U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Detroit River
International Wildlife Refuge

male lesser scaup with water behind and cattails to the right
9311 Groh Road
Large Lakes Research Station
Grosse Ile, MI   48138
E-mail: detroitriver@fws.gov
Phone Number: 734/692 7608
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Diving ducks such as lesser scaup prepare for migration at Detroit River Refuge.
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When created in 1961, the original Wyandotte Refuge consisted of Grassy Island and Mamajuda Shoal. The 21-acre Mud Island was donated to the refuge by National Steel Corporation in 2002. On September 26, 2002, Calf Island, an 11-acre island in the Trenton Channel of the lower Detroit River, was donated by The Nature Conservancy to the refuge. The Nature Conservancy purchased the island from a private party while several organizations worked in partnership to secure reimbursement funds through a Federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant. Partners that contributed in-kind matches for this grant included Ducks Unlimited, the Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative and Solutia, a chemical company in Trenton, Michigan.

The refuge is situated in what was once one of the most significant migratory staging areas for diving ducks in the United States. Extensive beds of aquatic vegetation, particularly wild celery, attracted large concentrations of divers, primarily canvasback and scaup.

In the past 100 years, discharges from the steel and chemical industry and municipal sewage effluent, along with the effects of large, deep-draft vessels, have degraded the lower Detroit River ecosystem, resulting in a substantial decline of these preferred foods. However, over 35 years of pollution prevention and control have resulted in improvements in the water quality of both Detroit River and western Lake Erie. The river and lake have responded with surprising ecological recovery, including the return of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, walleye, lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, and mayflies.

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