First day hikes scheduled New Year's Day

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin State Park System is once again hosting First Day Hikes on New Year's Day.
These hikes offer visitors an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenated and connected with nature. In its biggest year yet, First Day Hikes will be happening at 17 state properties, spanning all four corners of the state. From Bong to Pattison, and Newport to Buckhorn, everyone's invited to kick off 2018 on the right foot.
This is the seventh year Wisconsin has participated in the nationwide First Day Hikes campaign with 17 hikes statewide - the most ever offered. On Jan. 1, 2017, 679 participants hiked 1,748 miles at 13 different Wisconsin state park properties. Nationwide last year, more than 62,000 people took part in guided hikes that covered over 114,165 miles on 1,300 different hikes across the country, according to the National Association of State Park Directors.
A 2018 Wisconsin state park admission sticker is required for entrance to most parks for these events and will be on sale at park offices.
In Wisconsin, 2018 First Day Hikes will be held at the following properties:
Buckhorn State Park - At Buckhorn State Park, we'll be snowshoeing/hiking the 1.4-mile Central Sands Nature Trail. Bring your snowshoes, or check out a pair at the start of the hike (a limited supply of snowshoes are available). Hot chocolate, coffee and treats will be available at the south picnic shelter to warm up after the hike. Pets are not allowed on groomed ski trails. Meet at the South Picnic Shelter parking lot. Time: 1-3 p.m. Phone: 608-565-2789. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Devil's Lake State Park - This year at Devil's Lake, go on your own hike or participate in a guided hike that will start at 4 p.m. We'll also have a campfire for you to warm up before and after the hike. Dress warm and bring your snowshoes (if we have snow). We'll have snowshoes to loan as well. Meet at the Steinke Basin parking lot on Hwy DL. Time: 3:30-5:30 p.m. Phone: 608-356-8301. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Harrington Beach State Park - Celebrate the New Year with a hike through Harrington Beach State Park. Hikes will be self-guided so you may choose to hike as long as you would like! Drop in anytime between 1-3 p.m. at the Ansay Welcome Center for a warm fire, along with hot beverages and tasty treats. Trails are not groomed for skiing. Pets are not allowed on the White Cedar Nature Trail. This event is sponsored by Friends of Harrington Beach State Park. Meet at the Ansay Welcome Center. Time: 1-3 p.m. Phone: 262-285-3015. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Interstate State Park - Drop in to hike or snowshoe 2 miles at Interstate Park to see the frozen St Croix River, spring-fed ponds, frozen waterfall and the quarry where rock was taken to build many structures and trails by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Meet at the Group Camp. The hike/snowshoe will take place on the Silverbrook and Quarry trails. Dress for the weather. A guided hike will begin at 10 a.m. Time: 9-11 a.m. Phone: 715-483-3747. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit - This year Lapham Peak will be holding two First Day activities. Start your morning bright and early with a First Day Ski. This event is a combined effort by the Peak Nordic Ski Club and The Friends of Lapham Peak Snowmaking Project. Drop in during the day to enjoy the man-made snow Nordic ski trails. Add your distance to the number of recorded skied kilometers for 2018! Bring water, food, headlamps (if you will be skiing when it is dark), and Nordic skis. Pets are not allowed on the groomed ski trails. Meet at the Evergreen Shelter and man-made snow loops. Reliable snow is a wonderful thing to get us all off the couch! Time: 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Then later in the day join members of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance for their annual First Day Hike at Lapham Peak. Hike options of varied lengths will be offered to accommodate families, and those wanting longer walks. Warm up afterwards with hot beverages and snacks at the Hausmann Nature Center. Meet at the Hausman Nature Center parking lot. Time: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-594-6200. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. A state park sticker is required for either event and can be purchased at the property.
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit - Hike or snowshoe a 4.5-mile or 2.5-mile loop on the Brown and/or Green Trail. The hike will be co-led by the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the park naturalist. Meet at the beach parking area by the north shelter. Dogs on a leash are welcome. Stop by the forest headquarters with a chance to warm up and drink hot chocolate. Admission stickers are not required for this event. Time: Noon-3 p.m. Phone: 262-670-3400. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit - Start the New Year off with a 4-mile hilly hike on the Scuppernong Trail through the Kettle Moraine. This wide cut trail is great for conversation as we walk and experience winter in the forest. Snowshoes are welcome (if needed). Pets must be leashed at all times. A 2018 Wisconsin State Park Sticker is required - you can self-register for one when you arrive (check or cash only). Hike will only be canceled if weather is severely cold or roads are dangerous. Our trail hotline, 262-594-6200, will be updated if the hike is canceled. Hike starts at 11 a.m. Meet at the Scuppernong Hiking Trails - North side of County Hwy ZZ, about 0.5 miles east of Hwy 67, 4 miles north of Eagle. Get Directions. Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Phone: 262-594-6200. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Mirror Lake State Park - Join us at Mirror Lake for an easy 2-mile hike through the park along the Echo Rock and Sandstone trails. See the lake and the beautiful sandstone rock outcroppings that surround Mirror Lake. Bring winter boots, snowshoes and hiking poles. Meet at the beach picnic area. Time: Noon- 2 p.m. Phone: 608-254-2333. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Newport State Park - If getting more exercise is one of your 2018 resolutions, then join us for a New Year's Day hike at Newport State Park! We will meet at parking lot #1 at 10 a.m. and plan to hike about 2 miles. The hike will be led by Newport Wilderness Society members Jean and Greg Wilde. Remember to dress for the weather. Bring a pair of snowshoes if the snow is deep. Join us for hot cider or hot chocolate in the park office after the hike. A 2018 vehicle admission sticker is needed and can be purchased at the park office. The hike may be canceled if weather is severe. Time: 10 a.m.-noon. Phone: 920-854-2500. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Pattison State Park - At Pattison State Park, we'll be snowshoeing/hiking the 2-mile Beaver Trail. Bring warm clothes, proper footwear and a camera as you enjoy the trail's rolling terrain, some steep hills and steps, with views of Interfalls Lake, the Black River and the CCC bridge. Meet at the shelter building near the main parking lot. Time: 1-3 p.m. Phone: (715) 399-3111. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Peninsula State Park - Be part of a nationwide initiative celebrating state parks! Rejuvenate this new year by taking a family-friendly trek led by the Friends of Peninsula State Park. Varying routes of 1 to 3 miles in length will take place on the Sunset Bike Trail and Weborg Marsh Trail. Warm up in the shelter afterwards with hot chocolate and cookies until noon. Participants are advised to bring a water bottle, binoculars and field guide, and to dress for the weather, with hiking boots or snowshoes. A state park vehicle sticker is required. No pets allowed. Sponsored by the Friends of Peninsula State Park. Meet at the Weborg Shelter. Time: 10-noon. Phone: 920-868-3258. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Perrot State Park - Join us for a snowshoe hike at Perrot State Park. We will start at the Nature Center and go past our effigy mounds up to the Black Walnut Nature Trail. On our way back, we'll stop at the observation deck and enjoy views of Trempealeau Mountain. After kicking off the snowshoes, we'll enjoy a few s'mores and hot cocoa at the Nature Center. No pets allowed at this hike. Meet at the Nature Center. Time: 1-2:30 p.m. Phone: (608) 534-6409. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Red Cedar State Trail - On the Red Cedar State Trail, we'll hike about 2 miles on the southern portion of the trail, where historic Dunn, bluffs and wildlife viewing will be featured. Pets are allowed on this hike. Please remember that hiking and pets are not allowed on the groomed portion of the Red Cedar State trail. Meet at the boat landing parking lot off County Highway Y at the Dunnville Wildlife Area and Red Cedar Trail. Time: Noon-2 p.m. Phone: 715-232-1242. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Richard Bong State Recreation Area - Join in the celebration to start your year off right and learn a little about the park too! Meet at the visitor center for a 1.5-mile hike. Dress to be outside. Event will be canceled only if a blizzard or bitterly cold. Time: 1-2 p.m. Phone: 262-878-5601. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Stower Seven Lakes State Trail - Join us for the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail First Day Hike, Bike or Ski. Meet near Soo Line Park. Fat tire bikes and cross-country skis are welcome! You can choose your own distance between 1 and 22 miles (round-trip and back). Snowshoes will be available to use on a first-come, first-served basis. Boy Scout Troup 146 will be teaching campfire building. Create and enjoy delicious campfire treats. A 2018 State Trail Pass is required to bike or cross-country ski. Passes will be available and are valid for the calendar year on all state trails. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail. Time: 10-noon. Phone: 715-268-0290. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Straight Lake State Park - Start off the new year with a 1-mile hike around rainbow lake or enjoy the glacial landscape of Straight Lake on a 2.5-mile hike on the Ice Age Trail and Glacial Trail. A warming fire will be at the Rainbow Lake shelter along with hot drinks provided by the local Indianhead Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Snowshoes will be available first-come, first-served to borrow if there is enough snow. Make sure to dress for the weather. Event will be canceled if weather is severe. Time: 1-3 p.m. Phone: 715-483-3747. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Willow River State Park - Please join us on this 2-mile hike on the Burkhardt Trail on the first day of the New Year! We'll start at the river bottom and walk up to the woods to view some spectacular overlooks. You can even walk down to the falls on this hike. Bring your own snowshoes if you would like to help walk through any deep snow.. Email: Time: 2-4 p.m. Phone: 715-386-9340. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Where have you been?

