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Hamden Slough could open to youth hunting


Detroit Lakes Newspapers

Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge could be open to some hunting under proposed rule changes by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It will be change for the 3,400-acre area that is located on a thin strip north of Audubon and west of Callaway that hasn't had any hunting since it was created in 1989.

Full-scale hunting, though, won't be coming. It will be limited to those aged 15 and younger during the state's Youth Waterfowl Day and a late muzzle-loading deer hunt at the end of November through mid-December.

A proposed rule change in 2006 would have allowed the same type of hunting being proposed this time around.

But a lawsuit filed that year and later court decisions regarding the opening of hunting areas in the national refuge system delayed those plans.

"We did revise environmental assessments to alleviate concerns," said Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District Supervisor Scott Kahan, whose office oversees Hamden Slough

A glance at the proposed rules reveals no changes relating to Hamden Slough between the 2006 and 2008 drafts of the rule changes.

"Nothing much has changed since (first) proposed," Kahan said.

He said that opening Hamden Slough to hunting provides some uses, which are limited, that are compatible with its mission.

The youth waterfowl hunt is limited in scope, with hunting only allowed in the Audubon and Riceville Townships.

Kahan said that means about 40 percent of the refuge will be open during that time.

The 30-day public comment period ended on July 10.

From there, the Fish and Wildlife Service will see if any changes are needed before hunting is allowed.

"We are in the process of reviewing and addressing those comments," Kahan said.

Waterfowl hunting isn't likely to take place this year, because of the review process.

Deer hunting this season depends on how quickly a final rule is released.

"It would depend largely on this (review process) if hunting does take place this year," Kahan said.

He said that Hamden Slough should be popular to start out with, because it will be an area that hasn't been hunted on for at least 20 years.

"I imagine with any new opening, the interest is high," Kahan said. "And then it levels off.

"I would imagine that to be the case here."