George W. Mead Wildlife Area
Nestled in the valley of the Little Eau Pleine River, the George W. Mead Wildlife Area encompasses over 33,000 acres of open marshes, hardwood and aspen forests and grasslands. Mead is one of the largest wildlife areas in Wisconsin, comprising the largest contiguous state ownership of wildlife lands. Two conifer bog state natural areas showcasing the tamarack and black spruce ecosystem are located on the property.
Mead's diverse habitats harbor an abundance of wildlife species such as deer, turkey, bear, grouse, otter, beaver, muskrats, herons, prairie chickens, fox, coyote, eagles, wolves and bobcats. It is an important resting, feeding and nesting site for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds. Over 267 bird species have been documented on the property. Except for designated refuge areas, the property is open to hunting and trapping during the regular seasons.
Mead is located 5 miles north of Highway 10 between Stevens Point and Marshfield. The property extends into Marathon, Wood and Portage counties. The Stanton W. Mead Education and Visitor Center is centrally located on the property along County Highway S. Natural resources related educational programs are offered to school and other groups by advanced reservation/registration. The Friends of Mead/McMillan Association offers an extensive listing of activities and property information.
Mead's bike trail has been closed indefinitely.
The land that is now the Mead Wildlife Area has a rich history of use going back to the last Ice Age, with native peoples occupying the diverse landscape. Other history includes French fur trading, logging, dredging and associated farming and a proposed reservoir. Management for the wildlife habitat and recreational use began in 1959 with a donation of 20,000 acres to the state of Wisconsin by Consolidated Paper Corp., of Wisconsin Rapids. This gift provided the base for the wildlife area.
Mead is managed by the Department of Natural Resources to maintain and enhance habitats that support wildlife and to provide compatible public recreation opportunities. The property office can be reached at 715-457-6771.
The George W. Mead Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:
- Hunting (please note special waterfowl regulations below);
- Hiking (70 miles of trails);
- Wildlife viewing;
- Dog training and trialing;
- Cross-country skiing (no designated trail); and
- Wild edibles/gathering.
Mead special waterfowl regulations: All waterfowl hunting (duck and goose) is closed until opening day of the northern waterfowl zone. Exception: Ducks and geese may be hunted by youth hunters only during the Youth Waterfowl Hunt.
Waterfowl hunting will close at 1 p.m. each day beginning the Monday following the opening weekend of the northern waterfowl zone and lasting for 16 full days thereafter. See season dates.
If you are interested in exploring this property further, you can access an interactive map.
- Useful links
This wildlife area has been adopted by Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.