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Continued: Bug-infested Scott County: Is the refuge to blame?

  • Article by: DAVID PETERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 16, 2013 - 2:23 PM

“We do work closely with the mosquito control district and have a good relationship with them.”


Q: What mainly accounts for the severity of the problem in rural Scott?

A: One key point: While Scott is much worse off than Dakota, in general, there are much higher counts in parts of rural Carver County, far from the refuge. And there are high counts in remoter parts of Washington and Anoka as well.

“It’s a function of both population density and time,” said Mike McLean, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District. Population density meaning: We give priority to places with more people in them.

“In midsummer, it takes a mosquito about a week to go from egg to adult,” he said. “We concentrate on controlling mosquitoes while they’re still in the larval stage. … We treat mosquito breeding sites in the middle of the metro first. Then we proceed to more breeding sites further and further out as time allows.

“Another factor is the way mosquito adults move in the environment. Depending on species, they can drift several miles over their life span. Folks living on the edge of our treatment area may be affected by mosquitoes drifting in from untreated areas, as well.”

Where rural Dakota is more farm-centered, rural Scott has lots of people on big rural lots. That often causes friction as they expect all kinds of suburban and urban services while being more spread out and harder to serve.

Contrary to what some in Scott seem to feel, the mosquito control district does not perceive the refuge as an obstacle, McLean said.

“We have a relationship with them much like the DNR [the state Department of Natural Resources]: There are high-use areas like Fort Snelling where we do do treatment. But the refuge is a huge swath through the metro. …

“Our position is, people living next to natural areas sometimes have to take the bad with the good,” McLean said.

That said, Wagner does maintain that if he “whines enough” the district will specially treat an area for a major event such as a wedding. And he admits he does totally understand the environmental issues with mosquito control.

“I’m checking my beehives right now,” he said. “Bees need water, and I have a pond that mosquito control doesn’t know about, and that’s wonderful because I don’t need contaminants from them.”

Q: Any prospects for change in the refuge’s approach?

A: Commissioners have commented over the years that different refuge managers can take differing positions, and this summer, a new manager is about to take charge.

If the good news for critics is that former leader Charlie Blair is gone, though, the bad news is, he didn’t go far: He’s the new Midwest Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System.


David Peterson • 952-746-3285

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