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Missing UND-themed duck decoy returned

The duck decoy that went missing from the Sundowner Lounge in Lakota is painted in University of North Dakota colors and autographed by several present and past UND hockey team members.

LAKOTA -- Whoever ducked out of the SunLac Inn on Monday with a University of North Dakota-themed duck decoy apparently ducked back in Thursday night and secretly returned the prized souvenir.

Now, the duck can take its place in a Duckfest charity auction this evening to benefit the public libraries in Lakota and Michigan.

The decoy, painted in UND green and white, is autographed by 11 present and past members of the UND hockey team, some of whom now are playing in the NHL.

"We are so happy," said Maria Vasichek, a member of the Michigan Community Club and one of the Duckfest organizers.

A $150 reward had been offered for the duck.

The decoy was returned by about 8 p.m. Thursday. It was left in the men's restroom at the SunLac's Sundowner Lounge, located in Lakota.

"Whoever it was felt pretty doggone guilty," said Rita Hjelseth, another event organizer. "We don't know who returned it, but we got it."

The UND souvenir is one of 87 plastic duck decoys that will be sold at a Duckfest Auction at 7 tonight at the Lakota Community Center. A social hour precedes the event at 6 p.m.

Local businesses and residents paid $25 to adopt one of the decoys and to decorate it for the fundraising activity.

Proceeds will go to the community clubs in the two Nelson County towns to support expansion projects at the A.M. Tofthagen Library and Museum in Lakota, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Michigan Carnegie Mini Library.

Lakota, with a population of about 650, is about 60 miles west of Grand Forks. Michigan, with about 290 residents, is about 10 miles east of Lakota.

Tonight's open auction has been preceded by a silent auction. The UND-decorated duck decoy had been one of the early leaders, with a top bid of about $250.

The UND hockey players whose autographs adorn the decoy are: Matt Greene, Mike Commodore, Jake Marto, Matt Watkins, Robbie Bina, Andy Kollar, Mike Prpich, Lee Marvin, Andy Schneider, Jay Panzer and Chay Genoway.