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113 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What's the latest on the MN DNR's plan to improve waterfowl hunting in Minnesota? Their big initiative and long range plan to improve the states waterfowl hunting was announced a few years ago and I haven't really been following it since I moved from MN to ND a few years back.

I searched the DNR site and couldn't find details/update on the plan. I asked a couple friends of mine from MN. and they weren't sure either. There should be enough MN readers here to provide an update on the status and progress so far.

537 Posts
The response to morrie's question is underwhelming. Nobody has an answer. I do.

It's called a 2 billion dollar deficit. No money! Good ideas - good intent, but, no money.

Gov. Pawlenty doesn't want to raise ANY taxes for programs of any sort. So, our habitat and hunting and fishing programs just poke along at the status quo level. But, Pawlenty will get on the phone and talk to Gov. Hoeven and try to get him to ease up on NRs. Hmmm. I can see why ND folk are a little upset at the "Minnesota attitude."

2,326 Posts
There is even talk of selling off public land in MN for counties to raise money, including tax-in-lieu properties, forests and WMA's. AND the biggest outdoor concern for a lot of Minnesotan hunters these days are North Dakota's NR regulations??? :-? You'd think that the proposal of selling off chunks of the increasingly shrinking amount of habitat in MN would cause MN hunter's to storm the capitol...but for some reason ND is still a bigger priority for Pawlenty and most hunters.

If Pawlenty was truly a governor who stands up for his state's sportsmen he'd be making as big of a stink about improving the habitat in his own state as he is about ND's NR hunting regulations. Then maybe MN wouldn't be the biggest export of hunters in the nation.

13 Posts
MN certainly exports its share of hunters but if you would like to see the ND equivalent take a trip to the Missouri River Breaks in Central MT. Being a MT resident myself I can understand how you NoDaks dislike having your hunting areas overrun by non-res hunters because you fellas do it to us over here! I would say that there is enough room for all but there isn't, last year in the breaks there were more hunters than elk according to fish and game!!!!!

2,326 Posts
The intent of my post wasn't to complain about NR hunters.

It was to complain about a governor who claims to be pro-sportsman when all he actually does for them is nothing that will truly benefit them. The new Governor Deer Opener, Concealed & Carry Law, an override on the draining of ONE wetland and now a summit with Hoeven...all done to secure the support and votes of Minnesota's large number of sporting community.

If he wanted to truly help the sportsmen of MN he'd do what should be far the biggest priority, securing more habitat. Instead he meets with the governor of a neighboring state to discuss NR regulations and it makes headlines. Meanwhile talk of selling off public land goes unnoticed and everyone praises Pawlenty for being such a friend to the sportsmen.

MN used to have great hunting, getting that back should be the governor's main goal. Not worrying about the hunting in another state.

24 Posts
Dennis Anderson: Drought in Dakotas could affect duck hunting
Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

Published September 12, 2003 ANDY12

Minnesota waterfowlers, already complaining about new restrictions on non-resident hunters in North Dakota, might find problems of a different, and more serious, kind await them on trips to that state this fall: too little water.

Some Minnesotans who have scouted areas they traditionally hunt in North Dakota say many potholes and temporary wetlands are dry. This is especially true in the southern half of the state -- the area south of Interstate 94.

Conditions this severe haven't been seen in North Dakota since the late 1980s.

But that dry period was different in many respects than the current one, especially for ducks.

In 1988 and 1989, ducks arriving in the spring in North Dakota and on other U.S. and Canadian prairies found little water for nesting. Many ducks responded by overflying these areas and postponing nesting altogether.

Other ducks flew over the prairies to the boreal forests of Canada, where some nested but with marginal success.

The drought plaguing North Dakota, South Dakota and eastern Montana this year is much different in that it didn't manifest itself until about mid-summer.

Before that -- in spring and early summer -- plenty of water existed for ducks.

As a result, nesting success this summer, if not record-breaking, was extremely good.

In fact, the early water on the prairies this spring came as a surprise.

The expectation last summer was that North American prairies had succumbed to a dry period, if not a drought. The lack of rain a year ago, followed by a winter of little snow, set the stage, it was believed, for a falloff in duck production this summer that would result in a restrictive duck season set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rather than last year's 60-day season, with six ducks allowed daily, a 30-day, three-bird season was expected.

Instead, returning birds this spring were met by plenty of water, nesting conditions through early June were ideal and the 60-day, six-bird season was retained.

But this year's breeding ducks and their offspring are finding fewer and fewer places to swim in North Dakota, as available aquatic habitat contracts amid drought or near-drought conditions.

How all of this will affect ducks is unclear for various reasons.

One is that the mid-to late-summer drought that continues to grip North Dakota also has affected crops.

Small grains, wheat and barley specifically, did all right, if not pretty well throughout much of North Dakota, according to state officials. But the recent harvest of those crops has left little residue in fields, which will be a factor during the coming waterfowl migration.

Row crops, meanwhile, primarily corn and sunflowers, likely won't bolster the amount of food available to migrants because those crops didn't fare well in North Dakota because of the dry weather.

Unless considerable amounts of rain fall in coming weeks, all of these variables, individually and in combination, will affect ducks and geese in largely imperceptible ways.

If, for example, the ducks receive inordinate pressure from hunters because the birds are concentrated because of a lack of water, an early migration might occur.

This is even more probable if food in the form of crops and crop residue is at a premium, as it appears it might be.

Ducks and geese migrating into North Dakota from Canada also will be affected as they seek food and refuge.

If such necessities are sufficiently available, the birds will stay. If not, they will bolt -- if not to the south, then perhaps to the east.

Which is one way Minnesota could benefit: In times of drought, many ducks, particularly migrants, move through North Dakota's dry lands in favor of Minnesota's more dependable, albeit deeper and less fruitful (for ducks), waters.

