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Last Updated: Aug 31, 2011

Critical Public Lands Bill Comes to Life

North American Waterfowl Management Plan Revision available for review

Deer reported by Oronoco landowner tests negative for CWD

Angler found 21 walleyes over the legal limit on Lake of the Woods

Zebra mussels found in Brophy and Cowdry lakes near Alexandria

Fish and Wildlife Service Reopens Comment Period on Revising the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife for the Gray Wolf

Free seedlings at Minnesota State Fair

Waterfowl Hunters Look Forward to a Good Season on Refuges

Hunting seasons to open soon; DNR offers helpful reminders

Youth Program Ties Together Reading, Faith and Fishing

Asian carp search enters new phase on Mississippi, St. Croix, Minnesota rivers

Doubling Up on Wolves

Duck season offers more options, opens one week earlier

Waterfowl Hunting Proposed Late Season Frameworks

Deer licenses on sale Aug. 1; regulation changes announced

Duck and goose numbers improved; wetland conditions excellent

State park reservation system reopens with record-setting results

More ‘keeper’ walleyes to be allowed on Mille Lacs; hunting application deadlines approaching fast

 

 

Critical Public Lands Bill Comes to Life

Under newly introduced bill HR 2834, hunting and fishing opportunities will become a priority on more than 440 million acres of federal public lands. The “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act” was introduced at the U.S. Congress by Reps. Dan Benishek (R-MI) and Dan Boren (D-OK). Co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Mike Kelly (R-PA). The bill is also supported by other key members of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and the Columbus, Ohio-based U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. 

This landmark measure recognizes that recreational anglers, hunters (including trapping) and shooters have been, and continue to be, the foremost supporters and funders of sound fish and wildlife management and conservation in the United States. The bill further highlights that hunting, fishing and recreational shooting occurs on Federal public lands and waters without adverse impacts or effects on other uses or users.  Bill 2834’s wording follows the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, a bill that designated fishing and hunting as priority public uses on refuge lands in the U.S. The Refuge Act has curtailed attempts by anti-hunting groups to stop hunting on some public lands where hunting has traditionally occurred.

“The USSA has strongly encouraged such legislation for over a decade to spell out in law that fishing and hunting on federal public lands must be protected from the rising animal rights lobby,” said Bill Horn, former Assistant Secretary of Interior and USSA’s director of federal affairs.  “This bill will provide needed protection for years to come.”

If enacted, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act will specify that federal public land management officials shall exercise their authority under existing law, including provisions regarding land-use planning, to encourage the use of and access to federal public lands and waters for fishing, hunting, and recreational shooting.  Going forward, all management plans would include provisions for those popular practices.

The new bill will include lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, including lands designated wilderness or administratively classified as wilderness eligible or suitable, and primitive or semi-primitive areas. National parks, however, are excluded from the Act as are wildlife refuges governed by the 1997 Act.

Joining USSA in championing HR 2834 are the American Sportfishing Association, National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, and the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation.

Hunters, anglers, trappers, and shooters across America who use public lands should stay abreast of the developments of this bill and note its positive long-term impact on outdoor heritage recreation on public lands in the future. Contact the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance at 614-888-4868 for more details or visit www.ussportsmen.org.

About the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance:

The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) is a watchdog organization that provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect and advance the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers, and scientific wildlife management professionals. The USSA is the only organization exclusively devoted to combating the attacks made on America’s sportsman traditions by anti-hunting and animal rights extremists.  This is accomplished through coalition building, ballot issue campaigning and legislative and government relations.


