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Thief Lake WMA
Thief Lake WMA is one of Minnesota’s premier wetland wildlife areas.<br><br>Located in northwestern Minnesota, the lake and surrounding upland habitats provide habitat for breeding and migrating waterbirds and shorebirds by the thousands. <br><br>Western pied-bill, red-necked and eared grebes ne...
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Roseau River WMA / Lost River State Forest
Description: Just south of the Canadian border in northwestern Minnesota you’ll find the Roseau River Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This 74,784-acre WMA encompasses a wide variety of habitats, including but not limited to forest, brushland, emergent wetland and open water. The vast wetlands provide some of the most spectacular waterfowl breeding and migration sites in the state.

“A river runs through it,” aptly describes the Roseau River flowing west for 14 miles through this WMA. Three wetland impoundments (pools) totaling more than 10,000 acres have been constructed north of the river. These wetlands are managed for resident and migratory waterfowl, wetland wildlife, hunting and other recreation.

This part of the Glacial Lake Agassiz plain is low and flat. Vegetation is primarily sedge meadow, shallow wetland and lowland brush. Some of the plants you might see here include swamp milkweed, blazing star, dogwood, hardstem bulrush, bearberry, fringed gentian, big bluestem, bladderwort, bracken fern, balsam willow, narrow-leaved cattail and water hemlock.

Much of the site is inaccessible, however, for one week in late July and during weekends throughout August, the 29-mile “Wildlife Drive” is open, providing vehicle access to the WMA dike system. The drive traverses wetland, woods, brushland and farm habitat, allowing visitors ample opportunity for wildlife viewing.

East of the WMA and also bordering Manitoba, Canada, is the Lost River State Forest. Tamarack/black spruce forest, noted for its high densities of great gray owls, dominates the forest cover. In addition, Lost River has aspen, bur oak, jack pine and white cedar trees, a peat bog and willow and alder thickets that combine to provide ideal living accommodations for many species of northern wildlife.

Roseau River WMA and Lost River State Forest are two of 45 sites along the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail. The route is about 200 miles in length and offers an array of landscapes with a checklist of more than 275 bird species.

Wildlife to Watch: Roseau River is an important refuge for migrating sandhill cranes, swans and shorebirds. A total of 149 bird species breed in the vicinity, including trumpeter swans, western grebes, northern harriers, sharp-tailed grouse, marbled godwits, gray jays, black-billed magpies and boreal chickadees. This is the only nesting spot in Minnesota for the horned grebe. Check for shorebirds, such as greater yellowlegs, scurrying along the water’s edge. On early summer evenings, listen for the unique calls and look for secretive marsh birds like the Virginia rail and American bittern. This takes persistence and patience, but a sighting will be sure to thrill.

Other birds calling the woods of Lost River State Forest home include spruce grouse, whip-poor-wills, three-toed and black-backed woodpeckers, yellow-bellied flycatchers, common ravens and boreal chickadees. It’s a great place for warblers too—you might get a glimpse of magnolia, mourning, Cape May, Connecticut, blackburnian and bay-breasted warblers. White-winged crossbills and other winter finches could also be spotted.

Northern Minnesota is a renowned hotspot for owls. Summer discoveries may include a barred, great horned, eastern screech, long-eared, short-eared or boreal owl. In addition to great gray owls, exploring this site in winter might produce sightings of snowy, northern hawk and northern saw-whet owls.

White-tailed deer are often seen. During a visit, you may see Franklin’s ground squirrels, red squirrels, raccoons, porcupine, snowshoe hare or even a fisher, gray wolf, black bear or moose.

Special Tips: The dike road, when open, provides outstanding views of various waterfowl species.

There are three handicapped accessible blinds on this WMA. The headquarters is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Blinds on the east side of Pool One may be used for bird observation except during the waterfowl hunting season.

Refuge dike roads are open as conditions allow in mid-April, for one week in late July, and on weekends throughout August. Motorists are urged to use caution because of narrow roads, soft shoulders, deep ditches and two-way traffic. The speed limit on all WMA roads is 20 mph. The DNR may close the drive if road conditions deteriorate due to poor weather. Only motor vehicles licensed for use on public highways are legal to operate on the WMA wildlife drive. The recommended entry point is the main dike road, one and three quarter miles south of the WMA headquarters on Roseau County Road 3.

Please contact the headquarters to obtain information regarding the Wildlife Drive prior to your visit. Information about bird concentrations and local conditions may be obtained from the area wildlife manager.

Other Activities: Contact:

Land Manager Contact:
DNR Wildlife Area Office
27952 400th St.
Roseau MN 5675l

Lost River State Forest
804 Cherne Dr NW
Warroad MN 56763

Ownership: MN DNR 
Size: Roseau River 74,784 acres; Lost River 54,915 
Closest Town: Pinecreek / Roseau

RestroomsParkingTent CampingFishingCross Country SkiingHikingPicnic tablesBoat LaunchVisitor CenterHuntingLarge BoatsSmall BoatsTrailer CampingDrinking WaterBicyclingAuto TourRV Pullout

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Great Gray Owl - Photo by Stephen Maxson
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
The Roseau River WMA is located 20 miles northwest of Roseau. Drive six miles west of Roseau on Highway 11, then 11 miles north on Highway 89. Drive west from Pinecreek for three miles on County Road 3 to the unit headquarters.

The tamarack/spruce forest in Lost River State Forest is located between six and ten miles north of Roseau on both sides of Highway 3l0. The best access into the state forest is the northernmost three miles of Hwy. 310, just before reaching the Canadian border. Roads into the forested area are just off the highway and are mainly minimum maintenance roads, hiking and ditch grade trails. Some roads may be difficult to travel in winter.

Map Link

Roseau River WMA / Lost River State Forest : Wildlife Viewing Area