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Outdoor Report

Published March 1, 2018 by the Central Office

Subscribe to DNR website updates.

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).

Current information on state property Cross-Country Ski Trail Conditions.

The north received another good snowfall last weekend, which is extending winter recreation there, with some areas still having more than 2 feet of snow on the ground. But recent warm temperatures have snowmobile and ski trails across the north in soft condition and warm temperatures are forecast to be around for the next week so conditions could deteriorate more. Snowmobile trails were open as of Thursday in about 15 northern counties on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report. A number of northern properties are still reporting good Cross-Country Ski Trail Conditions.

Warm temperatures have the Brule River opening up in the Brule River State Forest - Photo credit: DNR
Warm temperatures have the Brule River opening up in the Brule River State ForestPhoto credit: DNR

The warm weather softened ice, especially where there is flow but anglers still report 20-plus inches of ice on some northern lakes. In central Wisconsin there was also plenty of ice on lakes but the top 5-6 inches are slushy and honeycombed. In Kenosha and Racine counties the ice is out on the smaller ponds and o on the edges of the lakes, which now are a deep blue color indicating ice may be gone soon.

Fishing on northern lakes has been slower but folks are enjoying mild weather and socializing. Panfishing on southern lakes has been decent this past week. A reminder that all permanent fishing shacks and shelters must be removed from waters south of Highway 64 by the end of the day Sunday, March 4.

The Pine, Waupaca, and White rivers in central Wisconsin are free of ice and have had some pressure for the catch and release trout season.

The ice on Green Bay is starting to break up so anglers should use extra caution venturing out. Anglers continue to catch whitefish off the Oconto breakwater while northern pike fishing also picked up off of Oconto. The Fox River is mostly open water from the De Pere Dam down pass the 172 Bridge with around 20 yards or so of ice along the edges. Anglers fishing the edge ice out of Voyageurs report catching a few walleye and whitefish.

The two major snow falls last week left another 10-11 inches of snow on top more than a foot of old snow in the Flambeau River State Forest. This boosted the winter severity index to slightly below 50, which is the border between a mild winter and a moderate winter. The deep snow has deer and elk concentrating in logging areas browsing on branches left behind.

Deep snow in the Flambeau River State Forest have elk concentrating near logging operations where they browse on braches. - Photo credit: DNR
Deep snow in the Flambeau River State Forest have elk concentrating near logging operations where they browse on braches.Photo credit: Steve Kramer

Warmer nights have increased opossum activity. These interesting marsupials mate in mid to late winter, and most young are born in March and early April. Newborn opossums climb into their mother's protective pouch, known as a marsupium, and remain there for 60-70 days. Opossum serve an important function in food webs consuming many harmful insects and cleaning up carrion. Through their fur grooming process, opossums remove and ingest black-legged ticks, which are responsible for transmitted Lyme disease to humans. It is estimated that an opossum may ingest up to 5,000 ticks during the growing season.

Buds on maple trees looking quite large and the warm weather has also started sap to flow. School groups have started helping tap trees at the MacKenzie Center in anticipation on next month's Maple Syrup Festival. Interstate Park will have programs Saturday and Sunday on how to tap maple trees to collect sap.

Large numbers of migrants moved into the southeastern part of the state this past week, with greater white-fronted and Canada geese most prevalent, with many other waterfowl species also flooding in, including goldeneye, scaup, and red-breasted mergansers, pintails, green-winged teal and wood ducks. Trumpeter swans are also returning to some traditional breeding sites.

There is a full moon on Thursday and Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is holding a Full Moon Hike Friday and the last candlelight event of the winter at Wisconsin State Park System properties will be a candlelight snowshoe hike this Saturday at Rib Mountain State Park. There will be hot chocolate, hot cider, and special goodies, as well as marshmallows to roast around the campfire.

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Statewide Birding Report

Ready or not, spring migration is here, especially across the southeastern quarter of the state where large numbers of migrants moved into the region on Monday and Tuesday this past week. Greater white-fronted and Canada geese were most prevalent, while smaller numbers of snow geese and cackling geese were seen. March is the best month of the year for seeing white-fronteds at ponds, wetlands, and agricultural fields, particularly across the southern half of Wisconsin. Many other waterfowl species also flooded in, from goldeneye, scaup, and red-breasted mergansers to pintails, green-winged teal, and wood ducks. Trumpeter swans are returning to some traditional breeding sites as well, and more sandhill cranes appear daily. It's a good time for visit open water near you!

