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The 2018-19 Federal Duck Stamp featuring this pair of mallards in flight by winning artist Bob Hautman of Delano, Minn., went on sale Friday, June 29. (Photo/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

N.D. spring pheasant count declines

North Dakota's spring pheasant population index is down 30 percent from last year, the state Game and Fish Department said in reporting results from its 2018 spring crowing count survey.

The number of roosters heard crowing this spring was down statewide, with decreases ranging from 15 percent to 38 percent in the primary regions holding pheasants, said R.J. Gross, upland game management biologist for Game and Fish in Bismarck.

"We entered spring with a lower than average number of adult birds," Gross said. "Last year's production was far below average due to the statewide drought conditions."

The past winter was good for bird survival, so hens should be in good physical shape for the nesting season, Gross said.

"In addition, this spring's weather has been good so far, as most of the state has received adequate rainfall," he said. "If the trend continues, a good hatch should be expected, but it will take a few years of good reproduction to get the population back to where it was before the drought."

Brood surveys, which begin in late July and are completed by September, will provide a better estimate of summer pheasant production and fall hunting prospects.

As part of the spring crowing count survey, observers drive specified 20-mile routes, stopping at predetermined intervals and counting the number of pheasant roosters heard crowing over a two-minute period during the stop.

The number of pheasant crows heard is compared to previous years' data, providing a trend summary.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Minnesota breeding duck, goose numbers improve

Population counts for several duck species that nest in Minnesota showed good results this spring, the DNR said in reporting the findings from annual spring waterfowl surveys.

"Mallard, blue-winged teal and Canada goose counts were all improved from last year," said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. "The survey is designed for mallards, and our breeding mallard population remains above its long-term average."

This year's mallard breeding population was estimated at 295,000, which is 38 percent above last year's estimate of 214,000 breeding mallards and 30 percent above the long-term average measured each year since 1968.

The blue-winged teal population is 191,000 this year, 20 percent above last year's estimate but 10 percent below the long-term average.

The combined populations of other ducks such as ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks and redheads is 207,000, which is 21 percent lower than last year and 15 percent above the long-term average.

The estimate of total breeding duck abundance (excluding scaup) is 693,000, which is 9 percent higher than last year and 12 percent above the long-term average.

The estimated number of wetlands was 1 percent lower than last year and 4 percent above the long-term average. Wetland numbers can vary greatly based on annual precipitation.

This year's Canada goose population was estimated at 162,000 geese, similar to last year's estimate of 152,000 and 2 percent above the long-term average.

More info: mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

-- Minnesota DNR

New Federal Duck Stamp now on sale

The 2018-19 Federal Duck Stamp went on sale Friday, June 29. The stamps, which cost $25, are valid through June 30, 2019. Purchased by millions of waterfowl hunters, wildlife enthusiasts and collectors every year, duck stamps help raise money to purchase and protect wetlands for ducks, geese and other wildlife species.

The new Duck Stamp features the artwork of Bob Hautman, an artist from Delano, Minn. His painting features a pair of mallards. This is Hautman's third Federal Duck Stamp Contest win. His art previously appeared on the 1997-98 and 2001-02 federal duck stamps.

The duck stamp, also known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, dates back to 1934. Since then, the program has raised more than $1 billion to help acquire and protect more than 6 million acres of habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Duck stamps are sold at post offices nationwide and at many national wildlife refuges and sporting goods stores. Electronic versions of the duck stamp can be purchased online at fws.gov/birds/news/180607-First-Day-of-Sale-promo.php.

-- Herald staff report

DNR names Parsons new fisheries chief

Brad Parsons has been selected as the new fisheries chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

A 31-year fisheries veteran and current Central Region fisheries manager for the DNR, Parsons begins his new duties Wednesday, July 25.

"Brad brings a breadth of valuable experience to this important job," DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said in a statement. "His years working his way up as a researcher in the field and then serving as regional fisheries manager will help us manage the state's fisheries in ways that positively serve citizens, natural resources and local economies."

Parsons, a St. Paul Park, Minn., resident, has been the DNR's Central Region fisheries manager since 2010. In addition to managing the region's eight fisheries offices, he has played a key role in management issues on Lake Mille Lacs and the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. He also is the agency's point person with the citizen-based Walleye Workgroup.

In his new position, Parsons will oversee a $34 million annual fisheries section budget and a staff of 286 full- and part-time employees in four regional offices, 29 area offices and 15 hatcheries.

He replaces Don Pereira, who retired June 8.

-- Minnesota DNR

DNR upgrades outdoor recreation maps

Navigating Minnesota's woods and waters with a mobile device now is easier than ever with new digital maps available from the DNR.

Cartographers in the Parks and Trails Division recently upgraded nearly all of the maps for Minnesota state parks, state water trails, off-highway vehicle trails and public water access sites to geospatial (location-referenced) PDF files (or GeoPDFs for short).

State trail and snowmobile trail maps will be available in about a month.

The GeoPDF maps are best read with Avenza Maps, a GeoPDF reader app, which is available for free from the Google Play Store (for Android devices) or the App Store (for iPhones). Internet access is needed to install the app and map files, but once they are installed, they do not need Internet access or cell phone service to function.

"The app relies solely on a device's built-in GPS receiver to track your movement," Erika Rivers, director of the DNR's Parks and Trails Division, said. "Your location is represented on the map by a small blue dot, which moves as you move."

Instructions on how to download the application and map can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov.

-- Minnesota DNR

Did you know?

• Hunters can apply through Friday, Aug. 17, for the regular archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls, Minn. Hunters may pick from one of two hunting seasons: Oct. 18-19 (Thur.-Fri., code 668) or Oct. 27-28 (Sat.-Sun., code 669). A total of 4,000 permits, with 2,000 per two-day hunt, will be available. Hunters can take two deer, and bonus permits may be used to take antlerless deer. The DNR will post more info later this month at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

• U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Wednesday announced more than 1,900 local governments around the country will receive $552.8 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding for 2018—the largest allocation in the program's 40-year history. North Dakota will receive nearly $1.8 million and Minnesota more than $5.1 million. McLean County led North Dakota counties with $404,765. St. Louis County in northeast Minnesota will receive $2,129,458 in PILT payments, most among Minnesota counties. PILT payments are federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes because of nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries.

• The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds people that fireworks are prohibited on state wildlife management areas.

• The 27-mile Wildlife Drive through the Roseau River Wildlife Management Area in northwest Minnesota will be open to vehicular travel from Saturday, July 14, through Sunday, July 22, and weekends thereafter through Sunday, Aug. 12. The drive traverses wetland, woodland, brushland and farmland habitats, providing visitors a variety of wildlife-viewing opportunities. Located 20 miles northwest of Roseau, Minn., Roseau River WMA is one of the viewing stops along the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, which consists of 45 sites spanning a 223-mile corridor from pine to prairie in northwest Minnesota. More info: (218) 463-1130 or mndnr.gov/wmas.

-- Compiled by Brad Dokken

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