Waterfowl and habitat take center stage at symposium Feb. 7

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Experts in waterfowl and waterfowl habitat from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other organizations will present to the public at the Minnesota Waterfowl Symposium, a one-day conference from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, in Bloomington.

“This daylong conference is an annual celebration of Minnesota waterfowl and wetlands and a chance for people to hear from waterfowl and wetland biologists,” said Ricky Lien, wetland habitat team supervisor with the DNR. “They can also talk with these state and federal experts about issues surrounding ducks, wetlands and waterfowl hunting.”

The conference, now in its 18th year, is presented through a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Minnesota Waterfowl Association and the DNR. It will be held at the Mall of America Ramada, 2300 E. American Blvd., in Bloomington.

Attendees can visit demonstration and information booths where they can get gun fitting and repair questions answered by a gunsmith, see the junior duck stamp display, learn about cooking and other uses for wild game, and more. They can also check out the Minnesota Decoy Collectors Association Annual Decoy Show hosted across the hall at the same location.

Topics to be covered at the event include:

  • Opening remarks by Tom Melius, USFWS Midwest regional director and Paul Telander, DNR wildlife chief.
  • Redhead ecology and management in Minnesota by Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.
  • Shallow lakes management in Minnesota: The past, present and future by Nicole Hansel-Welch, DNR shallow lakes program supervisor.
  • Grass roots conservation by Brian Watson, Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District wetland specialist.
  • Antique decoy collecting by Doug Lodermeier, Minnesota Decoy Collectors Association.
  • The importance of waterfowl banding by Bruce Davis, DNR Wildlife Research and Dave Fronczak USFWS wildlife biologist.
  • American coots by Todd Arnold, University of Minnesota professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.
  • Implementation of the Minnesota Prairie Plan, Greg Hoch, DNR prairie habitat ecologist.
  • Panel discussion and question-and-answer session featuring Dave Zentner, representing the Concerned Duck Hunters Group; Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner; and Jim Kelly, USFWS Mississippi Flyway representative.

This year the redhead duck is the featured species of the conference. Redheads are a fairly common breeding species of diving duck that nests in the prairie portions of western and south central Minnesota and nest almost exclusively over water in larger cattail marshes.

Following the symposium, the Minnesota Waterfowl Association convenes its sixth annual Hall of Fame Banquet to recognize significant contributors to the state’s waterfowl legacy. For more information about the symposium or to register for the banquet, call the Minnesota Waterfowl Association at 763-767-0320 or see the group’s website.

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