Snow crust impedes deer, as owls start to lay eggs

DNR REPORT - As of last Thursday fewer than a dozen counties in northern and northeastern Wisconsin were reporting trails open on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report, with conditions ranging from poor to good.

The snow did improve crosscountry ski conditions in some areas, with properties in western to central Wisconsin able to groom trails, but generally not able to set tracks. The snow was timely for the Red Cedar River State Trail, which held its candlelight event Friday, with a one-mile ski or hike out to the illuminated ice wall along the trail. The trail was packed for skiing or hiking.

Parking vouchers were going fast for a candlelight event at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest on Saturday. Additional candlelight events were held Saturday at the Black River State Forest, Hartman Creek State Park and Stower Seven Lakes State Trail. Events were cancelled due to poor trail conditions at Whitefish Dunes State Park and Point Beach State Forest. For a complete list of candlelight events, search the DNR website for keyword “candlelight.”

Ice conditions deteriorated across the state after last week’s warm temperatures and rain, with reports of ice anglers and vehicles going through the ice at various locations. The colder weather may start to firm up ice again, but currently conditions remain treacherous on many waters.

There have still been some folks out fishing on northern lakes, with reports of some walleyes, crappies, perch and northern pike.

On Green Bay anglers reported cracks, many of them large and miles long, so people need to know local ice conditions before heading out. The ice breaker and ships were out in full force this past week to get the last of the ships into Sturgeon Bay before ice breaking concludes for the year.

The Menominee River has been producing walleye, crappie, whitefish and a few perch. Anglers were having some success catching whitefish around the mouth of the Oconto River and pike anglers were having success off the Oconto Breakwater. Anglers were out by the dozens last weekend off Door County, with some reporting good catches and others not the best of luck. Anglers out for whitefish reported a pretty steady bite all week and the perch anglers reported off and on success.

A heavy crust of ice has formed on top of the snow in many northern areas, making it difficult for even deer to maneuver through it. Bucks are being seen with either one antler missing or both having been shed and some people are taking advantage of low snow conditions to go shed hunting.

The past week’s warmth kicked many resident bird species, including cardinals, chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers, into song as if spring were approaching. Sightings of American robins and eastern bluebirds have been more frequent across the state this winter, likely due to reduced snow cover and extensive fruit resources. Great horned owls, the state’s earliest nesting species, are getting ready to lay eggs.


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