DNR sets northwest Minnesota elk meeting for Thursday night in Greenbush

Elk management in Kittson and Marshall counties of northwest Minnesota and plans to update the existing management plan for the animals will be the focus of a meeting set for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Greenbush (Minn.) High School.

“Our goal is to inform people about the northwestern Minnesota elk herds and let them know how they can participate in the elk plan revision,” said John Williams, northwest regional wildlife supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji.

DNR staff will present information on elk history, managing habitat, damage the animals can cause and the process for revising the plan that will guide elk management from 2016 through 2020.

Three small elk  herds roam northwest Minnesota: The Kittson Central herd near Lancaster, Minn.; the Grygla herd in Marshall County near Grygla, Minn.; and the Caribou-Vita herd, which ranges from northeast Kittson County into southern Manitoba.

The DNR recently completed an aerial survey showing the three distinct herds contain 108 elk.

The DNR also is seeking nominations for people interested in serving on elk work groups:  one for the two Kittson County herds and one for the Grygla herd. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr will select and appoint members to each group.

For more information on Minnesota elk and the current management plan, click here.

DNR closing northwest Minnesota wolf season at end of today

The 2014 wolf hunting and trapping season in northwest Minnesota closes at the end of shooting hours today, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources just announced.

By Thursday night, hunters and trappers had taken 86 wolves, three short of the northwest wolf zone’s harvest target. DNR officials called for the closure anticipating that the target harvest would be met by the end of today.

Wolf hunting and trapping continues in the east-central wolf zone for anyone with a valid license. The late season in the east-central zone is scheduled to end on Friday, Jan. 31, or whenever the target harvest is expected to be met, whichever comes first.

As of today, hunters and trappers had harvested five wolves in the east-central zone during the late season.

The late wolf season closed in the northeast zone on Dec. 18; hunters killed 37 wolves. During the early hunting season, which concluded Nov. 25, hunters took 32 of 33 wolves in the northeast; 56 of 73 wolves in the northwest; and no wolves in the east-central zone.

For more information, click here.


Sharptails provide winter photo opps

The cold weather that has descended with a vengeance the past few days has wildlife scrambling to consume enough calories to keep warm.

That can present some great opportunities for wildlife watchers.

A sharp-tailed grouse feeds on frozen berries in the yard of Gary and Phyllis Lund, who live near Roseau, Minn.

Gary and Phyllis Lund of rural Roseau, Minn., have sent me several photos the past couple of days of sharp-tailed grouse in their backyard — and sometimes right on their deck.

The prairie grouse, which can be notoriously skittish, don’t seem to mind the human company and have been feeding on frozen high-bush cranberries and other foodstuffs that have been set out for the birds.

This sharptail definitely rules the roost.

Gary Lund said the photos have been taken out the house windows, anywhere from 50 feet to farther out, using a Pentax with a 12- to 48-mm zoom lens. They’re fun shots that are worth sharing.

A plump sharptail roosts on the deck of Gary and Phyllis Lund’s resident near Roseau, Minn., on a cold Tuesday morning.

It’s not common for the sharptails to perch on the deck.

“We’ve had them land on top of our other bird feeder,” as well, Lund writes. “Quite comical.”

Roseau and other parts of northwest Minnesota are situated in a unique region between the prairie and boreal forest, which provides the opportunity to see not only prairie grouse such as sharptails, but woodland species such as ruffed grouse and spruce grouse, as well. The abundant snow that’s fallen to date is a boon for all three species, which burrow into the snow to escape the cold. All three are able to withstand cold northern winters providing they’ve got enough food and places to roost. The sharptails obviously have found the Lunds’ yard to their liking.