Important Bird Areas

Bear Lake Sedge Meadow

Wisconsin

This site encompasses several bays on the south shore of Bear Lake. The sedge meadow habitat has an open character and contains islands of alders, bog birch, black spruce and some tamaracks adjacent to the lake. Characteristic and rare plants include wiregrass sedges, woolly fruit sedge, three-fruited sedge, round-leaved sundew, pitcher plant, rose pogonia, and dragon?s-mouth orchid. Bog shrubs complete the list of typical plants. Young deciduous upland forest also is found here (WDNR 2006).

Ornithological Summary

This site contains extensive, high-quality sedge meadow habitats that support one of the largest known populations of the state-threatened Yellow Rail. Other high conservation priority species found here include Northern Harrier, American Bittern, and Bobolink. Both Sedge Wren and Le Conte?s Sparrow occur here in sufficient abundance to represent viable populations.

Conservation Issues

Sedge meadow habitat is affected by fluctuating water levels, and fire. Agricultural runoff and encroachment by invasive shrubs also threaten many sedge meadows in Wisconsin. While northern sedge meadows in Wisconsin are still common, this community is associated with a list of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (WDNR 2005). Fragmentation, continuing reduction of species composition, and changes in succession are all potential threats to this and other northern sedge meadows. This extensive sedge meadow should be maintained undisturbed with its hydrology intact. The habitat should be monitored to ensure that its natural diversity is being maintained over time. The majority of the priority species (Yellow Rail, American Bittern, Le Conte?s Sparrow) that occur at Bear Lake are generally poorly monitored because they are secretive and/or inconspicuous and because the habitat is difficult to access. Monitoring effort should be increased for these species.