U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Mille Lacs
National Wildlife Refuge

common tern on nest

Mille Lacs County, MN   
E-mail: millelacs@fws.gov
Phone Number: 218-768-2402
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Tiny Mille Lacs Refuge has one of only four common tern breeding colonies in Minnesota.
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Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge

Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1915 and is known as the smallest refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge is comprised of two small islands (0.57 acres total) over a mile from shore on Lake Mille Lacs in north-central Minnesota. The islands are boulder and gravel outcrops important for colonial nesting birds, including common terns, ring-billed and herring gulls, and double-crested cormorants.

The refuge is managed by staff at the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Mille Lacs Refuge harbors one of only four common tern breeding colonies (a state threatened species) in Minnesota.

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Mille Lacs Refuge was established as "a preserve and breeding ground for native birds" by Executive Order 2199, signed on May 14, 1915.

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Landing on the refuge is discouraged, but colonial birds can be observed from offshore.

Recreation and Education Opportunities
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Refuge management is limited to monitoring the nesting colonies, posting the refuge boundaries, and recently, passive control of ring-billed gulls, which threaten the common tern colony.