Long Tail Unit, Green Bay West Shore State Wildlife Area

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Long Tail Unit of the Green Bay West Shore State Wildlife area is a 300-acre property owned by the State of Wisconsin[1]. It is south of the Suamico River in Brown County. It is the only land protruding into Green Bay in the area form the eastern edge of Dead Horse Bay. This area was extended by the Army corps of Engineers while digging a shipping channel through Green Bay into the Fox River. The site is very diverse in different plants and animals. During high water levels, the area becomes a series of small islands.


Long Tail Unit is adjacent to Long Tail Beach, a popular recreation area for boaters on the bay of Green Bay. During the summer it is common to see dozens of boats anchored on the beach during the day. The area is a popular destination for hunters in the spring. The area is open to hunting, trapping, and fishing. During the winter, Long Tail is popular for ice fishing and snowmobiling. The unit is also popular for people who geocache. Visitors to the site can see and visit an over one hundred and fifty-year-old lighthouse. In areas of the unit not connected to Green Bay, there are a few hiking trails.


The Long Tail Unit is known for:

  • Large Frogs
  • Eagles
  • Snowy Owls
  • Occasional Deer
  • Waterfowl

This site provides a very important habitat for shorebirds, gulls, and terns, which have historically included a rare species. This is an important migratory bird stopover point and is heavily used by waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as raptors and passerines [2]. The area is best known for its waterfowl hunting in the fall. The invasive species here include cattails, bluejoint grass, common reed grass, and purple loosestrife.


Long Tail is comprised of sandy land protruding into Green Bay. It is mostly wetlands, but this changes based on water level and rainfall. The highest areas are occupied by black willow and cottonwood[3]. This slowly changes on a declining gradient, transforming into areas of reed grass and then into the marsh. The marsh area is dominated by cattails, soft-stem bulrush, and three square bulrushes[4]. The area of Long Tail that boarders Dead Horse bay supports a very narrow amount of species and is somewhat degraded. That border area is mainly meadow dominated by invasive cattails and bluejoint grass. The invasive species common reed grass and purple loosestrife are common here. They are a threat to displace the currently dominant native species[5]. This is being managed aggressively to keep invasive species from spreading. The eastern side there is a well developed sandy beach when water levels are low. The low water levels provide habitat for at least one rare Great Lakes coastal endemic plant.

Changing water levels caused by human and natural activities drastically alter the wetlands over time. A change in water levels only a few inches can have extreme effects on the amounts of wetlands present, the type of vegetation, and wildlife habitat[6]. Soil erosion from dredging activity and poor water quality in Green Bay has altered or destroyed many other former wetlands and aquatic plant beds in the lower Green Bay area [7].

Long Tail Lighthouse

The Long tail lighthouse, also known as The Tail Point Light, was built in 1848 in what is now the Long Tail Unit of the Green Bay West Shore State Wildlife Area. The structure was built using field stone, which was gathered from a bay settlement on the opposite side of Green Bay. It was succeeded by two other lighthouses that are now destroyed. [8]


Article History

Bornze12 (18-12-12); 
voelkerd (2015-10-12)