Minnesota's EagleCam begins 7th season

Season seven at the EagleCam begins! But, did the 2019 season ever really end? The new eagle couple would probably say "season?  what season?"
Bald eagles have as many individual, distinctive characteristics as they do typical bald eagle characteristics. Some static characteristics are physical: white head and tail on adults; yellow eyes, feet and beak huge, brown wing span. Some are behavioral: they have a mostly carnivorous diet; they have stunning (some say spiritual) flight and soaring abilities, and their courtship, bonding and mating behaviors vary only slightly between pairs.
Because the physical appearance of bald eagles is roughly identical, the individual behavior of eagles helps to distinguish one bird or pair of birds from another.
Here at EagleCam central, we were fortunate for the first six years to have a female on the nest sporting a band on her left leg. The camera allowed us to read the band number and positively identify her as the same female - year after year. From 2012 until her 2019 ouster she protected the territory, had stable partners and tended to/maintained this nest. She had different mates during this time period, mostly due to territorial battles, where a stronger male seized an opportunity to replace the resident male - taking over "nestorations", mating and parenting duties.    
Early last year, a new pair invaded the territory and seized control of the nest from the resident female and her mate. It appeared as if the female's mate was new (different from the previous year) and she was almost ready to lay eggs. Defending her territory and nest was proving too difficult and exhausting, so she abandoned her long-time territory and nest. We have reason to believe that she moved on and layed her eggs in a nest close by and is still alive and kicking.
The new pair have not left the territory much at all since then. Camera watchers and photographers have distinguished each eagle by their physical characteristics - the female's "bib" appears disheveled and the pair rarely leave each other's company. They seem to be in close proximity to each other - while hunting, feeding and roosting - most of the time. They have been observed moving sticks, adding grasses and fur, and feeding together on the nest.

The noise, noise, noise, noise!
This fall, we were able to install (thank you Xcel Energy and Floyd Total security) a new sound system and get the microphone working. Hearing the eagle voice is a whole new experience and learning tool. Their voice might surprise you if you've never heard an angry or excited bald eagle.  
Some background noise from the road, river and sky is distracting at times, but it is exciting to finally hear the whistling sound coming from those large, screaming beaks! (Hint: if it gets too annoying, turn your sound off). We hope you are enjoying it!
We continue to be grateful for the generous donations to our program. Whether you make your donations on your tax forms, send us a check, or donate online, we THANK YOU so much!  Bringing a bald eagle's nest and journey to your living room, dorm room, class room or cell phone is an honor and a privilege. We hope you feel the same way about the eagles and YOUR Nongame Wildlife Program!
Stay safe and warm this weekend, warmly.  

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Smart, sober driving keys to International Snowmobile Safety Week

MADISON, Wis. - Snowmobilers enjoying Wisconsin's trails often hear conservation wardens stressing the importance of safety, staying sober and being smart, which also are among the top priorities promoted during International Snowmobile Safety Week, Jan. 18-26.
Capt. April Dombrowski, who leads the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Bureau of Law Enforcement Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills Section, says the awareness week spotlights the smart and safe methods all snowmobilers should use the entire season.
"One death during snowmobile season is one too many. Wisconsin is the birthplace of snowmobiling, and it is as much a state tradition as the gun deer season," Dombrowski said. "Because Wisconsin can have upwards of 25,000 groomed trails during winter, safety is a top priority for this outdoor recreational machine enjoyed by friends and families."
The DNR recorded 16 fatal snowmobile accidents in 2019. Eleven of those involved operation on public trails and roadways while four incidents occurred on frozen waterways.
Dombrowski said the wardens' goal is to help everyone have fun and make lifelong memories while enjoying Wisconsin's incredible trails, many of which are groomed by volunteers.
"Safe snowmobiling means riding within your capabilities, operating at safe and appropriate speeds for the terrain, machine and user capability, along with the element of daylight visibility versus night operation. Moreover, never drink alcoholic beverages before or while driving," Dombrowski said. "Always wear a helmet and adequate clothing, stay within designated riding areas and always snowmobile with another person, never alone."
Another factor in Wisconsin snowmobiling is the ice that covers the 15,000 lakes and other water bodies.
Winter's fluctuating temperatures, snowfalls and snowmelts have made for often-changing terrain and mixed conditions on snowmobile trails.
"Nobody wants the sudden surprise of breaking through ice or riding into open water conditions," she said. "Your best pre-ride action is to contact those local fishing clubs, snowmobile clubs or outfitters and inquire about the ice conditions. The DNR does not monitor conditions."
Here are more easy-to-follow ice safety tips from Dombrowski:
* In all likelihood, the ice looks thicker - and safer - than it is.
The best advice to follow is no matter what the month, consider all ice unpredictable.
* There can be cracks and changes in the thickness you may not be able to see. This is especially true after the first cold nights, and the early ice is spotted.
* Always remember that ice is never completely safe under any conditions.
* Go with a friend. It is safer and more fun.
* Carry a cellphone and let people know where you are going and when you will return home.
* Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or a float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss.
* Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself - or others - out of the ice.
* Do not travel in unfamiliar areas - or at night.
* Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents, which can thin the ice.
* Take extra mittens or gloves, so you always have a dry pair.
The DNR wants you to be safe enjoying the outdoors. Common sense is the greatest ally in preventing ice-related accidents.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