Greater white-fronted geese moved into southeastern Wisconsin by the hundreds this week. Look for more at open water bodies throughout March.  - Photo credit: Scott Weberpal.
Greater white-fronted geese moved into southeastern Wisconsin by the hundreds this week. Look for more at open water bodies throughout March. Photo credit: Scott Weberpal.

Landbird arrivals include red-winged blackbirds and American robins north to Green Bay, Wausau, and Eau Claire, killdeer and eastern bluebirds in the southern third of the state, and a few eastern meadowlarks as far north as Wood County. Also of note are the first common grackles, brown-headed cowbirds, and a few rusty blackbirds. Peregrine falcons are returning to nest boxes, merlins were seen north to Lake Superior, and the first turkey vultures have arrived in the southeast quarter. Bald and golden eagles will begin their northward migrations any time now, meaning March is a great month to see both species in much of the state. Common redpolls continue to surge at sunflower and thistle (nyjer) feeders statewide, while the first purple finches are pushing northward. Pine grosbeaks continue across the far north, where red crossbills remain unusually common and have begun nest building in pine stands.

Gulls - yes, gulls -- are also generating buzz as birders flock (cringe) to Port Washington harbor in Ozaukee County. More than 5000 herring gulls were counted there this week, in addition to impressive numbers of glaucous gulls (32), great black-backed gulls (25), and Iceland gulls (30) and spectacular rarities including slaty-backed, California, and laughing gulls. Elsewhere, while not geographically rare, a lesser yellowlegs photographed in Sheboygan County on Feb. 26 was the earliest ever documented in the state.

Expect good migration days on southeast winds from Saturday through Monday morning before winds turn northerly for much of next week. As always, track migration progress by species here http://bit.ly/2oznJKK and put your sightings on the map by submitting them to www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland

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Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Saturday and Sunday, March 3 & 4

For all events search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."
Find a park, forest trail or recreation property

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

March 8, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Maiden Rock Bluff State Natural Area. Maiden Rock is known for peregrine falcons, 400 foot bluffs, and rare plants. But there are concerns; invasive brush and red cedar are invading the remnant bluff prairie and oak savanna. Recent work has really changed this site. We will continue that work by cutting and burning cedar and other woody vegetation. The work takes energy and will be on steep terrain. You will be trained onsite.

Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Conditions are still good for skiing at the Brule River State Forest, which will host the Brule River Loppet ski races Saturday. - Photo credit: DNR
Conditions are still good for skiing at the Brule River State Forest, which will host the Brule River Loppet ski races Saturday.Photo credit: DNR

Brule River State Forest - With the recent warm temperatures, the river has opened up significantly since last week, the snow is melting off roofs, roads and sidewalks, and the snowbanks are getting noticeably smaller. We still have lots of snow on the ground, however. Walking in the woods or off plowed areas has become difficult as the snow is still deep, but very soft and sticky. These warm temperatures are forecast to be around for the next week or so, but some additional snow is due again early next week. With the daytime high temperatures in the 40s, the Afterhours ski trails are soft. The trails were rolled Feb. 27, track is set only at the entry and exit. Conditions are good. This Saturday, March 3, the River View Loppet ski races for youth and adults in the skate and classic styles, will be held at Afterhours Ski Trails. There is also a 5K Family Fun Tour! This event is sponsored jointly by the Brule Valley Ski Club, the Brule River State Forest, and the Brule Lions Club. Check out the Ski Club's website for more information and a registration form. Our groomers have been working hard to keep the ski trails in good shape during this warm weather. You can check on Brule ski trail conditions on the DNR website. The warm weather is having an impact on snowmobile trails in the area. Conditions can deteriorate quickly. Before you head out, check the trail conditions and status at: Douglas County: Douglascountywi.org; search "snowmobile" or call 715-378-4528 or Bayfield County: Bayfieldcounty.org; search "snowmobile trail conditions" or call 1800-472-6338 - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Copper Falls State Park - Cross-country ski trails were groomed and tracked Feb. 28 and as of March 1 were still in good condition. Expect changing trail conditions with above freezing temperatures during the day and throughout the weekend. Maps are available at the office, which identify the different ski trails for skate and classic skiing. - Brent Couperus, ranger

