Hunting News

USFWS unveils revised Upper Mississippi plan

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor La Crosse, Wis. — After nearly four years of planning, public meetings (46 of them), revisions, and review of more than 3,200 comments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday announced its final plan for management of the Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge for the next 15 years. After a 30-day…

WRP gets Senate backing

Subcommittee backs full funding in 2007 By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Washington — The full U.S. Senate has yet to vote on the matter, but supporters of the federal Wetlands Reserve Program are celebrating a subcommittee victory for WRP, an agricultural set-aside program. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies voted recently to provide full funding…

Woodcock numbers hold steady in 2006

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — For the third year in a row, the 10-year population trend for woodcock in the Central Region, which includes Minnesota, remained steady, according to estimates released recently by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Essentially, there has been no change in the population in the 10-year periods from 1994-2004, 1995-2005, and 1996-2006…

Family selling square mile of southeast land to state

Rushford, Minn. (AP) — The state is buying more than a square mile of land in southeastern Minnesota from a family that wants to set the land aside for conservation. The land – 658 acres between Rushford and Houston – is in an area that has seen development pressure and increasing property values in recent years. The state is paying…

Nearly 3,000 cormorants culled from Leech Lake

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Walker, Minn. — Operations to cull cormorants from Leech Lake mostly have wrapped up for the summer, and the total take is similar to last year. As of June 20, sharpshooters using shotguns and suppressed .22-caliber rifles had killed 2,864 adult cormorants, and reduced the colony to about 500 nesting pairs. Officials hoped to cull…

State mallard count taking drastic drop

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — For the second consecutive year, the number of breeding mallards in the state fell precipitously, as judged by aerial surveys completed in May. The decline was “substantial,” according to Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. Counts indicated there were 161,000 breeding mallards in the state this spring, as compared to 239,000 last year…

GLIFWC duck plan: Bait, 40-bird limit for bands

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Odanah, Wis. — The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission is proposing off-reservation duck regulations on portions of its ceded territory that would raise the daily limit to 40, and remove restrictions on baiting ducks. The regulations would apply to land covered by the 1837 and 1842 treaties, which includes parts of both Minnesota…

Signups down, BWSR seeks to tweak CREP

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — One year after signup for the second round of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program began, just more than 1 percent of the acreage goal has been enrolled. The goal for CREP II is 120,000 acres by the end of next year (the program conceivably could be extended). To date, about 1,650 acres…

Grouse counts on the rise across the state

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Grand Rapids, Minn. — After a protracted wait, there’s finally good news for grouse hunters in the state. The ruffed grouse population cycle may be on its way up. For the past four years, drumming counts – used to create an index of the population – were at the low end of the 10-year cycle….

Alternative energy: new CRP threat?

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Washington — As United States leaders look for ways to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy sources, wildlife and habitat may be unlikely victims, conservation groups fear. That’s why a collection of 22 fish and wildlife groups and agencies have asked Congress for a voice in discussions regarding the upcoming 2007 farm bill, which,…

Will CSP get short-changed?

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor St. Paul – A highly regarded federal conservation program, still considered in its infancy, is already feeling the funding squeeze, according to conservation groups, including the Minnesota Project. Signup for the Conservation Security Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, recently wrapped up – with just 14 contracts awarded –…

Dead-icated funding: Senate pulls the plug

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – Dedicated funding officially died for the year last Thursday, when Senate DFLers opted not to return to the table to negotiate. Instead, a letter delivered by Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, informed House negotiators the Senate wouldn’t be offering a counter-proposal, dashing hope for a special session to deal with dedicated…

Citizens to be tapped for councils, input

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – The commission responsible for spending money for environment and conservation projects wants to know what you think. The Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources on its website is seeking input about how the $22 million per year from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund should be spent. At the same time, Gov….

Split duck seasons, new zones possible

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – State duck officials are discussing season framework options that could mean big changes for duck hunters. Or not. Officials are deciding between options including establishment of two hunting zones in the state, and a framework that would allow for a season split into three pieces. Their decision is due this summer. The…

Spring 2006 shaping up well for nesting critters

By Glen Schmitt Staff Writer Windom, Minn. – Although it’s still too early to count young-of-the-year pheasants, turkeys, and waterfowl, wildlife officials appear more optimistic about this spring’s hatch than in 2004 or 2005. After consecutive years of wet and cool weather conditions during the peak of the hatch, everything seems in line this spring for a good nesting season….

DNR proposes new muskie regs for some lakes, rivers

DNR Reports St. Paul — The Minnesota DNR believes its proposed new regulations could improve muskie fishing in the state. The regulations would raise the minimum size muskie that anglers could keep from 40 to 48 inches on 46 select lakes and several rivers. Signs will be posted this spring at each of the waters potentially affected by the proposed…

New strategy and a new name: LCCMR

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — Change is afoot for the way conservation projects in the state are funded. In one of their final orders of business, lawmakers passed legislation to retool and rename the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources. “I think it’s history-making,” said Dave Zentner, who co-chaired the task force charged by last year’s Legislature with…

House trims funding for federal wetland program

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Washington — Conservationists this week encouraged members of the U.S. Senate to consider full funding of the Wetlands Reserve Program following House action that could mean a 25-percent decrease in new enrollments this year. Dave Nomsen, vice president of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever and co-chair of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Agriculture and Wildlife…

Wetlands Summit rolls out recommendations in report

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Bloomington, Minn. – The first Rally for Ducks, Wetlands and Clean Water, held in 2005, still is bearing fruit. That initial rally (a second one was held last April) produced the first Minnesota Wetlands Summit, held in Bloomington in early February. Last week, summit organizers released their first wetlands report. That report was authored by…

Dedicated funding: Down for the count?

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – Another session, another defeat for dedicated funding. The idea to set aside part of the state sales tax – whether that be within the existing tax, or an increase to it – progressed as far as it ever has in the Legislature before dying in a conference committee in the early hours…

A silver lining for 2006 session: WMA funding

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – While the 2006 legislative session is likely to be remembered as the one in which dedicated funding came within a breath of passing – only to fall apart in the closing hours – lawmakers were active in other conservation and environmental issues. Passed were a Clean Water Legacy Act and $25 million…

New records group emerges from record muskie dispute

By Dean Bortz Staff Writer Hayward, Wis. – A group of muskie enthusiasts unwilling to recognize Louis Spray as the world record holder have created a third record-keeping entity for modern-day muskies and hybrids. Called the International Muskellunge Record Review Committee, the new group will seek to verify any new catches of true muskies exceeding 60 pounds and tiger muskies…