: pasque flower, prairie buttercup are blooming, and prairie smoke is beginning to bloom. Incidentally the name pasque is the Old French word for Easter; this wildflower blooms around Easter each year. In the woods, look for patches of round-lobed hepatica blooming. Many migratory birds are back from their wintering grounds. Along with the seemingly ubiquitous red-winged blackbird, others that have returned are: Sandhill crane, great blue heron, northern harrier (marsh hawk), Wilson's snipe, American woodcock, and yellow-rumped warbler. Mourning cloak and comma butterflies have emerged from hibernation. Although, the American painted lady (butterfly) was long thought to hibernate in Wisconsin, the ones we are seeing are now are thought to recent migrants from further south. This is an exciting time of year. Virtually every day brings something new!- Todd Miller, assistant naturalist

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

Milwaukee County - Fishing pressure on the shoreline was low due to another week of cold, rainy weather with north/northeast winds gusting to 36 mph keeping many boaters off the lake. Fishing pressure on the lakefront increased on the weekend with the return of dry sunny weather and temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Brown trout are still being landed in the Lakeshore State Park lagoons. Boats out of McKinley and Riverfront continue to target brown trout with spoons and crankbaits in the Milwaukee harbor, with most of the boats reporting good luck. Nice catches of brown trout continue to be landed under the Hoan Bridge by anglers bottom fishing with shiners. A few groups of anglers reported 1-2 nights during the week with good catches of smelt. Rainbows, browns, a few coho, and an occasional whitefish were landed recently on the Grant Park shoreline. A large number of rainbows moved into the Oak Creek at Grant Park during 4 days of steady rain at the start of the week and anglers were having good success with rainbows up to 9 pounds landed. The catch rate for rainbows tapered off on the weekend as the flow rate and water level in the creek decreased. The majority of boats out of Bender have been targeting brown trout and coho with crankbaits and spoons in front of the Oak Creek Power Plant and the on boils in front of the South Shore Water Treatment Plant. The majority of boats out of South Shore Park continue to target brown trout and rainbows in the Milwaukee harbor. The Milwaukee River has been high and fast for the past 2-3 weeks. The flow rate at Estabrook topped 2,160 cfs on April 5. The fishing pressure at Kletzsch Park continues to taper off. Rainbows were stacked up below the Kletzsch Park waterfall all week long. Most of the anglers at Estabrook Park were targeting suckers with nightcrawlers. A large number of suckers and a few northern pike have been stacked up below the waterfall for the past 3 weeks. On the Menomonee River a large number of rainbows were seen in Miller Park on Monday April 3. Anglers targeted rainbows with spawn sacks and egg pattern flies. A steady number of fish were jumping out of the water along Freshwater Way on Sunday morning April 9. - Steve Woodcrest, fisheries technician

Racine County - The Root River is currently flowing at 541cfs and not much rain is in the forecast for the upcoming week so water levels are expected to continue to decrease. As the water levels have dropped the visibility has gotten better. Anglers can see between 10-12 inches down from the surface. The fishing has also gotten better; however the majority of anglers fishing are still not hooking into steelhead. A lot of suckers have been landed this week up stream near the Horlick Dam. The anglers that are catching fish have had the most success on orange and/or chartreuse yarn eggs. The water was 50 degrees above the Steelhead Facility and 51 degrees below the Steelhead Facility. Upstream of the Steelhead Facility, most anglers are focusing their efforts at the Horlick Dam, and a few are fishing at Quarry Lake Park. Over the weekend there was typically 15-20 anglers fishing at Horlick Dam and between 4-5 steelhead reported caught each day. A lot of suckers were reported caught near the dam as well. Downstream of the Steelhead Facility, there was very little fishing pressure this week.

Kenosha County - Only a few anglers were out this week and none reported catching any fish out of the harbor or along the shore. The mouth of the Pike River is open, but may not be soon since there is not much rain in the forecast for the upcoming week.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Migratory bird viewing opportunities are still excellent at Theresa Marsh along Hwy 28 just west of Hwy 41 for geese, ducks, sandhill cranes, herons, egrets, shorebirds and an occasional bald eagle. The Northshore Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation in Ozaukee County completed the hunting part of their "Learn to Hunt Turkey" event last weekend, with 19 of 35 novice participants harvesting turkeys on sites in Ozaukee, Washington and Sheboygan County. Reportedly a lot of the gobblers were "henned up" in the mornings, so more than half of the birds were shot in the afternoon. Members of the public are encouraged to attend their local "County Deer Advisor Council" (CDAC) meeting next week. The purpose of next week's meeting is to finalize the council recommendations on antlerless quotas, permit numbers and season frameworks for the 2017 fall deer season. Local CDAC meetings next week are: Ozaukee County - Monday, April 17 at 6:30 pm at the Riveredge Nature Center at 4458 Hwy Y, Newburg. The Washington County CDAC meeting is Tuesday, April 18th at 7pm at the Daniel Boone Conservation League, 4694 Hwy 167, Hubertus. Other county meetings are listed on the CDAC website. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford


