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Lake of the Woods is one of Minnesota’s relatively unexplored natural treasures. It is the 100th largest lake in the world. With 65,000 miles of shoreline, 10 miles wide and 14,000 islands, this lake represents Minnesota and southern Canada at their best. <br><br> The lake can be accessed on ...
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Thief Lake WMA
Description: Thief Lake WMA is one of Minnesota’s premier wetland wildlife areas.

Located in northwestern Minnesota, the lake and surrounding upland habitats provide habitat for breeding and migrating waterbirds and shorebirds by the thousands.

Western pied-bill, red-necked and eared grebes nest on the lake; waterfowl species breeding here includes blue-winged teal, northern shoveler, American widgeon and mallard canvasback, ring-necked duck, redheads, Canada goose and trumpeter swan. Twenty-seven waterfowl species can be seen here during migration periods. Thief Lake is an exciting location to view migratory birds, with shorebirds being present in the summer months.

The area is managed for wildlife of all kinds, through habitat improvement and water level manipulation. The area was established as a refuge in 1930 and includes 7,100 acre Thief Lake.

Wildlife to Watch: A total of 232 species have been recorded on the WMA, 99 are known to breed on the Unit.

Highlights include sandhill crane (breeding), marbled godwits, western meadowlarks, sharp-tailed grouse and bobolink in the open fields. The lake is teeming with waterbirds of every kind, including ducks, American bittern, Franklin’s gull, common loon and black tern.

In the wooded acreage, look for chestnut-sided warblers and American redstarts, plus warblers in migration. Look for elk in the area southeast of the lake; this population now numbers close to 30 animals. Other mammals includes snowshoe hares, white-tailed deer, black bear, wolf and coyote.

Special Tips: Bird list is available at the wildlife headquarters office.

The area showcases all that northwestern Minnesota has to offer--extensive marshland habitats and abundant wildlife. There are several primitive boat launch sites and contact WMA headquarters staff for more information about access.

Ownership: MN DNR 
Size: 54,957 acres 
Closest Town: Middle River

RestroomsParkingTent CampingFishingVisitor CenterHuntingSmall BoatsDrinking Water

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Blue-winged Teal - photo by USFWS
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
From Thief River Falls, drive north on Highway 32 for 41 miles to Middle River. Turn right (east) and continue east on Marshall County 6 for ten miles. Go north 3.25 miles on Marshall County 49 to WMA headquarters.

Map Link

Thief Lake WMA : Wildlife Viewing Area