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Wildlife management volunteer opportunities

Cup Plant Monarch
Monarch butterfly at Patrick Marsh in Dane County after restoring to the native prairie with the help of Groundswell Conservancy Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area group.

Becoming involved in habitat and wildlife management provides numerous opportunities for a rewarding experience that benefits you, your conservation and your community. Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area and Wildlife Friends Groups are group-oriented partners focusing on a specific state property. Suppose you cannot form a group or are looking for work more closely related to wildlife. In that case, other opportunities exist, such as wildlife surveys, Southwest Wisconsin Deer Research, waterfowl banding and carnivore tracking.

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Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area

Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area

What Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area is about

Wisconsin state fisheries areas, wildlife areas, flowages, wild rivers and riverways provide critical fish and wildlife habitat with outstanding nature-based recreation. The department can use your help in managing these lands, including property posting, habitat improvements, litter removal, surveys, financial donations and many other activities. Sponsors may choose from over 300 fish and wildlife areas throughout Wisconsin.

If you or your organization want to adopt a fish or wildlife area, please apply via fillable PDF [Download] and contact the assistant public lands specialist to get started. They will work with you and the property manager to create the best fit for your group or organization. By adopting a fish or wildlife area, volunteers agree to a minimum of 100 hours over at least three workdays or a financial donation of $3,000 per year. Agreements run for three years with the option to renew. The DNR will also provide necessary training and equipment if it falls within the parameters of the agreed activities. Partner efforts will be recognized through property signage and social media outreach.

Adoptable properties include:

Current Adopt/Friends groups

Current sponsors



Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Areas

1) Adell Wildlife Area – Sheboygan/Manitowoc Chapter of Pheasants Forever 21) Nagel Wildlife Area - Vernon and Becky Nagel
2) Badfish Creek Wildlife Area - Friends of Badfish Creek Watershed 22) Onion River Fishery Area - Lakeshore Chapter of Trout Unlimited
3) Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area - UW Milwaukee Conservation Club 23) Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area - Groundswell Conservancy
4) Bloomfield Wildlife Area - Walworth County Chapter of Pheasants Forever

24) Paradise Valley Wildlife Area - Waukesha County Chapter of Wisconsin Waterfowl Association

5) Bluff/Whitewater Fishery Area - Southeast Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited 25) Paul J. Olson Wildlife Area - Farmers of Mill Creek Watershed
6) Brillion Wildlife Area - Oxbow Sportsman's Club 26) Peter Helland Wildlife Area - Flores-Barrett Family
7) Buena Vista Wildlife Area - UW-Stevens Point Chapter of the Wildlife Society 27) REM Pine River Fishery Area-Yuba - Foremost Farms 
8) Dewey Marsh Wildlife Area - UW Stevens Point Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers 28) Rome Pond Wildlife Area - Waukesha County Chapter of the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
9) Eldorado Wildlife Area - Fond du Lac County Chapter of Pheasants Forever 29) Tichigan Wildlife Area - Fox River Chapter of Wings Over Wisconsin
10) George W. Mead Wildlife Area - UW Stevens Point Chapter of Ducks Unlimited 30) Tichigan Wildlife Area - Southeast Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited
11) Glacial Habitat Restoration Area (Werth) - Dodge County Chapter of Pheasants Forever 31) Tiffany Wildlife Area - Missi-Croix Chapter of The Ruffed Grouse Society
12) Glacial Habitat Restoration Area (Fox and Basel-Nicolet/Snyder Properties) - Fox River Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever 32) Tom Lawin Wildlife Area - UW Eau Claire Biology Club
13) Goose Lake Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers 33) Van Loon Wildlife Area - Friends of McGilvray Road
14) Hallie Marsh Wildlife Area - Chippewa Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever 34) Vernon Marsh Wildlife Area - Delta Waterfowl Association
15) Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area - Cedar Creek Chapter of Wisconsin Waterfowl Association

35) White River Marsh Wildlife Area - Berlin Conservation Club

16) Koshkonong Wildlife Area - Lake Koshkonong Wetland Association 36) White River Marsh Wildlife Area - Huckleberry Duck Hunters
17) Lyons Wildlife Habitat Area - Kettle Moraine Land Trust 37) Wood County Wildlife Area - Oakridge Cranberry Division of Farmland Management Services
18) McMillan Marsh Wildlife Area - Boy Scouts of America Troop 385 38) Yellowstone Wildlife Area - Southwest Wisconsin Chapter of Pheasants Forever
19) Meadow Valley Wildlife Area - Yellow River Division of Farmland Management Services  
20) Mud Lake Wildlife Area - Baraboo River/Reedsburg Chapter of Wisconsin Waterfowl Association  

Friends Groups

1) Friends of the Bird Sanctuary - Douglas County Wildlife Area 7) Friends of McGilvray Road - Van Loon Wildlife Area
2) Friends of Brillion Nature Center 8) Friends of Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area
3) Friends of Collins Marsh Nature Center 9) Friends of Navarino Nature Center
4) Friends of Crex Meadows Wildlife Area 10) Friends of Poynette Game Farm
5) Friends of Mead-McMillan Wildlife Area 11) Friends of Sandhill Wildlife Area
6) Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center 12) Friends of Vernon Marsh Wildlife Area

Friends Groups

Friends Groups

Wildlife Area Friends Group and the art of conserving, enhancing and educating people about natural resources in several wildlife areas around the state. Friends Groups are nonprofit conservation organizations that volunteer their time and services and continually improve state public lands for the benefit of residents and visitors of Wisconsin.

What Friends Groups do

Friends Groups are located in the state's more significant and ecologically vital wildlife areas. Each group brings something unique to their conservation efforts, but the key activities focus on the following:

  • apply for grants to undertake development projects, including the expansion of recreational opportunities, fixing health or safety issues, habitat restoration and improvement of environmental education programs;
  • sponsor and support volunteer services and environmental education activities, seminars, lectures and other informative programs;
  • provide and distribute interpretive materials for the wildlife area, such as brochures and maps;
  • actively raise funds through membership fees and coordinated events to update education programs and infrastructure to provide financial support for the wildlife area or property; and
  • participate in building and maintaining trails, observation structures, and other public use infrastructure.

There are multiple Wildlife Friends Groups around the state that are always looking for more volunteers.  If you wish to join a group, follow the links at the bottom of the page to find one near you. Each has membership opportunities to contribute to the organization and various activities and projects to get involved with.

Friends Groups

Other opportunities

Other opportunities

Are you looking for volunteer opportunities to gain experience, become involved in wildlife management or something else? There are plenty of opportunities to get involved. For example, students who want to gain experience can look into volunteering with the Southwest Wisconsin CWD, Deer and Predator Study. Want to capture photos of wildlife in their natural habitats? Check out the Snapshot Wisconsin program to help monitor animals and gather data for wildlife management decisions.

Conducting wildlife surveys is an integral component of assessing and determining wildlife populations. The DNR relies on the registration of harvested animals to create population estimates. However, citizen scientists are also critical in determining the final numbers. You can get involved by collecting data that helps the DNR create population estimates — volunteer in the surveying of several different species such as deer, grouse, pheasant, turkey and waterfowl.

Use the links provided below to see what the DNR offers. This webpage does not list all volunteer opportunities; some may be too specific and pertain to a particular county or region. If you are interested in a certain species or specific state land, use the contact information provided to inquire about additional volunteer options.

Other volunteer opportunities include: