Attendance was down at this year’s Sherburne National Wildlife Winterfest Saturday but those who showed up, including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, found a warm welcome and plenty of activities The National Wildlife Refuge system is celebrating its 115th birthday this year and free cake was part of that. Other edibles included a brat and potato chip lunch for $2.50 and an opportunity to purchase some bread donated by Diamond City Bakery in Elk River. Activities included winter crafts, a scavenger hunt, snow shoeing and riding in a sleigh pulled by four percherons from Diamond K Percheron R Ranch, owned by Mel Klein. “I wasn’t sure of the snow,” said Klein. “Hitching them up this way means four horses do a little bit of work compared to two horses working pretty hard. We can get some pretty heavy loads on here.” Friends of the Refuge volunteer Carol Mertendorf showed off two traveling trunks which are available to borrow for educational purposes. “We have the prairie trunk and the wetlands trunk,” she said. “They contain dress up items, books and games. It’s very interesting. People can borrow them for a week or two.” Call (763) 383-3323 for more information on how to borrow a trunk. Rick Krueger and his son Kyle were among the volunteers sharing about wild life. The Kruegers make nesting boxes to support wild birds in the area. Biology Technician Ben Anderson was on hand to discuss efforts to restore the Refuge to Oak Savannah. “My job is the eradication of non-native species,” said Anderson, admitting herbicides are sometimes used to help control invasive species such as cat tails, aspen, leafy spurge, spotted knapweed and Siberian elm. “All these things are caused by us,” Anderson said. “Back then, they would have been controlled by wildfire.” Although Refuge staff do conduct spring burns on the Refuge every spring, weather permitting, it is not enough to control the invasive species. “We are going to be bringing is some cattle to help control their spread,” said Anderson. “We would love to have bison (buffalo), but there are too many houses surrounding the area and they are hard to contain.” Also on display were birds from the Audubon Society near Sandstone. There was a great horned owl, which had been hit by a car and broken its wing in three places, and a female Kestrel with blue wings. “The male Kestrels have brown wings,” said Jeff Tyson. Other displays showed animal furs and animal tracks and how to survive in the winter by building a quinzhee, a kind of snow cave, for shelter. There was also a silent auction and marshmallows to roast over a bonfire.