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Wildlife Management

Douglas County Wildlife Area

COVID-19 Update

On Friday, May 1 and at the direction of Gov. Evers, the department reopened state parks, forests and sites within the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway with special conditions. Four State Natural Areas remain closed: Parfrey's Glen, Pewits Nest, Gibraltar Rock and Dells of the Wisconsin River. All Wildlife Areas and Fisheries Areas are open. For more information, please visit the DNR's COVID-19 information webpage for the full list of conditions, including hours of operation, admission fees and more.

Douglas Wildlife Area

Douglas County Wildlife Area is Located between Solon Springs and Gordon in Douglas County. The property is approximately 4,005 acres (994 owned, 3,011 leased from Douglas County) of pine barrens.

Find it by going 3 miles south of Solon Springs on Highway 53 (or 3 miles north of Gordon on Highway 53), west on County Road M about 3/4 mile, then northwest on Bird Road for about 1/4 mile to information kiosk.

Friends group

The Friends of the Bird Sanctuary, Inc. was formed to work in partnership with the DNR to protect and preserve the Douglas County Wildlife Management Area. The group conducts education programs and other activities. Visit their web site [exit DNR] for more information.



In 1925 the Northern States Amateur Field Trial Association (NSAFTA) conducted its first dog trial at the Bird Sanctuary. In 1935 Douglas County established the Bird Sanctuary; and the Bird Sanctuary and Club House was dedicated. NSAFTA held its first United States Chicken Champion Dog Trial in 1937, was held annually until the early 2000s. When this trial began prairie chickens, which were frequently called "chickens" were present on the property, hence the term chicken in the name refers to prairie chickens which are no longer present in the area.

In 1947 the Wiscsonin Conservation Commission established the "Douglas County Grouse Management Area". The purpose of the property was for research and experimental work on sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chickens and bobwhite quail. In 1948 the State entered into the first of several successive land leases with Douglas County.

Management objective

Presently, the property is managed for pine barrens habitat, a savanna type plant community. Savannas are plant communities where trees area a component, but grasses and other sun loving herbaceous vegetation dominate. In the pine barrens ecosystem the shrub component is much more extensive than in other savanna types. Pine barrens are a transitional ecosystem, an ecotone between forest and prairie, born of fire and maintained by fire. While sharp-tailed grouse are a focus species of pine barrens habitat and this property many other plant and animal species require or use this habitat type to met their life cycle requirements.

The Northwest Barrens Properties Master Plan [PDF] was completed in 2017 and guides the long term management of this property.


The Douglas County Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities.

  • Auto travel
  • Birding
  • Club House*
  • Cross country skiing (no designated trail)
  • Dog trials and training area
  • Dog Kennels*
  • Horse trails
  • Horse stables and corrals*
  • Hiking - North Country Trail
  • Hunting
  • Trapping
  • Wild edibles/gathering
  • Wildlife viewing

* Use of the Club House, horse stables and corrals, dog kennels must be arranged through the Douglas County Forestry and Recreation Department, Solon Springs, 715-378-2219.


Download [PDF] a map of this property.

If you are interested in exploring this property further, you can access an interactive map.

Useful links
Last revised: Wednesday May 06 2020