Controlled hunts limited at Magee this fall

Hunting Waterfowl 161
(Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife)

Oak Harbor, Ohio — Waterfowlers looking to apply for one of the controlled hunts at the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Magee Marsh site west of Port Clinton will need more than just a pair of waders to put out decoys and a retriever to fetch their downed ducks.

This year they’ll also need their own boats. That detail, plus only three of the blinds will be open to hunting anyway, will likely give pause to more than a few prospective applicants.

The reason is because of three, several-million dollar marsh improvement projects that are occurring at Magee.

All of these marsh improvements are on top of a renovation to the area’s visitors center, too.

Scott Butterworth, the supervisor for the Division of Wildlife’s District Two (Northwest Ohio) office in Findlay, says the agency had to “de-water”Magee’s entire unit east of the north-south main dike road.

What is being done is the refurbishment of the dike buffering the marsh from Lake Erie.

“The lake’s high water has really taken its toll on the dike,” Butterworth said, noting this project received $12 million from the Ohio General Assembly’s Capital Improvements budget.

And to be replaced as well is the massive pump that draws water from Lake Erie to supply the marsh. The new pump and the replacement of two large water control structures will cost $1 million.

“The old pump is 40 to 50 years old,” Butterworth said.

A H2Ohio project in the Turtle Creek portion will cost about $750,000.

These projects span the Magee Marsh wetlands, all of which is requiring intensive construction work. Hence the need to restrict waterfowling to only a trickle of what is typicality available to successful lottery winners.

“There will be only three blinds available this year,” Butterworth says, “and those who do get drawn will have to supply their own boats. But that’s what teal hunters and late season hunters have to do now anyway.”

Those waterfowlers who do want to apply and eventually are drawn will be able to use the gravel launch ramp located by the Magee Marsh-Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge hunters’ check-in building, Butterworth said.

Not lost either is those birders who may want to visit Magee Marsh for the fall migration could find themselves also cut off. The reason here is that the dike road may very well be choked by construction vehicles and equipment, making civilian use of the paved roadway impossible, Butterworth says.

Butterworth says the agency hopes to have the projects completed in time so that the full slate of waterfowl hunts for 2022 can be held.

The problem is, says Butterworth, that securing all of the necessary equipment and building supplies has proven challenging.

“Its a temporary inconvenience for long-term benefits and improvements,” Butterworth says.

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