3/13/2019 10:34:00 AM Wolves and water will headline outdoor forum
Ron Kuecker Outdoors Columnist
In keeping with their past spring forums this year's topics will be no different. In fact, for 2019, very few things have been in the news more than the gray wolves of northern Minnesota and Isle Royale. The decline of wolves on Isle Royale has been taking place for a long time. It had dropped to only a couple of non-breeding wolves. So the discussion began; do we introduce wolves from the mainland of Minnesota and Canada? The island's demise of our largest wild canine member had also resulted in an increase of their main prey animal, the moose. And their over browsing was becoming a problem. Well, the decision was made on that national park, where hunting of either species is not allowed and never will be, to repopulate with some non-related wolves. It has already begun. Then, even more recently, news came from the U.S. Congress that they are once again looking at removing the gray wolf from the list of endangered species. The Cottonwood County Game and Fish Protective League thought it would be a good time to bring in some extra knowledge. So, they were able to schedule a speaker from the International Wolf Center located in Ely to address the group. It will be on Thursday, March 28, 7:30 p.m. at the Windom Country Club. Misi Stine, the outreach director of the wolf center has agreed to spend an evening with us. She tells me the group specifically takes no stance on hunting. They instead focus on research and education as their role to understanding the timber wolf. She should be good as she does this regularly and we are very fortunate to have her for a presentation and question and answer time.
Better water The league's second topic is of equal importance in terms of continual publicity on the subject. Kelli Nerem of rural Westbrook, where she lives with her two sons and husband Jeremy, will speak about her work at the MPCA in Marshall. There she works in the department of Environmental Analysis and Outcomes. More specifically, she heads the Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring. Kelli has worked for the MPCA since 2006 and in my opinion knows more about the surface waters of the upper Des Moines than anyone else I know. Kelli is a Lakefield girl who has had an interest in water since her high school days. She has worked locally with the Heron Lake Restoration Association, Heron Lake Watershed District, Red Rock Rural Water System and now 12 years with the MPCA. She will speak of what she does now regarding pollutants in both the Des Moines River watershed and the other large watershed in Southwest Minnesota, the Rock River. The subject of the fish and invertebrate populations of the Des Moines River will also be presented. All of this is important to healthy populations of fish and wildlife and as a drinking water source. If we have unhealthy water, we will have no invertebrates, no inverts then no fish or ducks. It goes on and on as we realize that our lakes, marshes and small streams are all interconnected. Join the Game and Fish League for an evening of good fellowship and gain some knowledge and further insight into the environment we live in. We all look at the labels on our food from the grocery store. We should be equally interested in what's in our water. Gun pictures OK Recently some members of a Minnesota high school clay target shooting team were told they couldn't have pictures of themselves with their shotguns. They thought, that's not right. We are members of an approved Minnesota State High School Leagues sport. We want to be pictured with our favorite shotgun. Well, they took it to their administrators and ultimately to their school board. And they won. This year's edition of their high school annual will show them holding their clay target guns. That's no different than what their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters do when they click on their smartphone cameras to record hunts of the past.
Geese and cormorants It won't be long now, we hope, and the big geese will return to our area to nest. Last year's hatch was not good. That, plus very liberal (some say too liberal) past hunting seasons resulted in the local goose hunt being down considerably in the fall of 2018. Their return is already late with nesting almost certain to be hampered by flooding. Will we soon be following the experience of the Atlantic Flyway where populations have dropped considerably? Three states there have limited hunting to one bird for 30 days. North Carolina will get only 15 days. And now to one of my favorite subjects, the double-crested cormorant. They have been identified as notorious fish eaters and have impacted both commercial fishing and fishing for fun and a fish fry. Ontario, Canada, is finally planning to do more about cormorant control. Officials there are asking for a March 15 through December 31 open season on the rascals. They are smart birds, they are prolific and their droppings kill trees where they nest and roost. The 50 birds daily bag limit proposed seems about right to me.