DNR to double size of Bonnell Wildlife Management Area

The Carl E. Bonnell Wildlife Management Area northwest of St. Francis may soon be doubling in size.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Area Wildlife Supervisor Tim Marion May 6 updated the St. Francis City Council on the DNR’s intention to purchase a 40-acre parcel east of the Carl E. Bonnell Wildlife Management Area from a private seller. Marion was at the meeting to gain support from the city council of the upcoming transaction, which Mayor Jerry Tveit voiced on behalf of the council.

Next the DNR will need to gain approval of the sale from the Anoka County Wetlands Committee and then the Anoka County Board. Marion said he expects the sale to close sometime this summer.

The wildlife management area is currently 40 acres in size and is located 4 1/4 miles north and west of St. Francis on County Road 28. It comprises about 50 percent upland forest and 50 percent lowland shrub swamp. Hunting options in the wildlife area include deer, bear, small game, forest game birds, pheasants and turkeys. The pending land acquisition will expand the Carl E. Bonnell Wildlife Management Area to a full 80 acres.

Marion said that motorized vehicles are generally not allowed in wildlife management areas; however, there is an existing snowmobile trail that goes through the Bonnell property that riders may use, but snowmobiles must stay on the trail when crossing the property.

Wildlife management areas were established to protect Minnesota’s lands and waters that have a high potential for wildlife production, public hunting, trapping, fishing and other recreational uses. This system started in 1951 and has the goals of protecting wildlife habitat for future generations, providing citizens with opportunities to hunt, fish and watch wildlife, and to promote wildlife-based tourism in the state

According to the DNR, there are currently more than 1.29 million acres of high-quality habitat in 1,440 wildlife management areas throughout the state.