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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Weekly Digest Bulletin

NEWS RELEASE: OutWiGo To Sauk Prairie For The 36th Annual Bald Eagle Watching Days Jan. 15 -16
 
DNR News Release Header Image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 4, 2022
Contact: 

Jeb Barzen, Ferry Bluff Eagle Council President
jeb@privatelandsconservation.org or 608-370-3122

Jennifer Lanzendorf, Bald Eagle Watching Days Co-coordinator jenniferlanzendorf@gmail.com or 608-698-7592

Sumner Matteson, DNR Avian Ecologist
Sumner.Matteson@wisconsin.gov or 608-225-0586



OutWiGo To Sauk Prairie For The 36th Annual
Bald Eagle Watching Days Jan. 15-16

Event Features In-Person And Remote Eagle Viewing Opportunities

 

eagle soaring under leafless tree

The public is invited to participate in the 36th Annual Bald Eagle Watching Days on Jan. 15-16 to view bald eagles such as the one pictured above and to celebrate the species remarkable comeback in Wisconsin. Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites the public to participate in the 36th Annual Bald Eagle Watching Days on Jan. 15-16 to celebrate the species and its remarkable comeback in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's longest-running eagle-watching event features in-person and virtual activities. Participants can catch a glimpse of eagles over the Wisconsin River at the newly expanded overlook on Water Street in Prairie du Sac. Volunteers will be available at the overlook to answer questions about bald eagles, weather permitting.

Attendees can also enjoy a self-guided tour on their mobile device of prime eagle viewing areas along the upper and lower portions of the Lower Wisconsin River. Both tours start at the Sauk-Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce in Sauk City. Visit the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council website for instructions.

The public can also attend presentations at the River Arts Center or watch live from the comfort of their home on the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council’s YouTube channel.

“The comeback of bald eagles in Wisconsin is an amazing story, and we’re excited to share this story with people in a special hybrid event,” said Jeb Barzen, President of the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council. “In our area, people living along the Lower Wisconsin River have worked hard to provide an environment where eagles and human neighbors thrive.”

“After 36 years of participating in the Bald Eagle Watching Days, we’re as excited as ever to promote bald eagle conservation and assist the public with viewing opportunities during winter in the Sauk Prairie area,” said Sumner Matteson, DNR Avian Ecologist. “In addition to the in-person events, the virtual options allow people to watch the programming throughout the year, instead of just in one weekend.”

Bald eagles tend to congregate near open water areas on the Wisconsin River, including below the Prairie du Sac dam where they can fish, offering a scenic destination to view the species in the wild. In general, eagle watching is best during the morning hours when the birds are most active fishing and are frequently seen perching in trees along the rivers.

When viewing eagles, please keep your distance as not to cause them to fly off. Remain in your vehicle when near them. Do not walk along the river, particularly at the hydropower dam since it is the eagles’ most active feeding area. Eagles, especially immature ones, need to conserve their energy to survive Wisconsin winters.

The 2022 Bald Eagle Watching Days event is co-sponsored by the DNR, Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, Sauk Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce and Tripp Heritage Museum in Prairie du Sac.

For more information and to download the event schedule, visit the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council website.

Programming includes a mix of in-person, live-streamed and pre-recorded events beginning at 8 a.m. on Jan. 15 and 16. Highlights include:

Saturday, Jan. 15

  • Stop by the newly expanded overlook on Water Street to view eagles and learn more about the species from volunteers available from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., weather permitting.
  • Visit the Tripp Heritage Museum from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. to catch pre-filmed presentations of Old Abe, Civil War Eagle and The Bald Eagle in Native American Culture. Masks required.
  • Attend live and pre-recorded presentations at the River Arts Center (available Saturday only); Masks required:
    • 10 - 11:15 a.m.: In-person Schlitz Audubon Nature Center live raptor show, followed by a question & answer session
    • 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.: “Laughing with the Animals” show hosted by educator and entertainer David Stokes, followed by a question & answer session
    • 1:30 - 2:45 p.m.: Pre-recorded release of a bald eagle brought back to health by Marge Gibson, Executive Director of Raptor Education Group, Inc. Following the release, Gibson will join the participants at the River Arts Center via Zoom to talk about rehabilitation work and answer questions
    • 3 - 4:15 p.m.: In-person Schlitz Audubon Nature Center live raptor show, followed by a question & answer session

Sunday, Jan. 16

  • Stop by the newly expanded overlook on Water Street to view eagles and learn more about the species from volunteers available from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., weather permitting.

