Norrgard, Stewart fill DNR Wildlife St. Paul positions

St. Paul Two internal candidates have been named to fill vacant
posts within the Minnesota DNR’s Division of Wildlife.

Ray Norrgard, currently the DNR wildlife lake specialist, will
be the agency’s new wetland wildlife program leader. Steve
Merchant, formerly an area wildlife manager in Madison, Minn., will
take over as forest wildlife program leader. Both will begin their
new duties Oct. 11. Merchant replaces Dave Schad, who has taken on
the role as area wildlife manager in Brainerd.

In his current position, Norrgard has provided technical support
and guidance involving the state’s shallow lakes program.

He also served as coordinator of the Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM)
conservation program from 1987-89 and was the Minnesota Waterfowl
Association’s executive director from 1980-85.

His primary focus as wetland program manager will be wetland
habitat and waterfowl species.

“I’ll work with field staff regarding wetland management,
including upland nesting cover for waterfowl,” he said.

Norrgard also will coordinate partnerships with the many groups
in the state interested in wetland management, including the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, MWA, Ducks Unlimited, and the Soil and
Water Conservation Service.

Outside the state, he’ll interact with other states within the
Mississippi Flyway on habitat issues.

New technology will be one his top in-state priorities.

The past three mild winters, while aiding other species, have
harmed duck habitat because of reduced winterkill of certain fish
species, he said. That has increased the presence of carp and
fathead minnows, both destructive to waterfowl habitat.

“Carp are a problem in shallow lakes and wetlands,” he said.

Norrgard said technology is being developed to manage carp and
also to induce winterkill which controls carp populations. High
water over the past couple decades has created channels, which carp
and fatheads have traversed in order to repopulate elsewhere.

For the past 21/2 years, Merchant, a 17-year veteran of the DNR,
has worked in St. Paul on the railroad prairie project, according
to DNR Wildlife Resource Manager Ed Boggess.

From 1990-97, he served as area wildlife manager in Madison. For
more than two years, he was assistant manager of the Red Lake
WMA.

“He’s been around the state in a variety of positions,” Boggess
said.

Merchant also has worked at Carlos Avery and as a waterfowl
researcher in Bemidji. He has a degree in forestry from Michigan
Tech and a master’s degree in wildlife from New Mexico State.

“He has a good background and experience working with deer
management issues,” Boggess said.

Merchant will be involved with deer population goals, as well as
the again-annual moose season, Boggess added.

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