Wis. DNR Outdoor Report: Extreme Cold

Posted at: 01/02/2014 5:49 PM
By: Wisconsin DNR

Photo: File photo

Extreme cold temperatures have made way across Wisconsin and there are no signs of future warmth. There are a few brave ice anglers and snowmobilers around the state but many folks have retreated to warmth. While outside in these extreme conditions please use caution and watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it produces heat and your body temperature drops below a normal maintained level. Some signs of hypothermia to watch for include shivering, clumsiness or lack of coordination, slurred speech or mumbling, and confusion or difficulty thinking. If you observe any of those symptoms, contact 911 or see a doctor immediately. Frostbite can happen very quickly in the extreme cold and can be deadly. Take the proper precautions and dress for the weather.

In Washburn County the ice conditions are unsafe on many area lakes. During this past week three fishermen have had vehicles break through the ice in the county. Anglers and anyone else venturing out on the ice anywhere in the state should use extra caution. The fluctuation of temperatures in the last week has caused ice to weaken slightly.

Wisconsin's 2013 wolf hunting and trapping season will came to an end Monday, December 23 when the DNR closed the last remaining zone open to wolf harvest. Zone 3 was the last wolf hunting zone to close after favorable hunting conditions increased the rate of harvest. The state wolf harvest quota for Zone 3 was set at 71 wolves and the closure process was initiated when wolf 64 was harvested on December 21.

To help ice anglers explore the fantastic fishing found on the 200-plus miles of the Mississippi River bordering Wisconsin, state fish biologists and conservation wardens stationed along the Mississippi River will host a live online chat Jan. 7. The live chat begins at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 7. To participate, visit dnr.wi.gov, and look for the box on the right to enter the chat, or search the phrase "ask the experts." Or join the conversation on the DNR Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WIDNR, by clicking the "Cover it Live Chat" box on the top of the page. The backwaters of the Mississippi River offer spectacular ice fishing and this chat will help you prepare for a trip to the great river.

The past two weeks of cold weather has limited the amount of deer hunters participating in the Holiday Hunt, along with coyote and small game hunters. There are many reports coming in of deer feeding in the fields. There have also been a few reports of many turkeys out and about. Most state properties have their ski trails rolled and tracked. Many trails are a little icy due to the above freezing temperature last week. Contact your local park for more details on the ski trails

Statewide Birding Report

The Christmas Bird Count totals from South Central Wisconsin have been running a bit low on total number of species given the colder weather, earlier ice and snow. However observers have been finding some good birds, including good numbers of snowy owls. Of interest locally were five snowy owls sighted in eastern Rock County over the weekend. Other birds of interest include snow buntings, Lapland longspurs, short-eared owl, and saw-whet owl. Dawn and dusk are now good times to hear courting/territorial great-horned owls. Peak calling activity seems to be in the early morning hours from 6-7 a.m. Waterfowl numbers are lower than in previous warmer winters due to the lack of open water. However there are good numbers of ducks, geese and swans are being seen in the Madison area. A small number of tundra swans are overwintering at Lower Mud Lake in McFarland along with good numbers of Canada geese, common goldeneyes and mergansers, mallards and a few black ducks.
- Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg

There is very slow birding in the North Woods this year due to lack of open water and winter finches. American goldfinches are the only species showing well this winter, as numbers are notably above average. There are few to none crossbills, redpolls, or grosbeaks. Snowy Owls continue to dominate the statewide birding buzz. More than 175 individual owls have been detected. Map of sightings can be found at http://bit.ly/1co94Vd Hotspots include Milwaukee lakefront, Janesville area, Buena Vista Marsh, western Marathon County, the Freedom area of Outagamie County, and various parts of northwest Wisconsin. Best rarity of the week is a Northern Hawk Owl near Ellison Bay in Door County.
- Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland

Regional reports

Copper Falls State Park - The park trails are in excellent condition and have a great base of snow for both skiing and snowshoe. Ski trails, both classic and skate, were last groomed on December 23. The multi-use Red Granite Falls trail was pressed on December 23. Please call the park at 715-274-5123 for up to the minute grooming report as trails are continually groomed as new snow falls.
- Gregory P Behling, ranger

Washburn County - In Washburn County ice conditions are unsafe on area lakes. During this past week three fishermen have had vehicles break through the ice. Anglers and anyone else venturing out on the ice should use extra caution.
- Dave Swanson, conservation warden, Minong