A new survey indicates that 86 percent of Minnesota wildlife management area (WMA) users support ongoing acquisition of these public lands that provide wildlife habitat and access to hunters, wildlife watchers and countless others, the Minnesota DNR said in a news release Thursday, Sept. 28.
According to the survey, 63 percent of users also say that WMAs provide high-quality hunting experiences.
Minnesota’s WMA system began 64 years ago as part of public effort called “Save the Wetlands.” Today, there are more than 1,400 WMAs totaling 1.3 million acres, providing a significant public-land base for users to enjoy prairies, brushlands, forests, and wetlands, the DNR said in the release.
National Public Lands Day is celebrated on Saturday, Sept. 30. The day is designed to encourage visitation and appreciation for the nation’s public lands, and to encourage volunteerism to help improve them, the DNR said.
A graduate student at the University of Minnesota-based Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit recently completed a scientific survey of WMA users in southwest and northwest Minnesota. The survey evaluated the 2015-2016 hunting season attitudes and experiences of individuals who used the WMA system.
Results showed that 55 percent of hunters are moderately or extremely satisfied with their WMA experience. WMAs are most valued by those hunting pheasants, waterfowl and deer with firearms.
According to the DNR, the survey is the most extensive analysis ever of WMA users. The DNR will use the input when making future WMA acquisition and management decisions.
Notable findings in the survey:
- Sixty-three percent of users hunt on WMAs but don’t visit them for other purposes. For those who do, wildlife/bird watching, fishing and dog training are other top uses, respectively.
- Nearly 40 percent of users don’t hunt on private land, indicating the importance of having public land available for hunting.
- Nearly 45 percent do either most or all of their hunting on WMAs.
- Users are most interested in pheasant hunting (80 percent), duck hunting (37 percent) and firearms deer hunting (31 percent).
- The most satisfied hunters are those seeking spring turkeys, fall turkeys and deer by archery, respectively.
To see the full study, go to mndnr.gov/wmas.