Published May 13, 2012, 12:00 AM

OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Sandhill crane survey, Trumpeter swan presentation etc.

The sandhill crane survey, which covers an area from Crookston north through Thief River Falls to the Canadian border, will count both nesting pairs and nonbreeding cranes in the Minnesota hunting zone to better monitor breeding populations.

By: Compiled by Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

Sandhill crane survey begins in northwest Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this week launched an aerial survey of sandhill cranes in northwest Minnesota.

The survey, which covers an area from Crookston north through Thief River Falls to the Canadian border, will count both nesting pairs and nonbreeding cranes in the Minnesota hunting zone to better monitor breeding populations.

The survey is timed to count the cranes while most are incubating eggs in their nests.

Because the grayish-colored cranes are difficult to see, researchers will use a DNR helicopter that allows them to fly at a low level. Flights, which will consist of four-kilometer-square plots, should be completed within one or two weeks.

The survey, funded jointly by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the DNR, will be continued for two years.

— Minnesota DNR

Henderson to discuss trumpeter swan success

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — The upcoming Festival of Birds, set for Thursday through May 20, will mark the 25th anniversary of a project to reintroduce trumpeter swans to Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge north of Detroit Lakes.

Swan numbers have rebounded to the point that an estimated 6,000 trumpeter swans now call Minnesota home.

It all started in 1986, when Carrol Henderson, a lifelong birdwatcher and supervisor of the nongame wildlife program for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, received permission to travel to Alaska to collect 50 eggs from the state’s healthy flock of 10,000 swans and bring them back to Minnesota.

According to a DNR news release, the eggs were incubated and hatched at Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, and in May 1987, 21 juvenile swans were released at Tamarac NWR. The timing of the release gave the birds a chance to acclimate before molting and taking their first flights in July.

To mark the 25th anniversary, Henderson will talk about the reintroduction and its success at 5:30 p.m. Thursday during a dinner event at Tamarac NWR. He will talk about the history of the reintroduction, present activities to maintain the health of the state’s flock and what future efforts may be undertaken to ensure long-term stability.

Hunted to extinction in Minnesota within a few decades of statehood in 1858, trumpeter swans in the lower 48 had dwindled by the 1930s to a flock of less than 70 birds in southwest Montana.

According to the DNR, the creation of Minnesota’s Nongame Wildlife Checkoff in 1980 helped fund the trumpeter swan recovery. About 3 percent of Minnesota taxpayers donate to the program annually, generating about $1 million for nongame wildlife.

— Herald staff report

Manager expects strong duck production in DL region

The numbers aren’t official, but observations from spring waterfowl surveys in the Devils Lake region hint there could be a few less breeding ducks this spring.

Roger Hollevoet, project leader of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Devils Lake Wetland Management District, said crews just wrapped up the first round of four-square-mile counts of duck pairs. The consensus, he said, is that breeding pairs are down 15 percent to 20 percent from last year.

“That’s just generalities,” Hollevoet said. “Nothing scientific.”

Hollevoet said temporary wetlands across the region are “quite dry,” but larger seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands have plenty of water. He said the area likely will see residual benefits from high duck production the past couple of years and expects breeding success will be good again this spring.

“There’s ample reason for good success here yet,” Hollevoet said. “For breeding waterfowl up here, we still have remnants of the perfect storm. We’ve got high coyote populations, good cover and good wetlands, so it should be a pretty good year again for production.”

Coyotes drive away foxes, which are a major waterfowl predator.

— Brad Dokken

Did you know?

- Applications for this year’s North Dakota deer gun season now are available online at gf.nd.gov, and paper applications will be at license vendors across the state this week. The deadline to apply is June 6. Game and Fish is offering 65,300 licenses this year, down 44,650 from last year and the lowest number since 1988. This year’s deer season opens at noon Nov. 9 and continues through Nov. 25.

- National Safe Boating Week is May 19-25.

- A UND graduate student will be launching a nongame bird inventory this spring at Sullys Hill National Game Preserve near Fort Totten, N.D. Roger Hollevoet, a manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Devils Lake, said the study by Beth Walters will help determine whether maturing forest cover in the preserve is affecting the variety and abundance of nongame species. The study also will help gauge the benefits of upcoming projects to improve native prairie and oak savannah habitat at Sullys Hill.

- New fishing regulations in in Minnesota allow anglers to use multiple hooks on a single line, such as a crawler harness rig or stinger hook. In addition, beginning July 1, catfish anglers can harvest bait from an infested body of water and use it in the same body of water. For a full listing of regulations changes, see Page 9 of the 2012 Minnesota Fishing Regulations book, available online at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.

- Minnesota ranks fourth among states with the highest number of anglers. The top three states are Florida, Texas and California. Wisconsin is fifth.

- Most of Minnesota’s resident anglers — 755,000 of them in fact — are from the seven-county metropolitan area. The remaining 388,000 resident anglers live outside the Twin Cities. 1

- A study set to begin next month in Utah aims to learn more about how many fawns coyotes kill in that state and how it affects overall deer numbers. The study could be of interest in North Dakota, another state with high coyote populations.

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