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North American Waterfowl Management Plan Revision available for review

NORTH AMERICAN WATERFOWL MANAGEMENT PLAN REVISION AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC REVIEW AND COMMENT

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments on the draft revision of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP, or Plan).
First signed in 1986 between Canada and the United States – with Mexico joining in 1994 -- the NAWMP is held as a leading model for international conservation plans. In large measure this is because it is a living and evolving document, updated periodically with engagement of the broad waterfowl conservation community in all three countries. The final Plan revision is expected to be released by mid-2012.
The draft Plan revision is available for public comment by visiting www.nawmprevision.org; via email to info@nawmprevision.org; or by U.S.
Mail to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Division of Bird Habitat Conservation, Attn: Draft NAWMP Revision, 4401 North Fairfax Drive MS4075, Arlington, VA 22203.
Comments will be accepted until September 26, 2011.
“The world is changing, challenging waterfowl conservationists like never before to improve the way we do business,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The revision of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan will guide us toward improving waterfowl conservation in the face of social, physical, ecological and economic challenges and enable managers to focus on the things that matter most to achieving shared conservation goals. The international Plan Committee is committed to ensuring that stakeholder input is fully incorporated in this important document.”
In the past, NAWMP goals were described in terms of desired waterfowl population numbers to be achieved through science-based habitat conservation and regional partnerships. In the Plan revision, a more inclusive purpose for waterfowl conservation will reflect the full range of fundamental goals identified by Plan stakeholders.
In 2009 and 2010, the Plan Committee held a series of stakeholder workshops in the United States and Canada aimed at gathering input on goals and objectives for waterfowl management and identifying broad-scale
alternative strategies for achieving those objectives. An International
Revision Steering Committee synthesized feedback received at these workshops and through the website, www.nawmprevision.org. A writing team comprising government and nongovernment scientists and waterfowl managers from both Canada and the United States produced the draft Plan revision.
Waterfowl are among North America’s most highly valued natural resources.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, in 2006, 87.5 million Americans spent $122.3 billion on wildlife-related recreation. This includes 1.8 million U.S. waterfowl hunters who spent nearly $1 billion on trips and equipment.
The North American Waterfowl Management Plan, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2011, ranks among the largest and most successful conservation initiatives ever undertaken. As of January 2011, NAWMP partners had raised more than $5 billion dollars and conserved more than
17.3 million acres.
The draft Plan revision considers the entire spectrum of waterfowl management, including needs expressed by the general public, and proposes new goals for waterfowl management. One of those new goals addresses the value of waterfowl and wetlands to society and recognizes the link between human appreciation of waterfowl and wetland resources and conservation of those resources.
The draft Plan acknowledges the strong links among all of these goals and highlights the need for changing the traditional waterfowl management model by advocating for a system that integrates human connections with waterfowl and habitat considerations.
The NAWMP revision’s Action Plan, to be released in the fall, provides more explicit guidance for advancing this integrated waterfowl management philosophy. The Action Plan will serve as a technical road map to aid in implementing the objectives of the Plan revision.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

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Deer reported by Oronoco landowner tests negative for CWD

A white-tailed deer, recently discovered in southeastern Minnesota near Oronoco, exhibited some symptoms consistent with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) but was not infected with the disease.

"We appreciate the public awareness about the disease and its potential effects on the deer population," said Lou Cornicelli, big game program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "We are relieved this animal did not have CWD."

A landowner observed the adult male deer on his property walking in a tight circle for a long period of time. He reported the deer to the DNR, which euthanized the animal and took it to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for testing.

Deer showing signs of possibly having CWD always are tested when discovered, Cornicelli said. This is the first sick deer found and tested in the CWD zone – which stretches from Wanamingo, Zumbrota and Zumbro Falls southward to Kasson, Byron and Rochester – since sharpshooting ended last winter. None of the 1,181 deer tested in the area have tested positive for the disease.

The CWD zone was established earlier this year after an archery hunter harvested a CWD-positive deer in November 2010. Sampling was conducted last winter, and a deer feeding ban was enacted. Efforts to continue to monitor the area for additional cases of CWD and measures to help prevent its potential spread are in place for the fall hunting season.

"White-tailed deer contract a variety of diseases that express neurological symptoms," Cornicelli said. "Further testing is ongoing to determine what affected this animal."

Individuals should continue to notify DNR if they see a deer exhibiting CWD-like symptoms, which can include walking in circles, drooling, staggering, emaciation and a lack of fear toward humans.

More information about CWD, the DNR's fall surveillance plans, and new regulations for the CWD zone in southeastern Minnesota are available online at mndnr.gov/cwd.

