Hunting News

DNR aims for increased harvest of ruffed grouse

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – Hunters in the state should kill an average of 650,000 ruffed grouse per year, no matter where grouse are at in their 10-year cycle, according to a draft version of the DNR’s Long-Range Management Plan for Ruffed Grouse in Minnesota. The annual harvest currently is at about 545,000, though in peak years…

Wildlife refuge money woes hinder progress

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Washington – The nation’s refuge system is at the breaking point, crippled by funding cuts that threaten their ability to fill their role as providers of wildlife habitat and public access. That’s according to the National Wildlife Refuge Association, which recently detailed to Congress the ‘mounting crisis facing national wildlife refuges.’ ‘We’re in trouble,’ said…

Hunting seasons in plan for Hamden Slough NWR

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Audubon, Minn. – Waterfowl, deer, and small game hunters could see additional hunting opportunities in western Minnesota this year, should proposals be approved – and programs put into place – on two national wildlife refuges, one near Detroit Lakes, the other near Thief River Falls. For the first time in its 16-year history, the Hamden…

Fire scorches 32,000 acres – and counting

Blaze could affect moose hunt By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Grand Marais, Minn. — Early this week, firefighters from a number of states and various agencies continued to battle a big blaze located within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. As of Monday, the fire had consumed about 32,000 acres of “blowdown,” left from storm winds in…

DNR plans dove fields for eight state WMAs

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — In their third shot at hunting the birds in the state, Minnesota dove hunters this fall will have some new options. The DNR is in the process of creating about 14 fields in eight wildlife management areas that will be managed for doves. The fields total about 57 acres. “We’re going to…

Altered deer regulations possible for state in ’07

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — As a project to assess and control the state’s deer population continues, the results of an extensive survey give insight into the way hunters feel about certain regulations. In one part of the project, the DNR is using public input to try to come up with deer population goals in various parts…

Low flow means no go for big river drawdown

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Rochester, Minn. – Lack of water flow through Pool 5 of the Mississippi River has caused officials to at least temporarily abandon an attempt to draw down the pool, and most doubt the drawdown will resume. The pool was drawn down last year in an attempt to restore vegetation in the river – by exposing…

COs increase enforcement of state wetland violations

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Grand Rapids, Minn. – If it seems like conservation officers in the state are spending more time on wetland violations, it’s because they are. Beginning April 1, the DNR began a stepped-up effort to find wetlands violations, when agency pilots were dispatched to fly over counties across the state. To date, pilots have flown over…

Fish die-offs limited as water temperatures rise

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Duluth, Minn. – In 1983, Lake Bemidji experienced a massive die-off of tullibees, with a total kill of about a quarter-million fish. Given the heat that’s encompassed the state of late – and that began with a sweltering Memorial Day weekend – officials were concerned such an event could happen again. ‘We were getting a…

Push begins for more clean-water funding

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – Funding to clean up the state’s lakes and rivers received a $25 million shot in the arm this spring, but advocates already are pushing next year’s Legislature – unknown as it now may be – for more. Lawmakers last spring passed a Clean Water Legacy, the framework by which water in the…

Continental duck populations increase slightly

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — The number of breeding mallards in Minnesota may be on the decline, but that doesn’t reflect what’s happening in the rest of their range. The number of mallards on prairie breeding grounds, at about 7.3 million, is slightly above the count last year, and on par with the species’ long-term average. Most…

2005 pheasant harvest the highest since 1964

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — The DNR this week confirmed what pheasant hunters knew last fall: the 2005 season was a stellar one. With a kill of nearly 586,000 roosters, the fall harvest was the highest since 1964, and more than 200,000 birds above the average during the past 20 years. It’s also the fourth time harvest…

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 –…