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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 25, 2012, Page 12

Grand River Wildlife Unit

The Grand River Wildlife Unit is part of the Wildlife Bureau of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The unit manages the state-owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Ringgold, Taylor, Decatur, Adams, Union, Adair and Madison counties covering approximately 20,000 acres of public land.

Natural Resource Technician II Josh Rusk and Natural Resource Technician I Andy Kellner, along with seasonal help Daniel Stull and Jeffery Hansen, work out of as hop located near Mount Ayr while Natural Resource Biologist Chad Paup and Depredation Biologist Brian Hickman work out of Creston.

Using a variety of management tools such as edge feathering, early successional disturbance (spraying and disking), prescribed fire, invasive species removal and food plots, this team reconstructs and restores native landscapes while bolstering wildlife populations fo rpublic use, including hiking, birdwatching, hunting or enjoying the aesthetics of the landscape. The Grand River Wildlife Unit also conducts a variety of wildlife surveys to help monitor white-tailed deer, mourning dove, raccoon, bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant and waterfowl populations. It is their mission to perpetuate wildlife populations and their habitat for you and for the generations to follow.

Kellerton Bird Conservation Area (BCA)

Located two miles west of Kellerton and situated south of Highway 2, the Kellerton BCA is home to Iowa's only population of greater prairie chicken (non-huntable population). The Kellerton BCA is primarily open grassland managed for a great diversity of grassland birds with the greater prairie chicken being the umbrella species for which management is targeted. Because of some concern about the genetics of the current population of chickens, the DNR trapped 50 chickens in Nebraska last spring and released them at Kellerton. They plan to trap 100 more this coming spring and translocate them back to Iowa to add some new genetics. Management primarily includes tree removal, prescribed burning and grazing. Native seedings and food plots are also utilized on this area. This management also provides good habitat for ring-necked pheasant and bobwhite quail.

While upland game is what hunters commonly pursue at Kellerton, deer are also plentiful. However, they can be a little more challenging to hunt here due to the open landscape.

In recent years, sunflower food plots have been utilized for dove hunting.

Kellerton is the future home of a new shop that will be the location for the Iowa DNR's Grand River Wildlife Unit (formerly known as the Mount Ayr Wildlife Unit).

Mount Ayr Wildlife Management Area

The Mount Ayr WMA (often called the "Game Area") is located two miles south of Mount Ayr on Highway 169 then just over two miles west on county road J43.

This area is roughly half timber and half upland. The Mount Ayr WMA is primarily a destination for quality deer and turkey hunting. Pheasant, quail and cottontail rabbit are also commonly hunted.

Walnut Creek Marsh is situated on the north side of the area and can be a good location at times for waterfowl hunting.

Food plots for dove hunting have also been incorporated into the rotation on this WMA. This is also the current headquarters for the Grand River Wildlife Unit.

Fogle Lake Wildlife Management Area

Fogle Lake is one of the smaller WMA's and is situated on the northwest side of Diagonal. The city of Diagonal manages the southeast side which includes a campground and 3D archery range. The northand west sides are managed by the Grand River Wildlife Unit.

The recent addition of the Parker tract on the northeast side of the lake has added a lot to this area as almost the whole watershed for this lake is now permanently protected.

Management of this area has been focused primarily on upland game such as pheasant, quail and rabbit. Deer are also hunted on this area.

The recent addition of a sunflower plot to the area has made this a prime dove hunting area as well.

Ringgold Wildlife Management Area

Sometimes called the "South Game Area," the Ringgold WMA is located approximately six miles south and six miles east of Mount Ayr. This WMA is comprised of about one-quarter timber and three-quarters uplands.

The Ringgold WMA contains a large amount of prairie remnant. Much of this prairie remnant is very diverse and unique as very little remnant prairie exists in Iowa, especially this size and quality.

This area can offer good deer, turkey, pheasant, rabbit and quail hunting. While tree removal and prescribed burning are important management practices here, a great deal of discing and spraying are used in the early fall to create weedy cover important for brood rearing for upland game birds.

Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area

The Sand Creek WMA is located just east of Sun Valley Lake or northwest of the town of Grand River.

Sand Creek is the largest area managed by the Grand River Wildlife Unit, boasting approximately 3,600 acres. It is three-quarters timber and one-quarter upland.

This area is a destination for many deer and turkey hunters. The occasional pheasant, quail and even ruffed grouse can also been seen at Sand Creek. Recently quail habitat management along with timber stand improvement efforts have been ramped up and will lead to great improvements in the habitat quality and hunting of this already fine area.

Dekalb Wildlife Management Area

The Dekalb WMA is located east of the Sand Creek Area and is just east of Grand River but just west of the interstate. Similar to Sand Creek but not as large, this area is three-quarters timber and one-quarter upland.

Deer and turkey are the primary game pursued on this area.

Three Mile and Twelve Mile Lake Wildlife Management Areas

Situated practically side by side, these two areas are located just north of Highway 34 between Creston and Afton. Besides having some great fishing, a mix of uplands and timber surround the lakes to provide some good deer and turkey hunting. The lakes are utilized by many waterfowl hunters during the fall While most of Three Mile is in the Canada goose refuge, the refuge status has recently been removed for the north portion of Three Mile providing for some good walk-in waterfowl hunting opportunities.

A recent land acquisition by the city of Creston on the north end of Twelve Mile should further add to the waterfowl hunting opportunities in the future as a new wetland is planned to further protect the lake.

Pheasant, quail and rabbit are also present on these areas and recently efforts to improve the habitat for pheasant and quail have been increased.

Efforts to control invasive species such as eastern red cedar and sericea lespedeza have led to many acres of cedars being sheared with more shearing planned. Efforts are also underway to convert more of the cool season grasses over to diverse native grass and wildflower mixes.

A response in the pheasant and quail population should be seen over the next few years if the weather cooperates. Sunflower plots have also recently been added to create additional hunting opportunities for doves.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2012


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