Pattison State Park - Thanks to the 6 inches of new snow over the weekend, the ski trail was groomed and tracked on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The trail is in excellent condition with at ski base of 10 inches and around 28 inches of snow in the woods. We had a very successful "Winterfest" at Pattison State Park this past Saturday. To keep with the theme, mother nature decided to join us with 4 inches of snow during the event. A great time was had by all. We had a little over 200 people attend the event, and the park had vehicle admission sales of $753 for the evening. Many thanks to the Friends of Amnicon & Pattison State Parks for hosting this family event. Plenty of snow for sledding and candlelight snowshoeing, and plenty of chili and hot chocolate to warm you up when you came back in. - Gervase Thompson, ranger

Fresh snow made sledding a popular event last weekend at Pattison State Park's Wintefest celebration. - Photo credit: DNR
Fresh snow made sledding a popular event last weekend at Pattison State Park's Wintefest celebration.Photo credit: DNR

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Birds are still scarce in the Grantsburg Area, but spring is just around the corner. The best way to bird watch right now is by the feeders at the Visitor Center and also the ones on Klarquist Road. Highlights this week included rough-legged hawks, northern shrike, common redpolls and american tree sparrows. There was a flock of pine grosbeaks spotted on Klarquist Road, which is a fairly unusual sighting. - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator

Interstate Park - The snow last weekend made for some nice tracks to be put down on cross-country ski trails. With the warm days this week, the ski trail are getting soft in some areas. There are programs Saturday and Sunday at the park on how to tap maple trees to make maple syrup. Thomas Faschingbauer, ranger

Washburn County - Well it is a whole different world here (Washburn county). Skiing conditions are good (warm, enjoyable weather); there is a ton of snow. We are expecting high 30s and low 40s so there is a spring feel in the air, but only with a good imagination because the sun is warm, but the 14 inches or so of snow makes you question that spring is near. - Nancy Christel, wildlife biologist, St. Croix Area

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau Hills Cross Country Ski Trail is skiable but is rough. Grooming efforts because of the warm temperatures are not probable unless weather changes. This trail winds through a mixture of hardwoods and conifers, crosses three bridges and provides occasional glimpses of the Flambeau River. Fishing has been slow but folks are enjoying the experience and lake socials with neighboring fishermen. Logging operations on the Forest are going full speed ahead. The warming temperatures are pushing loggers to work more diligently to get as much done before break-up. There is a full moon on Thursday and it will be a clear night with a low of 11 degrees. It will be a perfect night to bundle up and sit and observe the wildlife activity. Recent sunny days with sunrise earlier and sunset later, has resulted in warmer day time temperatures. Sap has started to flow and maple sap is being collected. Two major snow falls last Thursday and Saturday night left another 10-11 inches of snow on the existing snow levels, but recent clear, warm days are slowly shrinking drifts. Those snow-falls in the Flambeau River State Forest area have boosted the winter severity index to slightly below 50, which is the border between a mild winter and a moderate winter. For the sake of the deer, elk and other large mammals it would be better that the weather will swing to the milder side. If that happens and we get an early spring so we should still have good fawn and calf productivity. However, if the snow deepens and temperatures drop, survival of last year's and this year's crop of deer fawn and elk calves will be at risk. Bird and small mammal activity is really picking up. Take time and quietly go out and see the splendor that winter offers. It is amazing out there and we are so lucky to be part of it. The weather forecast for the remainder of this week calls for Friday to be mostly sunny with a high of 40 and low of 20. Saturday, will be mostly sunny with a high of 42 and a low of 25. Sunday, will be mostly cloudy with a high near 43 and a chance of rain before turning to snow with a low of 29. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The foot of snow received late last week has now put levels up past the knees in many spots and even with the warm up, one needs snowshoes to maneuver around the woods this week! The warmer temperatures are luring more folks outside to partake in the winter beauty of the Northwoods. Visitors are urged to watch out for icy patches with the fluctuating temperatures. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

