DNR NEWS RELEASE: Mourning Dove Season Preview, Wolf Population Update, Waterfowl Seasons Set, and More

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #60                                                                                          Aug. 10, 2015
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.
Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr.

DNR announces fall duck and goose seasons
Informational meetings planned for DNR northern pike proposal
Minnesota’s wolf population remains stable
Adult learn-to-hunt program furthers Minnesota’s hunting heritage
DNR considers changes to Rainy Lake walleye regulations
Mourning dove hunting season opens Sept. 1
DNR to offer another round of shooting range grants
Learn how to hunt deer and upland birds at DNR class
Question of the week: hunting and fishing licenses
Media contacts: Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist in Bemidji, 218-308-2281,
steve.cordts@state.mn.us; Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager,

651-259-5220, steve.merchant@state.mn.us.

DNR announces fall duck and goose seasons

Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season will open a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Sept. 26, with similar bag limits and season dates that were in place last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“While the season structure is similar to recent years, we adjusted the duck season dates in the south duck zone based on hunter preferences,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.

The waterfowl seasons are based on a federal framework that applies to all states in the Mississippi Flyway.

More information on duck, goose, sandhill crane and other migratory bird hunting seasons will be available in the 2015 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, available in mid-August in booklet form and online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

Duck seasons and limits
Duck season will be open for 60 days in each of the three waterfowl zones.

  • In the north zone, duck season is Saturday, Sept. 26, through Tuesday, Nov. 24.
  • In the central zone, duck season is Saturday, Sept. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 4, closes for five days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 10, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 29.
  • In the south zone, duck season is Saturday, Sept. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 4, closes for 10 days, then reopens Thursday, Oct. 15, and runs through Friday, Dec. 4. The re-opening coincides with the annual statewide teachers’ conference on Oct. 1516 when many schools do not schedule classes.

The only bag limit change from the 2015 season is for canvasback, which increases from one to two per day. The daily duck bag limit remains six ducks per day. The mallard bag limit remains four per day, including two hen mallards. The daily bag limits remain at three for wood duck and three for scaup.

All states in the Mississippi Flyway were offered the option for a September teal season or two bonus blue-winged teal during the regular season. Minnesota did not participate in either teal option last year and again made the choice not to take a teal season or bonus blue-winged teal option this year.

“We’ve had nearly two decades of liberal duck seasons with 60 days of hunting and six-duck daily bag limits,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “In recent years, the duck season has opened one week earlier than in the past, which has afforded Minnesota hunters more opportunity to take teal and wood ducks.”

In addition, waterfowl hunting in open water on five large water bodies in Minnesota has also been allowed. 

“For these reasons, we don’t believe that an early teal season or further liberalization by adding two bonus blue-winged teal to the daily bag for the first part of the season is needed,” Landwehr said.

Mallard abundance from a continental spring survey that includes Minnesota is used to determine overall duck season length. This year’s estimate was 11.8 million mallards, which was well above the long-term average. Since 1997, duck season length has been 60 days each year and the mallard population has ranged from 6.8 million to 11.8 million mallards.

“The status of mallards, and most other species of ducks important to Minnesota hunters, is very good this year based on spring populations surveys,” Cordts said.

Youth waterfowl day
Youth Waterfowl Day will be Saturday, Sept. 12. Hunters ages 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by an adult age 18 or older. Youth may take Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens from a half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect. Five geese may be taken statewide. The accompanying adult can’t hunt ducks that day and does not need a license. However, an adult may take Canada geese if properly licensed.

Canada goose seasons and limits
Canada goose hunting is open in the three duck zones, and also in an intensive harvest zone. For a map of the intensive zone and other information, see www.mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

  • The August Canada goose management harvest is Saturday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 23, in the intensive harvest zone only. The bag limit is 10 per day. A $4 permit is required. This is the third year Canada goose harvest has been allowed during August due to high populations of Canada geese and the damage they cause to agricultural crops.
  • The early September Canada goose season will open statewide on Saturday, Sept. 5, and run through Tuesday, Sept. 22. Bag limits for Canada geese are 10 per day in the intensive harvest zone and five per day in the rest of the state. A $4 permit is required to hunt Canada geese during the September season. The restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water remains in effect in the northwest goose zone, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, Ocheda Lake Game Refuge and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County. Early season goose hunters should consult the 2015 Waterfowl Supplement for zone maps and additional details.
  • Minnesota’s regular goose season will open in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Sept. 26, with a bag limit of three dark geese per day the entire season.  “Dark” geese include Canada geese, white-fronted geese, and brant. Goose season will be closed in the central and south duck zones when duck season is closed. 

Sandhill crane season
The season for sandhill cranes is Saturday, Sept. 12, to Sunday, Oct. 18, in the northwest goose and sandhill crane zone only. The daily bag limit will be one sandhill crane per day. A $3 sandhill crane permit is required in addition to a small game hunting license.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Aug. 10, 2015
Media contact: Don Pereira, fisheries section chief, 651-259-5229, don.pereira@state.mn.us.

Informational meetings planned for DNR northern pike proposal

Those interested in learning more about a statewide regulation proposal for northern pike fishing can attend informational meetings that will detail how the concept addresses problems with pike populations in north-central, northeast and southern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will discuss creating three pike fishing zones that could solve unique challenges with pike in each zone and improve northern pike fishing statewide.

The zone proposal would address pike problems that differ depending on region as follows:

  • North-central: This area has too many small pike. There is moderate to high fishing pressure and high harvest of large and medium size pike. The proposal would increase abundance of medium and large pike, including the prime size for harvest, and decrease the number of small pike.
  • Northeast: Pike are present in relatively low numbers here and at relatively large sizes. They reproduce naturally. Although they grow slowly, they can grow quite large because relatively few anglers scatter limited fishing pressure across a large number of lakes. The proposal would maintain harvest opportunity here while protecting large pike.
  • South: Pike are less abundant here and don’t reproduce as well as in the north. Southern Minnesota has high fishing pressure and a high harvest rate relative to the number of pike; however, these fish grow fast. The proposal would increase pike abundance here and improve harvest opportunity.

Dates, times and locations of meetings are available at www.mndnr.gov/pike. The site also includes more information about the zone proposal, a video and a space to sign up for email announcements.

“These in-person meetings will allow anglers to hear more information about the zone concept,” said Don Pereira, fisheries section chief. “We all want to improve pike harvest opportunity in our state, and these meetings will help continue our dialogue with anglers about pike problems and possible solutions.”

Each meeting will feature a 20-minute informational presentation. After the presentation, DNR staff will host information tables where they will be available to talk and answer questions about the proposal. Each meeting will provide information about all three zones.

Meetings are scheduled:

  • Tower, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24, Tower Civic Center, 402 Pine St.
  • Alexandria, 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, Broadway Ballroom, 115 30th Ave. E.
  • Detroit Lakes, 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, 900 Highway 34 E.
  • Grand Rapids, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, Minnesota Interagency Fire Center training room on second floor, 402 Southeast 11th St.
  • Bemidji, 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, Northwest Technical College, 905 Grant Ave. SE.
  • St. Cloud, 6-8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31, Great River Regional Library – St. Cloud, 1300 W. St. Germain St.
  • Apple Valley, 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, Galaxie Library, 14955 Galaxie Ave.
  • Andover, 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, Bunker Hills Activities Center (accessible only from north entrance that is east of Bunker Lake), 550 Bunker Lake Blvd. NW.
  • Mankato, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, Country Inn & Suites, Mississippi/Riverbend room, 1900 Premier Drive.
  • Duluth, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, EPA building, 6201 Congdon Boulevard.
  • Willmar, 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building (multi-purpose room), 2200 23rd St. NE, Suite 1020.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Aug. 10, 2015

Media contacts: Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist, 218-999-7802, dan.stark@state.mn.us;
John Erb, wolf research scientist, 218-999-7930, john.erb@state.mn.us.

Minnesota’s wolf population remains stable
Population estimate similar to past 2 years and remains above state and federal thresholds

Results from the latest wolf population survey show no significant change in Minnesota’s wolf population during the past three winters, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The latest survey results estimate that within Minnesota’s wolf range there were 374 wolf packs and 2,221 wolves last winter. Although this year’s specific population estimate is lower than the previous winter’s estimate of 2,423 wolves, there has been no statistically significant change in population size during the past three years.

