Frequently
Asked Questions

 

When is the Wildlife Area open?

When is the Visitor Center open?

Are dogs allowed in the wildlife areas?

Are horses allowed in the wildlife areas?

Where can I hike in the wildlife areas?

Can I ride a bike in the wildlife areas?

Can I camp in the wildlife areas?

Can I set up a photography blind?


Where do the cranes come from?

Where can we see the Sandhill Cranes?

Is hunting allowed in the wildlife areas?

Are motorized boats allowed within the wildlife area?

Is trapping allowed in the wildlife areas?

Are ATVs allowed in the wildlife areas?

Is snowmobiling allowed in the wildlife areas?


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When is the wildlife are open?  The wildlife areas are open all day (and night) every day.  There is no charge to enter the wildlife area.

When is the visitor center open? 
The visitor center is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30 pm, except on major holidays.  It is also open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm from April through October.  It may also be open during special events and by previous arrangement outside of the normal hours of operation.

Are dogs allowed in the wildlife areas
Yes. Dogs are allowed.  They must always be under the control of the owner, and between April 15 and July 31 they must be on a leash.  If you are looking for a place to do water training with your dog, the boat landing on Phantom Lake
Trail is a good spot.  Be advised that there are wolves and other wild animals within the wildlife areas, and if your dog gets lost, it may become prey.  Also, there are various traps set during the trapping season, so keep your pets close. 

Are horses allowed in the wildlife areas?  Wisconsin state policy is that horses are allowed only on the roads that cars are allowed on on state wildlife areas. Crex Meadows, Fish Lake, Danbury and Amsterdam Sloughs Wildlife Areas are owned by the state of Wisconsin.  Horses are NOT allowed on the hiking and hunter walking trails, or the firebreaks, within the wildlife areas.  The nearby Governor Knowles State Forest has several miles of dedicated horse trails. For more information, click here.

Where can I hike in the wildlife areas? 
You may hike anywhere in the wildlife areas, on or off trail, with the exception of the refuge areas, which are clearly marked with signs.  There are many hunter walking trails, as well as designated hiking trails.  There is a 1 mile trail behind the visitor center, and a 1.5 mile trail at the rest area.  Walking on the many miles of roads is another option, which can be quite rewarding, allowing you to see and hear many animals you may have missed while driving the roads.  The trails are generally mowed mid-summer, and again in the fall.

Can I ride a bike in the wildlife areas?  
YES!  But be aware that most of the roads are gravel, and thin street tires will not work well on these roads.  There are several miles of paved roads as well.  Stop in at the visitor center for more info on a good biking route.

Can I camp in the wildlife areas?  Camping is allowed only at the rest area on the north end of Crex Meadows Wildlife area.  The camping season is from September 1 through December 31.  Campers should register at the Visitor Center either before they set up camp or the next morning if they arrive after the center closes.  The camping fee is $5 per vehicle, or $4 for members of the Friends of Crex or hunters with a valid Wisconsin hunting license.  Camping is NOT allowed anywhere else on the properties.  There are other places to camp in the region, including the Governor Knowles State Forest and canoe/walk-in sites along the St. Croix River. 

Can I set up a photography blind in the wildlife areas? 
As long as you are not within the no-entry refuge areas, you are free to set up a temporary portable blind anywhere in the wildlife area.  If you intend to use a ground photography blind during any gun or muzzleloader deer hunting season (except waterfowl blinds), you must have a minimum of 144 square inches of solid blaze orange material visible from all directions.  You may not leave your blind up overnight, and all unoccupied blinds must have the owner's name and address displayed in a visible and conspicuous location near the entrance.  A permanent handicapped duck hunting blind, located on the north side of Lower North Fork flowage, is available for use by photographers outside of the duck hunting season.  Contact the visitor center for information on reserving this blind for photgraphy. 

Where do the cranes come from?  In the fall, Sandhill Cranes gather at Crex Meadows and the surrounding areas (about 15 percent of the entire world-wide population of Greater Sandhill Cranes are present here in western Burnett County in October), where they feed in the crop fields during the day and roost in the sedge marshes of the wildlife areas at night.  They remain in the area until the marshes ice over - usually by the middle to end of November and then head south, stopping over in Illinois and Indiana, and finally arriving along the gulf coast in Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle where they spend the winter. Sandhill Cranes nest from southern Wisconsin north, up into the UP of Michigan and as far north as central Canada, south of Hudson Bay, in sedge meadows. There are many pairs nesting at Crex Meadows and Fish Lake Wildlife Areas each summer.

The cranes at Crex Meadows are the Greater Sandhill Crane, and there are about 80,000 of them. The Lesser Sandhill Crane is another sub-species that winters on the Texas coast, migrates through Nebraska and the Dakotas, and nests on the Arctic tundra far to the north. They stand about a foot shorter than our Greaters, and their population tops several hundred thousand.

Where can we see the Sandhill Cranes?  In the spring, Sandhill Cranes return to the meadows early, usually in mid-march to early April, when the begin building their nests.  They may be found in pairs, or sometimes with last year's young.  Once these pairs begin to nest, the young from previous years leave and find other "bachelor" cranes to hang out with for the summer.  Once the eggs hatch, the parents will lead their babies further into the sedge meadows to evade predators while their babies grow.  In the fall, the cranes gather in the meadows at night and fly to the crop fields nearby to feed during the day.  A great place to see the cranes at Crex Meadows during the fall gatherings is along Main Dike Road in the mornings and evenings as the cranes depart or arrive back to the sedge meadows to roost. 

Is hunting allowed in the wildlife areas? 
Hunting is allowed throughout all the wildlife area on state-owned land, with the exception of the refuge areas within Crex Meadows and Fish Lake Wildlife Areas (the Fish Lake refuge is closed only during the migrating waterfowl hunting seasons but opens after that time for other species).  See the hunting regulations for the species you are hunting for details.  Regulations can be found on the Wisconsin DNR website

Is trapping allowed in the wildlife areas?  Trapping is allowed throughout all the wildlife area on state-owned land, with the exception of the refuge areas within Crex Meadows and Fish Lake Wildlife Areas.  See the hunting regulations for the species you are trapping for details.  Regulations can be found on the Wisconsin DNR website

Are motorized boats allowed on the flowages within the wildlife area? Motorized boats are allowed in the wildlife area on all navigable waters, except within the boundaries of the refuge areas.

Are ATV's allowed in the wildlife areas? 
Except for winter Snowmobile/ATV trail use, ATVs are NOT ALLOWED within the wildlife areas.  Some townships allow ATVs on paved roads, but they are not allowed on township roads that go through state property within those townships.  This means that ATV's are not allowed even on paved roads within the wildlife areas even if the township allows ATVs.  Roads within the townships that allow ATVs are clearly marked with signs stating that ATVs are allowed.  The ONLY exception to this is when a hunter with a handicapped hunting permit uses an ATV to hunt from within allowable areas as designated by the Wildlife Area Property Manager. 

Is snowmobiling allowed in the wildlife areas?
When conditions are favorable, snowmobile trails through the wildlife areas are open to public use from December 1 through March 31. Please refer to Trails & Licensing for maps and regulations, and go to Trail Conditions for current conditions.   Snowmobiles are NOT ALLOWED off the trails - or along the roads or other trails within the wildlife areas. 


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