Citizen’s petition asks Indian bands to stop shooting northeast Minnesota moose

Rob DriesleinMinnesota could use more people like Robin Johnson. Her infectious energy, sense of optimism, and take-charge attitude have helped her build a successful Twin Cities business, and she’s applying the formula to helping a Minnesota species that needs help. Raised in St. Paul, Johnson remembers summers in northern Minnesota, particularly along the Gunflint Trail where she developed an affinity for everyone’s favorite northwoods creature, the moose.

Today, this mother of three grown children is a successful entrepreneur who owns and operates The Sweet Retreat bakery in the tony 50th and France shopping district of Edina. She specializes in cupcakes (she corrected me when I asked about her “muffin” business), full-size cakes, and other sweet treats. Google her name and business and you’ll see raves about Sweet Retreat’s succulent pastries, plus stories about her stint on the Food Network’s program Cupcake Wars.

Robin JohnsonThis hardworking cupcake queen loves animals, and although she has never visited a deer camp, she’s fighting a good fight that any outdoorsman can embrace.

News reports last year documenting the decline of the Minnesota moose population alarmed Johnson, and she set out to make a difference. Twice in the past year, she’s held fund-raisers, donating proceeds from her cupcake sales to the DNR’s Wildlife Health Fund. Those fund-raisers have tallied about $10,000 to purchase collars for moose research. She started a website,, and when she delivers a batch a cupcakes, she drops off a few business cards plugging her cause.

A nonhunter herself, Johnson doesn’t begrudge moose hunters – state or tribal – if there’s a harvestable surplus. But given the plunging moose population in northeastern Minnesota in recent years, Johnson (like me) believes the DNR made the right decision in cancelling the 2013 season. The rub? She’s disgusted that the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage bands of Ojibwe intend to proceed with their hunts.

In my experience, most Minnesotans have little quarrel with tribal natural resources shenanigans simply because it doesn’t affect their lives. When they begin investigating and understanding its scope, they often react like Johnson. Shocked.

“There’s so much work and money involved in placing a collar on a moose,” she said. “So all my work and help could be for nothing? Can’t someone do something?”

To its credit, the DNR has entered arbitration with the Grand Portage Band because it believes the band’s decision to hunt moose violates a memorandum of understanding between the two. Fond du Lac isn’t part of that agreement. The bands maintain their harvest is so minuscule that it won’t affect the population. You can make that case for recent state hunts, too, but the DNR still did the right thing: It gave a free-falling moose population a break.

Johnson asked me how a concerned citizen from the southwest metro can stop the tribal hunts. In my opinion, the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage bands need to hear from the general public, many of whom frequent their casinos, that continuing to kill moose after the state has cancelled its season, is unacceptable. Outdoor News is preaching that message to the choir, but Johnson is helping to reach a swath of Minnesotans and taxpayers who generally have no clue about tribal natural resources management.

In addition to her website, Johnson has started an online petition at urging the bands not to shoot research moose. You can reach the online petition via either the Save Minnesota Moose or Outdoor News Facebook pages. 

Finally, Johnson is organizing a Save Minnesota Moose weekend at the Bearskin Lodge on the Gunflint Trail, Nov. 1-3, where moose enthusiasts can commiserate and learn more about Minnesota moose.

Through pure energy and a can-do attitude, Robin Johnson strikes me as someone who usually achieves whatever she wants. I wouldn’t bet against her in this good fight.


Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, MinBlogs, Rob Drieslein, Social Media

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