The population survey is conducted in mid-winter near the low point of the annual population cycle. Immediately following birth of pups each spring, the wolf population typically doubles, though many pups do not survive to the following winter.

“Results from the 2015 wolf survey demonstrate that the wolf population remains well established across northern and central Minnesota,” said Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist for the DNR.

Minnesota’s wolf population remains above the state’s minimum management goal of at least 1,600 wolves and is above the federal recovery goal of 1,251 to 1,400.

Although the population estimate was not significantly different from last year, wolf packs observed were slightly larger this winter than in previous years, increasing from an average of 4.4 to 5.1 wolves per pack. Also, wolf packs now appear to be using larger territories, with average territory size increasing from 58 square miles in 2014 to about 73 square miles last winter.

Because white-tailed deer are the primary food source for Minnesota’s wolves, the wolf population tends to follow deer population trends.

“When prey declines, wolves must eventually re-adjust to the new conditions, which typically means fewer packs and each utilizing a larger territory to meet nutritional demands and sustain a competitive pack size,” according to John Erb, DNR wolf research scientist.

These wolf population parameters are similar to those estimated during the winter survey of 1997-1998, which, like this survey, came on the heels of back-to-back severe winters and a reduced deer population, Erb said.

The DNR’s goal for wolf management, as outlined in the state’s wolf management plan, is to ensure the long-term survival of wolves in Minnesota while addressing wolf-human conflicts. Wolves in Minnesota returned to the federal list of threatened species as a result of a Washington, D.C. federal district court ruling in December 2014.

Visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/wolves to find the full report, an FAQ and an overview of wolf management in the state, including the wolf management plan.



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           Aug. 10, 2015
Media contact: Jay Johnson, hunter recruitment and retention supervisor, 651-259-5191,

Adult learn-to-hunt program furthers Minnesota’s hunting heritage

Continuing Minnesota’s hunting heritage is the aim of an all-inclusive, multi-session learn-to-hunt program for adults who are new to hunting, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Training adults could prove to be one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to generate a new hunter,” said Jay Johnson, hunter recruitment and retention coordinator for the DNR. “Unlike most youth, they have the decision-making authority necessary to hunt, can buy equipment, have their own transportation, and most importantly are coming to us wanting to learn to hunt.”

The 2015 adult Learn to Hunt Whitetail Deer program will kick off with an information session from6-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at Seward Co-op in Minneapolis. Following the information session, registration will open for the program that stretches into the fall. The program is for adults ages 18 years or older who have either never hunted or have only hunted once before. Registration will be limited to 10 people, and a lottery will determine participants if more than 10 register.

“There is a growing population of adults who want to learn to hunt to procure their own food,” Johnson said. “They want to live local and care about the source and quality of their food. They’re connected to each other through the food co-op, slow food and farmer’s market avenues.”

Ultimately, teaching new-to-hunting adults how to hunt will likely have a ripple effect. Children who grow up in families where the parents hunt are more likely to hunt themselves.

“If we can create new adult hunters, whether they are parents or future parents, we can potentially influence the transfer of Minnesota’s hunting heritage to the next generation,” Johnson said.

For more information on the DNR’s Hunter Recruitment and Retention Program and DNR programs for new hunters, see www.mndnr.gov/harr/index.html.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Aug. 10, 2015
Media contact:  Kevin Peterson, International Falls fisheries supervisor, 218-286-5220,

DNR considers changes to Rainy Lake walleye regulations

Walleye fishing regulations on Rainy Lake will be the topic of a public meeting where Department of Natural Resources staff will present several options to modify or maintain the current walleye regulations for the lake. The meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at the Rainy River Community College theater, 1501 US-71 in International Falls.

The current regulation, which has been in effect since 2001, requires that all walleye from 17 to 28 inches must be immediately released. One walleye longer than 28 inches is allowed in a total possession limit of four. The special regulation was originally put in place in 1994 to increase the walleye population through a 17- to 25-inch protected slot. Special regulations are routinely reviewed after a certain number of years.

The regulation has worked well to replenish walleye in Rainy Lake. At the meeting, DNR fisheries staff will present information and discuss the current status of the fishery. Four different management scenarios will be presented, including the option to continue the current regulation. There will be time for questions and comments from the public. 

