The year in review

July

Turkey hunters killed 7,650 birds during the spring hunt,
setting a record for the ninth year in a row.

Following three massive stockings, walleye numbers in overfished
Red Lake are at the highest number in 20 years, but fish biologists
say they will wait until the stocked fish are old enough to spawn
before reopening the lake to fishing.

Restoring naturally reproducing runs of steelhead continues to
be the emphasis of DNR management, as the agency completes a
10-year revision of its steelhead plan.

Northbound scaup appear to be losing weight as they pass through
Minnesota, perhaps due to poor habitat conditions, and may have
lower nesting success as a result, say waterfowl researchers.

August

Newly elected board members of the Minnesota Waterfowl
Association say their first priority is to regain trust of the
membership following financial difficulties that led to state
audits of the group’s finances.

In a move to discourage nonresident bird hunters, North Dakota
doubles nonresident license fees, reduces licenses from a full
season to two weeks, and closes state land to nonresidents for the
first five days of the pheasant season.

Trout angling groups boycott a DNR “roundtable” to discuss
southeastern Minnesota trout management due to concerns that the
DNR stacked the deck of invitees to prevent progressive change to
fishing regulations.

Sportsmen meet with politicians at a summit sponsored by the
Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance.

September

The Crow Wing County Board bans permanent deer stands on county
lands beginning August 1, 2005.

Butch Furtman and Frank Schneider are inducted into the
Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame.

Waiving existing rules, DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam allows
boat manufacturer and tournament sponsor Irwin Jacobs to release
bass after an off-site weigh-in.

October

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that state conservation
officers can search boats without the consent of the owner.

The premiere issue of Pennsylvania Outdoor News appears in that
state.

Reports of high pheasant numbers led to greater numbers of
hunters afield on the Minnesota opener.

Prairie chicken hunters killed about 100 birds in the first hunt
held since 1942.

A helicopter used to apply fish poison crashed into Lake
Christina, with the pilot suffering minor injuries.

Commissioner Gene Merriam names DNR northeast Minnesota regional
administrator (and his hunting and fishing buddy), 59-year-old John
Guenther, to head the newly merged Division of Fish and
Wildlife.

November

Cold temperatures chilled deer hunters on the firearms season
opener, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who hosted the first Minnesota
Governor’s Deer Opener.

Gov. Pawlenty met with North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven to discuss
an array of issues, including nonresident hunting, prior to a
hockey game in Grand Forks.

DNR wildlife staff worked at registration stations on the
opening weekend of deer season to collect brain tissue samples for
chronic wasting disease testing.

Only 53 spawning chinook salmon returned to the French River
Hatchery this fall, prompting the DNR to warn that low returns may
lead to the eventual cessation of the stocking program.

Laurie Martinson was named director of the DNR Division of
Trails and Waterways, following the reassignment of former director
Dennis Asmussen.

December

The DNR will seek independent certification of state forest
management to reassure the timber industry that forest products
will be able to be sold in world markets that require
certification.

Unbeknownst to state deer hunters, the DNR plans to pursue
legislation to ban permanent deer stands on state forest lands.

Hunters killed 253,000 deer in the 2003 firearms hunt, a new
record harvest.

Red Lake walleyes will become fair game for harvest beginning in
2006, as biologists bank on juvenile stocked fish successfully
spawning in spring 2004.

Sturgeon harvest will be further restricted on the Rainy River
as the DNR tries to continue a successful recovery of the
species.

President Bush decides to not weaken wetlands rules after a
White House meeting with conservation leaders.

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