DNR Releases First Waterfowl Migration Report Of The Season

The first waterfowl migration and hunting report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources hit my inbox Thursday afternoon, but it didn’t arrive in time for me to include in the outdoors report that appears in today’s Herald.

But with waterfowl season opening Saturday, I thought I’d share some highlights from the report in northwest Minnesota. North Dakota’s regular waterfowl season also opens Saturday, although nonresidents can’t begin hunting until Sept. 29.

Conditions are extremely dry on both sides of the Red River. Here’s a look at what hunters in northwest Minnesota can expect at Roseau River and Thief Lake wildlife management areas, two of the largest WMAs in the state.

Thief Lake WMA near Middle River, Minn.: The WMA was holding about 4,000 Canada geese and 12,000 ducks as of Thursday. Ducks consisted of about 35 percent mallards, 26 percent blue-winged teal, 10 percent ringnecks, 7 percent pintails, 6 percent green-winged teal, 5 percent gadwall, 4 percent wigeon, 4 percent canvasback and 3 percent redheads. The WMA also had about 1,100 sandhill cranes. Thief Lake is about 20 inches below target water levels and all of the boat launches are exposed. Access will be difficult with a boat and motor. Best access may be with canoe or small boat that can be carried to the water’s edge. The Moose River access has sufficient water for boats, but the delta where the river enters the lake is very shallow and overgrown with vegetation. Most seasonal wetlands in the area are dry.

Roseau River WMA near Badger, Minn.: Estimated waterfowl numbers weren’t available, but northwest winds and cooler temperatures have “markedly improved” the outlook for ducks, especially mallards, teal and ringnecks. Wood duck numbers are good in areas with wild rice, and Canada goose numbers are relatively strong. Roseau Lake is completely dry, and the Roseau River is well below normal levels. Many of the oxbows are dry with occasional puddles. The pools on the WMA are nearly 1 foot low; many of the backwater areas of the pools have only slush water available. Moist soils units are dry with little hope for pumping water into them in the near future. On the Roseau River, hunters should consider using a small boat, canoe or hiking into a hunting spot. On the pools, conventional access with outboard motors will be slow due to abundant submergent plant growth and shallow water depths.

I’ll post weekly waterfowl reports from both states throughout the fall. To see the complete DNR migration report, click here: