Northern snow forces deer, elk into logged-off areas

The north has received another good snowfall which is extending winter recreation there, with some areas still having more than 2 feet of snow on the ground.

But recent warm temperatures have snowmobile and ski trails across the north in soft condition and warm temperatures are forecast to be around for this week so conditions could deteriorate more. Snowmobile trails were open as of Thursday in about 15 northern counties on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report. A number of northern properties are still reporting good Cross-Country Ski Trail Conditions.

The warm weather softened ice, especially where there is flow but anglers still report 20-plus inches of ice on some northern lakes.

In central Wisconsin there was also plenty of ice on lakes but the top 5-6 inches are slushy and honeycombed.

In Kenosha and Racine counties the ice is out on the smaller ponds and on the edges of the lakes, which now are a deep blue color indicating ice may be gone soon.

Fishing on northern lakes has been slower but folks are enjoying mild weather and socializing. Panfishing on southern lakes has been decent this past week.

A reminder that all permanent fishing shacks and shelters had to be removed from waters south of Highway 64 by the end of the day Sunday, March 4.

The Pine, Waupaca, and White rivers in central Wisconsin are free of ice and have had some pressure for the catch and release trout season.

The ice on Green Bay is starting to break up so anglers should use extra caution venturing out.

Anglers continue to catch whitefish off the Oconto breakwater while northern pike fishing also picked up off of Oconto.

The Fox River is mostly open water from the De Pere Dam down past the 172 Bridge with around 20 yards or so of ice along the edges. Anglers fishing the edge ice out of Voyageurs report catching a few walleye and whitefish.

The two major snow falls last week left another 10-11 inches of snow on top of more than a foot of old snow in the Flambeau River State Forest. This boosted the winter severity index to slightly below 50, which is the border between a mild winter and a moderate winter. The deep snow has deer and elk concentrating in logging areas browsing on branches left behind.

Warmer nights have increased opossum activity. These interesting marsupials mate in mid to late winter, and most young are born in March and early April.

Newborn opossums climb into their mother’s protective pouch, known as a marsupium, and remain there for 60-70 days.

Opossum serve an important function in food webs consuming many harmful insects and cleaning up carrion. Through their fur grooming process, opossums remove and ingest black-legged ticks, which are responsible for transmitted Lyme disease to humans. It is estimated that an opossum may ingest up to 5,000 ticks during the growing season.

Buds on maple trees are looking quite large and the warm weather has also started sap to flow. School groups have started helping tap trees at the MacKenzie Center in anticipation on next month’s Maple Syrup Festival. Interstate Park had programs Saturday and Sunday on how to tap maple trees to collect sap.

Large numbers of migrants moved into the southeastern part of the state this past week, with greater white-fronted and Canada geese most prevalent, with many other waterfowl species also flooding in, including goldeneye, scaup, and red-breasted mergansers, pintails, green-winged teal and wood ducks.

Trumpeter swans are also returning to some traditional breeding sites.

There was a full moon on Thursday and Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center held a Full Moon Hike Friday and the last candlelight event of the winter at Wisconsin State Park System properties was a candlelight snowshoe hike Saturday at Rib Mountain State Park.

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