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DNR also has a plan to improve waterfowl habitat

While more liberal duck season regulations are intended to draw more hunters back to the duck blind in the immediate future, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources continues to pursue the goals of its Long-Range Duck Recovery Plan.

While more liberal duck season regulations are intended to draw more hunters back to the duck blind in the immediate future, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources continues to pursue the goals of its Long-Range Duck Recovery Plan.

"I realize there are many factors -- mainly habitat conditions -- that influence the number of ducks hunters see over their decoys," DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr wrote in an online FAQ page about regulation changes. "We're committed to addressing those issues as well. We will continue our accelerated efforts on managing shallow lakes -- including wild rice lakes -- and our work on moist-soil management."

Here's a quick review of the DNR's Long-Range Duck Recovery Plan, a 50-year effort started in 2006. Its goals are to:

  • Increase Minnesota's breeding duck population to 1 million ducks.
  • Restore 2 million acres of grassland and wetland habitat.
  • Return to days when 140,000 hunters go to the marshes and bring Minnesota's share of the Mississippi Flyway duck harvest to 16 percent. The plan has interim goals along the way, including restoration of 600,000 acres of waterfowl habitat by 2025.

    More recently, the agency also has established a Moist Soil Management Guide, which calls for alternate drawdowns and flooding of seasonal wetlands to provide food and water for ducks. The wetlands are kept dry during part of the summer growing season and are flooded during spring and fall. This technique is used on shallow waters that attract ducks such as teal and mallards.

    Coupled with that is the Shallow Lakes Management Plan, which will intensively manage 1,854 lakes on the state's Wildlife Management Areas and nearby federal Waterfowl Production Areas. These lakes are less than 16 feet deep and cover at least 50 acres. Minnesota has 1.3 million acres in its Wildlife Management Areas on 1,400 sites.

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