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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.

Wildlife management volunteer opportunities

Becoming involved in habitat and wildlife management provides numerous opportunities for rewarding experiences, which are beneficial to you, conservation and your community. Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area and Wildlife Friends Groups are group-oriented partnerships that focus on a specific state property. If you cannot form a group or are looking for work more closely related to wildlife, 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 along 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 are interested in adopting 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 groups

Current sponsors

Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area Map
Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area Map
1) Rat River Wildlife Area - Winnebago County Sheriff's Office 22) George W. Mead Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
2) Vernon Marsh Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Southeast Wisconsin and Jefferson County Chapter 23) Glacial Habitat Restoration Area - Fox and Basel-Nicolet/Snyder Properties - Pheasants Forever, Fox River Valley
3) Manion Wildlife Area - UW-River Falls Resource Management Club 24) Buena Vista Wildlife Area - UW-Stevens Point Wildlife Society
4) Swinging Gate Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Kinni Chapter 25) Goose Lake Wildlife Area - Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
5) Heath Van Handel Memorial Forest - Outagamie Conservation Club 26) Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
6) Little Turtle Flowage Wildlife Area - Northwoods Wildlife and Wetlands Club 27) Mud Lake Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
7) Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area - Groundswell Conservancy 28) Hallie Marsh Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Chippewa Valley Chapter
8) Rome Pond Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association 29) Dike 17 Unit Black River State Forest - Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
9) Goose Lake Wildlife Area - Pearson Family Foundation 30) Adell Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Sheboygan/Manitowoc Chapter
10) Turtle Valley Wildlife Area - Mr. Hubbard's Hounds 31) Bloomfield Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Walworth County Chapter
11) Thunder Lake Wildlife Area - Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes 32) Tichigan Wildlife Area - Southeast Wisconsin Trout Unlimited
12) Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Ozaukee/Washington Chapters 33) Poynette State Game Farm - Friends of Poynette Game Farm
13) McMillan Marsh Wildlife Area - Boy Scouts of America Troop 385 34) Prince's Point Wildlife Area - UW-Whitewater Ducks Unlimited Chapter
14) Mud Lake Wildlife Area - Door Sand Hill Farm 35) Hook Lake Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Dane County Chapter
15) Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area - Ducks Unlimited 36) Nagel Wildlife Area - Nagel Family
16) Lake Mills Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association 37) Yellowstone Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Southwest Wisconsin Chapter 
17) Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area - Ruffed Grouse Society 38) Van Loon Wildlife Area - Friends of McGilvray Road
18) Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association

39) Tiffany Wildlife Area - Swede Ramble/ Tulip Unit                  Ruffed Grouse Society, Missi-Croix Chapter

19) Paradise Valley Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association 40) Mullet Creek Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Fond du Lac County Chapter 582
20) Glacial Habitat Restoration Area - Pheasants Forever, Dodge County Chapter 41) Dewey Marsh Wildlife Area - Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, UWSP Chapter
21) Bluff/Whitewater Creek Fishery Area - Southeast Wisconsin Trout Unlimited  

Friends Groups

Friends Groups

Wildlife Area Friends Groups are an integral part 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 Friend Groups do

Friends Groups are located in the larger and/or ecologically vital wildlife areas in the state. Each group brings something unique to their conservation efforts, but the key activities focus on:

  • 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, along with a variety of activities and projects to get involved with.

Friends Groups


Other opportunities

If you are looking to volunteer to gain experience, become involved in wildlife management or something else entirely, 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 needed 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 have all volunteer opportunities listed, as they may be too specific or they 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 options.

Other volunteer opportunities include: