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This photo from the Grand Marais Area Tourism Association Web site shows the gull before it was stolen from a billboard along Interstate 35 in Pine County. Submitted photo

Grand Marais wants its stolen gull back

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Rosemount,Minnesota 55024 http://www.rosemounttownpages.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/10/0613/pxgull0908.jpg?itok=mPvnOG05
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Grand Marais wants its stolen gull back
Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

The tourism folks in Grand Marais are having a bit of fun these days with the theft of a faux gull that was perched on the city's billboard along Interstate 35 in Pine County.

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"He was perched there, welcoming people north. And now it's just this little tangled yellow feet - so we're pretty sure he didn't just up and fly away," reports the Grand Marais Area Tourism Association.

Grand Marais Mayor Sue Hakes has vowed to pull out all the stops to get to the bottom of the crime.

The caper is the subject of Facebook updates. The tourism association is welcoming information, anecdotes and sightings on their Web site (www.grandmarais.com). In its "Give Us the Bird" campaign, it's offering a reward -- a free vacation in Grand Marais -- for the bird's safe return ... or at least a good story of what might have happened.

"I have your bird. Pick me as the winner or the bird gets it," one Wisconsin woman posted on the site.

Fun or no fun, they want their bird.

"Aside from what he might do to your car, this bird's nothing but friendly -- he's the symbol of Grand Marais, and we want him back," Diane Brostrom, director of the tourism association, said in a statement. "We're really broken up about this."

In July, vandals somehow managed to climb to the top of the billboard, dislodge and steal the gull, leaving only its yellow feet.

It wasn't the first time.

The bird first was stolen in January and never found. A replacement gull was fashioned and the crew at Lamar Outdoor Advertising bolted the bird so well to the sign, no manner of weather could dislodge it.

But somehow, vandals managed to do what the wind couldn't.

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