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Brunet Island State Park

Hundreds of plant species live and grow in the park, which is in Wisconsin's North Central Forest landscape.


Hike along the Timber and Jean Brunet trails and you will see gigantic hemlocks. Walk quietly and you may see deer or grouse. Deer love hemlock for food and because of this, you will notice that there are no young hemlocks growing nearby. The hemlocks left are old and starting to die. Nature will gradually replace these hemlocks with other species of trees.

The park is in the beginning stages of rejuvenating native species that have been lost due to overgrazing by deer. As you walk the park trails you may pass by small fenced areas that are intended to keep these small plots from being fed upon. Inside you will see a variety of native plants and ferns, as well as young hemlocks that have self-seeded and are thriving. Most of the grass species you see outside of these enclosures have been able to dominate the forest floor with the absence of our native flowers and plant life.

Other Plants

Wildflowers, ferns, mosses and lichens are found throughout the park. Our shorelines have many aquatic and colorful flowers. Great carpets of club moss cover the ground in some places and dozen of colorful, shapely mushrooms may be seen in the summer and fall. Wild berries can also be found in and near open areas.

Animals of Brunet Island

Brunet Island and Cornell are known for their deer population. It is not uncommon to see deer roaming the streets of Cornell at night and in the early morning. Walk quietly along the Timber Trail in the early morning or near the ball field in the evening and you may see deer gathered to feed. Winter is the best time to observe deer at Brunet Island.

You may also encounter raccoons, skunks, squirrels, fox, woodchucks chipmunks, porcupine and grouse. Some of these animals may seem tame and used to man's presence. Please be careful and enjoy wildlife from a distance. Be sure to secure your food before retiring for the night and dispose of trash and food scraps in trash containers. Raccoons have been known to help themselves to camper's breakfast more than once.

Occasionally, campers find young animals and birds. Please remember that the mother animal is probably close by, waiting for you to leave so she may return to care for her youngster. If you happen to spot a young or injured animal, please do not disturb it, but report the situation to park personnel.

The surrounding waters are home to beaver, otter, muskrat and mink. As you explore the backwater lagoons by boat or canoe, you will see trees that have fallen because of the beaver. Several tree stumps in the north campground are records of the beavers' presence. You may catch a glimpse of an otter enjoying a fish breakfast while sitting on a log or stump.


Many species of birds nest in the park. Spring and fall migration brings the woods and shorelines alive with activity as these birds stop on their way to distant destinations. It is not unusual to spot bald eagles or osprey soaring over the park as they search the waterways for a meal. As you retire for the night, tune your ears to the woods as you may hear a pair of owls hooting in the night. Great blue herons race our backwater lagoons. These large, treasured birds are a thrill to watch as they fly over the water.