Parks host candlelight hikes as snow builds up in the north

Snow is piling up on properties in northern Wisconsin, but has been melting away in southern counties.

The Brule River State Forest is grooming cross-country ski trails after an additional 2-3 inches of snow brought their total to around 10 inches.

The Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest is also packing trails for skiers but still has not been able to set tracks.

Trails have also been groomed at Newport, Peninsula and Potawatomi state parks in Door County but most of the southern half of the state has no snow cover.

A couple more northern counties have opened or partially opened snowmobile trails but conditions are only fair to poor on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report.

In the north, many smaller lakes have 4 to 6 inches of ice, but some of the larger lakes just froze up completely in the last week and have only 1 to 4 inches of ice.

There is a fair amount of snow on the ice which is leading to slush and inconsistent ice underneath. People should be very careful if they venture out to fish.

Anglers finding good ice were catching bluegills in shallow green weeds and crappies a little deeper over flats or near cribs.

Walleye anglers are catching walleyes on small minnows set under tip ups on the outside edges of weed beds. Pike action on tip ups has been slower than average.

Southern areas that had been forecast to get several inches of snow last week only saw a dusting.

This means easy access for those looking to get out on a hike this coming week.

The last firearm deer hunt in the Farmland Zone--the Holiday hunt runs from Dec. 24-Jan. 1 and is an antlerless only hunt.

One last reminder for pheasant hunters: the state game farm will be releasing an additional

1,500 birds on five wildlife areas prior to the holidays for some late season hunting.

There are many mammals moving around, with tracks of grey wolves, fisher, coyotes, and even a black bear were seen around Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area.

Rough-legged hawks have been observed recently in the valleys of Crawford and Vernon counties stocking up on rodents before the coming freeze.

These large raptors get their name from their furry-looking legs, which are thoroughly covered to the toes with soft feathers. They breed in the Arctic tundra, but winter primarily in the lower 48 states, where they hunt small mammals on open fields.

Eagles are starting to move in to the Prairie du Sac area and can frequently be seen hunting the Wisconsin River.

Other migrants have been seen along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Milwaukee, with scaup, goldeneye, mergansers and even a handful of scoters, long-tailed ducks and harlequin ducks being seen on occasion.

And get ready for other candlelight events.

They will begin the first weekend in January with more than 35 events running through early March.


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