We’ve been flying around, arranging sticks, posing for the new camera and – oh wait, that’s for the birds…. Here at the Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program, we’ve been busy with many projects, not the least of which is replacing the popular EagleCam!
As you know, the camera that for the past five years had been streaming live video from a Bald Eagle’s nest somewhere in St. Paul stopped working last spring. Thanks to donations (and a lot of behind-the-scenes work on our part), we’re thrilled to introduce you to our new EagleCam!
An inspection of the cottonwood tree, in which the nest is located, suggested the tree is likely to continue standing for many years, but the branch the camera was mounted to was dead. So, with the help of Floyd Total Security and Xcel Energy and their skilled bucket truck operators, we installed the new equipment on a different branch of the same tree overlooking the same nest as previous years.
Night vision and more
The new camerais an upgrade over the previous model. It’s a high-definition camera and it features infrared imaging for nighttime viewing. It also includes a microphone so, for the first time, we should be able to not only see, but also hear what’s going on in the nest.
We’re still working with our vendor, Floyd Security, to iron out some issues with the sound and other controls, so please bear with us. Also, during our camera break-in period, the web feed cannot be viewed using Internet Explorer; you will need to view it using another browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari. We hope to have this changed and everything else in tip-top shape by the time eggs arrive in January or February.
Eagle activity
In the meantime, we’ve observed our beloved eagle pair visiting the nest daily.
They’re not spending much time in the nest yet, but at least once a day they can be observed bringing in sticks for “nestorations,” eating a meal, or defending their territory. This is the period when the eagles prepare the nest for a new brood of offspring. It may seem early (and it is!), but these two early Minnesota nesters are using their bodies to melt snow, add materials, and form the nest bole (a small depression that keeps eggs from rolling around and facilitates effective incubation).
We’re relatively sure this is the same pair as the past five years, but we’re only able to positively identify the banded female.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Candlelight events scheduled this winter in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI - Now that cold temperatures have finally arrived in Wisconsin, all that is needed are some good snowfalls to get trails ready for the more than 30 candlelight events scheduled for this winter at Wisconsin state park, forest, recreation area and trail properties.
"Winter candlelight events have become some of the most popular activities at Wisconsin State Park System properties," said Paul Holtan, communications specialist for the state parks program. "We have had candlelight skis and hikes in the last few winters that have attracted hundreds and even over a thousand visitors."
This winter's candlelight events kick off Dec. 31, with a New Year's Eve Candlelight Hike at Amnicon Falls State Park about 7 miles east of the Superior city limits in Douglas County. Then on Jan. 6, Blue Mound and Mirror Lake state parks will hold events. The largest number of events will be held Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and Feb. 10.
Skiing, snowshoeing and hiking by candlelight has been attracting more visitors to properties each winter.
Events at Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest and Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center attract so many visitors that all of the available parking fills. Horicon now offers shuttles from other locations and parking vouchers are required prior to arrival at the Lapham Peak event.
"We encourage people to plan ahead and to consider attending a candlelight event at a property they may not have visited in the past. Also we will use our Twitter social media platform to alert people when an event has reached capacity or has been canceled due to inclement weather," Holtan said.
Some properties offer skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, while others offer just skiing or just snowshoeing and hiking. Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 or 9 p.m.
Many of the events include additional activities such as bonfires, and hot chocolate and other refreshments may be available for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Some properties have warming shelters that are open for the events. Many of the events are organized by the friends groups of the parks, which provide much of the volunteer labor for the events.
People can check on the details of each event by going to the Department of Natural Resources website,, and searching keyword "candlelight." For more information on park or forest properties and locations, search for keywords "find a park." Regular park and trail fees apply for the events unless otherwise noted.
While most events will not be canceled due to lack of snow, they still could be canceled if conditions are icy, extremely cold or have severe wind chills, so people are encouraged to check the website, follow the DNR Twitter feed, or call properties directly to confirm the event will be held if threatening weather is in the forecast.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

On thin ice – teaching kids the dangers of ice

Now is the time to talk to kids about the dangers of thin ice.
As temperatures continue to dip below freezing, ice is forming on many lakes, ponds and rivers. But conditions vary across the state.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Hannah Mishler has already responded to multiple ice rescue calls.
“Ice, especially snow covered ice, is extremely deceptive. You can’t see dangerous cracks or the thickness of the ice under the snow,” Mishler said.
With many children out of school for holiday breaks, they may look toward the newly formed ice for entertainment.
“Teach your children that ice is never 100 percent safe,” cautions Mishler. “If your child is near the ice, you should be near your child.”
While adults and children are recreating outdoors, they should always take precautions around any body of water during the cold water season.
Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator, advises in addition to checking conditions locally and being prepared with an ice safety kit, anyone recreating on ice should be wearing a life jacket.
“A life jacket is the one piece of equipment that increases your odds of not drowning from cold water shock, hypothermia or exhaustion should you fall through the ice,” Dugan said.

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:
* Always wear a life jacket on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
* When a child is near the ice, an adult should be near the child.
* Caution children to stay off ponds, streams and other bodies of water.
* A thin coating of ice on a pond or lake does not mean it is safe.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:
4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
12-15 inches for a medium truck.
Double these minimums for white ice or ice covered with heavy snow.
For more information, visit and

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Don't forget your Wisconsin snowmobile trail pass

Some areas of Wisconsin already had their first snow fall this year which means snowmobile season is not too far behind!
Now is the time to get ready by making sure your registration is current and ordering your new annual Wisconsin snowmobile trail pass! Ordering your trail pass online is fast and easy. You will have your registration decals and trail pass in hand before the trails are groomed!
An annual Wisconsin snowmobile trail pass is required to operate on all public snowmobile trails for snowmobiles currently registered in Wisconsin. Please note that all Wisconsin snowmobile trail passes, including those ordered at agent locations, are delivered by US Mail.
There are two types of trail passes for snowmobiles registered in Wisconsin. Make your selection carefully because snowmobile trail passes are not refundable:

If you are an AWSC snowmobile club member:
A $10 discounted annual Wisconsin trail pass is available to owners of snowmobiles who currently belong to a Wisconsin snowmobile club affiliated with the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC). Passes may be ordered through the AWSC website ( A discounted pass is available for each Wisconsin-registered snowmobile.
If you are not an AWSC snowmobile club member:
The annual Wisconsin trail pass is $30 for owners of snowmobiles who are NOT MEMBERS of a snowmobile club affiliated with the AWSC. This pass may be ordered online (go to and keyword search “snowmobile trail pass”) or anywhere DNR licenses are sold. A temporary trail use receipt is issued at the time of online and in-person sales allowing you to operate legally on snowmobile trails. Carry the receipt with you until you receive your pass.
Need to renew your registration too? You can also do that from (keyword search “snowmobile registration”). NOTE: if your snowmobile registration expires June 30, 2018, please wait to renew until after April 1 to get the full three years of registration.
If you cannot access the DNR web page, call the DNR Call Center at 1-888-WDNR-INFo (1-888-936-7463). We wish you safe travels.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Endangered Kirtland's warbler increases numbers, nests in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI - Ten years after Kirtland's warblers were first documented in Wisconsin, populations of the songbird have increased and their range is expanding through the efforts of state, federal and local partners to increase and manage the endangered bird and its habitat in the state. ,
According to the recently released 2017 nesting season report., the number of Kirtland's warblers grew from eleven birds and three nests in 2007 to 53 birds and 20 total nests in 2017.
The population has grown and its range has expanded from Adams County to also include Marinette and Bayfield counties. The birds fledged a minimum of 49 and up to 63 young in 2017.
"We're very encouraged by results of recent years. The numbers of birds and nests continues to increase and expand geographically," says Kim Grveles, a biologist for the Natural Heritage Conservation Program of the Department of Natural Resources. "We look forward to contributing more birds toward the recovery of this species in coming years."
Sarah Warner, wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says the progress reflects a decade of conservation work from many enthusiastic and dedicated partners. "We want to thank all of the partners for making this season and the overall effort a success."
Kirtland's warbler is a wood warbler that measures 5.5 inches long, weighs under a half ounce, and migrates from the Great Lakes to the Bahamas for the winter.
Until 1995, Kirtland's warblers were found almost exclusively in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan and were struggling to recover from a steep decline in populations in the 1960s and 1970s due to habitat loss and nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds.
Davin Lopez, a DNR conservation biologist who co-leads the project with Grveles, says the partners are also working to maintain and expand the mix of 5- to 20-year-old jack pine trees and barrens to provide quality habitat for Kirtland's warblers and other species.
In addition to DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, other partners and collaborators include the University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation, USDA Wildlife Services, Sand Valley Restoration Fund LLC, Meteor Timber, the Wisconsin Trapshooting Association, Bayfield, Marinette, Vilas, and Jackson County Forest Departments, and many birders and other private citizens.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR seeks landowners willing to allow access for deer study

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is looking for landowners in Fillmore, Houston, Olmsted and Winona counties who would like to help with a study to better understand deer movements in southeastern Minnesota.  
The study aims to examine how deer move across the landscape around the chronic wasting disease management area. The study is also designed to collect deer survival data, which will contribute to the population model.
From mid-January through March, the DNR plans to capture 115 deer of varying age and sex classes and fit them with GPS radio-collars. Deer will be caught within a 20-mile radius of deer permit area 603, the disease management zone established around Preston in 2016.
Deer will be captured using nets fired from a helicopter and the GPS collars will track daily movements of individual deer. Participating landowners will be kept updated on how radio-collared deer use the local landscape
“The data we get from this study should help us estimate activity ranges, dispersal patterns and build movement models,” said DNR wildlife research biologist Ryan Tebo. “We can use that information to predict likely pathways of potential CWD spread, and estimate causes of death for use in population models.”
Tebo said that landowners interested in participating in the study should contact deer study personnel at 507-380-1858 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Ideally, landowners should have a mix of open fields and woods.
“This is an opportunity to be part of an important scientific project, while learning more about the local deer herd as well,” Tebo said. “It’s a chance to contribute to the management of one of Minnesota’s most important species.”

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR