Paddle event scheduled with Refuge Ranger Ed

You are invited to join Refuge Ranger Ed on a family-friendly paddle through the backwaters of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge near Kellogg, MN.  
Join fellow paddlers as they travel around the Weaver Bottoms on Saturday, June 30.  
The trip leaves the Halfmoon Landing at 5:30 p.m., and return by 8 p.m.
The Halfmoon Landing is located near Kellogg, MN at 12067 622nd Street which is off from County Road 84.
Pre-registration is required by 4 p.m. Thursday, June 28, by calling or emailing Ranger Ed Lagace at 507-494-6236 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  
The refuge will provide canoes, paddles and PFDs, or paddlers can bring their own equipment.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Purple Martin Festival on tap June 30 in Waupun

The Wisconsin Purple Martin Association is playing host to its free seventh annual Purple Martin Festival near Waupun at the north end of the Horicon Marsh at Marsh Haven Nature Center on June 30.
Purple martins have flown across two continents to spend their spring and summer in Wisconsin, and will celebrate their return in the backyard of Marsh Haven Nature Center. This family of aerial insectivores will delight the public with firsthand sightings and chatter coming from over 30 pairs of harmonious birds.  
Food and drink will be available and all proceeds will benefit the purple martin colony at the location. Activities for both youths and adults will be offered at Marsh Haven Nature Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public may also enjoy numerous trails available for walking through woods, prairie and wetland habitats that include a 30-foot observation tower.  
Talks presented about martins will be on ecology, their housing, how to attract them and preventing nest competition. Whether the day is rainy or sunny, a live camera showing of purple martin activity will be ongoing at the nature center.
A martin-housing vendor will be available outside along with free brochures and related martin information. A silent auction inside will benefit the Wisconsin Purple Martin Association in their activities throughout the year. If the weather is truly cooperative, a close-up view of adult martins will be shown with their nests while banding.  
Purple martins make a 4,000-5,000-mile flight from South America to Wisconsin from early April to the end of June. They are one of the earliest spring migrants. Most notably, they are semi-dependent upon people to provide housing and security for their reproduction to be successful.  
Because of this close association with people, purple martins need managers to be educated to prevent Wisconsin’s sinking purple martin population.  
Information is available online at Wisconsin Purple Martin Association or Marsh Haven Nature Center http://www.marshhaven.orgin Waupun.  

Wisconsin's wolf population begins to stabilize

MADISON, WI - Following continued monitoring efforts, data suggest that Wisconsin's wolf population may have begun to stabilize and remains above established recovery goals.
Data collected by over 100 volunteer trackers and Department of Natural Resources staff during the 2017-18 winter reveal an overwinter minimum wolf count of 905-944 wolves, a 2.2 percent decrease from the 925-956 wolves detected during the 2016-17 count. The number of packs detected increased slightly, from 232 packs last year to 238 this past winter. Wisconsin's wolf population had been increasing consistently over the past 25 years.
Wolves in Wisconsin remain listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act and management authority is held by the federal government. Federal listing status restricts state management, including any lethal wolf management tools.
"The Endangered Species Act did its job - its protections were instrumental in allowing this species to successfully re-establish itself within our wildlife community," said Scott Walter, DNR large carnivore ecologist. "However, the population has been well above established recovery goals for two decades and there is no biological reason for wolves to remain on the endangered species list. Federal delisting would allow more flexibility in dealing with issues like wolf depredation of livestock and pets, and divert important endangered species funding and resources to the conservation of species that are truly at risk."
Wolf surveys are conducted annually during winter months, when snow cover affords suitable tracking conditions. The wolf population is at its lowest point during this time of year, so survey results are considered minimum counts. The population increases each spring with the birth of pups, then declines throughout the remainder of the year due to various mortality factors.
To view a summary of wolf monitoring information and to learn more about wolves in Wisconsin, visit and search keyword "wolf."
To learn more about the volunteer tracking program and opportunities to participate, search keywords "wolf volunteer tracking." Classes for new volunteer wolf trackers will be held later in 2018.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Minnesota state parks offer free admission on June 9

