Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Telander to lead DNR Wildlife Section

Bemidji, Minn. — All of Paul Telander’s 28 years with the DNR have been spent working in the northwestern part of the state.

Since 2005, he’s worked in Bemidji as the regional wildlife manager. Before that, he worked for 21 years at the Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area as the manager or assistant manager.

Telander has been at the center of a number of high-profile, contentious issues in that part of the state, but early next month, he’s taking on something new altogether: the role of chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Section. Based at the agency’s central office in St. Paul, Telander will oversee the section’s annual $47.2 million budget and its staff of 220 full-time and 81 part-time employees.

“It’s going to be a neat opportunity for me; I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s a chance to be in a greater leadership role, and just try to make a contribution to the section’s mission from that position.”

Telander, who holds a bachelor of science degree in wildlife management from the University of Minnesota, replaces former section chief Dennis Simon, who retired in September. Steve Merchant, the wildlife population and regulation program manager, had been acting chief.

“Paul is an experienced wildlife manager and an administrator who brings a strong track record of effectively working on complex wildlife management issues,” said Ed Boggess, director of the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division.

During his time as regional wildlife manager, Telander has been in the middle of a number of issues that generated statewide attention, including elk seasons – and depopulation efforts – in the northwest, as well as the discovery of bovine tuberculosis in nearly 30 wild deer.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of different kinds of issues up here, and those will help prepare me for what’s ahead,” Telander, 55, said.

He believes the section is in good shape, and doesn’t have any changes planned. Telander said he’s an advocate for acquisition and management of public land. He also has a strong interest in habitat, and said the habitat money from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment that voters approved in 2008 is especially helpful in that regard.

Though he said he’s never had aspirations of moving to St. Paul, it’s a homecoming of sorts. Telander grew up in Mora, which isn’t far north of the Twin Cities, and still has land there. And he graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1980.

Telander is an avid hunter, and regularly hunts deer during the archery and firearms seasons. He also hunts grouse, pheasants, and waterfowl each fall.

“I try to do all that stuff each fall,” he said. “There just isn’t enough time to do it all as often as you’d like, or as well as you’d like.”

He’s yet to hunt turkeys, “but that’s on the list.”

Telander begins his new duties Dec. 5.

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