Hunting News

Ice-out dates occurring earlier, but how much?

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor St. Paul – A news release from the National Environmental Trust regarding increasingly early ice-out on Minnesota lakes and others across the nation likely raised some eyebrows. But Minnesota DNR officials say that while trends indicate earlier ice-out than what occurred 100 years ago, the change isn’t as drastic as noted by the NET, a…

Association of governors backs Wetlands Loan Act

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Washington – The proposed federal Wetlands Loan Act, a plan to accelerate the purchase of land for wildlife, received another ally when the the National Governors Association endorsed the bill. Bob Schroeder, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said Pawlenty was involved in bringing the proposal before the body of governors. The legislation…

Ample outdoors bills as Legislature begins

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – The 2006 session of the Legislature began fast and furious. Discussion will continue this session on three of the major bills conservation groups have been talking about for the past few years: dedicated funding, lake and river cleanup, and reform of the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (though a task force has…

Expanded turkey hours on tap at DNR input meetings

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – The DNR is looking for thoughts on five hunting and trapping topics during its annual public input meetings, held this week and next across the state. Deer, turkey, small game, and waterfowl hunters, as well as otter trappers, would be affected by issues the DNR is proposing or considering. Meeting topics include:…

Catch of the day: Yellow perch that isn’t yellow

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Malmo, Minn. – Dick Bassing had caught two nice perch in the short time he had been fishing Lake Mille Lacs one morning in December. When the third fish hit, he assumed he had another jumbo perch. Then it came out of the hole, and didn’t look like any perch – or fish, for that…

Nature center acquires precarious eagle nest

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor McGregor, Minn. — An eagle’s nest, formerly nestled high in a dead white pine tree north of McGregor in Aitkin County, is now displayed at the Long Lake Conservation Center near Palisade. The effort to move the nest occurred about a week ago. But obtaining permission to move the federally protected nest began long ago,…

Study: Duck kill rate higher with spinners

And they don’t reduce the crippling factor By Joe Albert Staff Writer Bemidji, Minn. — A study in Minnesota on the vulnerability of mallards to spinning-wing decoys has produced a mixed set of results. On one hand, researchers, as expected, found that kill rates are higher when spinners are used. On the other hand, they found spinners don’t reduce crippling,…

Group calls for 50-year state conservation plan

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — More than 1 million acres of farmland and natural areas will be developed during the next 25 years to accommodate a state population that’s expected to increase by 1.2 million. At the same time, conservation spending from the state General Fund is at its lowest level in 30 years. The convergence, according…

Muzzleloader hunters seek ability to hunt with scopes

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Erskine, Minn. — On the heels of a muzzleloader harvest that last year broke the state’s previous record – 14,000 deer – a group of blackpowder hunters in Polk County are seeking a law change that would allow muzzleloader hunters to use magnified scopes on their guns. Allowing scopes during the muzzleloader season would boost…

Muskie minimum of 48 inches on table

By Joe Fellegy Contributing Writer Grand Rapids, Minn. — Minnesota anglers would be unable to keep muskies less than 48 inches long under a DNR proposal to raise the statewide muskie minimum size from the present 40 inches to 48 inches. If the proposed regulation change becomes law following a public input process, it likely would be implemented on the…

Deer kill No. 3 in state history

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — Minnesota hunters killed more than a quarter of a million deer in 2005, making the season the third most successful ever. Hunters killed about 255,500 deer last year, down about 2 percent from 2004, according to Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. The high-water mark was a harvest of 290,500 deer…

Senate DFLers offer a dedicated funding bill

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – As the clock ticked toward the March 1 start of the legislative session, House and Senate democrats were busy pushing their conservation agenda. Last week, House DFLers announced the formation of a Conservation Caucus. Among other conservation issues, the caucus will seek to recapture about $60 million per year in lottery money,…

Survey: Midwest duck hunters aren’t satisfied

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Las Vegas – Midwest duck hunters are those most prone to decry a decline in the quality of their hunt, according to the results of a comprehensive survey unveiled last week at the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas. The survey, which included about 10,000 respondents from the four flyways in the…

DNR shuffling Eco Services

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – A plan to shuffle the Ecological Services Division at the DNR and bring it more in line with other divisions could mean changes for managers in St. Paul. At least three Eco Services programs will be affected: the Environmental Review Program, Natural Heritage Program, and Nongame Wildlife Program. Nongame Wildlife is one…

Smallmouth regs generate Zumbro River controversy

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Rochester, Minn. — They include just 12 miles of a long-running southeast Minnesota river, but special smallmouth bass angling regulations have created a philosophical divide between those who’d like to protect all Zumbro River smallies and others who’d like to fry them up. One group – the Southeast Minnesota Public Anglers Coalition, which would like…

Mille Lacs 2006 safe harvest set at 600K pounds

By Mike Kallok Mille Lacs Messenger Isle, Minn. — Following DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam’s stamp of approval, the safe harvest level for Mille Lacs walleyes likely will increase to 600,000 pounds with tribal netters retaining 100,000 pounds of the total. News of the increase came after the joint 1837 Ceded Territories Fisheries Committee meeting – a closed meeting between the…

LCMR agreement to add citizens to ‘hybrid’ plan

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — Citizens would play an expanded role in determining how money from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund is spent under an agreement to reform the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources. The agreement, reached last week between Dave Zentner and Rep. Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids, was expected to be voted upon Tuesday…

Diverse groups talk wetlands at Summit

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Bloomington, Minn. — While the pace of wetland loss in the state has slowed in recent years, they’re still under fire and not adequately protected by the state and federal laws meant to afford them protection. That was the attitude of many at the first Wetlands Summit last Saturday in Bloomington, where more than 300…

Too many deer in forests?

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – As one part of the certification of 4.7 million acres of the state’s forests, forest and deer managers have something to prove by this fall. They must show they have a plan to ensure deer populations won’t hinder forest regeneration. One of the two audits – that of Forest Stewardship Council –…

DNR ponders options under fed’s plan to reduce geese

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Bemidji, Minn. – The DNR has begun discussions about a federal plan that allows states more latitude in controlling resident Canada geese. The plan was released last November, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hasn’t sent out a record of decision, which it must do before states can implement any of the provisions. Under…

Trollers want different fee structure for Lake Superior

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Duluth, Minn. — Is Lake Superior being slighted when it comes to proceeds from the state trout and salmon stamp? Some Superior anglers believe so, and now are promoting a “Lake Superior Fishing and Angling Endorsement” to replace the stamp as a requirement for big lake anglers, with the funds strictly reserved for Superior management….