A few thoughts from 2011 DNR Roundtable

The 2011 Wildlife, Fisheries and Eco-Services Roundtable last
weekend drew a strong crowd during a cold January weekend. Gotta
give the DNR credit for organizing the roundtable during the slow,
quiet, post-holidays time of year.

Gov. Dayton’s fine appointment of Tom Landwehr to lead the
DNR of course was the buzz of the weekend. You’d be hard-pressed to
find any sensible individual on the state conservation scene who
doesn’t support Dayton’s choice. As Shawn Perich pointed out in his
Outdoor News column this week (Page 8), however, Landwehr and his
staff face a daunting list of natural resources problems. The
headline on Shawn’s column, “From moose to mussels, Landwehr has
work to do,” sums up the situation.

Overall, no huge announcement or unexpected headlines from this
year’s roundtable. Last year, of course, the agency surprised
everyone with plans to implement “moist-soil management” projects
around the state, and this year, Dennis Simon, DNR Wildlife chief,
provided an update on that plan.

“Update” probably was the theme of the whole weekend as DNR
employees provided status reports on a number of management
strategies and plans. A few highpoints that caught my eye:

• DNR big game guru Lou Cornicelli explained the latest on deer
management and told attendees that the state’s deer population and
harvest levels are probably about where the agency wants them to
be. (Minnesotans killed about 207,000 deer this past fall via
archery, modern firearm and muzzleloader.)

The agency does plan to re-evaluate deer numbers in the
southwest to see if they’ve dropped too far below goal, and in Zone
3, we can expect at least another two years of antler-point
reduction-driven management. (That is, of course, unless some
wise-ass legislator - my word- decides to screw it up via a bill at
the state Capitol.) There also is a bill circulating in the
southeast that would eliminate the 4-points-or-better
restrictions.

• Sat next to DNR Enforcement Director Jim Konrad and
Enforcement Operations Supervisor Rodman Smith at dinner Friday.
Though I’d spoke with them both by phone over the years, I’ve never
commiserated with them casually. Let me just say that Enforcement
appears to have the best leadership I’ve seen in my 14 years at
Outdoor News.

• The DNR says that 1,962 hunters bought sandhill cranes
licenses (1,359 of those folks – about 70 percent – also bought
early season goose licenses), and the agency expects the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service to have a harvest estimate in
mid-February.

• This week we learned that Dave Schad, Fish and Wildlife
Division director, will be Landwehr’s deputy commissioner, the
second in command.

• The Game and Fish Fund likely could be in the red by 2014, and
the state hasn’t had fishing or hunting license increases in a
decade. Expect that to be a hot topic (and probably a nonstarter at
the Republican-led Legislature) through at least this spring. The
general vibe among roundtablers appeared to be that the state needs
to get creative in finding ways to generate more income.

 

Categories: Rob Drieslein

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