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Vandals damage Marshall County wildlife management area

Minnesota authorities are seeking information on recent vandalism incidents at the East Park Wildlife Management Area in Marshall County, where both gates along the north dike of the WMA were damaged and people were illegally driving the road pas...

The west gate of the East Park Wildlife Management Area in Marshall County was one of two gates vandals damaged in the northwest Minnesota WMA. (Photo/ Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)
The west gate of the East Park Wildlife Management Area in Marshall County was one of two gates vandals damaged in the northwest Minnesota WMA. (Photo/ Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

Minnesota authorities are seeking information on recent vandalism incidents at the East Park Wildlife Management Area in Marshall County, where both gates along the north dike of the WMA were damaged and people were illegally driving the road past the water control structure.

The road is closed to vehicle traffic because that portion of the WMA is a waterfowl sanctuary and closed to use during the spring, summer and fall. The gates are open in the winter for snowmobiling.

The east gate is bent in a U-shape, the lock is broken and it can no longer be closed and locked. The west gate is completely destroyed, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said. The metal and concrete posts are bent over and the gate has been crushed. Both gates will need to be replaced, officials said.

"We repaired the east gate twice in the last two years," said Jason Wollin, assistant area wildlife manager for the DNR in Karlstad, Minn. "We replaced the west gate last fall."

Vandalism of public property is a crime. It also is costly to those who support DNR natural resource management efforts. Hunter and trapper license dollars pay for wildlife management, public land infrastructure maintenance and habitat management.

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"This type of vandalism has been going on at East Park WMA since the early 1980s, when the gates first went up to address the destruction caused by drivers disobeying the 'no motorized vehicle' signs," DNR Enforcement Lt. Pat Znajda said.

East Park WMA provides a variety of public access and recreational opportunities. That includes a 450-acre State Duck Refuge for waterfowl resting and feeding during the hunting season and the 1,700-acre Nelson Sough, which offers waterfowl viewing and hunting opportunities. It has three water access points and six primitive campsites.

Anyone with information on the vandalism to the East Park WMA or any other wildlife or natural resource violation can call the Turn in Poachers (TIP) Hotline at (800) 652-9093.

Related Topics: CRIME
Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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