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Bemidji area DNR seeks comments on proposal to create refuge

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TENSTRIKE – The public is invited to share comments on a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposal to establish the Hagali-Rice State Game Refuge north of Medicine Lake and west of Blackduck.

The hearing will be 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Hagali Town Hall located at 11423 Birchwood Road NE near Tenstrike.

The proposal is a result of a petition generated by the local citizenry which seeks to create a waterfowl refuge on a 320-acre parcel that includes Rice Lake.

Currently the area is open to public hunting. If the area is designated as a game refuge, however, all waterfowl hunting (ducks and geese) would be banned. In addition, all hunting and trapping seasons within the refuge boundary would be closed until Nov. 1. Hunting and trapping seasons that are open during November and December, except waterfowl, would be permitted.

All hunting and trapping on the refuge, however, would end on Dec. 31.

“Hunting is the main method we use to control deer populations and we don’t want to lose that (control tool),” said Bemidji Area Wildlife Supervisor Shelley Gorham.

The Rice Lake area currently is used by the resident and migrating waterfowl. Canada geese also are commonly found there.

“It is more of a puddle duck than a bluebill area,” Gorham said. “It also has a lot of geese activity and, even though we don’t want to protect the geese, we will have too if it becomes a refuge.”

The effectiveness of the area as a duck refuge will be monitored and if the area fulfills its intended purpose the refuge designation will continue.

“But if (the refuge designation) is not effective we could abandon it,” Gorham added.

People who cannot attend the meeting may submit their comments on the proposal by contacting Gorham at 218-308-2332. Written comments can be sent to Gorham at the Bemidji Area DNR Wildlife Office, 2114 Bemidji Ave., Bemidji, Minn., 56601. Gorham will also accept comments via e-mail at shelley.gorham@state.mn.us.

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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