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Angler found 21 walleyes over the legal limit on Lake of the Woods

A Nebraska angler’s wallet is nearly $1,200 lighter after a 700 mile fishing trip to northern Minnesota’s Lake of the Woods.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Robert Gorecki of Baudette was patrolling the nearly 350,000 acre lake on July 31, when he came across James E. Thomsen, 68, of Ashland, Neb. The officer asked Thomsen how the fishing was.

“When I began asking about how many fish he had in possession he got nervous,” said Gorecki.

The current daily and possession limit on Lake of the Woods is six walleyes and not more than one walleye over 28 inches.

At Thomsen’s resort cabin, Gorecki found a freezer containing 53 fillets, or 27 walleyes. Thomsen admitted that several of the fish were over the 28 inch slot limit. He was charged with a gross over-limit of 21 walleyes, and would have to make a court appearance.

“His plan was to leave the following morning, and he did not want to have to come back for a court appearance. He asked several times if ‘this could be taken care of prior to leaving,’” Gorecki said. Thomsen’s boat was held as evidence to ensure he didn’t leave town.

After the officer spoke with the Lake of the Woods County attorney the following morning the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, but the fine and the restitution amounts remained the same as a gross misdemeanor. Thomsen agreed, paid $1,165 in fine and restitution ($535 fine, and $630 restitution), and plead guilty to the violation. 

“After he paid the fine I assisted Mr. Thomsen in hooking his boat trailer to his vehicle, and he left for home. I’m not sure if we will see him here again anytime soon,” Gorecki said.

Anyone witnessing a fishing or wildlife violation is encouraged to contact the nearest conservation officer, law enforcement agency or the toll-free Turn-In-Poacher (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Also, #TIP is available to most cell phone users in Minnesota.

People should contact the Minnesota State Patrol or a DNR regional or area office for the name and phone number of a conservation officer in their area.

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Zebra mussels found in Brophy and Cowdry lakes near Alexandria

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists have confirmed a report that zebra mussels are now in Brophy and Cowdry lakes near Alexandria.

Brophy and Cowdry are part of a small chain of lakes less than a mile upstream of Lake Darling and the Alexandria chain of lakes, which were confirmed to have zebra mussels in June 2009. A local homeowner found several zebra mussels attached to rocks in Brophy, nearby his property, and reported it to the DNR. The DNR surveyed Brophy and downstream in Cowdry and found young zebra mussels in both lakes. 

“It is very disappointing that zebra mussels found their way into this small chain of lakes,” said Nathan Olson, DNR invasive species specialist in Fergus Falls. “Everyone needs to take extra precautions not to transport these pests to other waters in the area.”

In response to this new infestation, the DNR will:

Additional surveys are planned. Also, it is not known how widespread zebra mussels are in the other connected lakes. The young age of the zebra mussels suggests that a reproducing population likely has been in Brophy and Cowdry lakes for at least a year.

Prior to this discovery of zebra mussels, the DNR worked with the Douglas County Lakes Association and others in the Alexandria area to inspect boats and educate lake users. The efforts were aimed at involving the public in helping prevent the further spread of invasive species into other Alexandria area lakes.

A nonnative invasive species, zebra mussels pose serious ecological and economic threats to Minnesota’s lakes and streams. Heavy infestations can kill native mussels, impact fish populations, interfere with recreation, and increase costs for industry, including power and water supply facilities. Native to Eastern Europe and Western Russia, zebra mussels were first discovered in Minnesota in 1989 in the Duluth harbor.

Boaters are required by law to:

The DNR also recommends people spray or rinse boats with high-pressure and/or hot water, or let them dry thoroughly for five days, before transporting to another body of water.

The DNR has recently begun accelerating its efforts to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species, including launching new inspection and decontamination procedures at several large lakes with zebra mussel infestations and high boat traffic.

The DNR website has additional information on aquatic invasive species www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/index.html.