The forest received 3 inches of new snow March 1. The Escanaba Ski Trail was groomed and tracked and has good conditions with firm base and pole plant. The recent large amounts of snow and high temperatures have made the trails very soft. Madeline and Raven trails were groomed Sunday and Monday and are in good condition. McNaughton Ski Trail classic loops were partially tracked/groomed on Monday. The machine and groomer got stuck on a hill while grooming the Blue Loop so use caution when skiing the Blue. There are ruts and chunks of snow from the groomer. Grooming operations resumed later on the rest of the classic loops. Good tracks were set. The skater's loop is in fair to good condition at best. The trails are VERY soft. The groomer kept getting clogged with slushy snow and made it difficult to create a nice surface. If using the skater's loop, use caution around the lake sections. Large snow drifts formed on the trail creating an uneven surface. Even with the warm temperatures, there are no thin spots to watch out for. If the weather begins to cool down, all trails will be cut and groomed again to regain a smooth surface.- Tony Martinez, parks and recreation specialist

Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area - The MECCA trails were groomed Sunday, Feb. 25 and are in excellent albeit a little soft condition. With the continued high wind through the day the open portions of the trail by the Little Turtle and the Treatment plant continue to drift closed so try to stay in the woods. Groomers will go out to straighten everything as conditions allow. - Brett Bockhop, parks and recreation specialist, Mercer

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Oconto County - Geano Beach fishing has been slow with a few perch and whitefish still being caught. Off the Oconto breakwater anglers are reporting catching 1-8 whitefish per angler for a half a day of fishing and a few northern on tip-ups with medium shiners. Anglers in the marina area report catching a few keeper perch and crappie using jigs and small spoons tipped with crappie minnows and waxies. Northern pike fishing off of both Oconto county parks I and II and out of Little River has picked up recently. Anglers report catching a decent number of pike in the 20-30 inch range with a few bigger fish being caught as well. Tip-ups with medium-large shiners taking the majority of fish. Anglers fishing out of the Peshtigo harbor area report catching a few smaller northern on tip-ups as well. - Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - The Fox River is mostly open water from the De Pere Dam down pass the 172 Bridge with around 20 yards or so of ice along the edges. Anglers fishing the edge ice out of Voyageurs report catching a few walleye and whitefish in half a day's effort using jigging raps in 6 feet of water. Longtail anglers report catching a few perch and a few northern on tip-ups with fishing pressure drastically reduced from earlier in the season. Anglers off of Sunset Beach report a decent catch of good size perch along with a few whitefish and northern. - Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Warm weather this week has softened ice, especially where there is flow. Ice fisherman report 20-plus inches of ice on Noquebay and were still driving out earlier this week. There is open water near the outlet however. Snow depths are really variable across the county with the southern portions being nearly snow free and the wooded portions in north having 14 plus inches of snow. Geese and marsh hawks have been reported just south of Marinette county near the Bayshore. As of Feb. 27 the snowmobile trails are open and groomed but have a base of only 3-4 inches. Be sure to check with the local clubs for up to date conditions. Retails stores have stocked up on firetiger husky jerks...the spring walleye run is already on anglers minds! - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Oconto County - Snowmobile trails Mountain north in Oconto County are still open as of Feb. 27. With temps above freezing all week I don't expect trails to be open much longer. Most lakes are still ice covered. Use caution when out on the ice. Green Bay is breaking up quickly and use extra caution out there. With warmer temperatures animals are coming out of hiding, especially deer. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls

Governor Thompson State Park - Ski trails are open and groomed for both classic (diagonal striding) and skate skiing. Current conditions are posted under Trail Conditions at skinnyski.com. Trails will continue to be groomed at the weather allows. Now is an excellent time to see winter wildlife tracks. Staff are reporting frequent sightings of otter tracks on the Otter Trail and bobcat and turkey tracks on Granite Path. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Newport State Park - Cross -country ski trails were rolled but not tracked on Feb. 27. Conditions are deteriorating rapidly as temperatures are steadily increasing this week. Things are melting and sticky, with very few bare spots. There is snow in the forecast, so conditions may be updated. - Beth Bartoli, naturalist

Peninsula State Park - Due to warm temperatures and freezing rain, trails are icy.- Jennifer Birkholz, property supervisor

