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Refuge systems are ‘Stepping Stones’ for wildlife

March 26, 2011

SNOW GEESE will be the topic of an informative program this coming Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Conservation Center at the GrimesFarm. The host for the meeting is the local bird club, the Central Iowa Ornithologists. Anyone interested in birds of any kind are welcome to attend this free program. In addition to many great photos and facts, Mike Stegmann, director of the Marshall County Conservation Board will have a special treat for the public. Stegmann is also a great cook of any wild game. He will have samples of snow goose meat to taste. Come join in the fun and use the opportunity to learn how conservation efforts for geese help all kinds of wildlife through land management programs in the flyways of North America.

Up and down the flyways of North America, special natural habitat areas have been established to serve all migrating birds. From the northern breeding grounds to staging, resting, and feeding areas to wintering sites, a series of National Wildlife Refuges dot the landscape. Near the northwest corner of Missouri at Mound City is one of these refuges called Squaw Creek. It utilizes a series of impoundment ponds adjacent to the Missouri River and open fields for feeding and resting. Visiting Squaw Creek each spring is the best time to see huge numbers of geese and other wildlife.

The National Wildlife Refuge system is dedicated entirely to the conservation of wildlife. Protection of land elements plays a huge role in the population management of birds, mammals, fish and plant life. In addition, there is a shared stewardship mission with state agencies, private organizations and individual volunteers to help make all conservation efforts effective.

Article Photos

Thousands of Snow Geese were present at the time this image was made on March 5 at Missouri’s Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Snow Geese are one example of a wildlife management success story. However, in this case, the geese have also adapted to mankind’s agricultural system too well.The result is that Snow Goose numbers are so large that the birds are severely depleting nesting habitats in northern Manitoba, Canada. 

Nationally, the refuge system provides habitat for over 700 species of birds, over 200 species of fish and about 500 species of other wild critters. There is also protection for over 250 species of threatened an/or endangered plants. Since many national refuges are built along natural flyways, each refuge is a 'stepping stone' along the way.


Last week I noted the seven major points of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Number six on the list was this: Wildlife and fish migrate freely across boundaries between states, provinces and countries. It makes sense of course. Wildlife does not recognize the artificial borders that mankind places on maps. They just move at will where eons old imprinting tells them to go. It is a survival tactic for migrating birds or other critters ... they must go where the food is and the conditions are right for reproduction. Each year they retrace their pathways from summer sites to wintering areas and back again.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 demonstrates this principle. Working together, the USA, Canada and other countries manage land and wildlife to make sure that no one country, province or state can take more than its share of a common resource. The Treaty between the USA, Mexico and Canada is one example. Utilizing the resources can only be accomplished within the bounds of specific hunting regulations. Over the decades, the Bird Treaty Act has enabled restoration efforts for all birds that travel great distances including: waterfowl such as ducks, geese and cranes.


Coming up next weekend at the Regency Inn at Marshalltown will be the IOWA TAXIDERMY ASSOCIATION'S annual meeting. Saturday afternoon, April 2, is the time when exhibits will be open for public viewing. It is always a treat to see how the art and science of wildlife displays can be so expertly accomplished. Local examples of expert taxidermist skill can be seen at the Conservation Center at the GrimesFarm. The animals portrayed are just one of many teaching tools used to help the public understand wildlife and their needs.


SPRING TURKEY seasons are fast approaching. The Iowa youth turkey season kicks off on April 8 to the 10. The first regular season dates are April 11-14, and the second season is the 15 - 19. Third season is the 20 - 26. Fourth and last turkey season dates are April 27 through May 15. Tom turkeys are present in good numbers. However, as always, getting them to respond to calls or decoys is never a guarantee. It sure is a lot of fun trying.


Tonight is the FUN NIGHT at Tama County's Otter Creek Lake Park Nature Center. Dr. William Clark will present a program on Bobcats titled, "A Return of a Native." He has conducted research in Iowa since 2003 and has learned much about the cat's behavior, distribution and abundance. Call 641-484-2231 to see if tickets are still available. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the meal to start at 6 p.m. The bobcat program begins at 7:15 p.m. Then a little auction is held to raise funds for a nature center exhibit.


Take note of the first HUNTER SAFETY class in Marshall County for 2011. The dates are May 19, 6 - 9 p.m and May 21, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Attendance at both sessions is required. Sign ups must be done online at the DNR website, The Marshall County hunter safety class is posted on the web. Just fill in the requested information on-line to get registered. Assistance to register can also be obtained by contacting Emily Herring at the GrimesFarm at 641-752-5490 or by stopping by the GrimesFarm.


Mark your calendars! Here are a few fun activities in the next few weeks that are being provided by Marshall County Conservation Board.

Uncle Ike Nature Program for grades first through fifth (family members welcome), will be held on April 9 at the Izaak Walton League Grounds (2 Miles south of Iowa Ave on So. 12th/Smith Ave). The program is cosponsored by the MCCB and the Izaak Walton League. This award winning program is FREE. "Exciting Cycles of Nature" is this year's theme. The April 9, 9 to 11 a.m. session is called "We Cycle," Is there enough to go around? Discover how you can help the Earth by using the 3 R's.

PRAIRIE BURN is one night during week of April 18 at 7:30 p.m. Green Castle Recreation Area (1 mile south of Ferguson). Come watch prairie management in action. The scene will be spectacular as the fire lights up the night sky. The exact date for this program is dependent on weather conditions and will be determined on short notice. Listen to KDAO and KFJB for updates or call our office at 752-5490.


Today's funny bone item: You know you're in a redneck church if .... the collection plates are really hubcaps from a '56 Chevy.


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.



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