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Wildlife Areas

kayakers at Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area
Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area

Wisconsin can take pride in its vast treasure of natural resources, particularly its wildlife. Since 1876, Wisconsin has been acquiring land to meet conservation and recreation needs. Public lands managed by the DNR provide many opportunities and public spaces for you and your family to hunt, fish, trap, hike, canoe or watch and photograph wildlife.

All wildlife areas are managed to sustain the wildlife and natural communities found on the properties and to provide a full range of traditional outdoor recreational uses. These include hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and nature study. Edible fruits, edible nuts, wild mushrooms, wild asparagus and watercress may be removed by hand without a permit for the purpose of personal consumption by the collector. Dog training or trialing (hunting dog competitions) may be allowed by permit. A limited number of properties allow additional outdoor recreation — such as camping, bicycling, horseback riding and snowmobiling — at designated locations.

Locate a state wildlife area


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 200 fish and wildlife areas throughout Wisconsin. If you or your organization is interested in the Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area program, please submit an application [PDF] [PDF help] to your local DNR office. Partner efforts will be recognized through property signage and media outreach. Thank you for your support!

Current sponsors

Thank you for adopting a Fish or Wildlife Area!

adopt a fish or wildlife area map
Adopt a Fish and Wildlife Area groups
1) Rat River Wildlife Area - Winnebago County Sheriff's Office 16) Lake Mills Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
2) Paradise Valley Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Southeast Wisconsin and Jefferson County chapter 17) Woodboro Lakes Wildlife Area - Ruffed Grouse Society
3) Manion Wildlife Area - UW-River Falls Resource Management Club 18) Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
4) Swinging Gate Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Kinni Chapter 19) Paradise Valley Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
5) Heath Van Handel Memorial Forest - Outagamie Conservation Club 20) Glacial Habitat Restoration Area - Pheasants Forever, Dodge County Chapter
6) Little Turtle Flowage Wildlife Area - Northwoods Wildlife and Wetlands Club 21) Bluff/Whitewater Creek Fishery Area - Southeast Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited
7) Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area - Natural Heritage Land Trust 22) George W Mead Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
8) Rome Pond Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association 23) Glacial Habitat Restoration Area - Fox and Basel - Nicolet/Snyder Properties - Pheasants Forever, Fox River Valley Chapter
9) Goose Lake Wildlife Area - Pearson Family Foundation 24) Goose Lake Wildlife Area - Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
10) Turtle Valley Wildlife Area - Mr. Hubbard's Hounds 25) Big Muskego Lake Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
11) Thunder Lake Wildlife Area - Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes 26) Mud Lake Wildlife Area - Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
12) Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Ozaukee and Washington Chapters 27) Hallie Marsh Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Chippewa Valley Chapter
13) McMillan Marsh Wildlife Area - Boy Scouts of America Troop 385 28) Dike 17 Unit Black River State Forest - Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
14) Mud Lake Wildlife Area - Door Sand Hill Farm 29) Adell Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Sheboygan and Manitowac Chapters
15) Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area - Ducks Unlimited 30) Bloomfield Wildlife Area - Pheasants Forever, Walworth County Chapter

Wildlife Area legal information

Section 23.09 (2) (d) 3., Wis. Stats., provides legislative authority and direction for the acquisition and management of state wildlife areas. The primary purpose of state wildlife areas as stated in this statute is to provide "areas in which any citizen may hunt, trap or fish." Section 23.11 (1), Wis. Stats., provides for the general care, protection and supervision of state lands. Section 23.30, Wis. Stats., deals with the provisions of the outdoor recreation program.

The management and uses of state wildlife areas are further defined in NR 1.51. Wis. Adm. Code. While hunting and trapping are the primary public uses for wildlife areas, other uses, such as walking, nature study, berry picking and other low-impact recreational activities are also allowed. Other compatible open-space uses may be allowed under the property's master plan when they do not detract from the primary purpose of the property; however, they may be limited in time and location to avoid interference with wildlife production or survival and public hunting and trapping.