Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting Blog

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting Blog

Bear hunting, ATV violations keep Minnesota DNR officers busy

Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Sept. 13, 2021.Written By: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources | 4:07 pm, Sep. 13, 2021

District 5  Eveleth area

Conservation Officer Darrin Kittelson (International Falls 1) reports fall recreational activities are increasing with bear hunting and ATV riding being the main focuses. Instructing emergency vehicle operations to fellow conservation officers was conducted at Camp Ripley. More than 50 local youth received their firearms safety certificate over the weekend.

CO Curtis Simonson (International Falls 2) reports checking anglers on Rainy Lake as well as checking bear baits in the area. Unregistered bear baits and bear baits without the required signage were located. Enforcement action was taken for these issues. Simonson also assisted with a youth firearms safety class in the International Falls area.

CO Troy Fondie (Orr) reports monitoring angling and boating activities. ATV-riding and goose-hunting activities were checked. Forest roads were monitored and other time was spent on equipment work and administrative reporting.

CO Aaron Larson (Tower) worked primarily ATV enforcement and bear-hunting enforcement. Larson worked a case related to ATVs in a state park, and assisted another CO with a case related to operating an ATV under the influence.

CO Marc Johnson (Hibbing) primarily worked big-game, ATV and fishing activity. Time was also spent following up on calls, responding to nuisance-bear/beaver complaints, and speaking at a special archery hunt orientation in Side Lake.

CO Shane Zavodnik (Virginia Station) assisted multiple agencies with a person who was stranded on an ATV trail for nearly 10 hours in their disabled pickup truck. He also assisted a person who had their Class II ATV stuck in a bog on a snowmobile trail. Zavodnik continues to work on equipment maintenance for the fall hunting seasons and also prepared for upcoming Honor Guard training. Several ATV and waterfowl violations were addressed.

District 6  Two Harbors area

CO John Velsvaag (Ely 2) checked anglers and boaters this past week. He also followed up on a couple of burning complaints during the current fire restrictions. Bear-hunting activity, including bear baiting, has been slowing down, as have bear-related complaints in general.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked bear hunters and followed up on big-game investigations. Time was spent checking anglers and ATV riders. Enforcement was taken for big-game and ATV violations.

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) worked bear hunters and rechecked bait stations of successful hunters who were done. After some investigation, she located a hunter who had used entire beaver carcasses in a bait station that was registered to a young hunter who had already gotten his bear. A few unregistered bait stations were also investigated, along with some illegal ATV operation.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) worked Labor Day patrolling local ATV trails and complaint areas with CO Larson. A couple citations were issued for allowing illegal youth operation of an ATV and operating on a closed trail. One individual was arrested for DWI on an ATV. Emergency vehicle operations course refresher was completed. Twenty youth were certified in firearms safety in Babbitt.

Additional enforcement action was taken for fishing without a license and for speeding after an individual passed the officer and continued at over 100 mph.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area bear-hunting and angling activity this past week. Time was also spent at Camp Ripley with training and collecting backgrounds for an upcoming Academy.

CO Kylan Hill (Tofte) reports bear hunters have all but left the area after an extremely busy first week of the season. Violations have been minimal since the first few days and Hill thanks the hunters for sticking to the regulations books.

Speaking of regulations books, questions are starting to pour in about the upcoming white-tailed deer seasons. Now is a good time to get your questions answered, and Hill stresses that the majority of the questions can be answered with just a few page flips. Hill started a background investigation for an applicant in the hiring process for the CO Prep program.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked early goose and bear-hunting activity during the week. Bears continue to be active, with hunters seeing high use at baits. Murray also checked fall anglers and wild rice harvesters. Several questions on fire restrictions were answered.

District 7  Grand Rapids area

CO Vinny Brown (Northome) spent the week focusing primarily on bear-hunting activities. Time was also spent enforcing ATV activities and checking a few anglers and waterfowl hunters. Enforcement action was taken for fishing while fishing privileges are revoked; expired ATV registration; failure to display ATV registration; improper bear-bait signs; placing bear-bait warning signs; and for two people hunting over unregistered bear-bait stations.

CO Jayson Hansen (Bigfork) patrolled state parks and worked anglers, big-game waterfowl hunters, watercraft operators and ATV riders. Numerous game and fish-related questions were answered. He also responded to wildlife-related complaints and assisted other agencies.

CO Mike Fairbanks (Deer River) checked anglers, worked bear hunting, monitored off-highway vehicle activity and investigated Turn in Poachers complaints. Angler success was great this week. Enforcement action was taken for allowing illegal operation of ATVs by juveniles, illegal transportation of fish and license issues.

CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked bear-hunting activities, with the hunter success rate being very high. Sutherland also worked fall fishing activities. With the water cooling, fish are starting to become active again. Enforcement actions were taken for operating an ATV on a U.S. highway and not displaying valid registration numbers.

CO Jimmy Van Asch (Pengilly) reports working big-game, migratory waterfowl, angling and boating enforcement. Assistance was also given to local law enforcement agencies for various calls for service. Questions regarding the upcoming duck and deer seasons were also fielded and answered. Enforcement action was taken for several angling violations.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) responded to several nuisance-wildlife and injured-animal calls. Bear-hunting activity has slowed significantly after the first week. Assistance was given to other law enforcement agencies and enforcement action was taken for various violations, including burning prohibited materials.

District 8  Duluth area

CO Kipp Duncan (Duluth East) checked several past deer-baiting locations. He continued working an illegal bear-baiting station that is not registered or signed, and checked anglers on area lakes and shorelines. ATV activity was worked at high-use locations. A trespass complaint was investigated and will require follow up. Duncan also spent a day at Camp Ripley for emergency vehicle operations training

CO Jeff Humphrey (Cromwell) continued working various hunting and off-highway vehicle enforcement. He investigated litter and bear-carcass dumping complaints. A nuisance-bear permit was issued at a farm with crop damage. Humphrey attended a Sept. 11 memorial event in Grand Rapids as part of a joint Honor Guard detail.

Lake Superior Marine Unit

CO Keith Olson (Lake Superior Marine Unit) reports Lake Superior has been producing good catches of lake trout, pink salmon and some coho salmon in the waters near Silver Bay and Twin Points. The recent nice weather and sea conditions had many people out enjoying the lake. He worked possible deer shining and trespassing in the Saginaw area. Bear hunters are still having success in the Two Harbors area as well.

CO Matt Miller (Lake Superior Marine Unit) checked shore anglers and those out trolling. Goose hunting was monitored and commercial fishing items worked. ATV-related complaints were received, and yet another operator was found transporting young children without helmets. Enforcement action was taken for ATV and waterfowl violations.


Jay CaldwellPublished: August 12, 2021Getty Images, Lynn_Bystrom

Minnesota’s bear population has been on the rise over the past few years. The DNR has indicated that the amount of those applicating for bear hunting is up to 24,600 people.  Glen Schmitt from Outdoor News says we haven’t seen that number in more than 2 decades according to the DNR.  He says “Minnesota is a really good bear hunting state.”

The baiting season for bears begins Friday August 13 with the hunting season set to begin on September 1st.  Glen Schmitt says bear hunting is a lot of work which includes maintaining a bait station, and dealing hot and try conditions.  Glen says the heaviest bear population in the state is in northern Minnesota.  He says we only have black bears in the state.  Glen says jelly, jelly donuts, and gummy bears or gummy worms are effective baits for bears.  He says bears are rarely spotted in Central Minnesota.  Glen says bears are drawn to wild raspberries and blueberries and can typically be seen in forest environments.

Mornings and evenings are the most effective times to hunt bears and bears tend to be more active when temperatures drop below the really warm 80 to 90 temps we have been having this summer.

The interest in fishing starts to wane this time of year with hunting season starting.  Glen says some of the best fishing of the year can be done in the fall.  He plans to continue to take advantage of late season fishing.

Read More: Bear Hunting On the Rise in Minnesota |

Deer Breaks into Minnesota Deer Fur Company, Head-Butts Owner, Escapes


 By admin   Posted on 

A buck head-butted the owner of a Minnesota fur company last week before trashing the warehouse full of deer hides.

A six-point buck head-butted the owner of a rural Minnesota fur company last week before trashing the shop’s warehouse, currently full of deer hides being tanned for hunters.

The owner of Johnson Fur in rural Wilmar, Minnesota, claims the buck was looking for a mate when he smelled the deer hides and became confused.

J0hnson walked away with only minor bruises from the deer’s headbutt, but the deer dashed through the room, jumping over tables and destroying the office’s paperwork. Even a refrigerator was jumped upon by the buck.

The confused deer eventually ran back out the door and into the wild after the Johnsons’ Jack Russell terrier began nipping at his heels.

Lynette Johnson speculated that the deer may be searching for a long-lost love or sibling.

“It was something else,’’ said business owner Scott Johnson, who took a set of six-point antlers to his ribs and stomach.

Long-term monitoring shows 7% of Minnesota venison laced with toxic lead

Minnesotans may have consumed a half-million pounds of lead-tainted meat over 10 years.Written By: John Myers | 6:30 am, Mar. 8, 2021

This X-ray image shows more than 450 lead bullet fragments that were spread through the neck of a mule deer after it was shot with a lead rifle bullet. Just a few of these fragments contain enough lead to sicken or kill a bald eagle or to contaminate venison consumed by people. (Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service)

This X-ray image shows more than 450 lead bullet fragments that were spread through the neck of a mule deer after it was shot with a lead rifle bullet. Just a few of these fragments contain enough lead to sicken or kill a bald eagle or to contaminate venison consumed by people. (Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service)

DULUTH — Ten years of monitoring donated venison in Minnesota have found that more than 7% of deer meat contains toxic lead fragments from bullets.

The monitoring is conducted each year by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which X-rays all of the venison donated by hunters to all Minnesota food shelves.

Over the past 10 years, 94,782 pounds of venison have been donated by hunters to help feed the hungry. But of that, 6,735 pounds, 7.1%, had to be thrown out because it was contaminated with lead.

The issue of lead in venison has been gaining attention for more than a decade since the first research began finding unexpectedly high lead levels in venison — not just around but sometimes scattered through the meat due to the shock and fragmentation of high-speed lead bullets.

Neatly packaged venison roasts, steaks and chops ready for the freezer or frying pan. A decade of monitoring by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture found that 7.1% of all donated venison contains toxic lead. (File / News Tribune)

Neatly packaged venison roasts, steaks and chops ready for the freezer or frying pan. A decade of monitoring by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture found that 7.1% of all donated venison contains toxic lead. (File / News Tribune)

The amount of donated meat that was contaminated by lead ranged annually from a low of 2.3% to a high of 15.1%.

But it’s not just donated deer meat that contains lead. It’s likely that most of the venison hunters are eating — and feeding to their families and friends — contains similar amounts of lead with the vast majority of rifle and shotgun hunters still using lead bullets and slugs.

Carrol Henderson, retired Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist who founded and then headed the state’s Nongame Wildlife Program for decades, calculates that over the past 10 years Minnesota hunters have packaged up more than a half-million pounds of lead-contaminated venison.

Henderson used DNR and Department of Agriculture data showing hunters have averaged 195,010 deer shot each year from 2011 to 2021, by all types of hunting. At an average of 37 pounds of meat per deer, that’s more than 7.2 million pounds of venison. If you take the Department of Agriculture’s 7.1% tainted average, that means state hunters have packaged up 512,291 pounds of lead-tainted meat.

“I’ve been following this along year by year. But when you look at that total number, holy cow, that’s a half-million pounds of venison with lead in it,” Henderson said. “I thought it was time people saw these numbers. I don’t think anyone or any agency has made this available to the public before.”

