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Bike the Bird City: several dates this summer

Middleton Public Lands is offering several dates for bike treks being offered once a month from June to September.

Trips will range from 4 to 12 miles and will be led by a local ecologist.

The next coming date is June 8, meeting at the Quaker Steak & Lube and touring Esser Pond and the North Fork of Pheasant Branch.

Registrants get a water bottle, t-shirt, food and drink from the trek's sponsor.

Binoculars will be available. Free bikes are also available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own.

Registration for the June 8 trek is open to 25 participants till June 6. The cost is $25 per person. 

Treks are also scheduled for July 13, August 10 and September 14. Two sessions per date are offered.

Participants must register and pay ahead of time at City Hall or online at: https://activenet003.active.com/middletonrec/

Cross Plains plans annual Trout Days festival

Cross Plains is celebrating its annual Trout Days weekend with food, fun and more this May.

The festival will take play May 2-4 with activities including a trout fishing contest, garage sales and a flea market planned throughout the weekend.

The Cross Plains Lions will host a parade Saturday at 4:30 p.m. to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Beer Parade, put on by Esser's Cross Plains Brewery. The brewery is also celebrating 150 years in the business this year.

Donations raised during Trout Days will benefit the Lions charities and other community organizations.

'Conservancy' excursions to discuss frogs, fireflies, fish

Community programs to guide residents through wildlife areas   

A local preservation group plans to share wonders of Middleton nature in upcoming free educational events.

The not-for-profit Friends of Pheasant Branch has sessions planned in May, June and July that teach attendees about creatures indigenous to the Pheasant Branch area.

Raptor experts ask observers not to disturb owl

Raptor experts ask observers not to disturb owl

Humane Society encourages watchers to keep distance  

Since a rare owl was spotted last week in Middleton, curious watchers and birders from near and far have stopped by to get a peek at it.

Clarence "Owl Man" Cameron, a Madison artist who's been sculpting owls for 46 years, said the normally rarely seen great grey is characterized by its deceptively large head, which is mostly plumage.

"Their heads are actually rather small, [what you see] is just about all feathers," Cameron said.

Dane County Humane Society’s Four Lakes Wildlife Center, a wildlife rehabilitation program, has been monitoring the great grey owl in Middleton. Wildlife Center representatives said keeping distance is for the better wellness of the bird.

Brooke Lewis, wildlife rehab supervisor with DCHS, said the great grey will eventually need to return back north, which will require peak health.

City: Recycle grocery bags in blue bins

City: Recycle grocery bags in blue bins

Separate plastic bag stations to be removed   

The plastic bag recycling stations located at various area businesses are scheduled to be removed on April 1, according to a news release from the City of Middleton sent Thursday.

The city said it is discontinuing the plastic bag recycling collection because the bags are now permissible in the city's blue recycling bins collected weekly.

The City of Middleton plastic bag recycling program accepts the following types of plastic bags: grocery bags, newspaper delivery bags and dry cleaning bags. Bags to be recycled should be bundled into one bag (around the size of a basketball) before they are placed in the blue bins, the city noted in the release.

The plastic bag stations to be retired are located at the Middleton Public Library, Middleton Springs Ace Hardware, Wolff Kubly Ace Hardware and Erewhon Outfitters at Greenway Station.

DNR announces first winter season free-fishing weekend

Residents, nonresidents invited to try winter-time fishing without a license    

The state Department of Natural Resources announced Wisconsin’s first winter free fishing weekend, which is scheduled to take place Jan. 19-20.

Bob Manwell, DNR spokesman in Fitchburg, said residents and nonresidents are invited to fish Wisconsin waters without first purchasing a license.

Wisconsin has had a similar free fishing weekend in June for many years but Manwell said the mid-January free fish event offers the chance to  try "hardwater" fishing.

Manwell also said loaner tackle is available at some sites.

DNR to conduct aerial survey of deer through February

DNR to conduct aerial survey of deer through February

Snow-covered ground helps biologists to tally in chronic wasting disease zones    

Helicopter teams will conduct aerial deer counts throughout Dane and Iowa counties and near Baraboo from Wednesday through mid-February, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

DNR biologists are conducting aerial deer counts in portions of the chronic wasting disease management zone.

Regional spokesman Bob Manwell in Fitchburg said in a news release Wednesday that completion of the deer count operation is dependent on the presence of several inches of snow, which helps deer stand out on the landscape from the air.

Areas in western Dane and eastern Iowa counties and in the Baraboo area by Devil’s Lake State Park are scheduled for survey flights, officials said.

The DNR said about 260 square mile sections will be surveyed.