Public input on the proposed change will help DNR fisheries staff determine which of the management options should be adopted. People unable to attend the public meeting may submit comments by telephone to 218-286-5220, by email to interfalls.fisheries@state.mn.us, or by mail to International Falls area fisheries, 392 Highway 11 East, International Falls, MN  56649. Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9.

DNR staff will also be available to discuss and take comments on this proposal at an open house covering all fishing regulations under review around the state from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the DNR Central Office, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                Aug. 10, 2015
Media contact: Ann Geisen, wildlife lakes specialist, 218-203-4334, ann.geisen@state.mn.us;
Cheri Zeppelin, NE regional information officer, 218-999-7914, cheri.zeppelin@state.mn.us.

Ripe wild rice harvesting allowed in late August

Harvest of ripe wild rice is allowed between Saturday, Aug. 15, and Tuesday, Sept. 30. Harvesters must first make sure the rice is ripe before launching their canoes because it is illegal to harvest “green” or unripe rice, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Wildlife managers say it’s shaping up to be a good season for wild rice harvesting. The dry spring provided favorable water levels and rice beds have been growing well in most areas.

“Rice growth appears to be a little ahead of last year,” said Ann Geisen, DNR wildlife lakes specialist. “Peak harvesting dates are estimated to be in late August to early September as long as weather remains mild.”

Minnesota’s green rice law does not allow the harvesting of unripe rice. So even though rice beds are maturing well, ricers are responsible for making sure the grain is ripe before attempting to harvest it.

More than 1,200 lakes and rivers in 54 counties contain wild rice, with concentrations of rice being the highest in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Itasca and St. Louis counties.

Throughout traditional wild rice growing areas, the majority of rice beds are in good condition.

Recent storms uprooted rice plants in some lakes, but overall, most of the state’s rice basins were untouched by the bad weather. Like other forms of gathering, allowing ample scouting time or finding a mentor who is willing to share their skills and knowledge can greatly improve success.

Wild rice is the edible seed of an aquatic grass and is the only cereal grain native to North America. When properly processed and stored, it can be stored for extended periods.

In addition to being a traditional food source for Minnesota’s early inhabitants and an important part of American Indian culture, wild rice is an important food staple for migrating waterfowl each fall. The growing plants also provide important habitat for fish and invertebrates.

Because of the grain’s importance, harvesting wild rice is regulated in Minnesota. Harvesters are reminded:

  • Harvest takes place from a nonmotorized canoe, 18 feet or less in length, using only a push pole or paddles for power.
  • Rice is collected by using two sticks, or flails, to knock mature seeds into the canoe. Flails can be no longer than 30 inches, and must weigh less than one pound each.
  • Harvesting licenses cost $25 per season, or $15 per day, per person for Minnesota residents.
  • There is no limit to the number of pounds for harvest with a permit.
  • Additional processing is necessary to finish the rice into its final food product.
  • The gathering process is labor-intensive, and accessing some lakes can be difficult.

More information about wild rice management is available on the DNR website atwww.mndnr.gov/wildlife/shallowlakes/wildrice.html. The 1854 Treaty Authority website provides updates from ground and aerial surveys on some lakes within the 1854 ceded territory in northeastern Minnesota. The aerial surveys are tentatively scheduled for mid- to late August; the results will be posted soon after.

Those interested in harvesting wild rice are reminded that it is unlawful to take wild rice grain from any of the waters within the original boundaries at the White Earth, Leech Lake, Nett Lake, Vermilion Lake, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs reservations except for American Indians or residents of the reservations listed.

In addition, all nontribal members wishing to harvest or buy wild rice within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation must have Leech Lake Reservation permits. For wild rice harvesting regulations, see www.mndnr.gov/regulations/wildrice.

Aquatic invasive species are a serious threat to Minnesota waters. Like any other water users, rice harvesters must follow cleaning protocols to avoid spreading invasive plants and animals.

Harvesting licenses can be purchased online via desktop browser and smartphone atwww.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or any DNR license agent.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                Aug. 10, 2015
Media contact: Steve Merchant, wildlife population and regulation program manager,

Mourning dove hunting season opens Sept. 1

mourning dove
Photo by MN DNR

Minnesota’s mourning dove hunting season begins Tuesday, Sept. 1, and continues throughMonday, Nov. 9, with hunters allowed to shoot 15 doves each day and have 45 in possession.