This image shows the results of a lead bullet, top, and a copper bullet both fired into gelatin. The lead bullet leaves hundreds of fragments that are toxic to humans and animals. (Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service)

This image shows the results of a lead bullet, top, and a copper bullet both fired into gelatin. The lead bullet leaves hundreds of fragments that are toxic to humans and animals. (Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service)

It’s been known for decades that lead is a potent neurotoxin that can impact the brain, nerves and especially development in fetuses and growing children. Lead causes widespread damage to cells and organs when it is ingested, inhaled or absorbed in surprisingly small quantities. That’s why lead has been removed from paint and from gasoline. Exposure to high levels of lead may cause anemia, weakness and kidney and brain damage. Very high lead exposure can cause death. Lead can cross the placental barrier, which means pregnant women who are exposed to lead also expose their unborn children, damaging developing babies’ nervous systems.

Henderson is concerned about the lead-bullet issue not just for human health but also for wildlife, with many eagles and other critters dying from lead poisoning each year in Minnesota after feeding on lead-tainted meat in the wild.

Much like the issue of small lead fishing tackle killing loons and other water birds, Henderson said eagles and other land scavengers don’t have to die from eating lead bullets because many unleaded options abound.


A growing number of hunters are switching to copper and other forms of nontoxic ammunition. And more ammunition manufacturers are offering more options for all types of hunting. (Lead shotgun loads have been illegal for waterfowl hunting for more than 30 years.)

“But there are still a lot of people who hunt and fish who haven’t got the message about lead, or haven’t listened to it yet, or maybe don’t understand it,” Henderson noted. “And there are some big groups that are using scare tactics, saying that getting away from lead bullets is somehow going to end hunting or take away your guns. … That’s just crazy. You can still have your traditional deer hunting experience while using nontoxic ammunition.”

At least three bills have been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature this year that deal with lead ammunition, although all of them stop short of requiring deer hunters to use nontoxic alternatives.


HF 830 and SF19 would offer a sales tax exemption for non-toxic ammunition; HF 1645 and SF1522 would provide a voucher for free nontoxic ammunition to people, usually teenagers, who complete their firearms safety certificate; and HF 30 and SF166 allocate $133,000 from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund for the University of Minnesota, DNR and other groups to provide outreach to hunters on the importance of making the switch to nontoxic ammunition to protect wildlife.

“Although these bills certainly help to advance public knowledge about the benefits of nontoxic ammunition, financial incentives and education are inadequate to solve the toxic lead ammunition problem,” said Tom Casey, board chair of the nonprofit Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas. “Minnesota must pass legislation to phase out lead ammunition. Nontoxic ammunition, and nontoxic fishing tackle. are good for human health, our natural resources, and promote the hunting and fishing communities as conservationists.”

Letter: It’s time to end the cruel pastime of trapping


The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the newspaper by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press. To submit a letter, send it to or Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.7:25 am, Mar. 5, 2021

To the editor:

The public perception problem that Minnesota trappers are facing is of their own making (“Minnesota trappers fight public perception and dwindling participation,” Feb. 26 Echo Press). The gruesome pictures featured in that article are worth a thousand words of PR spin, and make it clear that trapping is a cruel pastime that has no place in modern society.

Most trapped animals are not killed for food, but rather to fuel the global fur trade. They die in steel-jaw leghold traps, which tear flesh, cut tendons and ligaments, and break bones and teeth as trapped animals bite – or even chew off their own limbs – in a desperate attempt to escape.

Body-crushing or “Conibear” traps may be designed to kill instantly by slamming down on an animal’s neck and chest, but they do so inconsistently and can cause unimaginable agony. And snare traps employ a wire or cable loop that tightens around an animal’s neck or body, causing suffocation and death.

Even if they survive these horrors, animals trapped for fur still face a violent death by drowning, stomping, shooting, or strangulation to avoid damaging the pelt. And because they are indiscriminate, traps also kill and mutilate Minnesota’s non-target wildlife, threatened and endangered species, and family pets.

