The “2016 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations” report indicated that total duck population was estimated at 48.4 million breeding ducks, which is 38 percent above the 1955-2015 long-term average. Last year’s estimate was 49.5 million birds.
Estimated mallard abundance was 11.8 million, which was similar to the 2015 estimate of 11.6 million and 51 percent above the long-term average of 7.8 million. The projected mallard fall flight index is 13.5 million birds, similar to the 2015 estimate of 13.8 million.
The estimated abundance of green-winged teal was 4.3 million, which was similar to the 2015 estimate and 104 percent above the long-term average (2.1 million). This year marks the highest estimate for green-winged teal.
“In light of the dry conditions that were observed across much of the northern breeding grounds during the survey period, it is reassuring to see that the breeding population counts were little changed from last year,” said DU chief scientist Scott Yaich.
What’s up with doe’s actions?
Jim Forsberg of Duluth submitted a question he had about a whitetail doe exhibiting some unusual behavior recently.
“I saw a doe beating up a fawn today on Greysolon Road a few blocks north of Perkins,” Forsberg wrote. “The fawn was following the doe, and when it caught up, the punishment was administered. The fawn ran across the street to escape. Just wondering if you might know anything about this behavior.”
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials weighed in on that question.
“My first thought is that this fawn does not belong to this doe,” said Nancy Hansen, DNR area wildlife manager at Two Harbors. “It’s possible the fawn lost its mother in one way or another and is trying to find a replacement, with the adult deer rejecting it. Otherwise, if there’s a really good food source, female deer will also sometimes kick their own young away from that food source. Does will also discourage their fawns from nursing at some point, and that can be very physical.”
DNR area wildlife manager Chris Balzer at Cloquet offered this response:
“My only guess is that as the fawns get larger they eat more, but at the same time they should be slowly weaning off the doe’s milk,” Balzer said. “Maybe this fawn still has too much of a taste for milk and the doe is getting a little tired of the harassment. Some nursing is still very normal this time of year, but it should be less and less as we head towards fall.”
Minnesota duck and goose seasons set
Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season will open on Sept. 24, with similar bag limits and season dates that were in place last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Duck season will again be open for 60 days in each of the three waterfowl zones.
* In the north zone, duck season is Sept. 24 through Nov. 22.
* In the central zone, duck season is Sept. 24 through Oct. 2, closes for five days, then reopens Oct. 8 through Nov. 27.
* In the south zone, duck season is Sept. 24 through Oct. 2, closes for 12 days, then reopens Oct. 15 through Dec. 4.
The daily bag limits for ducks remains at six per day and individual species limits are identical to those used last fall.
Canada goose hunting regulations change
Unlike last year, there will be no August Canada goose hunting in Minnesota.
In the Intensive Harvest Zone during the September goose hunt, the bag limit is now five per day, the same as the rest of the state. Previously, the bag limit was 10 per day.
“We made these changes for a few reasons. The Canada goose population in the state is near our goal, and Canada goose harvest did not increase the past three years even when additional harvest opportunities were offered,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.
* The early September Canada goose season will open statewide on Sept. 3 and run through Sept. 18. Bag limits for Canada geese are five per day statewide. A $4 permit is required to hunt Canada geese during the September season. Early-season goose hunters should consult the 2016 Waterfowl Supplement for zone maps and additional details.
* Minnesota’s regular goose season will open in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Sept. 24 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.
Youth Waterfowl Day will be Sept. 10. The season for sandhill cranes runs Sept. 10 to Oct. 16 in the northwest goose and sandhill crane zone only.
The 2016 waterfowl hunting regulations are available online at mndnr.gov/waterfowl.
Changes proposed for trout stream designations
Fisheries officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are proposing changes in trout stream designations statewide to make sure streams get the protection they merit. These changes are proposed every few years, DNR officials say, to reflect the changing courses and character of streams.
In all, 48 streams or stream segments totaling 60 miles would be added to the list of designated trout streams, and 41 streams totaling 195 miles would be removed from the list.
“It is important that these smaller stream segments are brought into that rule (trout stream designation) so that they’re protected in the same way that the rest of the trout stream is protected,” said Deserae Hendrickson, DNR area fisheries supervisor at French River. “Most of these changes are corrections, where a stream has moved outside of a designated section.”
Adding or removing designations for streams would change requirements for anglers, landowners and those who work near these streams, DNR officials said. For a detailed list of the proposals, go to mndnr.gov/troutstreams.