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This property is sponsored by the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office.

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For information on the wildlife areas, contact:
Wildlife Management

Rat River 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.

Rat River Wildlife Area

Rat River Wildlife Area is located in Winnebago County, two miles north of Winchester. The state manages and owns approximately 4,000 acres.

Historically, the area was comprised of sedge meadows and marshes. Today, much of the property is dominated by canary grass and wetter areas support a dense population of cattails. The Rat River runs east to west through the long, narrow property and eventually flows to the Wolf River. Some lowland forest types are found on the property, as well as a few upland fields.

Find Rat River Wildlife Area north of Highways II and 110 between Winchester and Zittau. Parking areas can be found on North Loop Road, County Highway M, Hillcrest Road and Shady Lane.


The Rat River WA is managed to provide opportunities for public hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor recreation while protecting the qualities of the unique native communities and associated species found on the property. Current management objectives in wetland areas include maintaining the bottomland hardwood and swamp hardwood type and maintaining or restoring sedge meadow, emergent marsh and shrub-carr. Upland management objectives include maintaining and improving the grassland type on all sites and expanding grasslands where feasible by utilizing native grass and forbs. Where feasible, populations of invasive species are controlled or eliminated by cutting, pulling, burning, herbicide treatment and/or bio-control.

The Lower Wolf River Bottomlands Natural Resources Area master plan was completed in 2012 and guides the long term management of this property. Progress toward achieving the goals of the master plan are tracked through annual monitoring reports.


The Rat River Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities.

  • Birding
  • Canoeing
  • Cross country skiing (no designated trail)
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Trapping
  • Wild edibles/gathering
  • Wildlife viewing

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Last revised: Wednesday May 06 2020