Trapping is also not an effective method for “managing” wildlife populations, and the Centers for Disease Control, the National Academy of Sciences, and the World Health Organization have found no evidence that trapping reduces incidences of rabies or other diseases. It’s also ineffective in addressing wildlife conflicts, which are better resolved by removing attractants and by wildlife-proofing places where we don’t want them to be. In 2018 Roseville, Minnesota acknowledged this and prohibited trapping within city limits.

Trapping participation is steadily declining, along with the Minnesota public’s tolerance for it. Time for it to end.

Annie Handford

St. Paul, MN

Bemidji man killed in hunting accident

A 28-year-old Bemidji man was killed in a hunting accident last Wednesday, the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office said in a Monday afternoon Facebook post.A 28-year-old Bemidji man was killed in a hunting accident last Wednesday, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office said in a Monday afternoon Facebook post. |  Photo: WDIO-TV/File

Updated: December 01, 2020 12:22 AM
Created: November 30, 2020 10:16 PM

A 28-year-old Bemidji man was killed in a hunting accident last Wednesday, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office said in a Monday afternoon Facebook post.

Sheriff Ernie Beitel says just after 7:15 Wednesday night they received a report from the FBI and Red Lake Tribal Police that they were investigating a hunting related fatality that occurred on or near the Red Lake Reservation boundary in the 29000 block of Irvine Avenue, near Puposky, in Nebish Township.  

Beitel says Lukas Dudley was reportedly deer hunting east of Irvine Ave near the south boundary road when he was shot by another hunter. 

The other hunter allegedly told authorities near dusk he “observed movement of what he thought was a deer and fired one round from his rifle.”

After realizing he struck Dudley, the hunter “immediately” called 911. Beitel says the hunter is cooperating with the investigation. 

Beitel says Dudley was found not to be wearing typical blaze orange or other “high-visibility clothing.”

Dudley and the other hunter were reportedly not hunting together, Beitel says.

Dudley’s body was transported to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Officer for an autopsy.

The incident is being investigated by the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, Red Lake Tribal Police Department, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Accidents injure 2 deer hunters … Hunting accident injures teen

Accidents injure two deer hunters OTTER TAIL COUNTY — Authorities here responded to two separate hunting accidents that sent two people to the hospital. About 3 p.m. Saturday, Melissa Johnson, 24, Henning, was hunting east of Perham in a wooden …Written By: | Nov 8th 2010 – 7am.

Accidents injure two deer hunters

OTTER TAIL COUNTY — Authorities here responded to two separate hunting accidents that sent two people to the hospital.

About 3 p.m. Saturday, Melissa Johnson, 24, Henning, was hunting east of Perham in a wooden deer stand on privately owned land, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office said.

The wooden floor of the deer stand suddenly collapsed, and Johnson fell about 5 feet to the ground, suffering injuries to the lower parts of her legs. Johnson was taken by ambulance to Perham Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

The sheriff’s office responded to a separate incident about 4:30 p.m. Saturday near Richville.

A 16-year-old male from Richville was resting the muzzle of a rifle on his boot when he heard a deer and grabbed the rifle, the sheriff’s office said. The rifle went off, and the male was wounded in the left foot.

He was taken to Sanford Health in Fargo with injuries not believed to be life-threatening, The male was not identified

Hunting accident injures teenager

ORTONVILLE — A Bloomington teenager was injured in a hunting accident in Big Stone County.

The sheriff’s office said the youth’s father, Douglas Gess, told investigators he was loading his shotgun when the gun accidentally discharged. The slug traveled through the pickup box to the cab, where it hit Jesse Gess, 16.

He was taken to the Ortonville Hospital. Neither the sheriff’s office nor the hospital would release information on his injuries or condition Sunday.

The accident happened shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday, about a mile south of Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.

Safety precautions key to 2 duck hunters surviving falls into cold water

Two Minnesota duck hunters likely are alive today as a result of good choices they made before and after falling into cold water, and because rescue personnel worked quickly with the tools at hand to ensure a positive outcome.

In both situations – one occurred in Crow Wing County on Oct. 3, the other in Itasca County on Oct. 11 – hunters found themselves in life-or-death struggles after their duck boats capsized. The close calls come amid a year in which 15 people to date have died in boating accidents, the highest number in more than a decade. While most boating-related incidents occur during the summer, a higher percentage of those that occur during the cold-water season are fatal.

“Since this spring, we’ve seen more people participating in outdoor activities than usual, and that has continued into the fall,” said Rodmen Smith, director of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division. “Proper precautions are absolutely critical on the water this time of year. Anyone who goes out must be prepared to prevent a mishap from turning into a tragedy.”

DNR safety officials say anyone who boats during the cold-water season should wear a life jacket (foam is better than inflatable), file a float plan so other people know where they’re going and when they plan to return, carry a communications device to call for help, and understand how they can increase their odds of surviving a fall into cold water.

Following are descriptions of the two incidents – which involved close collaboration between the DNR and its valued county and local public safety partners – and what conservation officers say made the difference in positive outcomes:

Oct. 11 – Bowstring Lake in Itasca County

The wind was howling and the waves were pounding when conservation officers Thomas Sutherland and Charles Scott responded to a call about a duck hunter who was bobbing in the water next to his boat.

The hunter reported he was trying to retrieve a duck he’d shot when waves overtook his small boat and caused it to capsize, sending him into 55-degree water. He was in the water for 15 to 20 minutes before members of his hunting party rescued him. The hunter was being treated for hypothermia when Sutherland and Scott arrived to provide assistance.

“That life jacket saved his life,” Sutherland said. “The conditions were really rough and it’s easy to imagine a sad ending if he would have gone into the cold water without it.”

Oct. 3 – Rice Lake in Crow Wing County

A duck hunter who fell out of his boat in Rice Lake lived to hunt another day thanks to equipment and people who were in the right place at the right time: the person who called 911; the Crow Wing County sheriff’s deputy with a drone; the helpful and quick-thinking landowner; and the conservation officers who made their way through shallow, swampy water to where the man clung for life.

But none of that may have mattered had the hunter not worn a life jacket, hung onto the boat even after it capsized, or yelled for help for the more than 2 hours he was in the water. As it was, conservation officers Pat McGowan and Bob Mlynar reached the man as he was struggling to keep his head above water.

“When we got to him, I couldn’t see him at all and thought he was underwater,” McGowan said. “The biggest thing is he had on that life jacket, which helped him keep a little heat in and made it easier for him to stay above the water and hang onto the boat.”

Said Mlynar: “You have to be prepared for situations like this, and he pretty much was. That’s why he’ll be duck hunting another day.”

With Canada closed, duck hunters will pile into North Dakota this year

Heading north to Canada likely is not an option, so Minnesota waterfowlers are expected, in large numbers, to try North Dakota instead.

With the prairie provinces of Canada most likely off limits to most Americans this year, North Dakota is bracing for an onslaught of waterfowl hunters who have been crossing the border for decades.

“It could be a real zoo,” said Al Afton, a hunter and wildlife ecologist who lives near Bemidji. “North Dakota will be shoulder to shoulder.”

Afton, an adjunct professor of renewable natural resources at Louisiana State University, said the global coronavirus pandemic will lessen pressure and disturbance on ducks and geese as they begin their migration from arctic and sub-arctic breeding grounds. A decision is expected soon on whether to keep the international border closed to nonessential visitors past Aug. 21, but most people believe it will stay closed for months.

It’s unclear what that means for waterfowlers hiding behind cattails in Minnesota and other places in the north-central flyways of the U.S. Part of the uncertainty stems from the lack of reliable data this year on the birds’ breeding success. COVID-19 social distance restrictions kept many wildlife agencies in the U.S. and Canada from surveying habitat conditions and production of young.

“We don’t have much quantified data,” said Afton, who has hunted waterfowl in Canada every fall since 1973. “We don’t know what the flight will look like.”