“While mourning doves are some of the most common birds in the United States, finding a good spot to hunt successfully takes a bit of work,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife population and regulation program manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Look for harvested small grain fields, newly planted native grass restorations and even gravel pits or water sources. These areas can concentrate the birds and provide good action.”

This is the 12th season of dove hunting in Minnesota, where about 13,000 hunters harvest about 100,000 doves each year. Nationwide, there are about 350 million mourning doves.

“Dove hunting is a great experience for hunters of all ages who are just getting started, and it is a great way to tone up your retriever for the upcoming waterfowl seasons,” Merchant said. “Doves can be easily found in over half the state, and the only equipment you need is a shotgun, shells and muted-tone clothing.”

While not required, nontoxic shot is recommended for hunting doves. A small game license and Harvest Information Program certification are required for hunters 16 and older.

Other bird hunting seasons that start on Sept. 1 are for crows, snipe, sora and Virginia rails. To find more information on mourning dove hunting, see www.mndnr.gov/hunting/mourningdove.


NOTE: Image available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “08-10-15 mourning dove.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               Aug. 10, 2015
Media contact: Chuck Niska, shooting range coordinator, DNR Enforcement, 612-756-4165,

DNR to offer another round of shooting range grants

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will offer another round of small and large shooting range grants beginning Monday, Aug. 17.

The shooting range grants are among the approximately $970,000 left from a 2014 legislative appropriation of $2.2 million.

“This will be the last trap range-only sign up conducted this year,” said Chuck Niska, DNR shooting range program coordinator.

Earlier this year, the DNR issued $823,359 in small and large trap range grants to 29 facilities across the state as part of an effort to promote development and enhancement of trap-shooting. That compares to trap range grants totaling $425,000 last year.

The Minnesota Legislature authorized more than $2 million in 2014 for matching grants to recreational shooting clubs for developing or rehabilitating trap shooting sports facilities for public use, with an emphasis on enhancing youth participation.

“We’ve funded a lot of worthy projects with these grants,” said Niska, “and will with the approximately $1 million remaining as well.”

Development of the grants program follows a significant rise in youth trap shooting, especially by high school students who are part of a statewide league. Existing trap ranges sometimes struggle to meet demand.

“This program aims to increase opportunities for youth trap shooters, youth trap teams and adult shooters,” Niska said.

Grant application packets are available at:
www.dnr.state.mn.us/grants/recreation/rangedev.html (small grants)
www.dnr.state.mn.us/grants/recreation/rangedev2.html (large grants)
Application deadline for both is 5 p.m., Friday, Sep. 18. Those selected for funding will be notified in late October.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              Aug. 10, 2015
Media contact: Linda Bylander, outreach program coordinator, 218-203-4347,

Learn how to hunt deer and upland birds at DNR class

The basics of hunting deer and upland birds are topics for an Introduction to Hunting class scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at Forest Lake Sportsmen’s Club, with registration open to anyone 10 and older.

“This is an opportunity to learn hands-on about deer and upland bird hunting,” said Linda Bylander, outreach program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “This class combines our popular deer day and upland bird day into one six-hour class.”

Participants will learn about safe use of tree stands and blinds, hunting afield and finding hunting land, how different types of firearms are used for hunting, and general hunting safety and regulations. The day also includes a demonstration of a pheasant hunt and field dressing.

The registration fee is $10 per person or $15 per family, and registration will be limited to 80 participants. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. More information and a registration form are available at www.mndnr.gov/education/bow or by contacting Bylander at 218-203-4347.


Question of the week
Q: If I purchase a hunting or fishing license on the DNR website, do I need to keep a printed copy with me out in the field?

A:  If you’re using a home computer, you can print most licenses and you need to keep a copy with you when participating in the activity. In cases where the license has a tag, the license will be mailed to you, and you must have the license in possession.

Licenses purchased on a mobile device are issued in electronic format, and you can choose to receive an email and/or text message that serves as your license. In that case, you must carry your mobile device or a printed copy of the email or text message for proof.

Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director

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