Snow cover is now limited to about the northern quarter of the state but with some areas still holding a foot or more of snow.
The Brule River State Forest and Turtle Flambeau Scenic Waters Area were both reporting skiing was still possible though conditions were marginal with trails icy in the morning after they freeze overnight, and then get soft as the day warms up. Some people were skate skiing on northern lakes in the early morning hours before the snow softens up, and ice skating where the snow and slush has melted into a smooth ice. The cold nights keep the snow firm making it easy walking through the woods in snowshoes and even without snowshoes, but if the crust fails you may find yourself in knee-deep snow.
The trout season opens March 30 on the Bois Brule River from US Hwy. 2 downstream to the mouth at Lake Superior.
Farm fields with even the slightest amount of sprouting, green vegetation are luring herds of deer out of the woods for a much welcomed meal. Elk bulls are starting to drop their antlers and shed hunters are combing the woods to find them.
Tom turkeys are starting to sing their springtime song and have been seen fanned out with their hens. Turkey hunting is right around the corner with the statewide youth hunt on April 13-14. Leftover turkey harvest authorizations will continue to be available until they are sold out.
The north is finally getting the initial wave of early migrants as American robins, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, Canada geese and ring-billed gulls made a good push this week all the way to Lake Superior. The first sandhill cranes, great blue herons, turkey vultures, killdeer, and American woodcock are also starting to arrive there, although it will be nearly a couple weeks before they inundate the landscape. A few purple finches, song sparrows, and even a very early savannah sparrow were also reported. Large numbers of migrant eagles continued.
Good numbers of tundra swans moved into Wisconsin this week from wintering areas along the Atlantic coast. Listen for their whistling calls overhead or look for flocks of dozens or hundreds in flooded fields and shallow open waters.
Brule River State Forest: It is hard to believe that the month of March is on it’s way out, but with April right around the corner, much of the area’s wildlife and residents are excited for the long awaited spring weather. White tailed deer have been much more prevalent out in fields and open areas foraging on vegetation they can find now that exposed ground has emerged for the first time in several months. Some of the first sighting of robins and red-winged black birds were reported in our area in the past week.
Temperatures have been warmer as of late and there has been several overnights that have not dropped below the freezing mark. Raccoons and skunks are becoming much more active, and black bears are beginning to emerge from their dens in search of food and caring for cubs.
With the trout season opening on the Bois Brule River from US Hwy. 2 downstream to the mouth at Lake Superior on Saturday March 30, there has been increased interest on the water, ice, and snow conditions. Earlier in the week it was reported that ice was out where Hwy. 13 crosses and with the weather conditions we’ve experienced this week, it will likely be considerably farther north by this weekend. - Mitch Pauly, visitor service associate and Matthew Leischer, ranger
Pattison State Park: Robins have arrived at the park March 25. We didn't hear any last week. Big Manitou falls is now about half open. Little Manitou is still largely frozen.- Kevin Feind, property supervisor
Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area: No new snow in quite a while. Skiers report that the trails are icy in the morning after they freeze overnight, and then get soft as the day warms up. Conditions are deteriorating fast and skiing is coming to an end for the season. Maybe go snowshoeing rather than ski. There is a dedicated snowshoe trail south of the cabin, and all ski trails are open to snowshoes as long as you stay off the track. - Brett Bockhop, parks and recreation specialist
Crex Meadows State Wildlife: Spring has arrived! The Grantsburg Area is experiencing warming temperatures and a lot of sunlight!
With the warmer temperatures, the snow is melting, causing some areas to have standing water or mud. Use caution while driving the roads in Crex, Fish Lake, and Amsterdam Sloughs.
We are seeing a large increase in wildlife activity this week. The first bears were seen along Highway 70, more swans and geese are returning to the areas with open water, a few mallards have been spotted, as well as some ring-necked ducks, hooded mergansers, red-winged blackbirds, killdeer, and an eastern bluebird! Sandhill cranes are also returning to the area in small numbers. - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator