Published January 20, 2013, 05:05 AM

OUTDOOR NOTES: Waterfowl hunters had good 2012 season

Minnesota waterfowl experts are pleased with the outcome of last fall’s duck and goose hunting seasons. According to the Department of Natural Resources, an earlier season opener, regulation changes that created more opportunity and some timely help from Mother Nature all combined to make 2012 a noteworthy season... and more.

By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald

DNR: Waterfowl hunters had good 2012 season

Minnesota waterfowl experts are pleased with the outcome of last fall’s duck and goose hunting seasons. According to the Department of Natural Resources, an earlier season opener, regulation changes that created more opportunity and some timely help from Mother Nature all combined to make 2012 a noteworthy season.

“We expected it to be a good season, and by all accounts, it was,” said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for the DNR in Bemidji. “We’ve heard a lot of positive reports from hunters. Most seemed very satisfied.”

The DNR added a third duck zone in southern Minnesota and used different splits, or closed periods, to provide some later hunting in that part of the state.

Cordts said the DNR is considering even more changes, including allowing Canada geese hunting in August, changing the early goose season bag limit and allowing open water duck hunting on a small number of lakes.

“No decisions have been made — and some would require federal approval — but we are floating these concepts out for discussion and feedback,” Cordts said. He said formal public input will be taken later this year.

Numbers from the 2012 duck harvest won’t be available until next summer, but DNR officials expect the tally to be up. Hunters in Minnesota have shot about 650,000 ducks in recent years. Mallards typically rank first in the bag, followed by wood ducks, blue-winged teal, ring-necked ducks and green-winged teal.

“By most accounts, ring-necked duck numbers and hunting success were lower this fall than recent years, but that was about the only negative during the entire season,” Cordts said.

The DNR sold 89,950 waterfowl stamps in 2012. Stamp sales have held steady at nearly 90,000 the past four years.

— Minnesota DNR

NDGF to offer 180 nonresident bow tags

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will offer 180 any-deer bow licenses to nonresidents this year. Similar to last year and pending the final proclamation, antlerless mule deer may not be legal to shoot within a large area of western North Dakota.

The deadline for applying is March 1. Game and Fish will conduct a lottery if applications exceed the number of licenses available. If licenses remain after March 1, they will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants can apply together as a party. A separate check is required for each application.

The nonresident any-deer bow application is available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov. The application must be printed and sent in to the department.

The number of nonresident any-deer bow licenses available is 15 percent of the previous year’s mule deer gun license allocation. Game and Fish issued 1,200 antlered mule deer licenses in the 2012 deer gun lottery.

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

Did you know?

• The North Dakota Game and Fish Department tallied 61 bald eagles during this year’s midwinter survey along the Missouri River. That’s slightly above average since the survey started in 1986. Patrick Isakson, conservation biologist for the Game and Fish Department, said high waterfowl numbers along the river kept more eagles in the state during the survey period.

• North Dakota citizens with an interest in wildlife conservation programs again this year are encouraged to look for the Watchable Wildlife checkoff on their state tax form. The checkoff supports nongame animals such as songbirds and birds of prey. Info: (701) 328-6300 or ndgf@nd.gov.

• The Minnesota DNR will fly a helicopter deer survey in permit areas 260 and 264 in Kittson, Marshall, Pennington and Roseau counties this winter as part of an effort to estimate deer populations in the areas. The DNR also will conduct an aerial elk survey using both an airplane and helicopter in the Kittson County and Grygla, Minn., elk ranges.

— Compiled by Brad Dokken

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