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Supporting conservation and animal protection through National Wildlife Refuge Week

Posted at 6:48 PM, Oct 10, 2023

MISSOURI VALLEY, Ia. (KMTV) — There are more than 550 wildlife refuges in the U.S. This week marks "National Wildlife Refuge Week," a time to recognize how they support conservation and animal protection.

At this time of year, it's still early in the migration season, which means visitors at Desoto National Wildlife Refuge can still see plenty of waterfowl. The refuge focuses on providing habitats for migrating birds.

"One of the reasons that draws the birds here is to minimize disturbance and so we do have kind of sanctuaries where they're closed to the public to provide that important resting stop," said supervisory park ranger, Peter Rea.

With a little over 8,000 acres spanning the refuge, park rangers like Rea help maintain the wetlands for wildlife to flourish.

It's needed because, "Unfortunately, as far as habitat goes, wetlands are one of those that especially throughout the Midwest, we've lost a lot of because they were viewed as kind of wastelands so a lot of them were drained," said Rea.

During the fall, workers make sure the wetlands are flooded to provide food sources to any bird that comes through.

"For a lot of these ducks and geese, you know, all these plants that produce seeds … that's going to be full of carbohydrates at this time of year when they're migrating they need those high carb, you know, food sources."

It's a place for these marathon fliers to come and go as they please.

"When humans are traveling, they need places where they can stop, where they can rest, where they can get food, drinks and all that. Well when birds are traveling, a lot of these birds are going, you know, this time of year they're coming from like up north Canada even and some of them go clear down to South America," said Rea.

While the park prioritizes wildlife, people can enjoy it too. They are limited though to where they can go and what they can do including fishing and hunting depending on the season.

This Saturday, the refuge will celebrate the week by hosting family-friendly activities including seed ball making, a museum tour and an exclusive wetland walk.

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