DNR issues incidental take notice for Columbia County

MADISON, Wis. - The Poynette Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Processing Center may result in the "incidental taking" of a rare turtle under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project.
Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.
The Department of Natural Resources proposes to construct a CWD Processing Center at the State Game Farm in Poynette. The presence of the state endangered ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata) has been confirmed in the vicinity of the project site. DNR staff determined that the proposed project may result in the incidental taking of some turtles.
Department staff concluded that the proposed project would minimize the impacts to the species by adhering to conservation measures; is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the species or the whole plant-animal community of which it is a part; and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action.
The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization.
Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the ornate box turtle are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Rori Paloski (608-264-6040 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). The department is requesting comments from the public through 4 p.m. on Jan. 28, regarding project-related impacts to the ornate box turtle. Public comments should be sent to Rori Paloski, WDNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Celebrate Pattison State Park turning 100 at Winterfest

SUPERIOR, Wis. - Pattison State Park is celebrating 100 years since its designation as a state park.
On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Friends of Pattison and Amnicon Falls State Parks will kick off a year-long celebration honoring the 100th anniversary with Winterfest.
Pattison State Park is the home to Big Manitou Falls, the fourth highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. Little Manitou Falls is smaller at 31 feet but similarly spectacular. Pattison State Park, south of Superior in Douglas County, became Wisconsin's sixth state park on Jan. 20, 1920.
The park is named after Martin Pattison, an early lumber man and miner who made a fortune in iron mining in Minnesota. When Pattison learned of a plan to build a hydroelectric dam on the Black River that would destroy the 165-foot high Big Manitou Falls, he purchased the land around it with the intent of donating it for a park.
In the 1930s, the park was home to a Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC Camp. Young, single, unemployed men were put to work on conservation projects including putting in sewer and water systems, planting trees, and building the park's iconic shelter building, bath house and former office building.
Record-setting rains in June 2018 resulted in flooding that washed out the dam that formed Interfalls Lake in the park and closed the section of Highway 35 that went over the dam. Flooding also caused extensive damage to roads, trails and other facilities in the park.
A temporary repair of the dam allowed Interfalls Lake to refill in July 2019. Although most trails and roads have been repaired, the Wisconsin State Park System will begin a $1 million trail restoration project this summer. Plans for more permanent repairs to the dam will begin within the next few years, as well as an investment in shower building replacements and upgrades to the CCC buildings to continue the development of this historic park.

