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Tamarac Refuge: Discover the outdoors at wildlife sanctuary

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Early summer is a wonderful time to quietly observe the young of spring.

Look for deer fawns hiding behind their mothers, bear cubs exploring their new world and eaglets demanding to be fed.

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Experience the vibrant colors and fragrances of early summer woodland wildflowers including the showy pink lady slipper.

Listen for songbirds as they settle in for the summer season.

Wildlife watching

At Tamarac, wildlife is left undisturbed as they care for their young. Portions of the refuge are closed to the public during this crucial time, but many viewing opportunities still exist.

The most optimum times for viewing wildlife occur around sunrise and sunset. But sometimes even an afternoon visit can be rewarding to the quiet, watchful observer.

To increase your chances of seeing wildlife, explore the edges of the lakes, marshes and meadows of the five-mile Blackbird Wildlife Drive. If you feel inclined to exercise, hike the two-mile long Old Indian Hiking Trail and experience the beauty of the maple-basswood forest.  Another option is to venture out on the North Country Trail, which traverses 14 miles through the southern half of the refuge.

Fishing

Try your luck in one of the five lakes open to fishing. There are many varieties of fish to be caught including crappie, walleye, sunfish, northern pike and bass.

A fishing map and regulations can be obtained at the refuge information kiosks.

Visitor Center

If you’ve got questions, our enthusiastic staff has answers. We are eager to help you make the most of your visit. Check out our interactive exhibits and learn about the refuge habitats that provide a home for animals like trumpeter swans, gray wolves, and the golden-winged warbler.

Be sure to view our large screen presentation entitles: “Tamarac: It’s Life and Legends.” Before you leave browse the Tamarac Bookshop. Proceeds from sales support educational programs at the refuge.

The visitor center is located 9 miles north of Hwy 34. Visitor center hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

We will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 4!

Movies and activities

Sunday, July 6, 2 p.m.: Movie: “North America; Episode 2 - No Place to Hide”

A world of extreme storms and unpredictable blizzards, this land tests all those who set foot on it. From bunker building prairie dogs to the fastest land animals on the continent, the fight to survive shapes all who dare call this place home. Stay and discover how some Tamarac species adapt to our northern climate.

Saturday, July 12, 8:30 a.m.: Early Birding Tour

Here’s a chance to experience the refuge with seasoned birder Judy Bell. Learn to identify 20 species by sight and sound while visiting various habitats on the refuge. Binoculars and guide books will be provided. Meet at the visitor center.

Sunday, July 13, 2 p.m.: Movie: “Bears”

Discover the world of bears and experience a fascinating encounter with one of nature’s most inspiring and misunderstood creatures. Stay for the Bear Essentials program. Learn how a black bear’s lifestyle changes through the seasons.

Sunday, July 20, 2 p.m.: Movie: “First Flight, A Mother Hummingbird’s story”

This award winning enchanting documentary follows the dedicated efforts of a tiny black-chinned hummingbird to lay, incubate, hatch two tiny eggs and raise the fledgling chicks. Following the film, join us for Hummingbird Trivia and Feeding Tips.   

Saturday, July 26, 10 a.m.: Nature Photo Adventure

Capture the beauty of nature as we explore the refuge. You’ll become inspired as we take you to some scenic and perhaps lesser known areas of the refuge. You never know what may be around the bend.  Bring a snack and water for this 2 hour photo shoot. Meet at the visitor center.

Sunday, July 27, 2 p.m.: Movie: “Beavers — The Biggest Dam Movie You Ever Saw!”

Take an intimate swim with beavers and experience the rich aquatic habitat of one of nature’s greatest engineers. Our most popular movie! Following the movie, join us for a fun Beaver Adaptations activity, view video from our beaver cam and visit a beaver lodge.

Sunday, Aug. 3, 2 p.m.: Movie: “North America; Episode 3- Learn Young or Die”

In the upper reaches of this vast continent, survival is a daily battle. From avalanche dodging grizzlies to head bashing big horn sheep, from diving bears to cunning coyotes, we witness the extremes and wonders of North America’s mountains and forests. Stay to discover more about Tamarac’s wildlife survival secrets.

Saturday, Aug. 9, 8:30 a.m.: Trumpeter Tour

Discover the world of trumpeter swans. Learn how this bird was nearly decimated and how Tamarac played a critical role in its amazing recovery. We’ll visit several locations to view adults and their young. Meet at the visitor center.

Summer time brings many things to Tamarac Wildlife Refuge — hikers, bird watchers, curious newborn animals, foragers and anglers. It also brings scientists and biologists researching wildlife.

This summer, Tim Mitchell from Iowa State University is doing research on the painted turtle.

The painted turtle is the most widespread North American turtle, ranging across the entire continent. It is one of the more easily identified species with olive to dark skin and yellow stripes covering the head, neck and limbs.

Males can be distinguished from females by their smaller size and longer front claws. An adult turtles shell ranges from 4 to 10 inches.

The turtles mate from March to mid-June and females lay eggs between May and July. The sex of the turtle is dependent on the temperature of the nest. Cooler temperatures produce males and warmer temperatures produce females.

Researchers worry that shifting climates and increasing temperatures may adversely affect the turtle’s reproductive success. If temperatures increase it is possible that only females will be produced.

Tim’s research is being done in seven different states with varying climates. The goal of the research is to give insight to how the turtles are able to adapt to varying climates.

So far, Tim has spent two weeks at Tamarac researching the nesting turtles. Once a nesting site is found it is marked on a GPS. After the eggs are laid they are counted and weighed.

He then inserts a temperature logger in the nest that gives hourly readings of the temperature throughout the incubation period.

Finally, a net covering is laid over the nest to protect it from predators. Tim will be returning in August to revisit each site and determine the sex ratio of the nests.

There are many interesting research projects that go on throughout the summer; another reason to visit Tamarac, ask questions and understand the importance of a wildlife refuge.

We will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. of the 4th of July. The Refuge is a great place to bring the family rain or shine.

When you do visit, remember to slow down for wildlife. Many of our painted turtle friends like to take their time while crossing the road.

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