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Experiencing nature through Maga Ta-Hohpi Winterfest

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 5th, 2014

Riley and Reese Uecker help Deion Harris play a wildlife game. In the next photo, Gunna Harris watches as a suet mix is added to his bird feeder. PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED

HURON — Children within the community participated in Maga Ta-Hohpi’s Winterfest, learning about the area’s native species through a number of wildlife activities.

Frank Amundson, President of Friends of Maga Ta-Hohpi, said roughly 26 people attended the event, not including the staff. Visitors were taught how to identify animal tracks along with signs that an animal is in the area.

“They really liked it,” said Amundson of the children’s response. “They were quite surprised at how many animals were around here. Some kids even asked to go on the nature trail so we did.”

The furs and pelts of animals indeginious to the area were displayed for the children to study, along with pictures of tracks that were telling of each animals specfic biology.

“We went over the difference between rabbit and squirrel tracks and how to tell which direction the tracks are heading towards,” said Amundson. “We also showed them the differences between how certain animals feed on vegetation, such as how a rabbit will eat a branch off at a 45 degree angle.”

These tracking skills make known if an animal has been in the area. Friends of Maga Ta-Hohpi was recently awarded a $500 Education Grant from the Captain Planet Foundation, which Amundson said will be used to fund “Secrets of the Marsh,” along with the cameras which will document and photograph animals within the wetlands. Pictures will be posted on the group’s web site for the public to see.

“We are buying two trail cameras that use motion detection that will photograph the animals who tend to hide from plain sight,” said Amundson.

The cameras will take higher quality photos than the average trail cameras used by hunters and adapt to South Dakota’s varying weather conditions.

“We’ll be able to see what’s out here 24 hours a day,” said Amundson. “Who knows, we may even see a mountain lion. It’s not likely but it is possible.”

Brent Jamison, of the Huron Wetland Management District, added that the cameras will be able to capture the changing seasons and the varying wildlife population that changes along with the weather. “As spring comes and birds start arriving we’ll see all the different species all together,” said Jamison.

For more information on upcoming wildlife events or updates on the “Secrets of the Marsh” program, or any other program, visit their website at www.friendsofmagatahohpi.com, or explore the wetland area first hand. Located nine miles west of Huron on U.S. Highway 14, it is open year-round and free to the public.

For the complete article see the 03-02-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-02-2014 paper.

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