Hunting protested in Minnesota forest

November 23, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Part of the Wilder Forest in May Township is slated to eventually open to the public, but some neighbors aren't happy it could allow hunting and trapping.

The St. Paul-based Wilder Foundation, a nonprofit social services agency, expects to sell 279 acres along the northeastern shore of Terrapin Lake to the Trust for Public Land by the end of the year. The land would then be conveyed to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which will use money from the Outdoor Heritage Fund for the purchase, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The Washington County land in eastern Minnesota would be a wildlife management area open to the public, said Cynthia Osmundson, regional wildlife manager for the DNR.

The DNR is considering restrictions on hunting, such as allowing only archery for deer and fine shot for small game, she said. Trapping would be allowed only by permit, and while fishing would be allowed, motorized boats would not be, she said.

Nearby is the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center, a 700-acre facility operated by the Science Museum of Minnesota that draws thousands of school children each year.

"I personally feel having a WMA next to a nature center with kids walking around is not a very good fit," said Greg McNeely, a trustee of the Manitou Fund, which owns the Warner Nature Center land.

The chair of the May Town Board also is concerned.

"This is a fundamental change in land use for this neighborhood," said Bill Voedisch. "After decades of community-based programming on the Wilder property, it will change to the year-round taking of game by gun, rod or trap. It's pretty significant."

Concern from hunters over such loss of huntable spaces within wildlife management areas is part of the reason the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which recommends to the Legislature how Outdoor Heritage funds are spent, mandates that hunting be allowed on all lands purchased with money from the fund.

The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of several destinations for sales taxes that voters approved in 2008 as part of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, www.twincities.com