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Field reports: Wisconsin land purchase preserves trout stream access

Conservation groups in Wisconsin have purchased land along the White River, a popular trout stream, to protect the river and allow continued access for anglers.

Conservation groups in Wisconsin have purchased land along the White River, a popular trout stream, to protect the river and allow continued access for anglers.

The Bayfield Regional Conservancy, working with Friends of the White River and Trout Unlimited, has purchased 80 acres of vulnerable land along the river. The property, once known as the Hanson farm, is in the Town of Delta and includes more than

2,000 feet of shoreline on both sides of the river. It is on the edge of the Bibon Swamp. The groups bought the highly scenic property to keep it in its natural state, protect its shoreline and to ensure continued non-motorized access for anglers, paddlers, birders and other nature enthusiasts.

Ownership of the property is intended to be temporary. The conservancy will hold the property until the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources can eventually purchase it to add to adjacent parcels it already owns. The interim purchase was made because DNR funding won't be available until next year, according to Bill Heart, who chairs both Friends of the White River and the Wisconsin chapter of Trout Unlimited.

While the conservancy has closed on the land, the groups are continuing to raise money to cover the $150,000 acquisition cost. On July 26, the conservancy is hosting a half-day White River canoe trip led by Heart that will include breakfast at the nearby Delta Diner and a stop for lunch on the property. Cost is $150 per person and includes transportation and meals. The trip is limited to the first 12 who register.

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In addition, Heart has agreed to take donors of $5,000 or more on a personally guided fly-fishing trip on the White River. To sign up for the half-day paddle, to donate to the White River Protection Fund or for more information, e-mail Hannah@brcland.org or call (715) 779-0202.

Minnesota duck numbers drop

Minnesota duck hunters got bad news this week. Minnesota's breeding duck population has dropped to an estimated 507,000 birds, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

That's 31 percent lower than last year and 19 percent below the long-term average of 626,000.

The population estimate is based on the DNR's May aerial waterfowl survey.

The mallard breeding population was estimated at 236,000, 6 percent above the long-term average of 224,000 but 21 percent below last year, said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.

Blue-winged teal numbers declined 11 percent from last year to 135,000 and remained 39 percent below the long-term average.

"Blue-winged teal counts are always more variable than mallard counts since they are a later migrant through the state," Cordts said. "Some years, we count migrant teal during the survey, but this year it appeared that most migrant blue-wings had already moved through the state by the time the survey began."

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The combined populations of other ducks, such as wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, gadwalls, canvasbacks and redheads, decreased to 170,000, which is 5 percent below the long-term average.

The estimated number of wetlands was 318,000, down 2 percent from last year but above the long-term average of 248,000.

The DNR's goal for breeding ducks is 1 million.

This year's estimate of 285,000 Canada geese remains similar to last year's estimate of 289,000.

"Although the population is still above our goal, the number of breeding Canada geese has stabilized and is no longer increasing rapidly," said DNR biologist Dave Rave.

License sales remain steady

Minnesota's fishing license sales through the July 4 weekend were about even with previous years, according to the latest report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources license bureau.

A total of 873,291 licenses had been sold through last weekend, compared to 835,156 last year at the same time. Since the year 2000, license sales on this date have ranged from about 827,000 to 897,000. The average number of licenses sold during the past 10 years is 865,000.

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North Dakota rooster counts down

North Dakota's spring pheasant crowing count survey revealed a 25 percent decrease statewide compared to last year, but last year's was one of the highest on record, according to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

This year's counts were higher than those in 2005, 2006 and 2007, according to Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the state Game and Fish Department. Crowing counts are down primarily because of pheasant mortality during the harsh winter of 2008-09, Kohn said.

Since last year, pheasant crowing counts are substantially lower in the northwest (down 25 percent), northeast (down

51 percent) and southeast (down 33 percent). The decline in the southwest (down 10 percent) wasn't as dramatic.

Mentored pheasant hunt applications open

Applications for Minnesota mentored pheasant hunts for youth are due Aug. 21, according to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The hunts will take place Oct. 24 over much of the southern two-thirds of the state. Last year,

200 youths took part in the first-ever DNR-Pheasants Forever partnership.

Youths selected in the lottery will be paired with guide-mentors from Pheasants Forever chapters. Youths must be 12-17 years old as of Oct. 24 and possess a valid firearms safety certificate. They also must have a parent, guardian or adult authorized by a parent or guardian accompany them as a non-firearm-carrying mentor to the prehunt orientation and the hunt.

Hunt lottery applications are available at www.dnr.state.mn.us or by calling (888) 646-6367.

Youth shooting-sports event scheduled

The United Northern Sportsmen's Club and the Duluth Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association will hold their third annual Youth Outdoor Activities Aug. 15 at the UNS grounds on Island Lake north of Duluth.

The event, for kids 8-17, acquaints young people with shooting sports. Participation is limited to 60 kids, and each must have a guardian along. Please register in advance by calling Kevin Stern at 729-7496 or Jim Empey at 848-2930.

Apply now for sharptail licenses

Hunters have until Aug. 1 to apply for one of Wisconsin's 635 sharp-tailed grouse hunting permits available for the season running Oct. 17 to Nov. 8.

Permit numbers are down from last fall, when 875 were available. Applications ($3) for a permit can be purchased at all electronic licensing vendors or at the DNR Web site, www.dnr.state.wi.us .

Related Topics: FISHING
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