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Minnesota Army veteran fights U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over proposed gun hunting on wildlife refuge land

May 14, 2019 10:21 PM

A Little Falls couple is challenging a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan to open 49-acres of land to firearms hunting right next to the couple's property in the Crane Meadows Wildlife Refuge.

Doug Sundberg is an Army veteran who told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he's been diagnosed with PTSD and bought his home on 16-acres with the idea it was a non-hunting area and had no indication that could change anytime soon.

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"My wife and I bought this a little over a year ago and had not been told the non-hunting status could change," Sundberg said.  "With PTSD, it's not good for me or my family. And I hunt but do not like the idea of the public firing rifles this close to my home."

His wife, Morgan Sundberg, told KSTP they had a dream to open up some of their land to other people diagnosed with PTSD as a place they could visit as therapy.

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"But we cannot do that in good conscience if this opens up to firearms hunting," she said.  "I mean it could trigger people with PTSD just to see someone walking the edge of our land carrying a rifle.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge Manager Stever Karel told KSTP there has not been any final decision on what the gun hunting plan will look like and they will take the neighbor's concerns into consideration.

"Safety is always a top priority with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," Karel said.  "We are looking at a numbr options and have not come to a final decision on this, but we do support opening it up to hunting and that is what the public has told us they want."

Karel said the Fish and Wildlife Service will take public comment on the proposed plan until May 30. After weighing all the information, a final decision will be made this summer before the fall hunting season begins.

"This land is owned by Americans who (have) bought and paid for it and they have a right to weigh in on how they want to see it managed," Karel said.  "And we have a responsibility to be stewards of their land with the best interests of the public and the wildlife refuge in mind."

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Jay Kolls

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