Celebrate Pattison's History Jan. 25 at Winterfest
The Friends of Pattison and Amnicon Falls State Park are hosting several Centennial events this year, including a fundraiser for a centennial gazebo overlooking the lake and a future accessible rustic cabin in the campground.
The year-long Centennial celebration starts with Winterfest, which includes the dedication of a Centennial plaque at 3 p.m., and winter activities including sledding, hiking snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, a snowshoe race and ending with a candlelight ski and snowshoe hike at dusk. Refreshments will be available in the historic shelter building that will have fires going to warm visitors.
Other events throughout the year include: "Good Ol' Family Picnic" on June 20, "Voyager's Encampment" in the main picnic area Sept. 5, 6, and 7, and "Colorama" Art and Craft Show Sept. 26-27. The park will also host runs and other activities.
Information on these events are available on the Get Outdoors calendar of the DNR website, at the Park office, or call 715-399-3111.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Protect your trees from disease

MADISON, Wis. - With the new year upon us, healthy lifestyle habits are sure to be on many people's minds as they plan for changes in diet and exercise.
The new year is also the perfect opportunity to make healthier choices for trees. Winter is the ideal time for tree pruning while avoiding harmful, disease-carrying pests such as the tiny beetles that carry oak wilt from one tree wound to another.
"The best time to prune trees that lose their leaves is during winter when the trees are dormant," said Paul Cigan, Department of Natural Resources Forest Health Specialist. "Not only is it easier to see where pruning is needed when leaves are gone, but disease-carrying pests are inactive due to the cold, making pruning both more effective and less likely to invite unwanted pests."
Although pruning in winter reduces the risk of spread through beetles, the disease can spread year-round in firewood.
"Several recent oak wilt discoveries in northern Wisconsin, including the first-ever discovery in Forest County, may have been the result of infected firewood brought from areas with oak wilt," Cigan said. "Keep oak firewood where it is cut for one year, or until the bark is naturally loose, to prevent the spread of oak wilt."
For more information, visit the DNR's webpages for oak wilt and firewood.

Pruning tips
Yard trees and trees in urban settings should be pruned throughout their entire life to maintain a strong structure and remove deadwood. Young trees should be pruned to establish a central trunk, proper trunk taper and good branch structure and spacing. Older trees should be pruned to remove dead and/or hazardous limbs.
"Pruning should not remove more than 25% of the live tree crown, and the lower third of deciduous tree trunks should be free of limbs," said Don Kissinger, DNR urban forestry coordinator.
You can find more detailed, step-by-step tips for tree pruning in the DNR tree pruning publication where certified arborists offer pruning and other tree care services.
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Winter fun awaits Horicon Marsh visitors in 2020

HORICON, Wis. - The ducks, geese and cranes may have migrated south for the winter, but the opportunities for fun and learning are overwintering at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center, with activities and programs for visitors of all ages.
Stories, stars, feathered and furry wildlife all offer plenty of reasons to get out and explore, so be sure to include Horicon Marsh in your family's next adventure.
Throughout winter, the Explorium is open seven days a week except for major holidays, welcoming you back indoors for a warm-up after a day on the trails. The new winter hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Weekly Nature Walks Wednesday, Jan. 15, 22, 29, 1-2:30 p.m.
These relaxed, guided walks will explore marsh flora and fauna while taking in the stunning views on the marsh.
Length and difficulty will depend upon participants' needs. The meeting location will vary; check the Friends of Horicon Marsh website or  Facebook page for updates.

Candlelight Hike Saturday, Jan. 18, 5-9 p.m.
At the candlelight hike, short and long loop trails will be illuminated by candlelight. There will also be a bonfire, refreshments and indoor activities, including a bake sale and raffle. The gift shop will also be open inside.
The short loop trail is 0.36 miles, and the long loop is 1.5 miles.
It is a free event, but donations of non-perishable food or new hats/gloves/mittens are strongly encouraged.
On-site parking will be minimal, but shuttles are available, so please check Friends of Horicon Marsh Facebook page and website for details on shuttles.

