DNR Report

Brief reprieve from frigid temperatures brought people out in droves last weekend to enjoy winter recreation

A brief reprieve last weekend from this winter’s frigid temperatures brought people out in droves to enjoy winter recreation in Wisconsin, but that ended abruptly again this week with temperatures diving back down into the sub-zero range at night and only a bit above zero during the day. The cold temperatures are forecast to moderate a little again later this week and weekend, before dropping again next week, possible to the coldest temperatures of the season so far.

Snowmobile trails are open and in good to excellent condition across about the northern two-thirds of the state according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Trails are open in a few southern counties, but with a marginal base of just 2 to 3 inches, which is not sufficient for grooming. Northern trails received heavy use last weekend, but thanks to additional snowfalls in the last week, they are being groomed and are in some of the best conditions of the year.

Cross-country ski trails across the north are also in good to excellent condition, and many are being regularly groomed. Trails are also open in many southern locations. Trails groomed for skate skiing are generally hard and firm thanks to the cold temperatures and in better condition than some of the classic trails which are getting somewhat shallow in areas and worn from use.

The nearly full moon and clear skies last week had great horned owls hooting it up. They are very close to mating and egg laying and males are patrolling their territories keeping other male owls out and letting the females know they are alive and well. Wild canines, such as fox, coyotes, and wolves are pairing off in preparation for the breeding season. They are moving noticeably more and marking and yipping in the early evening. Mating begins in earnest in February, and January is all about setting up territories.

Winter songbirds such as juncos and chickadees are frequenting feeders, and courtship and mating activity for mallards and other ducks is ongoing in open water areas where ducks are found, primarily the Lake Michigan shoreline and open streams below dams.