Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1915 and is the smallest refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System at 0.57 acres. The refuge consists of two islands, Hennepin and Spirit, in Mille Lacs Lake that are covered with jumbled rock, boulders and gravel. Both islands are used by colonial nesting species, including ring-billed gulls, herring gulls, double-crested cormorants, American white pelicans and the state-threatened common tern.
The two islands that make up Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge were set aside to provide a preserve and breeding ground for native birds. The refuge has been designated as a State Important Bird Area, as part of the larger Mille Lacs Important Bird Area, by the National Audubon Society.
The refuge is closed to public access because it is a sensitive breeding area for a variety of colony-nesting birds. If you are boating on Mille Lacs Lake, please stay at least 100 yards offshore while fishing or observing wildlife from your watercraft. Minimizing human disturbance to the water birds that call the refuge home is a high priority.
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
Everywas created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded.
Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge was established to provide a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.
May 14, 1915 - Woodrow Wilson set aside Spirit Island and established Mille Lacs Reservation.
October 13, 1920 - Woodrow Wilson expanded Mille Lacs Reservation to include Hennepin Island.
1940 - Mille Lacs Reservation was changed to Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, located within the boundaries of the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge is a part of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The complex includes four national wildlife refuges located throughout east central Minnesota, including Sherburne, Crane Meadows, Rice Lake and Mille Lacs national wildlife refuges. These refuges are under shared management, with Complex Headquarters located in Zimmerman, Minnesota.