Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DNR Wildlife Division staffers helped write the plan that allows waterfowl hunters to utilize some of the marsh on the refuge. The plan created three managed hunt zones on the refuge within the Brancheau Unit; morning drawings for the hunt zones are held in conjunction with the drawing at nearby Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, which occurs on Sundays and Wednesdays.
“It’s a win-win situation,” said DNR wildlife supervisor Joe Robison, who oversees Pointe Mouillee. “It’s helping us stretch our dollar further and providing additional public hunting opportunity in Southeast Michigan, where there are a lot of people and limited public land.”
Established in 2001, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge consists of 6,000 acres of uplands, marsh, islands and undeveloped riverfront about 20 miles south of Detroit. The hunt plan was approved last summer, and the managed waterfowl hunting zones have been open to the public this season.
“The waterfowl hunters have done pretty well the first couple of weeks of the season,” Robison said.
The cooperative project “is working great right now,” said Assistant Refuge Manager Steve Dushane. “All the reports I’ve gotten are positive.
“It took us a time to get public input, write the plan and get it through the approval process,” Dushane continued. “It was a long process, but now the important thing is that it’s official and we’re finally hunting on the refuge.
“We would not be able to offer this hunting opportunity without the partnership with the DNR.”
DNR waterfowl specialist Barb Avers said that the new hunting opportunity may help stem the tide of declining waterfowl hunter numbers.
“Waterfowl hunting has always been an important part of Michigan’s outdoor legacy, particularly in the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie corridor,” she said. “Opening up the refuge to duck and goose hunters provides public access to a historic waterfowl hunting area.”
For more information on Michigan’s waterfowl legacy and managed waterfowl areas, visit www.michigan.gov/mwl.