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Fish and Wildlife Service Reopens Comment Period on Revising the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife for the Gray Wolf

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) on August 25 announced the reopening of the comment period on the May 5, 2011, proposed rule to delist the gray wolf population in the Western Great Lakes and revise the listing to remove all or parts of 29 eastern states where the listed species did not historically occur. The action will allow for additional public review and the inclusion of any new information.

Gray wolves were originally listed as subspecies or as regional populations of subspecies in the lower 48 states and Mexico under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and its predecessor statutes. In 1978, the Service reclassified the gray wolf as an endangered species across all of the lower 48 states and Mexico, except in Minnesota where the gray wolf was classified as threatened.

In the rule issued earlier this year, the Service proposed to remove gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area — which includes Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, and portions of adjoining states — from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife because wolves have recovered in this area and no longer require the protection of the ESA. The Service also proposed to revise the range of the gray wolf (Canus lupus) in all or parts of 29 eastern states, which, based in part on recognition of the eastern wolf (Canus lycaon) as a full species, were not part of the historical range of the gray wolf.

The comment period for this proposed rule closed on July 5, 2011, and the Service received significant comments from states and other stakeholders concerning North American wolf taxonomy. The Service is seeking all information, data, and comments from the public with respect to any new information relevant to the taxonomy of wolves in North America. Written comments on this proposal may be submitted by one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029].
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn:
Docket No. [FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

All comments and materials, as well as supporting documentation used in preparing the proposed rule will be made available for public inspection.

The notice reopening the comment period will publish in the Federal Register on August 26, 2011. Comments must be received within 30 days, on or before September 26, 2011. The Service will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes.

More information is available online at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. The Service working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

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Free seedlings at Minnesota State Fair

Giving Away Seedlings at the Fair For 20 Years...

At its State Fair booth, Minnesota Forest Industries to highlight its $8.9 billion economic impact and 30,000 jobs statewide with theme: 'Jobs do grow on trees...and we grow a lot of trees!'

Minnesota Forest Industries (MFI), has been a Minnesota State Fair favorite for 20 years by giving away free seedlings at its booth in the Education Building. And this year, MFI is reminding fairgoers that jobs grow on trees, too - more than 30,000 jobs statewide, to be exact.

The theme of MFI's booth this year is "Jobs do grow on trees...and we grow a lot of trees!" Visitors to the booth will see a 6' foot tall "jobs tree" highlighting more than 40 different professions that are part of the state's $8.9 billion forest products industry. Booth visitors will also be able to view the names of nearly 300 Minnesota cities that are home to businesses from which the forest products industry purchases goods and services.

And, of course, fairgoers will also be able to pick up one of the 15,000 Red Pine seedlings that will be given away during the Aug. 25 - Sept. 5 fair.

"Everyone in Minnesota is positively affected by this industry, either as an employee, a company from which we buy goods and services, or as a consumer using the many fine paper and wood products made right here," said Wayne Brandt, MFI's executive vice president. "Anyone interested in furthering their career - from accountants to engineers, loggers to biologists and much more - is encouraged to stop by our booth or log on to minnesotaforests.com to learn more."

Brandt added that each year, more than 20 million seedlings are planted in Minnesota, and that twice as much wood is grown as is harvested each year.

"Minnesota has more large trees today than it had 50 years ago, and that's due to the dedication of the hardworking people who go to great lengths to properly manage this valuable renewable resource," said Brandt.

Minnesota Forest Industries is an association representing these state forest products companies: Bell Timber; Boise, Inc; Forest Capital Partners; Hedstrom Lumber Company; Louisiana Pacific; Minnesota Power; Norbord Minnesota; Potlatch Land and Timber; Sappi Fine Paper North America; UPM, Blandin Paper Mill; and Verso Paper, Sartell Mill . MFI members encourage conservation, proper forest management and industry development that foster sound environmental stewardship, multiple use of timber lands and sustainable, long-term timber supply. MFI's web address is minnesotaforests.com.

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Waterfowl Hunters Look Forward to a Good Season on Refuges

Practice those duck calls, and check your decoys. Waterfowl hunting season is almost here, and signs point to a good year on national wildlife refuges.

