New waterfowl refuge to aid birds and hunters

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A new and larger waterfowl refuge has been created at the Herb Behnke Unit of the Lower Wolf River Bottomlands Natural Resources Area in the towns of Deer Creek and Maine.

The Herb Behnke Unit is located on the west side of County M, northwest of the Village of Shiocton in Outagamie County. The new refuge, within which hunting is prohibited during the waterfowl season, is located on the Osprey Flowage in the northwest corner of the property. The Osprey Flowage dikes, which are within the refuge, mark the boundaries of the refuge.

The Osprey Flowage replaces the former refuge on the adjacent Outagamie Wildlife Area. The new refuge, encompassing 740 acres, will be a more functional area for waterfowl to rest. Such refuges, within a larger public hunting area, encourage game birds to stay in the area, creating more opportunity for waterfowl hunters after the opening weekend of hunting and throughout the season.

The smaller, 50-acre refuge in the neighboring Outagamie Wildlife Area was too small to effectively provide a refuge for waterfowl.

Legally harvested waterfowl can be retrieved from the refuge by dog or by hand. Deer hunting is allowed during the traditional nine-day firearm season and the muzzleloader-only season.

The refuge change is consistent with the master plan for the Lower Wolf River Bottomlands Natural Resource Area, which is in the state’s northern waterfowl hunting zone. The plan, formed with assistance from interested citizens, was adopted by the DNR in 2012. This rule change was supported by the public during the annual spring hearing in 2015 and is now in effect.

The early, statewide teal season runs Sept. 1-7. The early Canada goose and mourning dove seasons both open Sept. 1. The 2016 wild duck season, in the northern zone, runs Sept. 24 through Nov. 22.
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