Wild Things: Anglers, Birders, Hunters Enjoying Mental-Health Break

Orange on orange: A male Baltimore oriole went upside down to get a taste of a sweet treat last May. Photo by Kevin Naze.

Hundreds of anglers will be spread out along Door County’s bayside shorelines this weekend to get after smallmouth bass. 

Even though a rule change allows catch-and-release fishing for both largemouth and smallmouth bass prior to the opener in most areas, opening day (May 2) is still special. Boat launches are open, including in state parks. All anglers age 16 and older must have a fishing license. 

New this year, the refuge for the Mink River is in place March 1 – June 15, with no fishing allowed. Also, the closed season for bass within a quarter-mile of all islands in the Town of Washington (Washington Island) has not changed and is in effect until July 1.

Pick up a copy of the hook-and-line regulations wherever licenses are sold. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) customer-service representatives are available to answer any other questions daily, 7 am – 10 pm, at 888.936.7463.

Staying healthy outdoors during the coronavirus outbreak isn’t just for anglers. Wild-turkey hunters are into the third week of six seven-day hunt periods, and birders are preparing for an influx of colorful spring migrants: During the next week, many Kewaunee and Door County residents will see Baltimore orioles, ruby-throated hummingbirds and rose-breasted grosbeaks arrive.

The orchard oriole is sometimes a surprise visitor in rural areas. Photo by Kevin Naze.

Get ready by filling bird feeders with sugar water, jelly, orange slices and sunflower seeds. You can also try sliced grapes, strawberries, raisins and other fruits. To please bluebirds, try mealworms.

To get more bird-feeding advice, stop by Havegärd Farm’s retail store on Highway 42-57 just west of Sturgeon Bay. 

State Park Changes

Starting May 1, you’ll need a daily or annual sticker to enjoy Wisconsin’s state parks. Fees had been waived during the Safer at Home order, and some southern parks were closed. Hours at many parks will be six days a week, 6 am – 7 pm, and closed to the public Wednesdays for maintenance and upkeep. 

Camping and shelters will remain closed through May 26 at most parks, including all in Door County. If properties reach a predetermined capacity, visitors may be denied access until others leave. Whitefish Dunes is among those on a list of parks likely to temporarily prohibit additional visitors.

Annual passes are not available for purchase at the properties, but you can purchase them with a credit card seven days a week, 8 am – 3 pm,  by calling 888.305.0398.

All visitors must have the admission sticker adhered to their vehicle or have proof of purchase for entry. Once proof is shown, visitors must place it on the dash of the vehicle, visible from the outside, while parked within the park property.

Keep up with any changes to the current order at

Deer Input Results

The DNR received thousands of responses to County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) season recommendations for 2020 hunts. Check out public comments on the Kewaunee and Door councils’ preliminary recommendations by clicking on the links at All CDAC members will take into account public input received online, in person and by phone and email before making final recommendations.

Members will convene by conference call May 4, 7 pm, for Door County; and May 6, 7 pm, for Kewaunee County. The public is welcome to listen in. The call-in number for both is 855.947.8255. Door County’s passcode is 9760-505#. The Kewaunee County passcode is 7966-135#. 

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