The Lake Erie marshes gained fame during the late 1800s as some of the best waterfowl hunting areas in the United States. Wealthy sportsmen vied to purchase choice hunting sites, and as early as 1890 much of the wetland area was being operated for private shooting. By the end of 1951 the entire 30,000 acres of remaining marshland along Lake Erie, from Toledo to Sandusky, was under private club ownership. Today, the region still supports some of the most intensively developed and managed waterfowling clubs in the Midwest.
The Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, purchased by the Ohio Division of Wildlife in August 1951, lies in some of Ohio’s finest remaining wetlands. The marsh complex has historically been inhabited by large numbers of waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, and songbirds. Magee Marsh is managed primarily for the development and maintenance of high quality wetland habitat for a diverse array of wetland wildlife species and controlled waterfowl hunting opportunities. Visitors enjoy the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center, observation tower, walking trail and the famous Magee Marsh boardwalk.
During the 1960s, a small flock of Canada geese was released and goose nesting tubs were erected at Magee Marsh as part of Ohio’s Canada goose reintroduction program. Other goose management areas included Killdeer Plains, Mercer, and Mosquito wildlife areas. Between 9,000-11,000 goslings are produced on these areas annually, making Ohio’s goose production program the most successful program in the nation.
The Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station, headquarters for the Division of Wildlife’s wetland wildlife research, is housed on the second floor of the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center which is located on the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. Biologists at the research station have been responsible for statewide research and management of wetland-dependent wildlife including waterfowl, furbearers, and endangered wetland species, such as the bald eagle. The Division of Wildlife now utilizes other staff throughout Ohio to address furbearer and waterfowl conservation and management issues but Crane Creek staff members continue to be actively engaged in monitoring bald eagles, osprey, trumpeter swans, and a host of other wetland-dependent wildlife. For more information visit: www.dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/19778/Default.aspx