LAC QUI PARLE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA Here on the very western edge of Minnesota, Dave Trauba lives his passion for wildlife and wildlife management day by day, season by season, year by year.
Overseeing a 33,000-acre complex of prairies, lakes and wetlands that make up this wildlife unit, Trauba and his staff attune themselves constantly to the landscape, asking:
Are the area’s grasslands vast enough to encourage the successful nesting of pheasants and songbirds? Are its wetlands fertile enough to support nesting waterfowl? Are ducks and geese stopping during their spring and fall migrations? If so, how long are they staying?
“For many years in Minnesota, waterfowl and other wildlife were the byproduct of an ecosystem dominated by prairie fires and grazing buffalo,” Trauba said. “Look at the state today, and there’s not much of this habitat left. In the future, if we want ducks, for example, I believe we’re going to have to manage for them intensively.”
The Killen Wildlife Refuge, whose 110 acres are wholly contained within the Lac qui Parle wildlife management area, provides such intensive management.
Commonly called a “moist soil management” area, the Killen Refuge — named for Owatonna wildlife artist Jim Killen and his wife, Karen — is providing the DNR a way to attract, feed and hold migratory waterfowl in spring and fall.
Fairly simple in concept, but somewhat challenging to implement and even more challenging to replicate, moist soil areas gained fame in recent years when in the 1990s the Missouri Department of Conservation developed a number of them successfully.
Those areas now are credited with holding migratory birds in Missouri that in previous years might have stopped there only briefly, or overflew the state entirely.
With that example in mind, construction of the first phase of the Killen Refuge was completed in 2004 with significant engineering and financial assistance from Ducks Unlimited.