Conservation projects to benefit fish and wildlife in six Midwest states received a half-million dollar boost from the federal government through grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Nineteen projects in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin will receive grants, to be matched with funding, labor, and other services from partners ranging from conservation groups to state governments.
In Minnesota, grant money will be spent to plant and maintain trees, shrubs and perennial grasses at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, to control invasive species in Otter Tail County, to restore prairie in Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge and in Murray County, to restore native grasslands at Litchfield Wetland Management District, and for upland restoration at Glacial Ridge.
Wisconsin angler wins
Tom Keenan of Hatley, Wis. won $300,000 on Oct. 4 as winner of the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship on the Mississippi River near Red Wing. Keenan outfished six final-round competitors with five walleyes weighing 13 pounds, 5 ounces to emerge as 2003 champion.
Rounding out the top six pros were Scott Allar, Welch, Steve Lamb, Nashville, Tenn., Jim Schulta, Hazelhurst, Wis., Doug Vandersteen, Lundar, Manitoba, and Jerry Hein, Stillwater.
The tournament featured 220 pros and 220 co-anglers competing for two days for one of 12 semifinal-round slots in each division. Co-angler competition concluded Friday, with Darrell Archey, Great Falls, Mont., claiming $120,000 cash as the co-angler champ. The pro field was whittled to six for the final day of competition, with weights reset to zero.
Two trumpeter swans shot
during waterfowl opener
Two trumpeter swans were shot Sept. 28, the second day of the waterfowl hunting season, at the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area in Anoka County. One swan was killed. The second was injured and was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation clinic where it was euthanized due to its severe injuries.
The trumpeter swan is a threatened species. The hunter ticketed for shooting one of the swans said he was sure it was a Canada goose. The second shooting is still under investigation. Persons with information regarding the incident are asked to call the TIP Hotline at (800) 652-9030.
DNR names waterfowl specialist
Steve Cordts, a South Dakota native with a Master's Degree in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University, has been named the new DNR waterfowl staff specialist in Bemidji.
Cordts most recent job was assistant waterfowl program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He replaces Jeff Lawrence, who was the DNR waterfowl specialist for 15 years and was promoted to wetland wildlife populations and research group leader this past April.
Cordts will represent Minnesota on the Mississippi Flyway Council Technical Section, chair the DNR Waterfowl Committee and conduct aerial May waterfowl breeding population and fall migration waterfowl surveys, among other duties.
Fish kill scheduled
for Lake Christina
A fish-killing agent will be applied to the surface of Lake Christina in Douglas and Otter Tail counties sometime during the week beginning Oct. 20. Hunters and others will be asked to stay off the lake on the day of the treatment.
Rich in duck foods like sago pondweed, wild celery and chara, the famed 4,000-acre canvasback lake once served as a stopover area for up to 20 percent of the continent's canvasbacks. Infestations of carp, bullhead and other fish species that decrease water clarity and subsequently kill aquatic vegetation greatly diminished the lake for wildlife by the 1950s. Two attempts since then to improve the lake have had good results, but within the last 15 years, problems have again arisen.
This past summer barriers were installed that prevent carp and bullhead from entering the lake. To remove remaining populations, the DNR and other conservation organizations will treat the lake with rotenone, a fish-asphyxiating chemical.
OHV law applies to hunters
in wetland areas
A new law to protect Minnesota's lands and waters from Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) damage is the target of many hunter questions this year. The law, passed during the 2003 legislative session and designed primarily to promote managed riding on managed trails, prohibits OHV use on certain wetlands even if they are on private land or frozen.
Specifically, the new law states that a person may not intentionally operate an OHV on a trail or public land that is designated for non-motorized use only, on restricted areas within public lands that are posted or where gates or other clearly visible structures are placed to prevent unauthorized motor vehicle access or except as specifically authorized by law or rule adopted by the DNR Commissioner.
More details about OHV operation can be found on pages 119-120 of the 2003 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook or the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
USFWS says gray wolves
not moving south
Gray wolves are recovering in the western Great Lakes, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Ron Refsnider, but are not likely to establish populations south of Wisconsin and Michigan.
"What we're probably seeing in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri are young wolves dispersing from packs in the north," Refsnider explained. "Occasionally these wolves travel hundreds of miles but do not survive to establish packs."
Refsnider, who works in Minneapolis as an endangered species biologist, says lack of large land areas with a low human density and an inadequate wild prey base in states beyond the gray wolves' current range will limit the species' expansion south. Wolves were reclassified from endangered to threatened in most of the nation because populations are no longer in danger of extinction. Under their current status wolves are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
DNR to close some
state forest roads
The DNR will close some state forest roads over the next year to protect them from damage, according to state forestry roads specialist Greg Kvale.
Because of limited road maintenance funds, the DNR is unable to keep all current roads open. Closing some roads will enable the DNR to redirect existing state forest road/bridge maintenance funding to the more heavily used roads in the system.
"Our focus will be on roads most at risk to damage and that need higher maintenance," Kvale said.
The DNR will also extend existing seasonal closures on some roads. In most cases, closures will be limited primarily to truck traffic, unless there is evidence of damage from ATV travel. Gates will be installed in appropriate locations this fall, Kvale said.
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