Shutdown imperils walk-in program

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 9, 2011 - 4:43 PM

Canada geese goslings feed on vegetation with a parent near a pond in Casco, Maine, Friday, May 14, 2010. The yellow plumage of the newly-hatched birds will begin to turn gray after their first week.

Photo: Robert F. Bukaty, Associated Press - Ap

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Minnesota's first-ever hunter walk-in program could fall victim to the state's government shutdown if it continues for a prolonged period.

Department of Natural Resources seasonal workers were scheduled next week to begin posting signs on southwestern Minnesota properties enrolled in the new $2.7 million effort, funded by the federal farm program.

Signs on voluntarily enrolled lands were scheduled to be erected by Sept. 15, but that deadline might be missed.

The postings are one of many projects on wildlife lands affected by the budget impasse between Republican legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton.

"This is crunch time out here, and we need to be getting things done,'' said Dave Trauba, manager at the 31,000-acre Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area in western Minnesota.

Not least among chores being missed by permanent and seasonal DNR staff is weed control. Canada thistle and wild parsnip are just two noxious weeds that threaten wildlife and crop lands -- and farmers take these invasives seriously.

Before the shutdown, Talcot Lake Wildlife Management Area assistant manager Judy Markl had four crews spraying weeds in 12 counties.

July also is when southern and western Minnesota farmers typically complain to the DNR about Canada geese eating their crops.

"They can mow down a couple of acres in not too much time,'' said Randy Markl, DNR area wildlife manager in Windom. Various methods are used by the DNR to disperse the birds.

Randy Markl also has about 30 water structures in his area, the largest controlling a 500-acre-lake, that aren't being monitored.

Dove banding also occurs throughout the state in July, as does Canada goose banding. Both are on hold.

Expansion of the moist soil waterfowl unit on Killen Refuge at Lac qui Parle is also stalled.

Food plot and habitat management statewide are also awaiting the return of DNR workers, as is tree removal and other work in advance of fall hunting seasons.

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