Feeding the mallard ducks that hang around the lodge dock is one of the favorite activities for young and old during their stay at Gunflint. Mallards are not native to this area. I thought you might be interested in how we came to have them. This is the story as related by Justine in her book "Woman of the Boundary Waters."
"Years ago most ducks on the lakes were mergansers, known as fish docks. Don Lobdell, who operated Rockwood Lodge on Poplar Lake, had connections with the McGraw Game Farm in Dundee, Illinois, and undertook transporting mallards to the Gunflint Trail. The Minnesota Game and Fish Dept. arranged to ship mallard ducklings to Don. Some of us along the Trail agreed to raise and release the ducklings, and we built houses with fenced enclosures. Don met them with his car. He transported them to Rockwood Lodge, which became the distribution center. We took 75 of these little balls of fluff and coddled, fed and pampered them. When they were a few weeks old, they were banded by Charlie Ott, one of the game wardens. It was a program repeated for three years. The banded ducks, who survived the firing line on their southward flight, returned each year to raise a new brood in the area."
Our ducks today are the descendants of those ducks that arrived here in the early 1960's. By September they will all be fully grown and ready to fly south. Many will make it back next year to start the process again.
But even here at the lodge, there are dangers for the little ducklings. Last week several guests and staff were around the dock when a bald eagle came down to attack one of the ducklings. Along with the ducks at the dock, we also have a Canada goose nicknamed Bruce the Goose. When the eagle came after the duckling, Bruce drove the eagle off and saved the little fellow. Everyone was really surprised. I guess that Bruce has earned his corn for the summer.
Just as an aside yesterday a small forest fire started on the Trail after an early morning lightening strike. The fire is south and west of Seagull Lake. We can smell the smoke here at the lodge. The Forest Service will continue to work on containing the fire today. As of yesterday the fire had burned about 300 acres.