 

Event Honors Wisconsin’s Growing Bald Eagle Population

Bald Eagle Watching Days started in 1987 to highlight the comeback of bald eagles since their listing in the 1970s as an endangered species. The national ban on the pesticide DDT, added protections under state and federal endangered species laws, cleaned up rivers and public support of nest monitoring and protection efforts allowed bald eagles to fly off the state endangered species list in 1997 and the federal list a decade later.

Bald eagle populations in Wisconsin have grown from 108 occupied nests in 1973 to nearly 1,700 in 2019, affording fantastic viewing opportunities as eagles from northern Wisconsin, Canada, northern Michigan and Minnesota move south in search of new nesting territories.

Bald eagle nests are federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's eagle permit webpages provide guidance for landowners to avoid impacting eagle nests on their property.

Nest monitoring surveys and winter surveys continue to keep tabs on the population and to provide landowners with the best guidance on how to avoid impacting eagle nests.

Visit the DNR’s Eagles In Wisconsin webpage for more information and to learn how to report and help monitor nests in the state.

 
Hit The Ice For Free Fishing Weekend
 
Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine Masthead

Hit The Ice For Free Fishing Weekend

No License Required Jan. 15-16

Three young children with their dad and grandpa ice fishing on a frozen lake covered in snow.

Give fishing a try during Wisconsin's Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 15-16 – no fishing license or trout and salmon stamps required. Regulations and bag limits apply.

 

If you're new to ice fishing, check out the "Ice Fishing Essentials" story in the latest issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine for tips on what you'll need to get started. 

 

Don't let the lack of gear stop you from fishing from the water top. Visit the DNR's Fishing Equipment For Loan webpage to find a tackle loaner site with ice fishing equipment near you. Locations with ice fishing equipment will have an “IF” next to their name. Basic gear is available; however, sites do not lend out ice augers. Hours and available equipment vary, so contact the site in advance and plan ahead to pick up the gear.

 

And, be sure to brush up on ice safety before you go with these ice safety tips.

 

Photo credit: iStock / emholk


two bald eagles in a tree

Bald Eagle Watching Days Returns To Sauk Prairie
Jan. 15-16

Catch a glimpse of bald eagles and learn more about this majestic bird at the 36th Annual Bald Eagle Watching Days, Jan. 15-16, along the Wisconsin River in the Sauk Prairie area.

 

The event highlights the return of bald eagles in their congregating area along the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway beneath the Prairie du Sac dam. 

 

The weekend will feature a mix of in-person, live-streamed and recorded events, along with eagle viewing at the newly expanded overlook on Water Street in Prairie du Sac. Volunteers will be available at the overlook to answer questions about eagles from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday, weather permitting.

 

The 2022 Bald Eagle Watching Days event is co-sponsored by the DNR, Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, Sauk Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce and Tripp Heritage Museum in Prairie du Sac.

 

For event information and a full list of activities, visit the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council website

 

Visit the DNR’s Eagles In Wisconsin webpage to learn more about this species' comeback in the state and how to report and help monitor nests.

Photo credit: Reggie Gauger


Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine cover image featuring a woman hiking at night staring up at a large lit up tree.

Don't Miss The Winter Issue

Subscribe today to receive the latest issue of 

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

 

The Winter issue includes stories on how to beat the winter blues, steps to build a bat house, hunting as a family activity, tips for kids to identify wildlife tracks in the snow, winter surfing on Lake Michigan and much more.

 

There's also the latest Field Notes report celebrating successes of the DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program, as well as the 2022 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks calendar featuring photos from our beautiful state parks.

Subscribe or give a gift today at wnrmag.com or by calling 1-800-678-9472.


two adults and two children sledding on a toboggan

Embrace Winter Outdoors

From sledding, cross-country skiing to snow snowshoeing, winter weather brings opportunities for any number of fun outdoor activities.  

Head outdoors to explore a new part of the state by planning a "Winter Day Trip". Or, bundle up and find your adventure in Wisconsin's northern peninsula with these "Three Ways to Explore Door County in Winter."


