Gopher Campfire Wildlife Sanctuary History
Back in 1910, many people in America were deeply concerned about the reduction in populations of some native species such as American Bison and Whitetail deer as well as many species of ducks and geese. One such person was a local Hutchinson attorney, Sam G. Anderson. Mr. Anderson teamed with Carlos Avery, Minnesota’s first Director of the Department of Natural Resources, to found the Gopher Campfire Club. The main function of the club was to preserve wildlife through conservation. An initial donation to the wildlife sanctuary, located at the time near the river and public utilities building, was Mr. Anderson’s extensive collection of duck species.
After the flood of 1965, the City of Hutchinson helped Gopher Campfire establish the current location of the Wildlife Sanctuary on the north bank of the river just west of Highway 15. Later, it was expanded to the east by an additional land purchase.
Over the years, there have been many varied birds and animals housed and fed at the Sanctuary. Hundreds of adults and children drive by each year to get a glimpse of today’s wildlife population. Because of the difficulty with housing Buffalo (they tend to tear up fences), they are no longer at the site. However, if you drive by today, you will have the opportunity to see: whitetail deer, turkeys, several varieties of ducks and geese as well as gulls and other birds.
Other activities of the club, besides operating the gun range include; sponsoring the Firearms Safety Instruction Program for the Hutchinson area, the introduction, back in 1917, of pheasants into the local area and more recently the production and release of 300 – 500 pheasants into the wild each year. The club has also purchased land and established public accesses at several lakes in the surrounding area.
If you would like to help out with this conservation project, please make a donation to the Gopher Campfire Club or become a member. Details of membership are located on this website.
Located along the north bank of the Crow River and south of Highway 15 in Hutchinson, MN, the Gopher Campfire Wildlife Sanctuary is home to geese (estimated at 14,000), ducks, wild turkeys, swan, and deer. Native bird species include mallards, wild turkeys, pintail ducks, wood ducks, along with the Greater Canada geese, snow geese and blue geese. Only one species, the mute swan, is not native to the area.
The sanctuary is visible by means of a vehicle on a road to the north and part of the west. A trail along the river and two parks on the east and west sides provide a non-motorized view of the wildlife. A fun activity for both young and old is feeding the winged inhabitants.
The club is responsible for the wildlife and the sanctuary itself.