In Saskatchewan and elsewhere in Canada, American duck hunters outnumber resident hunters. Of the 17,000 licensed waterfowl hunters in Saskatchewan in 2018, 54% were nonresidents.

The approaching drop-off in hunting pressure in Canada has prompted some U.S. hunters to speculate that the birds might linger in Manitoba and Saskatchewan longer than usual.

He said weather — like always — will be a major influence on the movement of other species. If mallards, bluebills, geese and other waterfowl can’t feed because of snow and ice, they will travel. Even in times of normal hunting pressure, a good food supply will keep the birds in Canada, experts say.

“It’s a good question, but I don’t know if less hunting pressure will have an impact,” Afton said.

On the other hand, with many hunters expected to be staged in North Dakota, the ducks and geese could backtrack temporarily into Canada if they get blasted, Afton said.

John Devney is senior vice president of Delta Waterfowl Foundation in Bismarck, N.D. He said he has received calls from hunters throughout the U.S. seeking advice on where to hunt in North Dakota as an alternative to Canada. South Dakota isn’t an option for nonresidents unless they obtained a license through a lottery that’s now closed.

“The outfitters in North Dakota are starting to get pretty filled,” Devney said. He predicts that Minnesota also will see an increase in duck hunting this year. Minnesota’s duck season opens Sept. 26. In North Dakota, nonresidents can hunt starting Oct. 3.

Devney said waterfowl hunters are optimistic by nature. One theory about the upcoming season that’s already floating around anticipates that lots of “young and dumb” ducks normally shot in Canada will be ripe for the taking when they sail into the U.S.

But Devney said the Canadian harvest — even when aided by American hunters — has been greatly diminished by the loss of hunters. Canada just isn’t shooting that many ducks anymore, he said.

“I don’t think hunting pressure is materially affecting migration timing very much,” Devney said. “Things definitely are going to be different this year, but it’s a little bit hopeful to think the hunting will be better.”

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird management supervisor for North Dakota Game and Fish, said “it’s a little bit concerning” that thousands of duck hunters who usually take trips to Canada will instead be looking to locate themselves near lakes and wetlands in North Dakota. Some of the groups will be larger than normal, looking for the kind of field hunts that happen on trips to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

“We’re expecting to take kind of the brunt of it,” Szymanski said. “We expect there to be quite a bit of competition for hunting spots.”

Unlike Minnesota and other states, North Dakota completed waterfowl-related field work this spring. The surveys showed a good year of production with ample precipitation and standing water. Szymanski said the fall flight of North Dakota waterfowl is projected to be up 9% compared to a year ago. Drought conditions have crept into parts of central and western North Dakota, but brood surveys showed robust populations.

“It was definitely a good year for duck production,” he said.

To the contrary, habitat conditions in Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been on the dry side, and waterfowl hatches further north may have been below average because of prolonged cold weather, especially on west Hudson Bay and on Southampton Island.

2020 governor’s pheasant hunting opener canceled

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: August 04, 2020 01:32 PM
Created: August 04, 2020 01:17 PM

Gov. Tim Walz announced Tuesday that the 2020 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener has been canceled.

The event was supposed to be in Fairmont and will instead be held there in 2021.

The event’s cancellation is a precaution amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, Walz said he plans to enjoy pheasant hunting and encouraged Minnesotans to do the same when the season opens on Oct. 10 and runs until Jan. 3, 2021.

“Thank you to the Fairmont community, along with our partners Explore Minnesota and the Department of Natural Resources, for their work planning this annual rite of fall in Minnesota,” Walz said. “While our event together must be postponed, I still plan to enjoy the 2020 pheasant hunting season. I’ll be practicing safe social distancing, staying in small groups, and not traveling too far from home while doing so, and I encourage all hunters to do the same to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

“Pheasant hunting is a great way to spend time outdoors and make new memories with friends and family,” added DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “We encourage pheasant hunters to continue to make hunting memories this year. Even though it may look a little different this year, we can still enjoy Minnesota’s outdoors.”

You can find more information here.