Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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DNR unveils waterfowl public input meetings

Staff Writer

St. Paul — Hunters who have anything to say about ducks can
tell the DNR directly at a series of input meetings planned for
across the state.

The meetings will be held at 18 locations on Thursday, April 28,
from 7 to 9 p.m.

“We always have annual input meetings in the spring, and
predominantly those are focused on deer issues, and, this year,
bear issues,” said C.B. Bylander, DNR Outreach Section chief. “We
are interested in collecting input this spring for future waterfowl
hunting seasons, and getting a stronger statewide perspective.”

Comments and suggestions collected could affect the 2005
waterfowl season, which opens Saturday, Oct. 1. The DNR has to
formalize any new regulations or rules by the end of the summer,
said John Guenther, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director.

The DNR will present some of its information on duck habitat,
populations, and regulations, then take comments on issues such as
bag limits, season length, zones and split seasons, spinning-wing
decoys, the youth waterfowl hunt, and over-water Canada goose
hunting.

“I think everything’s on the table and we’re looking for broad
input at this point,” Bylander said. “How that input translates
into our management will have to be determined later on.

“The first step is to get some new and fresh input from around
the state.”

Spinning-wing decoys likely will be discussed at length. DNR
data show hunters who use spinning-wing decoys shoot five times as
many young-of-the-year mallards as hunters who don’t use them.

A DNR bill introduced this year would have prohibited
spinning-wing decoy use in the early season, and on wildlife
management areas. That’s been changed in the Legislature, and the
House version of the bill now would prohibit their use
altogether.

The DNR wanted to curtail spinning-wing decoy use early in the
season to save some of the young mallards. But banning them
completely is more of a social issue. If the majority of hunters
want to ban them, the DNR could move in that direction, Guenther
said.

Guenther also expects bag limits to be discussed heavily.

“I’m hearing a lot from people who want to make them more
conservative,” Guenther said, even though the DNR waterfowl
committee said that wouldn’t make a large difference. “But if the
public sentiment is we don’t need to kill more ducks, we will
certainly look at that as input.”

A duck recovery plan also will be discussed, Bylander said. The
DNR plans to have that plan completed by the end of the year.

“We want to talk a little bit about what we think needs to be
done to improve populations and hunter satisfaction,” Bylander
said.

Local DNR officials will open the meetings, then show a video
about topics such as regulations and habitat. Videos will include
comments from DNR officials including Commissioner Gene Merriam,
Ray Norrgard, wetland wildlife program leader, and Steve Cordts,
waterfowl biologist.

Discussion and the public input session will follow the video,
Bylander said.

Meetings are scheduled for the following locations:

  • St. Paul at DNR headquarters.
  • Albert Lea at Riverland Community and Technical College.
  • Alexandria at Alexandria Technical College.
  • Bemidji at Bemidji State University.
  • Brainerd at Central Lakes College.
  • Detroit Lakes at Minnesota State Community and Technical
    College.
  • Duluth at Lake Superior College.
  • East Grand Forks at Northland Community and Technical
    College.
  • Fergus Falls at Minnesota State Community and Technical
    College.
  • Grand Rapids at Minnesota Interagency Fire Center.
  • Granite Falls at Minnesota West Community and Technical
    College.
  • Hutchinson at Ridgewater College.
  • North Mankato at South Central Technical College.
  • Marshall at Southwest Minnesota State University.
  • St. Cloud at Americana Inn.
  • Thief River Falls at Northland Community and Technical
    College.
  • Virginia at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College.
  • Winona at Minnesota State College — Southeast Technical.

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