Blizzard of sensitive snowy owls moving into Wisconsin


THE DNR IS HEARING CONCERNS that people are getting too close to snowy owls, adding to the stress, and a number of them are already being brought into DNR offices with injuries or poor health and going to rehabbers. This owl was photographed at a distance with a telephoto lense. - Photo by Reggie Gauger THE DNR IS HEARING CONCERNS that people are getting too close to snowy owls, adding to the stress, and a number of them are already being brought into DNR offices with injuries or poor health and going to rehabbers. This owl was photographed at a distance with a telephoto lense. - Photo by Reggie Gauger Another Wisconsin nine-day gun deer season is in the books, and preliminary registration numbers show a slight increase in statewide buck harvest, with 98,364 hunters successful in their pursuit of an antlered deer. Similar to 2016, northern counties again showed the most significant increases in both buck and antlerless harvest. Overall, preliminary figures show that 195,738 deer were registered down slightly from the 197,262 registered in 2016.

The gun deer season continued to show hunting as a safe recreational activity, as the season ended with seven hunting incidents and no hunting-related fatalities. None of these incidents involved mentored youth hunters.

The GameReg registration system worked well overall, with 62 percent of registrations completed online and 36 percent completed via telephone- -while other hunters continued to visit walk-in stations that offer these services.

A muzzleloader season is now open through Dec. 6, and the archery season is open through Jan. 7. A four-day antlerless only hunt will take place Dec. 7-10, while the holiday hunt will be offered in select counties from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, 2018. Any legal firearm, crossbow or archery equipment may be used during these hunts.

While the nine-day hunt has ended, hunters are reminded to connect with DNR staff on social media through the department’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Also, be sure to check out Wild Wisconsin - an all new web and podcast series focused on all things deer hunting. So far, more than 200,000 viewers have used the series to help prepare for deer season.

In the north, most of the snow that had fallen previously has melted with temperatures in the 40s and 50s. Marshes, ponds, and shallow lakes have a half an inch to an inch thin layer of ice on top and in most areas Ice is not safe to go out and ice fish yet. For those open water anglers, musky season closes today Nov. 30.

Snowshoe hares and weasels have gotten their white winter coats in anticipation of blending in with the snowcovered landscape.

However, they are very visible in the fallen leaves and underbrush of the brown woods and their lack of camouflage makes them easier targets for predators. Bears are denned up.

Duck hunters are still having success on the Green Bay and other inland bodies of water.

Pheasant stocking will resume on some state wildlife properties now that the regular gun deer season is over.

And a reminder that the Dec. 10 deadline for spring turkey and bear permits is now just over a week away.

Wisconsin is experiencing a blizzard of snowy owls this year, with more than 100 found statewide since Oct. 20. Seeing one is a great thrill but remember to minimize stress on them by not approaching too closely.

While the specific distance varies by situation, you are too close if the bird becomes alert, spends time watching you, and/or flushes from its perch. Learn more about finding and respectfully viewing snowy owls on the DNR website.

Flocks of snow buntings have also been reported.

These plump songbirds possess lots of white in their plumage which when are in a flock suggests the image of a swirling snowstorm.

2018 Wisconsin State Park stickers went on sale Dec. 1 and make great gifts.

Stickers are available at park and forest offices, all DNR service centers and by phone at 888-936-7463.


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