Wild Things: A Wildlife Ride in the Rain

And eagle and snapping turtle were among the surprises

by KEVIN NAZE, [email protected], Peninsula Pulse contributor

One of my favorite ways to unwind before writing this column is to take a ride on the wild side through rural Kewaunee County and Southern Door. Such was the case earlier this week, when it dawned on me that I didn’t have any new photo support to catch the eyes of you, the reader.

Less than an hour later, I’m here to report that Tuesday’s rain was welcomed not only by farmers, gardeners and folks who cut grass for a living, but also by a wide variety of wildlife that seemed undeterred by the showers.

Wild turkeys, European starlings and many other species of birds frequented farm fields and grasslands, foraging for insects and waste grain. Deer were out, feeding on hay and other ag crops while getting a temporary reprieve from biting bugs in the nearby swamps. And Canada geese and their young cruised grasslands adjacent to the Ahnapee River, likely picking up a mix of green plants and insects.

It’s not unusual to see bald eagles during one of my drives, but I was surprised to spot one perched on a dead limb over the rain-dappled surface of the river, looking rather bedraggled with its wet feathers ruffled. 

A bald eagle watches for potential dinner on the Ahnapee River south of Forestville during Tuesday’s showers. Photo by Kevin Naze.

I pulled over, then carefully backed the truck into position for a photo. Satisfied that I had something, I got out to seek another angle, and that’s when I spotted a snapping turtle in the grass. 

A matted trail from a small feeder creek through deep grass to halfway up the ditch bank told the story. Because it’s egg-laying season, this was likely a female that was ready to dig into the gravel along the roadway. I took some photos, then let her be. 

I wanted to keep driving, keep looking, keep taking photos. But it was time to head home. I’m already looking forward to the next trip.

This snapping turtle was heading up from a feeder creek of the Ahnapee River on Tuesday afternoon, likely to lay eggs in the softer gravel/dirt mix on the shoulder of Highway 42. Photo by Kevin Naze.

Red-Hot Bite

It’s been another incredible week of Chinook salmon and rainbow trout action on Lake Michigan, with strong catches off Baileys Harbor, Sturgeon Bay and Algoma. There have even been mornings when the bite was so hot that anglers were back at the dock with their limit and heading to breakfast when many locals were just waking up for the day.

If you’ve been thinking of treating the family to a fishing outing or getting a group of friends together, now’s the time. Sure, fish can be caught throughout the summer and fall, but the opportunity for this kind of action is rare and fleeting.

Kids Fishing Day

The 38th annual Kids Fishing Day will be held on Father’s Day, June 18, at Little Lake in Sturgeon Bay. Registration starts at 10 am, and the fishing runs 11 am – 2 pm.

Trophies will be awarded for the biggest fish, and prizes will be given to all who enter. Hot dogs, drinks and chips will be provided. This year’s event is supported by Sturgeon Bay charter captains and David Buechner.

Baldwin’s Wolf Bill

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has introduced a bill – the Northern Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Act – that would expand the definition of Minnesota’s “threatened” wolf population to include wolves in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Such a designation would allow wolves to be killed if they threaten humans, pets or livestock. 

Baldwin said she has long supported commonsense efforts to delist the gray wolf in Wisconsin because the science shows that the population has recovered. She said her bill would allow agricultural, Tribal, scientific and affected communities to come together to create a solution that works for Wisconsin.

Also included in the bill is the creation of a regional wolf advisory committee that would work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a new proposal to remove wolves from the endangered list and draft a new monitoring plan for wolves in the Great Lakes region.

Earlier this year, Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany teamed up with U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado to introduce the Trust the Science Act, which aims to remove all wolves from the endangered-species list.

Whitefish Meeting

The public can listen in on a virtual public meeting to gather feedback regarding the proposed total allowable catch numbers for lake whitefish for the 2024 commercial-fishing season. 

The meeting will take place Wednesday, June 21, 6 pm, via Zoom, and the public can join beginning at 5:45 pm. The call-in number will allow attendees to listen to the discussion, but they will be unable to view the PowerPoint presentation delivered by Department of Natural Resources staff.

Find more details, meeting notes and presentations from previous meetings at

Great Lakes Areas of Concern Conference

The 2023 Great Lakes Areas of Concern Conference will be held Sept. 13-14 in Green Bay, bringing together partners from across the U.S. and Canada, including elected officials, researchers, representatives from government agencies, and other stakeholder groups. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Wisconsin DNR Office of Great Waters are hosting the conference. 

One of the presentations will be on the value of long-term species-monitoring data, using the bald eagle in a case study.

Learn more about the conference at

Weekly Water Levels

Green Bay and Lake Michigan water levels have dropped 30 inches during the past three years, with most of that occurring in 2021. Levels have declined five inches since last June, but they are still four inches above the long-term average.