Potawatomi State Park - Due to warm temperatures and freezing rain, trails are very icy. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Due to warm temperatures and freezing rain, trails are very icy. Winter is a great time for birding along the Lake Michigan shoreline. There have been several common goldeneyes near the shoreline by the office and they are fun to watch bobbing in the waves. Park staff also saw an eagle along the shoreline. The bird feeder has been busy with downy, hairy, red-bellied woodpeckers and squirrels. This week park staff also saw tracks from a woodchuck. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Was 60 degrees in Waupaca yesterday, a new record! Needless to say, the majority of what little snow we had is history. The sno-mo trails in my work unit never did open and most likely will not open for the remainder of the season. Plenty of ice on area lakes although the top 5-6" are slushy and honeycombed. Some people out ice fishing, no report on what success they had. The Pine, Waupaca, and White rivers are free of ice and have had some pressure for the catch and release trout season. Heard some reports of success but being fisherman wouldn't tell me what they were using. Had my dogs for a walk along the Waupaca river last night and jumped a pair of wood ducks - first time I have ever seen woodies in February in central WI. With the sno-free landscape and warmer weather, one should probably start keeping an eye out for ticks. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Hartman Creek State Park - Due to the warm temperatures, ski trails are essentially bare ground throughout. - Jarrod Kehring, property manager

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Outagamie County - Locals are reporting seeing pelicans on the small island near Buoy 100 (Lake Winnebago) in Menasha. Staff verified this today. Even wildlife services thought this was early for the migration. Maybe the pelicans are a good indicator of spring as opposed to that pesky woodchuck. - Thomas Sturdivant, conservation warden, Appleton

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The man-made snow loop of cross-country ski trails was groomed Wednesday morning. The snow is very soft with ice on the hills and at the bottom of the hills. For this reason the lights will not be on, unless we get enough natural snow to groom we will not be grooming anymore this year. - Jay Abts, ranger

Kohler-Andrae State Park - Most of the snow has gone away due to the warm weather and rain. There are several ponded areas on the trail. Chanice Pitzke, ranger

Sturtevant DNR Service Center area

Kenosha County - In Kenosha and racine counties the ice is out on the smaller ponds and out on the edges of the lakes (all are that deep blue color so the ice will probably be gone soon on all the lakes). Some of the early signs of spring in the last week are: first blackbirds, first sandhill cranes, lots of eagles out and about presumably looking for dead fish as the ice goes out, and the buds on maple trees looking quite large with the ground already being thawed out in some areas. Area rivers are on their way down after recent snow melt an rain. - Trent Leaf, wildlife technician, Richard Bong State Recreation Area

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South Central Region

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - The recent south winds have brought in large numbers of migrating waterfowl. Canada geese and white-fronted geese have been seen in large numbers in flooded farm fields south of Beaver Dam. A handful of snow geese have been mixed in. Sandhill cranes have returned to nesting sites and have been seen dancing. Killdeer, robin, bluebirds, catbirds and a lone great blue heron have also been reported. Nest Box Seminar: Join in for a little spring fever medicine on Saturday, March 3 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Horicon Mash Education & Visitor Center. Now is the time to plan for the upcoming nesting season. Speakers will present about the most popular cavity nesters. New this year will be information on black-capped chickadees, one of the most popular backyard songbirds. Also new to the lineup with be Jack Bartholmai with a presentation on screech owls and barred owls, both of which are cavity nesters. Eastern bluebirds and wood ducks will also be discussed, as they are the two most popular nest box users in the area. Presentations will cover the do's and don'ts of how to make your bird houses successful. 9 a.m.: Eastern Bluebirds presented by Steve Sample, Vice President of the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin. 10 a.m.: Wood Ducks presented by Jeff Bahls, President of the Horicon Marsh Bird Club. 11 a.m.: Black-Capped Chickadees presented by Steve Sample, Vice President of the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin. Noon: Cavity-Nesting Owls presented by Jack Bartholmai. This photo illustrated presentation will cover Saw-Whet, Screech and Barred Owls. The Friends of the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center will have nest boxes for sale either as kits or fully assembled. Snacks will also be available for purchase during the day. Visit the classrooms, where there will be displays from local bird conservation organizations: Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin, Horicon Marsh Bird Club, Marsh Haven Nature Center, Wood Duck Society, Horicon NWR, Wisconsin DNR. Free event, and all ages are welcome. For more information, call (920) 210-4832. The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located at N7725, Hwy. 28 between the towns of Horicon and Mayville on Hwy. 28. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - Panfishing on local lakes has been decent this past week. Reminder that all fishing shacks/shelters must be removed by the end of the day Sunday, March 4, 2018 this year in Columbia County. Extra flocks of Canada geese have been showing up in the county as well. Good time to check on fishing boats as if the weather continues, open water fishing on the Wisconsin River will be possible. Reminder for anyone starting their "spring cleanup" of property that the ground is no longer snow covered and a burning permit is required. No burning before 6 p.m. unless you have a special permit from the forest ranger. Sap at the MacKenzie Center is flowing and many groups of school kids have been helping tap some trees. Hard to believe it is the end of February and beginning of March. We can still get a lot of "winter" yet. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Mirror Lake State Park -Cross-country ski trails are mostly bare with patchy snow and icy conditions. Trails are now reopen to foot traffic. Fern Dell Gorge has ice or mud, so the park is cancelling the snowshoe hike that was scheduled for Saturday. - Becky Green, park manager

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West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Warmer nights have increased opossum activity levels. These interesting marsupial mammals mate in mid to late winter, and most young are born in March and early April after a rapid 13-day gestation period. Newborn opossums are partially developed, lacking fully formed hearts, lungs, and kidneys. They climb into their mother's protective pouch, known as a marsupium, and remain there for 60-70 days, suckling continuously, undergoing further growth and development. Commonly believed to possess minimal intelligence, opossums surprisingly rank above dogs in intelligence when subjected to learning tests. Adult opossums possess 50 teeth, more than any other mammal in WI, and are immune to rattlesnake venom. They serve an important function in food webs as they consume many harmful insects and clean up lots of carrion. Furthermore, through their fur grooming process, opossums remove and ingest black-legged ticks, which are responsible for transmitted Lyme disease to humans. It is estimated that an opossum may ingest up to 5,000 ticks during the growing season. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - It is starting to look and feel more like spring. The warmer temperatures this week has melted a lot of snow, especially in open areas. Nuthatches, pileated woodpeckers, chickadees, and hawks are being seen more often throughout the forest. One of the more rare sightings this week was a pair of river otters playing on the ice near a flowage. All hiking trails are open but may be slushy and/or slippery in places due to melting snow. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the 50s. There is not enough snow for snowshoeing. Trails are open for hiking. Snowmobile, ATV and UTV trails are closed due to warmer temperatures. Winter trails will be closing for the season on March 15. They will reopen May 15, weather permitting.- Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area - Cross-country ski trails are still snow covered and skiable but in generally poor condition. The warm weather has halted grooming operations. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger

Red Cedar State Trail - Trail is still in good condition. Groomers double tracked to the ice wall at mile 1.5. Expect conditions to deteriorate quickly with the expected warm weather. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger

Brunet Island State Park - Cross-country ski conditions have deteriorated and trails are once again open to foot traffic. Zachary Thon, ranger

Lake Wissota State Park - Species of birds we have been seeing or hearing include: ravens, crows, phoebes, grouse, northern juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, red headed and pileated woodpeckers, barred owls, Canada geese, and blue jays. The cross-country ski trails are groomed and in moderately good condition. Recent warm weather with freezing weather at night causes slick conditions early in the day and softer trails in the afternoon. There are a few spots in the flat stretches with a thin base. Our volunteer trail groomers post conditions on the skinnyski.com website. You may also contact the park office at 715-382-4574 for current trail conditions or check the DNR website. We have a new separate multi-use winter trail system in the park that is groomed and designated for all silent sport activities. This provides lots of parking options and great trails for our snowshoeing, hiking, fat biking, skijoring and sled pulling folks! Check out the new winter maps available at the park shop and at the trailheads. - Nathan Fries, park ranger

Wausau DNR Service Center area

Rib Mountain State Park - Last candlelight snowshoe hike of the winter will be held this Saturday. Start your hike at the new Friends Gathering Space. Some snowshoes are available to borrow but bring your own snowshoes if you have them (flashlights and headlamps are also recommended). There will be hot chocolate, hot cider, and special goodies, as well as marshmallows to roast around the campfire. Get a taste of the event that is included toward the end of the Rib Mountain park video. An annual or daily park admission sticker is required. Parking is limited, so please consider carpooling. Sponsored by the Friends of Rib Mountain State Park. - Bill Bursaw, park manager

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Ski trails are now open to foot traffic but are still a little icy in spots. - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, March 01, 2018

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