Plan your winter outdoors with these helpful resources: 

  • Find a Park: Search state parks by available activities including sledding, cross-country skiing and winter camping.
  • Rental equipment: Some Wisconsin state parks offer snowshoes for rent in winter, in partnership with Friends Groups and private concessionaires.
  • Adaptive equipment: Cross-country sit skis are available at select state parks and other properties.
  • Candlelight events: Many state parks and forests plan candlelight hikes and ski events in winter. Search the DNR events calendar for listings and updates.
  • Ski trail conditions: Find the latest information on trail conditions and grooming reports for state parks throughout Wisconsin. 

Photo credit: iStock / FatCamera


"How To Build A Bat House" Supply List Update

The "How To Build A Bat House" article in the Winter issue featured incorrect supply dimensions. The correct supply dimensions for the wood materials are as follows:

  • 1 piece 26”x24”x 0.5” plywood  
  • 1 piece 32”x24”x 0.5” plywood  
  • 1 piece 24”x4”x 0.5” plywood  
  • 2 pieces 26”x1.5”x 0.75” common wood/pine 
  • 1 piece 20”x1.5”x 0.75” common wood/pine  

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and value your continued support. To share additional comments or feedback, please reach out to us at dnrmagazine@wisconsin.gov

 
NEWS RELEASE: Snowmobilers: Think Smart Before You Start This Season
 
DNR News Release Header Image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 6, 2022
Contact: Lt. Martin R. Stone, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator
martin.stone@wisconsin.gov or 608-778-2035

 

Snowmobilers: Think Smart Before You Start
This Season

 

Snowmobile Rider on Snowmobile Trail in Eagle River

The Wisconsin DNR is reminding snowmobilers that safety is an important part of the ride. / Photo Credit: Travel Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding snowmobilers that safety is an important part of the ride. Whether you were gifted a snowmobile over the holidays or are a veteran of the ride, the department asks all riders to be in the know and review Wisconsin’s snowmobile safety rules and regulations before heading out this winter.

Wisconsin is a long-time snowmobile destination offering some of the best riding opportunities in the country, especially in the northern part of the state. With more than 200,000 registered snowmobiles hitting the state's 25,000 miles of groomed trails across the state each winter, safety is critical.

Between January and March 2021, there were 13 snowmobile fatalities in Wisconsin, with alcohol, excess speed, driver inexperience and operator error as the leading causes.

“It's important to think smart before you start,” said Lt. Martin Stone, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator. “Winter's fluctuating temperatures, snowfalls and snowmelts can cause unsafe conditions on snowmobile trails. The DNR does not monitor conditions and we suggest snowmobilers contact local fishing clubs, snowmobile clubs or outfitters to ask about the ice conditions in your area. Remember – no ice is safe ice.”

There is no such thing as 100% safe ice. Snowmobilers cannot judge ice strength by factors like appearance, age, thickness or temperature, especially when the ice is snow-covered. 

There is a 55 mph speed limit when traveling at night. Do not overdrive what headlights can illuminate, such as trail markers or hazards.

Any person who is at least 12 years old born on or after Jan. 1, 1985 is required to have a valid Snowmobile Safety Certificate in order to operate a snowmobile in most areas. Operators must carry the certificate while riding and display it to a law enforcement officer when requested. Visit the DNR Safety Education webpage for details and to locate a class or take an online course.

Think smart before you start this season by following these tips:

ON THE TRAILS

  • Don’t drink and ride.
  • Stay on marked trails—riding off-trail or cutting corners is trespassing.
  • Always wear your helmet and safety gear.
  • Slow down and use extra caution at night.
  • Travel with a friend, carry a cell phone and let people know where you are going and when you’ll return home.
  • Dress appropriately, carry a first aid kit and navigation tools.
  • Take a snowmobile safety course.
  • Check trail conditions using the Travel Wisconsin Snowmobile Snow Report.

 

ICE SAFETY

  • Remember that ice is never completely safe under any conditions.
  • Contact local sport shops to ask about ice conditions locally on the lake or river you want to traverse.  
  • Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or float coat should you fall through the ice and to help retain body heat.
  • Do not travel in unfamiliar areas.
  • Slow down when traveling at night.
  • Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents that can thin the ice.
  • Watch for pressure ridges or ice buckling. These can be dangerous due to thin ice and open water.