How to play all of this to ensure the greatest chance you'll find some birds this fall?

• If you're going to the Dakotas for ducks, and have a choice, hunt earlier rather than during the middle of the season.

• Alternatively, if the weather is mild, visit the Dakotas in late October, when hunter pressure will be relatively low.

• Save some late-season dates for Minnesota.

This year, what hurts North Dakota might push ducks into our state.

For a change.

Dennis Anderson is at [email protected].

I wouldn't be too concerned. Some of the "experts" that post here don't consider ma nature and the cycle of things that have gone down for millions of years. In the late 80's early 90's I never would have considered a trip to ND. Just to easy to get ducks at home. And from what I've seen so far this fall, at least partially, they're back! I think I'll stay home this year.


206 Posts
I will take a stab at answering the original question but admit I am not an expert on the plan. I believe there were 2-3 positions added or dedicated to study the MN waterfowl situation. One of the findings has been that fish (minnows) were present on many wetlands where none were present in the past. This has resulted in a reduction if food in the wetlands. Another issue was that relatively high water levels have eliminated much of the weeds. I cannot remember what else has been reported or what the short term plan entailed. Both of these would have been relatively recent changes, since water levels have come up.

Obviously these are not the only issues affecting MN waterfowl, or lack thereof but they are two that were identified by the study.

11 Posts
very interesting findings.

One can only speculate how the minnows and bait fish are getting into the wetlands...flooding is certainly an easy way for them to get there, otherwise, obviously they must get carried in

206 Posts
Did a little searching on the MN DNR website and found these objectives for the plan:
Problem 1.A Waterfowl migration habitats and food resources have deteriorated.
Strategy 1. Accelerate water level management, designation, and shoreline protection of shallow lakes and rice
beds to increase waterfowl food resources and increase their attractiveness to migrating ducks.
Strategy 2. Restore wetland complexes in the vicinity of fall staging areas to provide additional and more diverse
food resources.
Strategy 3. Eliminate undesirable fish populations in, and access to, wetlands and waterfowl staging areas to
improve water quality, aquatic plant growth, and invertebrate food resources.
Strategy 4. Work cooperatively with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and other agencies to modify
reservoir and dam operating plans, and intensify and/or expand watershed and landscape initiatives to
comprehensively improve wetland and shallow lake habitats.
Strategy 5. Establish and encourage moist soil management units, flooded agricultural crop fields, agricultural lure
crops, and desirable residual crop management practices near staging habitats to provide intensively managed food
resources for migrating waterfowl and other birds.

Problem 1.B Production of ducks from Minnesota is less than desired.
Strategy 1. Increase recruitment of locally-reared ducks to achieve population stability or growth, and continue to
contribute from 25% to 33% of annual Minnesota duck harvest.

Problem 1.C Fall security is insufficient in some areas to attract and hold migrating ducks.
Strategy 1. Establish additional waterfowl refuges, Migratory Waterfowl Feeding and Resting Areas, and restricted
boating areas to reduce disturbance and increase use by migrating waterfowl.
Strategy 2. Improve management of existing and planned fall security areas to provide additional security and food
resources in close proximity to each other.
Strategy 3. Consider use of regulatory tools such as restricting hunter numbers on managed areas, split seasons,
hunting hour restrictions, and regulation of hunting techniques to reduce disturbance of migrating and locallyproduced

Problem 1.D Information on quality and quantity of waterfowl migration and production habitat and food resources, and waterfowl security strategies is insufficient.
Strategy 1. Design, implement, and complete a comprehensive shallow lake inventory database, and coordinate
with other lake databases.
Strategy 2. Identify and assess historic and current waterfowl migration and staging habitats. Annually monitor
the quantity and quality of food resources and fall waterfowl habitat use.
Strategy 3. Conduct additional research on fish-wetland interactions, rough fish management and control options,
and exotic species control methods.
Strategy 4. Conduct additional research on refuge requirements, fall duck movements, and duck habitat use and
hunter success relative to food resources and security.
Strategy 5. Document effects of surface water use activities on disturbance of waterfowl and habitat use.

Problem 2.A Hunters have insufficient information about duck population status and migrations, hunting
opportunities, and regulations.
Strategy 1. Inform duck hunters of general duck movements, numbers, habitat conditions, and hunter success, and
create realistic hunter expectations through news releases, pre-season reports, and other public information tools.
Strategy 2. Hold local waterfowl roundtables, workshops, forums, or discussion groups to discuss waterfowl
management and regulations.

Problem 2.B Frustration with hunting regulations may create dissatisfaction among waterfowl hunters.
Strategy 1. Evaluate current waterfowl hunting regulations, including daily bag limits, Youth Waterfowl Hunt,
September Canada goose seasons, noon opening time, position on framework opening dates, and others, to
determine whether regulations could be changed and the dual objectives of increased proportion of flyway duck
harvest and increased hunter satisfaction can be maintained.
Strategy 2. Simplify duck hunting regulations.

Problem 2.C There are insufficient waterfowl hunting opportunities.
Strategy 1. Provide more public hunting areas and improved access and use facilities.
Strategy 2. Provide tax incentives or other programs to encourage farmers/landowners to allow waterfowl hunting
on private property.

Problem 2.D Information on hunter expectations and satisfaction is insufficient.
Strategy 1. Conduct hunter surveys to understand preferences and expectations, and monitor hunter satisfaction.
Strategy 2. Use conservation groups and local clubs as sounding boards to determine expectations and sources of
Strategy 3. Increase use of field surveys and contacts of Division staff with hunters.
Strategy 4. Provide information to hunters regarding this planning process and strategies, and determine their level
of agreement.
This was from a report in March of 03: ... waterfowl/ waterfowl_0402.pdf - 57.2KB
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