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Detroit Lakes
Wetland Management District

duckling in nest surrounded by empty egg shells
26624 N. Tower Road
Detroit Lakes, MN   56501 - 7959
E-mail: detroitlakes@fws.gov
Phone Number: 218-847-4431
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
The Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District protects more than 50,000 acres of waterfowl nesting habitat.
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  Wildlife and Habitat

Continued . . .

The remnant native tallgrass prairie areas in the five-county Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District are composed of as many as 250 species of grasses, forbs (wildflowers) and other prairie plants. With the advent of modern agriculture, most of the native prairie has been converted to cropland. Today, less than 1% of the original native tallgrass prairie acres in the district remains, found mostly on Federal Waterfowl Production Areas, State Wildlife Management Areas, Scientific Natural Areas, and The Nature Conservancy's holdings.

The district has wetlands ranging from a few feet across and only inches deep to basins that are 500 acres in size with depths of over 10 feet, in addition to numerous lakes and rivers. An estimated 80% of the original wetland habitat in the district has been lost through drainage or filling for agricultural purposes. Through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's wetland restoration program, however, the wetland base in the district is being increased by an average of 100 wetland basins annually on both private and Federal lands.

Forested areas occur primarily in the eastern half of the district. Composition is mixed hardwoods with species such as aspen, oak, basswood, ash, maple, etc. A few areas are dominated by white, red, and jack pine. Fewer yet are composed of balsam and white spruce stands. In the western half of the district, timbered areas are mainly farmstead and riparian habitats, dominated by box elder, oak, cottonwood, and ash. Nearly all American and red (rock) elms have been killed by Dutch elm disease.

Noteworthy bird species include the greater prairie chicken, sandhill crane, bald eagle, and osprey. Trumpeter swans have been reintroduced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Loons and doubled-crested cormorants frequent the deeper marshes of district WPAs; cormorants are steadily increasing. Abundant sora and Virginia rail populations use WPA wetland habitat throughout the district.

All of the mammals that are native to the Minnesota grasslands, transition zones, and forested areas are common in the district. The moose population has been increasing, with an estimated 50 moose inhabiting district WPAs. The white-tailed deer population in this region of Minnesota is considered excellent. Other mammals commonly using WPA habitat include beavers, minks, muskrats, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, rabbits, otters, fishers, and many rodent species.

Three snake species (garter, red-bellied, and smooth green), two salamanders (tiger and blue-spotted), four frog species (leopard, wood, tree, and spring peeper), two turtle species (snapper and painted), and the 13-lined skink are found in the district.

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