For additional information on snowmobile safety classes, regulations, safety tips or to register your snowmobile, click here.

 

DNR VIOLATION HOTLINE

Anyone with information regarding natural resource violations, including unsafe snowmobile operation, may confidentially report by calling or texting: VIOLATION HOTLINE: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained staff relay the information to conservation wardens. File an online report here.

 
NEWS RELEASE: Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 15-16
 
DNR News Release Header Image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 7, 2022
Contact: DNR Office of Communications
DNRPress@wisconsin.gov

Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 15-16

 

ice auger drilling through ice

Grab your gear and get fishing during Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 15-16. / Photo Credit: iStock/happyphoton

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is hosting Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 15-16 to share the fun and excitement of winter fishing. No fishing license or trout and salmon stamps are required.

Anglers can fish state waters where there is an open season. All other fishing regulations apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species.

As a reminder, anglers cannot fish spring trout ponds during the Winter Free Fishing Weekend. Please review the trout regulations and 2021-2022 Hook and Line regulations for more information.

If you plan to keep your catch, be sure to review the DNR's Safe Eating Guidelines to stay informed of potential consumption advisories impacting some waterbodies throughout the state.

"Free Fishing Weekend is a great opportunity for people from all walks of life to give angling a try, without the added step and expense of getting a fishing license," said Theresa Stabo, DNR Fishing Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation Coordinator. "Fishing is about so much more than the catch. Get out there and enjoy nature, spend time with friends and family and if you’re lucky, bring home some fish for your next at-home fish fry.”

Find Free Fishing Weekend events on the DNR events webpage.

Prepare To Fish

If you're new to ice fishing, check out the "Ice Fishing Essentials" story in the latest issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine for tips on what you'll need to get started.

Visit the DNR's Fishing Equipment For Loan webpage to find a tackle loaner site with ice fishing equipment near you. Locations with ice fishing equipment will have an “IF” next to their name. Basic gear is available; however, sites do not lend out ice augers. Hours and available equipment vary, so contact the site in advance and plan ahead to pick up the gear.

 

Winter Fishing Safety Reminders

Remember, no ice is 100% safe. Check with local bait shops for current ice conditions in the area you plan to ice fish. Stay safely on shore if ice conditions are questionable and if open water is within casting distance, give that a try. Always tell someone where you are going and when you'll return.

Lastly, dress for winter comfort, and don't forget your safety gear:

  • Warm layers that are water-resistant
  • Sturdy waterproof boots with spike-style creepers for traction
  • Extra hat and gloves
  • Rescue throw rope
  • Ice claws

More Fishing Fun

Continue your fishing adventure after Free Fishing Weekend by buying a fishing license.

The next Free Fishing Weekend will take place June 4-5, 2022.

 
NEWS RELEASE: Virtual CWD Response Plan Review Committee Meeting Jan. 12
 
DNR News Release Header Image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 7, 2022
Contact: DNR Office of Communications
DNRPress@wisconsin.gov


Virtual CWD Response Plan Review
Committee Meeting Jan. 12

 

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced it will host the Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan Review Committee meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

The DNR’s 15-year CWD Response Plan, in effect through 2025, helps guide the department’s approach to addressing CWD in Wisconsin. The plan was developed to fulfill its public trust responsibility to manage wildlife and ensure the health of Wisconsin’s wildlife populations. As part of the plan’s implementation, the department will review progress toward meeting its goals and objectives every five years.

The committee is comprised of a group of stakeholders representing conservation, business and hunting organizations and tribal governments. During its meetings, the committee will develop input on the plan’s implementation and actions to consider as it completes this second five-year review.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal, infectious nervous system disease of deer, moose, elk and reindeer/caribou. The Wisconsin DNR began monitoring the state's wild white-tailed deer population for CWD in 1999. The first positives were found in 2002.

More information on CWD is available on the DNR's CWD webpage

Additional information on the DNR’s CWD Response Plan is available on the DNR’s website.


MEETING DETAILS

WHAT: CWD Response Plan Review Committee Meeting

WHEN: 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Jan. 12, 2022

WHERE: The public is invited to watch live on the DNR’s YouTube channel here.

There is no registration required to attend, and a recording of the meeting will be posted to the DNR website.

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