Gov. Mark Dayton is encouraging Minnesotans to get out and enjoy the state’s outstanding outdoor opportunities by proclaiming June 2018 as Great Outdoors Month.
The proclamation cites the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors as one incentive to visit Minnesota state parks and trails.
As an added incentive, the Department of Natural Resources will continue its longstanding tradition of waiving the requirement for a vehicle permit (a $7 value) and providing free admission at all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas on Saturday, June 9, which is National Get Outdoors Day, an event held annually on the second Saturday in June.
“Exploring Minnesota state parks is a great way to spend time with friends and family, get active and enjoy our state’s many natural wonders,” Dayton said. “This Saturday, I encourage all Minnesotans to ‘Get Outdoors’ and experience a state park or recreation area near you.”
Many special programs are scheduled throughout Great Outdoors Month and on National Get Outdoors Day to help make each visit memorable and fun for visitors, said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Our goal is to connect new people, especially families with young children, to the outdoors.”
Special programs taking place June 9 at Minnesota state parks include:
* Pop Can Casting, 11 a.m.-noon, Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul. Make a fishing pole with a pop can. Bring a clean can with the tab still attached and meet at the fishing pier.
* Peregrine Falcons, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Gooseberry Falls State Park, Two Harbors. Drop by the Visitor Center Auditorium to see live falcons and learn about these remarkable birds from Jackie Fallon of the Midwest Peregrine Society.
* Outdoor Recreation Day, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Father Hennepin State Park on Lake Mille Lacs near Isle. Displays, demonstrations and activities, including stand-up paddle boarding, fish identification, and a kids fish casting range. There will also be a special appearance by Smoky Bear (11-11:20 a.m.), followed by Archery in the Park (1-3 p.m.) for ages 8 and older.
* Family Outdoor Fair, noon- 3 p.m., Whitewater State Park near Winona in southeastern Minnesota. Make a walking stick and visit activity stations, including archery, trout fishing, geocaching, canoeing, bird watching and more.
* Minnesota Zoomobile, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Minneopa State Park in Mankato. Live animals, storytelling, and an ice cream social.
* Nature Photography, 2-3 p.m., Big Bog State Recreation Area in Waskish. Join a naturalist to learn some basic techniques. A limited number of digital cameras will be provided, or visitors can use other digital equipment (cell phone welcome, too).
For a complete list of statewide programs, with times and locations, visit parks allow visitors to check out GPS units, binoculars, fishing gear and Kids Discovery Kits (featuring activities, stories and tips to help ensure a child’s park visit will be fun). For more information on where to find the free stuff - not just on National Get Outdoors Day but every day - visit
For more information, contact the DNR Information Center by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Pulaski students build a better bear trap

