Duck possession limits in Minnesota and across the nation could be increased to three times the daily bag limit, under proposals discussed by state and federal officials over the weekend.
Currently, the duck possession limit is twice the daily bag limit. With a daily bag limit of six ducks, the change would mean a hunter could have 18 ducks in possession after three days of hunting.
The change, if approved by federal officials, likely wouldn't go into effect until next year.
Given current duck populations, "I think it's reasonable,'' said Dennis Simon, Department of Natural Resources wildlife chief. Officials with the Mississippi Flyway Council are meeting in Illinois this weekend. Committees representing all four flyways -- the Mississippi, Central, Pacific and Atlantic -- apparently support the idea.
Simon said the change, if enacted, won't dramatically affect duck populations.
"We manage the duck populations by the daily bag limits,'' he said. "The possession limits are not population management tools, they are enforcement tools.''
He also said he doesn't believe the change would help boost or retain duck hunters, either.
Algae threatens dogs
The hot, steamy weather this spring and summer means Minnesota's shallow lakes and ponds could see more green-blue algae blooms.
Dog owners should be watchful of the slimy stuff because it can kill canines if they drink it. One algae-related dog death has been reported in Wisconsin.
Conditions have been ideal for blue-green algae blooms to form, said Dana Vanderbosch, supervisor of the lake and stream monitoring unit at the state Pollution Control Agency.
"The water is very warm, there's been lots of sunlight and we've had still weather patterns,'' Vanderbosch said.
Without rain or wind, algae can accumulate in bays and along shorelines, forming mats or paint-like concentrations, which can be deadly for dogs -- and unsafe for humans, too.
Occasionally people call her office fearing their dogs have been affected by contact with blue-green algae.
"We tell them to immediately bring them to a veterinarian,'' she said. And she suggested bathing dogs that may have been swimming in lakes with blue-green algae.
Roadside boat stops
So how have boaters reacted to the DNR's new roadside checks for aquatic invasive species?
It's uncertain, because the DNR hasn't announced where the checks are to be held, so no media have been present.
But Lt. Julie Olson, a DNR enforcement supervisor, was at the first check station held last Saturday near Chisago City.
"It was a very mixed reaction,'' she said. One woman told officers she was glad they were trying to prevent the spread of invasive species.
"We had a car go by and [they] gave us the finger, others went by and gave us the thumbs up,'' she said.
See the report on the first two roadside checks at www.startribune.com/outdoors.
The Game and Fish Fund Budgetary Oversight Committee - a group of 11 citizens who reviews DNR spending of the game and fish fund -- turned in its 2011 report last week. Among its recommendations:
•The DNR should continue to acquire land in agricultural areas for wildlife habitat and environmental benefits and to provide recreation.
•The DNR should try to improve its image by making that a higher priority with staff. More effective communication with hunters and anglers are needed.
Deer hunter survey
Two thousand deer hunters who hunted in and around the state's bovine tuberculosis management area in northwest Minnesota soon will be surveyed to assess the state's response to the TB outbreak in wild deer. The survey also will ask about risk factors, deer population goals and future deer management alternatives. Officials say the survey also will enable the agency to obtain information on desired deer population size and how hunters believe deer should be managed in the future. Survey results should be available this fall.
Did you know?
•From conservation officer Matt Miller, who patrols Lake Superior: "One angler trolling outside of Silver Bay fell asleep in the hazy sun of a quiet afternoon. He was quite surprised to wake up and find two officers in a boat a few feet away when he was a mile off shore. He reported fishing had been slow.''