South Central Region

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Report (exit DNR) River levels remain high but are coming down and are not that far off the 100-year average. Not too many sandbars available right now and water temperatures are hovering around the high 40s. Lots of migratory birds are on the riverway. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Waterfowl migration seems to be past peak at Horicon Marsh. Still good diversity but numbers are lower. You can see results from the USFWS waterbird surveys [PDF] (exit DNR). Cormorants and pelicans have been sighted on the marsh in large numbers. Black-necked stilts and a number of other shorebirds were reported on Hwy. 49. Dike road is now open and the auto tour on the north end of the marsh will be open on Saturday, April 15. The boardwalk on the auto tour is still closed. Both osprey have now returned to the platform that can be seen from the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. Good numbers of tree swallows and a few barn swallows have returned to the area as well as the first purple martin scouts. Hunters are gearing up for the spring turkey season. Wildflowers such as bloodroot and hepatica are close to blooming. The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center and Explorium will be closed, Sunday, April 16. Spring is in the air! - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Dane County - Last weekend's weather allowed for a lot of successful prescribed fires. These fires are important for maintaining prairies, savannas, barrens and wetland communities and the game and non-game species that they support. Spring turkey hunters and recreational hikers are reminded to stay clear of active burns but DNR staff encourage/recommend exploration of these areas once the fire is extinguished as they offer wonderful places to turkey hunt and observe wildlife attracted to the new vegetation growth. South winds brought a number of new migrant bird species to the area. Forest migrants include kinglets, towhees, hermit thrush, yellow-rumped warbler, and yellow-belled sapsucker. Eastern phoebes are starting to stake out territories and chipping, swamp and field sparrows are arriving. With sunny warm temps last weekend many herptiles were active including garter and red-bellied snakes, chorus frogs and spring peepers. Area turkey learn to hunts were successful last weekend with many participants registering toms. Gobblers appear to be moving throughout the landscape now into their spring patterns following groups of hens as they begin to nest for the first time this spring. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg


West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Woodpeckers of all species are drumming like mad, as their spring breeding season approaches. Drumming is the term applied to a woodpecker's habit of hammering rapidly and loudly on resonating substrates like trees, metal or wooden sign posts, downspouts, roof or chimney flashing, or house siding. Both male and female woodpeckers drum to proclaim territory and as a courtship behavior. Their drumming may often identify woodpeckers. Length and speed of the drumming, as well as changes in tempo, frequency, or intensity provide identification clues to those who listen carefully. Early spring woodland flowers, also known as spring ephemerals, are beginning to make their appearances. These early bloomers flower briefly before trees leaf-out and shade the forest floor. Hepatica or liverleaf, a member of the buttercup family, is one such early bloomer. This low-growing plant has pinkish, lavender, or white flowers and 2-2.5" wide, basal 3-lobed leaves. These leaves bear a resemblance to a liver, and early herbalists assumed the plant to be effective in treating liver ailments. Other woodland flowers currently in bloom are bloodroot and Dutchman's breeches. As spring progresses, keep an eye open for spring beauty, wild ginger, Solomon's seal, trillium, Mayapple, rue anemone, wood anemone, and others. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Perrot State Park - Owls have been heard at twilight near the nature center and along the Riverview trail towards the boat landing. Small groups of trumpeter swans can still be seen in Trempealeau Bay and the white pelicans have been seen along the Mississippi River just south of the park so they should be in the area very soon. Many of the songbirds are back and beginning to create their nests. Early warblers have been seen in the park. The hiking trails are a little soft in some areas but they are all open. Enjoy a spring hike up Perrot Ridge to catch the pasque flowers in full bloom and see the terrain of the park before the leaves come out fully. Campsites 1-50 are open and available on a first-come, first-served basis through April 20. - Lois Larson, park manager

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Turkeys are starting to strut in the area. The park and wildlife areas are in zone 1 and state park hunting goes through April 2. Periods starting May 3 will be in the Yellow River Wildlife Area. We still have openings for camp hosts in July, August and September. Please call the park office at 608-565-2789 for information if interested.

- Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - The gate to the park will remain closed until early May. We still have an opening for a camp host in June! Please call 608-565-2789 if interested. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Last Revised: Thursday, April 13, 2017

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