Other activities include:
* Family Fun Night: New Moon Stargazing Friday, Jan. 24, 6-8 p.m. - Learn why winter is the best time for views of Wisconsin's night sky. We will begin with an indoor presentation with tips for finding constellations, then take a short hike out to clear viewing areas. If conditions are unsuitable for stargazing, Jan. 25 is a backup date. Check Friends of Horicon Marsh Facebook for updates.
* Back to Basics: Tracking Saturday, Jan. 25 10:30-11:30 a.m. - This youth program is a great way to introduce your children to the art of recognizing signs of wildlife activity. We search for tracks and other animal signs and hope for fresh snow. Snowshoeing will happen if conditions allow. Ages 7-11.
* Winter Birding Bus Tour: Saturday, Feb. 1, 3-5:30 p.m. - Whether you are a new or experienced birder, this guided bus tour offers an exciting chance to spot some of Horicon's winter bird visitors. DNR staff will take you to all the hot spots as we search for beautiful birds like horned larks, snowy owls and more. Dress warmly, as we may have the opportunity to get out and put some of the star birds on a spotting scope. Pre-registration and payment of $15 per person are required.
* Weekly Nature Walks: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26, 1-2:30 p.m. - These relaxed, guided walks explore marsh flora and fauna while taking in the stunning views on the marsh. Length and difficulty will depend upon participants' needs. The meeting location will vary; check the website/Friends of Horicon Marsh Facebook for updates.
* Little Otters - Do You Want to Build a Snow Mammal? Saturday, Feb. 8, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
* Building a snowman: This is a winter family tradition, and this children's program steps snow art up a notch as we make masterful four-legged sculptures. Youth Program ages 1-6.
* Full Moon Hike: Snow Moon Sunday, Feb. 9, 7-8 p.m. - Experience the magic of Horicon Marsh under the bright light of a full winter moon. Guided by DNR staff, this hike offers opportunities for nighttime wildlife viewing and a chance to learn about annual cycles at the marsh.
* Stories at the Marsh: Do Frogs Drink Hot Chocolate? Thursday and Saturday, Feb. 13 and 15, 10-11 a.m.
Learn about many of the ways that Horicon Marsh's animals stay warm during the winter through stories, a short hike and a craft to take home. Hot chocolate will be served to warm ourselves up, too. Youth program ages 1-6.
* Eagle Adventure Bus Tour: Saturday, Feb. 15, 1-4 p.m. - Bald eagles overwinter in many places in Wisconsin, and recent years have seen an increase in their numbers around Horicon Marsh. Dress for the weather as DNR staff takes you to areas where these majestic birds of prey tend to congregate. This event is limited to 30 participants, pre-registration and payment of $15 per person required.
The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located between Horicon and Mayville on Highway 28. For a detailed list of all Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center special events, please visit the Friends of Horicon Marsh website or the Friends of Horicon Marsh Facebook Page. Additional programs will be added throughout the winter season.
For more information regarding Horicon Marsh education programs, contact Liz Herzmann, DNR educator, at 920-387-7893.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

'Wild Wisconsin' Podcast returns with new episodes

MADISON, Wis. - New year, new podcasts. "Wild Wisconsin - Off the Record" podcast is back with new inside voices on Wisconsin's outdoors.
Available now wherever you get your podcasts is the latest episode, "Call It A Comeback: Bald Eagles Soaring in Wisconsin," which explores the miraculous comeback of bald eagles in Wisconsin and across the country.
Bald eagles were once on the verge of extinction. Today, nests for these distinct birds now exist in 71 of Wisconsin's 72 counties, typically near a water body such as the Mississippi River. In the last year alone, the number of bald eagles in the southeastern part of the state increased by 27 percent.
The DNR's Digital Media Coordinator and host of Wild Wisconsin, Katie Grant, sat down with Rich Staffen, a DNR zoologist and conservation biologist working with our Natural Heritage Inventory, to learn a bit more about these raptors. We also hear from Carly Lapin, a DNR National Heritage Conservation ecologist, to learn how Wisconsinites can help with continued conservation work for eagles.

Let's Hear Some Love Stories
The DNR wants to hear from you. The Wild Wisconsin podcast will feature love stories involving Wisconsin state parks for an upcoming Valentine's Day episode.
Whether you met your significant other at a park, went on your first date, got married there or celebrate your anniversary at one, we want to hear about it. Email your story to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Jan. 22 for a chance to have your story featured on our Feb. 5 episode.

Additional Conservation Efforts
Another recent episode, "Saving Wisconsin's Special Species," looks at other critical conservation work in the state.
The DNR's conservation biologists, Rori Paloski and Jesse Weinzinger, hop on the podcast to discuss their efforts to bring back the natural habitat for freshwater mussels and eastern massasauga rattlesnakes.
You can find more episodes of the podcast on your favorite podcast platform.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR