Jennie Lake in western Douglas County has been a designated waterfowl refuge for many years. After a brief lapse this fall season, the lake is now back under that refuge status, meaning no hunting on the shallow 316-acre basin.
“We have to go through a process every three years to keep that a refuge status,” Jason Strege of the DNR said. “A little bit of paperwork was overlooked, so it wasn’t legally a refuge so we couldn’t enforce it. We had to go through that process with the landowners again.”
A public hearing was held by the Department of Natural Resources on Sept. 14 at the Urness Town Hall in Evansville. That was part of the process that was recently completed to re-establish the lake as a state waterfowl refuge through the 2020 waterfowl hunting seasons.
“Typically, that refuge does contain birds throughout the year,” Strege said of Jennie Lake. “Once the season opens, ducks figure out pretty quickly that that is a safe haven and we can get pretty big numbers that build up out there.”
Strege said that can be beneficial to the waterfowl and to hunters if those ducks stick around the area throughout the season.
A pump was installed on Jennie Lake in the last 10 years to allow the DNR to lower water levels when needed to try to establish high-quality wetland habitat. Jennie is also within about 10 miles of Lake Christina, which also functions as a refuge on about two-thirds of the lake.
“The idea is that without hunting pressure in a good spot like that, that the ducks will hang around the area longer, which gives the ducks a spot to rest but also provides hunting opportunities in the surrounding area,” Strege said. “We see them as a pretty valuable asset to duck hunting and just giving the ducks a break being that we do have such a strong duck hunting population out there.”