The preliminary 2011 North American waterfowl survey, released by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service in late July, totaled 45.5 million, up 12 percent from last year’s 40.8 million. These counts are based on aerial surveys of breeding waterfowl conducted annually since 1955, and each year the information helps determine the hunting regulations on season length, dates and bag limits.

Several hundred of the country’s 553 national wildlife refuges welcome waterfowl hunting as a traditional recreational use and wildlife management tool under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. Many hunters name refuges such as Edwin B. Forsythe in New Jersey, Anahuac in Texas and Lower Klamath in California among their favorite waterfowl hunting destinations.

At scenic Lower Klamath Refuge, established as the nation’s first waterfowl refuge in 1908, hunt program coordinator Stacy Freitas says it’s easy to see the refuge’s appeal to hunters. “We are one of the first stops in the Pacific Flyway when birds return in the fall from nesting areas in Canada,” says the biological science technician. Ducks and geese flock to the refuge’s marshes and grain fields located in the shadow of 14,000-foot Mt. Shasta. Some hunters take aim from refuge pit blinds and free-roam areas; Freitas and her husband prefer to shoot from a layout boat. “For most hunters, it’s not just about shooting birds,” she says. “It’s about watching the sunrise, listening to nature, the whole experience. You kind of feel one with nature, but hopefully you get dinner out of the process.”

At Anahuac Refuge in Texas, huntable species include blue- and green-winged teal, mottled ducks, gadwalls, pintails and shovelers, as well as snow geese, greater white-fronted geese, Ross’s geese and Canada geese. American coots are also fair game. Hunting areas can be reached by foot or by boat. An accessible hunt blind is available for hunters with a disability.
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All waterfowl hunters, 16 years of age and older, must buy a $15 federal duck stamp each year; the proceeds support wetland conservation. Hunters also need a current state license and, in some cases, a refuge hunting permit. Hunters must use non-toxic, lead-free shot.

Your Guide to Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges can help you find a hunt location and the conditions you want. Many refuges, such as Parker River Refuge in Massachusetts, hold special youth hunts each year to teach conservation, shooting skills and safety to beginning hunters. Some refuges, such as Bombay Hook Refuge in Delaware, designate special hunt days for hunters with disabilities. Others, such as Sherburne Refuge in Minnesota, have special blinds for people with disabilities. The hunting guide also includes wetland management districts open to waterfowl hunting in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Montana.

Other wildlife refuges popular with waterfowl hunters include:
Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, AR Delta National Wildlife Refuge, LA Devils Lake Wetland Management District, ND Iowa Wetland Management District and Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge, IA Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, MA Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, TN Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, CA Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MN Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge, MN, WI, IA, IL Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, AK

More 2011 waterfowl hunting information is available from the Division of Migratory Bird Management and the Office of Law Enforcement.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.

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Hunting seasons to open soon; DNR offers helpful reminders

Minnesota’s dove, rail and snipe seasons – the first small game hunting seasons of the fall – will open Thursday, Sept. 1, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The state’s sandhill crane and early goose seasons open Sept. 3, followed by the small game and archery deer seasons on Saturday, Sept. 17. The duck season opens Sept. 24, the pheasant season Oct. 15, prairie chicken (by permit only) Oct. 22 and the statewide firearms deer season on Nov. 5. Youth waterfowl day is Sept. 10. Take a Kid Hunting Weekend is
Sept. 24-25.

“Before long, the crisp mornings and the sight of orange- or camo-clad hunters will be common again,” said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife chief. “Hunters should take a good look at the regulation book this year as a number of season, bag limit, and other changes have been implemented in the name of opportunity and simplicity.”

The 2011 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook is available online at mndnr.gov. Copies soon will be available wherever hunting licenses are sold.

Simon said ruffed grouse, waterfowl, and deer numbers look good this year. Pheasant numbers, he predicted, will be down from last year. This is due to mortality from last winter’s deep snow and tough winter roosting conditions, plus a protracted cool, rainy spring that reduced survival rates of newly hatched chicks.

Other information hunters should know includes: