Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Minnesota Letters to the Editor: Wolves and water concerns

Minnesota River watershed deserves better, but how?

I enjoyed Mr. Eugene Crandall’s discussion of agricultural drainage in the Dec. 23, 2022, Outdoor News letters to the editor.

I spend a lot of time fishing Minnesota River basin streams and have done so my entire life. It’s clear these streams are sick. The scientific literature – particularly on the well-studied Le Sueur River – has documented significant increases in erosion, sediment loads, channel width, and flow rates in these waters.

Historically, these were clear-water streams. In fact, smallmouth bass were originally the main sportfish species of the Blue Earth River – the Minnesota’s largest tributary and my home
water. That species is mostly gone from the watershed, with a small
population clinging to life in the lower Blue Earth.

Instead, murky water-adapted walleyes and channel catfish now predominate. Good
references for the ecological history of the Minnesota River basin are
explorer Joseph Nicollet’s 1838-39 journals and early biological surveys
by Ulysses Cox (1896) and Jerome Kuehn (1948).

The Blue Earth watershed has seen an estimated 96% loss in wetlands,
according to a 2020 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
watershed-monitoring report, with the aforementioned consequences. I
agree that drainage management should be better.

Of course, funding is always the limiting factor in conservation. It cannot fairly be done on the backs of the farmers; I imagine a voluntary tax check-off akin to the Non-game
Wildlife Program as a possibility. Retention ponds placed on the
downstream ends of major ditch watersheds may be a good solution, to
state just one example.

One other point that I believe is important is to avoid finger-pointing,
partisanship, and blaming. There’s enough of that in politics. It’s also
important to acknowledge the hard work that various conservation
agencies and landowners have put into the greater Minnesota River basin
to this point.

The central question should simply be, how can farmers maintain their high
productivity and profitability that society depends upon while improving
the quality of water to a more natural state that supports better
recreation and that the tax-paying public deserves?

Collin Nienhaus Mapleton

The new wolf plan: Is it actually a plan?

The DNR doesn’t have a new wolf plan.

The agency unveiled its new plan and nowhere in it was a true plan. “The plan” has a lot of statistics and history on Minnesota wolves, and the DNR keeps bringing up “the plan.”
But it sounds like “the plan” consists of the DNR continuing to do
surveys and talking to people – the same stuff it’s been doing forever.

“The plan” also includes a lot of filler words that have no real substance
or meaning behind them – as if a politician wrote the whole thing.

I didn’t see any words about any real actions that the agency would take
that would actually affect the wolf population – because the only thing
it can do that would have any significant impact on the population would
be to have a hunting and/or trapping season.

I know the DNR’s hands are tied at the moment, but they should have it
all laid out and ready to go. But instead, it sounds like if the wolf
gets delisted, then the DNR will start thinking about it.

Besides sending people out to trap problem wolves and the DNR’s basic enforcement to
keep people from illegally killing them, what would change if “the plan”
suddenly didn’t exist? In my opinion, nothing.

Hunter Schmidt Buffalo

A buddy goes deer hunting …

A buddy went deer hunting in northern Minnesota. He got up at 9:30 a.m.
and hunted in an area 40 feet from a highway. He looked at his phone
most the time. And didn’t see a deer.

He blamed his lack of success on an overabundance of wolves.

Jim Piga St. Paul

Why are hunters paying for wolves?

Have you read the DNR’s new wolf-preservation plan? Or the article in last week’s Outdoor News? You should, but I’ll cover a couple of the important parts and try to keep short.

The wolf recovery goal is 1,251 to 1,400 animals, set
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1992. The wolf population in
Minnesota has never dropped below 300 to 400.

The wolf population peaked at 3,020, which coincided with a high deer population (also moose, which they forgot to mention).

The wolf range is the northern third of state. In 2005, the moose
population exceeded 8,000. Adult moose mortality includes brainworm (No.
1), and predation (No. 2). For moose calves, predation is No. 1.

Now, the kick in the teeth:

The whole wolf plan is being funded by hunter dollars. Yes, 50 cents from
every deer license is what is funding it most of it, and it won’t stop
until wolves are federally delisted. We sure shouldn’t be paying the bill.

We need to raise a howl and make others (wolf protectionists, for example) pay for them.

They want ’em, they fund ’em.

Dallas Hudson Akeley

Online Opinions

This issue’s question ———————————————————— Snow continues to pile up and affect ice fishing. How has this influenced your ice-fishing activity this winter?

A) Not a bit. I’ve gone out as I usually do.

B) I’ve had to adjust my style, but I’ve done it.

C) I’ve cut back on ice fishing because of conditions.

Online results from last issue’s question ————————— One outdoor option come January is coyote hunting. Is it something you partake in during winter?

A) I try to hunt coyotes every year. (18%)

B) I’ve done it, but it’s not on my must-do list. (24%)

C) Nope, not a coyote hunter. (58%)

Vote @ Discuss at

Commentaries and letters are the opinions of the writers, not necessarily those of Outdoor News

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Letters to the Editor, Outdoor News, 9850 51st Ave. N., Suite 130, Plymouth, MN 55442-3271.

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