Wildlife managers for east-central Wisconsin picked up a new bear trap this morning for rapid response situations, beautifully designed and built by natural resources students at Pulaski High School.
Students Chasten Fatla, a junior, and Brock Bogacz, a sophomore, took on the project after James Robaidek, a wildlife technician with the Department of Natural Resources, approached engineering teacher Jerad Marsh and asked if he knew of students who might be interested in a big project with a tight budget and a timeline. He did.
Robaidek said he provided some basic ideas for starters, but Fatla and Bogacz designed and built the trap themselves
“They did all the research themselves,” Robaidek said. “This is a phenomenal design.”
The culvert-style trap is made from aluminum tubing mounted on a trailer frame. Bait can be placed inside, luring the bear in, where it will step on a pressure plate, triggering a spring-activated door that quickly shuts behind it. The design is safe and practical for wildlife managers and a bear.
Robaidek assured onlookers that bears will indeed walk up the trailer ramp and enter the huge metal tube.
“The power of food is incredible when it comes to bears,” Robaidek said. “It’s all about their tummies.”
Wisconsin's bear population is expanding, which means residents in east-central Wisconsin can expect to see more black bears in areas outside of traditional bear range. Human-bear conflicts have increased.
The DNR and the United States Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services receive over 1,100 complaints annually about black bears, resulting in the trapping and relocation of more than 500 animals each year. Anyone who encounters a nuisance bear in Wisconsin can call 1-800-228-1366 for assistance.
Most are not problem bears, Robaidek said, just wanderers who find themselves in trouble. DNR and Wildlife Services staff can generally trap these bears without the need for immobilizing chemicals and then relocate them to remote public lands.
“We’re giving them a second chance to get it right,” Robaidek said.
The department’s wildlife management staff minimizes human-bear conflicts by explaining ways to coexist with black bears, controlling bear populations through hunter harvest and, when necessary, providing direct assistance to landowners through the local wildlife biologist and a service agreement with USDA-Wildlife Services.
While the DNR and Wildlife Services have several traps spread across east-central Wisconsin, they are often in use, which delays relocation. Wildlife staff recognized a need for an additional, more centrally located bear trap and transport trailer. A new bear trap can be expensive, however, costing upwards of $6,000, if you can find a shop willing to take on the work.
Pulaski Area High School teachers Kaleb Santy and Jared Marsh stepped up to the plate and said they could help. Students Fatla and Bogacz decided to construct the bear trap nearly from scratch. They produced a superior trap for about $3,000. They saved the DNR money and took an active role in the management of black bears in Wisconsin.
It took about seven months, and they delivered it in time for the busy month of June when bears are on the move.
“We had a good time building it,” said Fatla, a hunter and angler, “and it was definitely cool to build this thing for the DNR.”
Bogacz said they repeatedly tested the trap. If it was something they were building for themselves, they might cut a corner here and there. But not for this project.
“Here we made sure we did everything right,” he said.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

‘No registration weekend’ postponed until Sept. 7-9

Minnesota’s “no registration weekend” for all-terrain vehicles, which was scheduled for June 8-10, has been postponed until Sept. 7-9, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The change will allow for the completion of new trails, including a 159-mile route that will connect several communities in northwestern Itasca County and a trail that will connect Balsam and Bigfork.
On Sept. 7-9, Minnesotans with an ATV registered for private or agricultural use, won’t need to pay the additional registration fee ($53.50 for three years) to ride the state’s public ATV trails. Out-of-state riders can explore Minnesota ATV trails that weekend as well, without the need for a nonresident trail pass ($21 annually). This will be the fifth year Minnesota is providing ATV riders with free access to more than 3,000 miles of state forest and grant-in-aid trails.
There are a variety of great ATV-riding opportunities in the state, according to Mary Straka, off-highway vehicle program consultant for the DNR Parks and Trails Division. Among them:
* The Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area, which is a 1,200-acre OHV park in Gilbert with 36 miles of scenic trails for riders of all abilities.
* The 100-mile trail system in Nemadji State Forest, which connects to the Matthew Lourey State Trail and the Gandy Dancer Trail.
* The 29-mile Spider Lake trail system in Foot Hills State Forest, where riders can curve around lakes and ponds, go up and down a variety of hills and view overlooks from the ridges throughout the forest.
* The 200-mile Northwoods Regional Trail System in Aitkin and Itasca counties, where riders can use the Soo Line Trail to connect to great communities and trail loops.
The DNR advises riders to keep safety in mind when out on the trails. In particular:
* Safety training is required for ATV riders born after July 1, 1987, and it is recommended for everyone that operates an ATV.
* Kids under age 18 must wear a DOT-certified helmet.
* Kids age 16 and under must fit the ATV they are operating and be able to properly reach and control the handlebars and reach the foot pegs while sitting upright on the ATV.
Trail maps, updates on trail conditions, youth ATV Safety training and other OHV information can be found online at

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Peterson Lake boat landing to close temporarily

The Peterson Lake Boat Landing located at 14366 North County Road 24, Wabasha, MN, will be closed to entry beginning Monday, June 11, through Friday, June 15.
The landing will be closed to support a staging area for the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and Conservation Corps Minnesota while they perform shoreline cleanup.
Several abandoned docks and accumulated trash located along the refuge shoreline on Peterson Lake will be removed during the week. Questions about the closure or cleanup should be directed to the refuge office at 507-454-7351.

SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service