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Big Rice Lake motor ban pays off for ducks

Two years after Little Rice Lake northeast of Virginia was designated a state game refuge, and a year after nearby Big Rice Lake was made non-motorized for part of the year, the ducks seem to approve.

Two years after Little Rice Lake northeast of Virginia was designated a state game refuge, and a year after nearby Big Rice Lake was made non-motorized for part of the year, the ducks seem to approve.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials say the number and diversity of waterfowl species using the two lakes is increasing.
β€œOur ultimate goal is to increase the number of migratory waterfowl using the area and improve the quality of the waterfowl season,” Dawn Plattner, Tower area assistant wildlife manager, said in a statement.
The regulations on Little Rice and Big Rice were made to protect breeding waterfowl and provide feeding and resting habitat for migratory ducks during the waterfowl season, Plattner said.
Results from the first two years of surveying have shown waterfowl numbers increasing throughout the season and peaking in late October. Survey numbers peaked at slightly more than 600 ducks in 2012, the first year Little Rice was a refuge. That increased to a peak of nearly 5,000 ducks in 2013, the first year with both the state game refuge and Big Rice Lake non-motorized regulations implemented.
Most hunters also approve. Comments gathered from a February 2014 public meeting and follow-up surveys indicated 92 percent of respondents agreed waterfowl hunting has improved on Big Rice Lake, Plattner said.
As a state game refuge, Little Rice Lake is closed to hunting and trapping from Sept. 1 through Nov. 25 each year. Big Rice Lake, located just southwest of Little Rice Lake, was designated non-motorized starting with last year’s waterfowl opener. Motorized surface use is restricted to watercraft with electric trolling motors only from June 15 until Nov. 25 annually.

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